When Atlas Stumbles – Lessons for Preventing DBA Burnout

Those of you, who are regular readers of my blog, know I am always willing to share an opinion on something. Right or wrong, I have an opinion and I am willing to share it.My latest entry is my lessons learned on how to prevent DBA Burn out. I published this in Database Trends and Applications October 2008 Issue. Here is a sample of the article?

When Atlas Stumbles
Lessons for Preventing DBA Burn Out

You’re a database administrator, working hard, never catching up. You keep the databases humming morning, noon and night, weekdays, weekends and holidays.

Or at least you try to. But things happen. And it’s not always your fault. Databases crash. You try your best. But sometimes that’s not good enough.

Your company grinds to a halt. Sales are lost. It’s all on you, and you?re alone.

This type of stress is causing a serious problem in today’s business world as the rapid expansion of databases crashes head-long into the 20-year shortage of DBAs we rely on to keep these complicated systems functioning. Today’s global businesses need to find the solution to burnout among DBAs who suffer Atlas Syndrome, a feeling the weight of the entire business is on their shoulders.

Studies have shown the amount of information being stored in a database grows three-to-five times its size every three years. The technology supporting these massive data stores is increasingly complicated. Even the types of data are getting more complex. Numbers and letters are joined by video and sounds clips, and spatial data.

What’s more, an application explosion means businesses are using their data in new and different ways to gain a competitive advantage. And then there are the security issues, as DBAs are on the front line in the war against data theft.

DBAs make all this work. Without DBAs, your information is at risk, which means your business is at risk. Without DBAs, your business cannot survive, much less thrive in the global economy and the Internet Age.

Yet, 21st century businesses are still plagued by a 20th century problem: The two-decade shortage of DBAs. Simply put, good DBA?s are hard to find, hard to retain and hard to train. Good DBA skills take years to acquire. Given how important database administration is to your business, how do you deal with this 20-year problem? How do you make sure the information your business needs to stay competitive keeps flowing? How do you prevent DBA burnout and turnover?

In my career as a DBA and as the founder of a remote DBA company, there are nine lessons to learn about retaining, nurturing and protecting your DBAs.

Lesson 1: We know it’s easier to keep a customer than to find a new one, and the same is true for employees. It?s better for your business and your customers if you keep an employee happy rather than lose them. With the shortage of DBAs in the marketplace and the growing demand, losing that DBA means you may not easily find a replacement. You will most likely have to use a recruitment firm that will only drive up the cost of replacing that lost DBA.

A 2003 workplace survey by CIGNA Behavioral Health called “Worried at Work: Mood and Mindsets in the American Workplace? detailed the extreme costs of turnover. For each employee you lose, the turnover costs range from 120 percent to 200 percent of annual salary. In the case of a DBA, I think we can all agree the cost is even higher.

The survey reports an average new employee’s performance takes 13.5 months to reach maximum efficiency. Again, I would suggest it?s even longer for a DBA. It’s cheaper and easier to keep a DBA than to hire and train a new one.

To read the entire Database Trends and Applications article……

When Atlas Stumbles,Lessons for Preventing DBA Burn Out

I am also looking for other ideas and suggestions. Please feel free to post any thoughts you have. I am in the process of writing a whitepaper on the topic.


Posted Michael Corey, Ntirety








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