What makes a good Oracle DBA?

Speaking at many conferences this seems to be the question asked most often.  Perhaps that organization is migrating to a new database platform, under new management or wary of their current DBA (s). 

1.  How often is the database down?  Keep in mind the size of the database.  Is this a critical application?  Is this non-production environment? 

Answer:  Critical production databases should RARELY be down.  That database should be in archivelogmode so that inconsistent (hot) backups are taken.  Exceptions might include migration to a new Oracle version or patchset with unexpected results, hardware or power outages, etc.

2.  What personality traits should I look for when hiring an Oracle DBA?

Answer:  Be very detail oriented but able to see the big picture.  They should be able to take control and demand respect when they need to in a crisis situation.  Available to help others learn the latest Oracle Technology – this includes going to conferences and training on a regular basis.  You can’t know everything about Oracle so one should be comfortable reaching out to colleagues when the documentation isn’t helpful.        

 3.  What is the DBA doing all day? 

Over 50% of the time they are performing ongoing maintenance tasks which keeps the database healthy and operating at peak efficiency.  Do they have the tools needed to accomplish this efficiently?  The rest of their time is split between creating new databases or reconfigurating their current ones; loading and/or archiving data and installing or patching both existing versions and the next one due to be installed.

4.  Are you always playing catchup to the latest Oracle releases?  Is the end-of-support expiring before you are migrating to the next release? 

Answer:  If they are always in a crisis mode then their vision is very shortsighted and management might be to blame for this.  Do they have the necessary resources to keep Oracle patched and up-to-date? n

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About April C Sims

Oracle DBA for over a decade...enough said.
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