The “Accidental DBA” is a database management pitfall we’ve covered before, but it’s one we see all too often and bears repeating. The name itself speaks to less-than-ideal database management circumstances. Picture this: An under-qualified IT team member (through no fault of their own) is left with the charge of managing the company’s most critical data, simply because they have the most bandwidth (probably not enough) and a “good enough” database management knowledge base (but far from being an expert). While this solution may keep things running for the most part, your databases deserve (and need) more than “good enough.”
So, how can you avoid this all-too-common database administration misstep? Start here:
Find the Right Support Solution for Your Team
The best way to prevent an accidental DBA is by taking the time to proactively determine your unique needs, identify your priorities, consider your areas of weakness and/or risk, and do the research to find the right support solution for your databases.
Whatever database management system you’re working with, whether it be SQL Server, Oracle, or NoSQL, what matters most is that you have designated and qualified resources with the expertise to support your databases for both tactical, day-to-day maintenance and more strategic projects to fully optimize your systems. For some organizations, hiring an in-house Senior DBA is the right solution, while others may thrive using a remote DBA to manage their databases.
Prioritize Knowledge Sharing
Do not put all your database management knowledge in one basket, or in this case, one team member. That’s how accidents (and accidental DBAs) happen. There needs to be knowledge sharing among your IT team, or if you’re working with a remote DBA or team, make sure they are sharing their processes and best practices. This ensures that in the event of downtime, you have support.
The team you put together — whether it’s an internal DBA, consulting firm, managed service or other setup — should be able to handle anything your databases throws at them. If only one person knows a certain process or solution, and he or she is absent when that knowledge is needed, data and/or database performance could be compromised for a period of time while other team members try to find the answer.
You have important data stored in your system, and it should be adequately protected for the sake of your customers as well as your own business. Some organizations only realize they need a better database management solution in the event of a security breach or other emergency — that’s too late. Adjusting crucial database permissions as the situations arise, without an official process in place, can more easily lead to an accidental DBA in your midst than you might think. Making security a priority from the start, by working with a database management expert to put the correct permissions and procedures in place can help ensure that the right people are controlling this integral piece of your business IT.
Be Prepared for the Worst
Even with all the preparation in the world, database downtime is still a possibility. Crafting a comprehensive disaster recovery plan will minimize the impact of these lapses, saving you from a potential loss of data and halt in operations and help your team avoid any missteps in the moment. This recovery plan should be established well before any errors occur and cover a range of potential issues that could happen within the system and how to solve them. Implement protective measures and tools within the database itself that will defend against certain threats and backup and restore data. You don’t want bad news to become worse, by defaulting to an accidental DBA during a time of crisis.
The risks associated with falling into the trap of an accidental DBA are too great to ignore. While you may feel that it is sufficient for your business needs, consider the consequences laid out above. Fortunately, you have a variety of options for managing your databases (SQL, NoSQL, Oracle, or otherwise) that will help you rest easy knowing important data is secure — we’ve put together a cheat sheet that lists the benefits of each option. Get your copy below: