Saturday, May 12, 2012

DBA Manager : Roles & Responsibilities

Dear DBA Managers,

Thanks for visiting my blog & most importantly this page. I would like to share here some of my experiences that I have had while working with the DBA team and the success we have achieved in delivering the best Database services.

You as a DBA Manager have invested all of your energy into building the right DBA team, however no IT Department or Unit can function for a long time without a team of productive employees who feel appreciated and that as a team their unit is progressing steadily.

Follow the guidelines outlined below which I have tried myself and worked in most of the situations. 
  • You will not succeed in managing a Database Administration section if you do not walk several steps ahead of your staff in database technologies. I have always indulged in nitty-gritty details of the activities of the section whether it is installation of new release like Oracle 11g, deploying RAC, testing a restore, writing batch scripts to automate RMAN jobs etc. You must know about each and every job first hand in order to succeed. Remember DBA Manager is not a general management position; it is 70-80% technical and far less managerial in compare to other job titles like Development or Systems Manager.
  • Never, I repeat ever confront your staff or criticize in general terms. Some of you may not agree with this logic. Your goal is to evaluate job performance and not the DBA as a person. If there is an issue with one of your staff, try to point out his mistakes by having a session with him and perform the same technical task yourself in front of him.
  • While conducting performance appraisals, avoid going to a very detailed review, rather focused on objectives which are achieved and never let employee feel that he is subjected to a review which makes him believe that he is responsible for all database faults as if he was a database engine by himself. Always remember the fact that Databases are prone to bugs and that is why database vendors release patches.
  • Always listen to what DBA's are suggesting and never pretend that you already know what they meant to say as if you are ahead of them. Let them take the ownership of the discussion and for a change act as if you are learning from their experience.
  • At least in a financial organization like banking industry, DBAs are supposed to support production problems after business hours, therefore, always show concern about their family life and jointly discuss solutions to try to create a balance. Discuss openly how he or she thinks about the job and what opportunities exist in future. I had a DBA who was performing very well but later he realized that he has far more potential in another technology sector. I had therefore helped him in his transition to that deptartment which came out as a win-win situation for the company.
  • During a production problem stay calm and centered to the problem in hand. Later once the issue is resolved, sit with the concerned DBA and talk openly about how the problem could have been avoided and point out his mistakes in a manner that you are trying to improve the existing procedures by adopting better pro active measures which may also include having him or her repeat the job in a testing environment again and again until results are achieved.
  • I have always encouraged a developer turned DBA's, because I personally would not like to hire a DBA who does not have any programming experience. You can train a person to become Operating System Administrator from the start but this is not true for DBA's. The key to a successful DBA is to be able to understand and resolve Database problems from all angles including Program code, network and system issues. A DBA sits in the middle of all this, just like a middle-ware component and he or she needs to master end-to-end investigation techniques.
  • You should organize seminars within the team and send them to training abroad. Instead of sending them to local training centers, I strongly recommend to send staff to an Oracle Education/Training Partner or to Oracle University in your area or region.


Khwaja Imran

Friday, May 11, 2012

Moved to IT Management role in February 2011

Dear All,

It has been a long time, I wrote an article on this blog. I last wrote an article on 6-September-2010. Due to my tight schedule & to settle in my new role, I hardly had any time to write an article on this blog.

In February 2011, I have moved to an IT Management role as "Project Manager - Midrange, Databases & Oracle ERP Applications" where in I was leading the Oracle ERP practice at Gazzaz (Saudi Arabia) & to manage, lead and supervise the Oracle ERP Applications team. Here, I had the end-to-end responsibility for database, storage, UNIX, backup operations & projects. One of my primary responsibilities also includes, managing a team of DBAs supporting mission-critical Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server & Oracle E-Business Suite databases. Within 6 months of joining due to creation of a new position, I was promoted as "IT Manager & Head of IT Operations" to lead a major business transformation at Gazzaz & its subsidiaries. This includes the implementation of Oracle ERP and the development of new business models, directing & managing the IT functions and activities in the company through the development of IT Strategies, Objectives and Policies, as well as monitoring the implementation of IT systems in order to ensure the provision of reliable, secure, high performance, cost effective IT services. Responsible for technology operations & data management. Operate a heavily outsourced environment with significant vendor management accountabilities. Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the IT Support Team that includes assigning tasks, prioritizing work, resource management & resolving staff issues. 

For years I have been a Unix Administrator, Oracle DBA & DBA Manager. I have been writing topics & articles related to Oracle Database Administration & some system administration topics in a DBA perspective.

From now on I will be writing articles related to IT Management, IT Strategy, Remote Infrastructure Management, Cloud Computing, Virtualization & emerging trend in IT.


Khwaja Imran