Readers Talk Back About DBA Roles and Database Tuning

SQL Mag readers get chatty about the blurring roles of IT pros and developers and database-tuning principles

Are You a Developer, IT Pro, or Somewhere in Between?

Our favorite SQL Server internals expert, Kalen Delaney, is now writing a biweekly commentary on and in the SQL Server Magazine UPDATE e-newsletter. Her May 15, 2008, column, “Are You a Developer or an IT Pro?” generated some thoughtful reader responses. Here are some excerpts of the online dialog on the article between readers and Kalen:

From Logicalman: “In our organization, there is a definite split between Developers and IT Pros (or DBAs as they like to be referred to). The latter are happy to explain they need have no interest or knowledge of programming or database design, and their only role is to maintain the databases on the instance, to implement exactly what the developer gives them (without checking it first), and not to do any troubleshooting, unless it involves backups, restores, or administering the server instance itself.”

From gnash: “Logicalman seems to have ‘operators.’ There's a nasty hangover from the early days of corporate computing. Good operators might become programmers, good programmers might become designers, then analysts. The assumption still held by many developers (and managers) is that non-programmer IT staff are just operators…. Databases, networks, security, \[and\] application management have all increased in complexity, and most companies with significant IT staff need skilled people in these areas.”

From pelsql: “In my company, there is a lot of crossover between two types of tasks. This is simply because the way we develop has an influence on the way we need to manage the database. It is best to have a \[foot\] in both worlds.”

From Kalen Delaney: “Thanks for the comments. I'd almost forgotten about ‘operators.’ When I started programming, we had decks of cards that the operators fed into the machines. We never even saw the computers themselves. There was a window where we submitted our card decks, and then another window where we picked up our output, hoping we just hadn't made some silly typo and would have to have to resubmit the whole thing! And I absolutely agree with pelsql that a good SQL Server professional should have their feet in both arenas.”

More Thoughts on Database Performance Tuning

Reader comments are the gift that keeps on giving in some of the articles on Here's an example of an article published over a year ago that just got a new reader comment a few days ago.

Brian Moran's "The 3 Principles of Database Tuning" has gotten a steady stream of online feedback. Half of the commenters said they liked the article and agreed with the author. Most recently, Ultraseven wrote: "I agree 100% of you and I would like to add something more: most of the time, people just screw things up. We should never understimate people's ability to turn simple things into very complicated ones!"

The rest of the commenters were somewhat more critical. For instance, rrs thought the article was a little light on practical content. "Once again your titles don't match the quality expected. I think you forget that \[you're\] writing for IT people.... With all your experience you could give some practical examples, or advice on some special program/product/script that other professionals don't know because they aren't EXPERTS." One of our SQL Server editors, Megan Bearly, responded to rrs. You'll find her comment there, as well as about a half dozen more.

BTW, it's a little-known secret that authors and editors are more receptive to criticism than you might expect. To us, it's a good sign that someone takes the time to comment, even if they don't like an article. Keep those comments coming!


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