Day 1 of 4 – My life as a Production DBA (Technical Lead)7 min read

Steve Jones from Redgate and recently put out an interesting challenge: A day in the life of a DBA.  The thought is that there is not a lot of discussion around what IT professionals and DBA’s in general do day to day.  For the upcoming generation there is a large gap of knowledge out there for them to make decisions on for their career paths.  So while my day to day does not have much excitement, I was curious about the answer to this question myself.

Recently,  I have been in kind of a crossroads in my career and deciding on a direction I am interested in to focus on.  So putting a magnifying glass on what I actual work on and accomplish in a day was eye opening.  I made a concerted effort to make note of everything I worked on for three days straight and here is how day one took shape.

Beginning of the Day:

My typical workday begins at 6:00am when I arrive at work.  I know for IT people that may sound early, but I do not like dealing with traffic.  Plus this gives me a couple hours of quiet time to focus on important tasks or focus on new technology I am learning at the moment.

  • Each morning when I arrive I check for any e-mails or alerts from our monitoring systems that might need immediate attention.  Today we had a couple of space issues in our development environment that needed attention
  • One e-mail from a developer did not have enough actionable information so I responded back to him requesting the needed information before anyone can begin working the issue.  This is common I have found.  People want issues fixed quickly, but they fail to provide the basic information needed for troubleshooting to begin.  I have recently started pushing back and having the requester provide that information without me digging around and guessing what they may or may not mean.
  • I proceeded to check our teams ticket queue for any items that needed to be assigned to a team member or that I could take care of.  No new tickets needed action.
  • Now to the real work, I finished a migration project the previous day where I migrated 13 different environments for one of our products from SQL 2012 to SQL 2016.  I wanted to make sure all monitoring/alerting was disabled for the legacy systems and enabled for the new systems.  This was a three month migration due to the team that owns the system.
  • First Internet Break of the day.  I like to throw a couple Internet breaks in throughout the day to read blog posts or check Twitter or Slack for any good information.
    • Today I read the Database 101 guide recently posted by Thomas LaRock.  I was interested to read about how non-relational DB systems compare to relational DB systems from the fundamentals.  I have not done much work with the non-relational systems to date.
    • I also usually grab some breakfast during this first break in the day
  • Next up was to review a spreadsheet of network traffic that was captured for a new VMWare system our Infrastructure team is deploying.  The plan is to start with no network connectivity between the legacy system and the new legacy system.  We will then apply Micro-Segmentation at the VMWare network layer to help minimize open network traffic to the new equipment to just those system that need the connectivity open.  There is a meeting Friday to discuss this captured data, so I wanted to review it and make notes around anything for the database servers.
  • Now the day is in full swing so I take a look at the Trello board I use for tracking my tasks.  I move a couple of the tasks I can knock out quickly to the Active section and get to work.
  • I had a morning meeting with my manager where we discussed migrating some of the tasks on my personal Trello board to the new team KanBan board that is in POC.  He agreed and we went through the list of things I would like to see get accomplished and moved them to the KanBan board for assignment.
  • Around 10:00 AM a flurry of tasks came in to the team from our Access Management department.  They typically need help identifying Active Directory groups that will grant user permissions based on requests in our ticketing system.  I did the research and captured the needed information and communicated that back to them.
  • I periodically get asked to review and be a part of different projects in work at Redgate.  We use several of their tools and I have always expressed interest to their different teams on providing feedback or beta testing any products that relate to work I do.  I really enjoy being involved with seeing how software products grow and shift based on customer feedback.  So today I had a meeting the a team to discuss Project Spawn, which is a DevOps tool they are working on through the Redgate Foundry.  I am interested in DevOps and our company is slowly going that direction so any change to learn about it, especially from a database perspective I am in.
  • We recently went live in production with a couple of Redis instances.  Unfortunately, this was pushed in to production without any thought on monitoring it by our Application Development team.  Our current monitor of choice for systems is LogicMonitor for the OS and they do not have a good Redis plugin.  We use Quest Spotlight for database monitoring and they do not support Redis.  So we decided to at least use Spotlight for monitoring the Windows OS.  So I added the connections to our production Spotlight
Middle of the Day:
  • Now it is time for some lunch and more Internet reading.
    • I read a blog post from Kendra Little that I saw come across Twitter earlier in the day talking about the Microsoft MVP program.
      • Very great read and had a lot of topics in my mind, but I would never say out load.
  • Had a request come in to unlock a SQL Account on our MS Dynamics server.
  • Took an online survey published by Redgate for feedback on their products.
  • Decided that I would work on one of my Trello tasks.  I selected one that is super close to completion.  I had written a PowerShell process to go through all of our production servers and validate their restore ability.  I used the dbatools module for the heavy lifting using the Test-DbaLastBackup command.  I did one last validation of my code, then setup a SQL Agent job to run at 10:00 PM.  I am looking forward to seeing the results the next morning.
End of the Day:
  • Around 1:45 PM we had a Severity 1 alert fire off relating to TempDB filling up on a production server.  While I was not on-call, I decided to look around to see what caused this issue.  At about the same time the on-call DBA responded to the alert and had fixed the issue.  We had user running an Ad Hoc query that filled up the TempDB drive.  This showed a gap in our TempDB settings as we thought our configuration globally was to auto-grow TempDB manually to the proper size for the drive then disable auto-growth.  So I have added a KanBan task to perform an audit of all our servers.
  • Had a critical security vulnerability identified that required us to stand up a new SQL Server quickly to close the security issue.
  • As my day starts to come to and end I do some administrative tasks to prep for the next day
    • Update my Trello board with any notes on in progress tasks or move complete tasks to done
    • Create a network firewall request form for our networking team to open up some ports for the Redis monitoring
  • Responded to a few e-mails and cleaned up my inbox before heading home for the day around 3:00 PM.

That wraps up Day 1 of a day in the life.  More to come tomorrow, no hints on the excitement level to come!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *