At Apoorva, our SQL Server DBAs are trained to do the following five tasks during their first few days of joining a client. These five items are essentials for any SQL Server (or Oracle, or MySQL) DBAs. They protect our clients, they protect our jobs, and they earn client’s trust.
1. PROTECT THE FORT
We need to be fully aware of who has keys to which doors. It could a person or a system, if they don’t need it, we don’t need to give any unnecessary permissions. When we give higher permissions than they need, we are not just lowering the guard, we are also violating several compliance policies sch as SOX, PCI and HIPAA that could result into penalties and fines. Apoorva team takes this seriously in order to protect our customers and gain their trust. And just because it is a development or test environment, we do not let people to have SysAdmin permissions. More often, these servers have data and code that was copied from production systems – this will violate privacy policies, our clients’ confidential information, or organization’s intellectual property. '
2. GUARD CREDENTIALS
Even though we revoke permissions from people, there is always that one “general user”, also known as service account, with an open-secret-password. Apoorva team has seen many clients where everyone knew that password and everyone has been acting responsible for a long time. Apoorva team gets hired to do the right thing – we are not interested in how many good people exist at our clients. We are protecting all those good people against that one bad person. We have seen an initial reaction by our clients to be “unhappy” because changing passwords can disrupt some systems that no one is aware of and never documented. It is better to disrupt an unknown system than letting bad people disrupt core systems because they knew passwords.
3. GOOD BACKUPS
You might as well call yourself a developer if you are not thinking about backups. A developer thinks that what (s)he is doing will work. As a DBA, you should always think that it will NOT work and hence you need a backup – even if you have done it a thousand times. And setting up backups is never enough. Many times people realize that either their backup jobs have not be running successfully or their backups cannot be restored because they are corrupted. Even if you have backups that will work, you still need to try them out because you need to know how it will take to restore. Which is also equals to either downtime of a bread-and-butter system or loss of data. Knowing the restore time will help you determine how often you need to create a backup (incremental) to minimize loss without backup process interrupting the transactional systems’ performance. Please refer to BACKUP VERIFYONLY, CHECKSUM clauses.
4. INTEGRITY CHECKS
Just like we constantly watch the health of our children, we need to watch the integrity of our databases. As a DBA, you need to frequently check for the corruption of your databases. Even if you have met the “Good Backups” responsibility, you might have been backing up a corrupted database which is equivalent to corrupted backups – both situations will result into data loss. Please refer to DBCC CHECK command, and WITH REPAIR_ALLOW_DATA_LOSS clause.
5. PERFORMANCE STATISTICS
In the first few days, Apoorva team establishes performance statistics to understand the expensive systems and to determine the bottlenecks. Simple metrics such as transactions per second, page reads/writes, connections, physical reads, locks & blocks will go long ways in establishing a benchmark that Apoorva team can improve our clients’ environment. Tuning for performance starts after collecting some basic metrics such as listed above. Tuning includes looking through several queries, indexes, SQL Server settings and the hardware they are sitting on. Advanced techniques include load testing that can be performed once every quarter to discover any degradation caused by newer features or data.
DBAs need to protect the data. It is both time and money; hence highly valuable to our clients. More importantly, getting into wrong hands can mean downturn to our clients’ business and profitability. On positive note, data is valuable when our DBAs make it available in real-time; of course, with appropriate security and authentication.
Contact Us for a Free 3-Hour Data Strategy Consultation