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How to Hire the Right DBA, Remote or Onsite

By April 20, 2017 No Comments
Database Staffing

In this post, let’s take a closer look at how to hire the best for your company.

Establish and Share Your Expectations

For the benefit of your company and your potential candidates, clearly define the DBA’s role and your expectations in a thoughtful, detailed job description. Provide a thorough, specific list of daily and periodic tasks the DBA will perform. Clarify whether the DBA will be production support, development support, or support for a hybrid of the two, wherein several third party applications are involved.

Production vs. Non-Production DBAs

The prime objective of a production database is to keep your system with as little disruption as possible. A DBA in this scenario, would rather keep today’s processes before taking radical actions to resolve an issue, this is a case by case decision and needs careful consideration. A non-production DBA is more likely to approach things differently, using trial and error and being more cavalier about when to perform system reboots, checks and maintenance.

DBAs should instinctively seek to isolate the problem, minimize its impact on , and keep the production system running. A key trait to actively seek in a DBA is the ability to isolate impacts and analyze the situation. If there is a  tendency rebooting the system to fix a problem is always the first option, may not be a good choice. Perhaps they can fix the issue, perhaps not, but a good production DBA will do what it takes to not halt production and will opt to make repairs after hours. The primary concern of a production DBA is to maintain business continuity with minimal disruption. Of course, it all depends on the severity of the issue and the impact to production performance overall, or even impact the data integrity.

In many cases, the ideal candidate would have production and non-production support as well as SQL coding experience. An understanding of coding is critical because sloppy coding is the root cause of most database issues. Developers often write code that slows the system and conflicts with other applications accessing the database.

Save time in the early stages of the hiring process by determining whether candidates have production support and coding experience by asking pointed questions and role playing disaster scenarios. A few questions and requests that can reveal much about their experience and skills are:

  • Give an example of a production issue, how you isolated the problem, and how you proceeded.
  • Have you done SQL development in the past? If yes, please provide examples.
  • Describe some of the mission critical projects you were involved in and what were your specific responsibilities?
  • What was the objective of a project you worked on with a development team?
  • Provide an example of a code walkthrough.
  • Describe the process you had to follow to apply changes to a production database?
  • What was the process to implement application releases into a production system?
  • What were your responsibilities during this process?
  • Have you ever reboot a system to solve a database problem? If so, at what stage of the process did you decide that rebooting the system is the best solution? What conclusion did you draw that let to the reboot of the system as the only solution to fix the issue?

Remote Versus Onsite DBAs

Deciding whether to hire a DBA who works remotely or onsite largely depends on the company’s policy and standard operating procedures, which vary widely. Consider your company’s remote access protocol. If there is none in place, it must be established which can be a cumbersome process. Another thing to consider is the real estate overhead of providing another workspace. The majority of the work done by DBAs is behind the scenes, so they are typically only seen when there is a database problem.

Focus on hiring the best one to meet your company’s database maintenance needs. If a remote DBA is best for your situation, your hiring decision may be determined by trustworthiness, which is difficult to gauge. Database certifications and vendor-specific database tests can help narrow your field of choices, as can checking your candidate’s references. The candidate may have impressive technical skills but may not know how to effectively communicate or may fold under pressure. Their knowledge and experience might be based on older and different versions of your database, which can get changed frequently at some companies. Other companies rely on decades-old databases that have even been migrated into the cloud. In either case, your best candidate may be a DBA who is familiar with years of database evolution, and has experience with both tried-and-true and cutting-edge applications. This is hard to find in a single DBA, so hiring a support team to ensure your daily operations are never interrupted is often a good option to consider. That’s exactly the type of excellent database management service that Dobler Consulting provides. Contact our team today to discuss the best solution for your company.

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