ER DBAs – Reflections on Tom Kyte’s “Doctors…”

Tom Kyte writes about ER Doctors… in response to a recent blog post by Seth Godin.

My own experience as an Oracle DBA has been mainly in the operational area, with a few excursions into the development area.

At my last place of employment, I was engaged in what could be described as proactive operations. I was using the Oracle Grid Control with the Diagnostics Pack to search out problems. I managed to annoy a lot of people.

The prevailing attitude seemed to be that unless there was an immediate problem affecting the customers, no one would investigate. Unless the alarms were wailing and managers were running around in circles, no one seemed to be interested in potential problems.

As an analogy, I supposed it was like conducting anti-submarine warfare (ASW) by waiting for the torpedoes to hit instead of listening for them in the water or actively seeking out the submarines themselves. A direct hit means you have failed as ASW officer.

I suppose I was driven by a curiousity about how the system performed under normal loads in order to understand abnormal conditions. By running Active Session History reports, I was able to gain a deeper insight into the workings of the various systems we had deployed.

Some of the interesting things I found out were:

  • Several teams had no automatic monitoring or alerting. One (1) team had to do a data extract before they could begin problem analysis. They had no realtime monitoring capability.
  • Each team had their monitoring tool (if at all). So, I could not drill down on my own. I had to approach them for a deeper analysis.
  • One team, in particular, could only be approached through the problem ticketing system. There was no way to build up an informal relationship and assess the quality of their work.
  • Development teams get very little feedback, outside of ER situations, about how their systems are performing. I tried to give them feedback by doing irregular performance analyses and sending them the reports with my analysis attached.

One thought on “ER DBAs – Reflections on Tom Kyte’s “Doctors…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s