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Rules of thumb for DBAs

The use of Heuristics (rules of thumb) is a time-tested techniques for many areas of Oracle database management:

Applying heuristics (“rules of thumb”) to an Oracle tuning problem is a powerful technique, and even though a heuristic may not apply to every situation, understanding the general behavior of Oracle provides a baseline for your Oracle tuning knowledge, a launching-point for advanced Oracle tuning.

Craig Mullins, a respected DBA and author has published an 8-part series of DBA rules of thumb:

Mullins note some of the most important rules of thumb for any Oracle DBA:

  1. Document everything

    – Database administration is a very technical discipline, but it is also a discipline in which the practitioner is very visible politically within the organization. DBAs should be armed with a proper attitude and sufficient technical knowledge before attempting to practice database administration.
  1. Automate

    - Automation is key to successful, smooth-running databases and applications... but don't get too carried away by the concept.
  1. Share your knowledge

    - Knowledge transfer is an important part of being a good DBA - both transferring your knowledge to others and participating in having others' knowledge transferred to you.  The more you learn as a DBA, the more you should try to share what you know with other DBAs. Local database user groups typically meet quarterly or monthly to discuss aspects of database management systems.
  1. Don’t Panic -

    Problems will occur – there is nothing you can do to eliminate every possible problem or error. Part of your job as a DBA is to be able to react to problems with a calm demeanor and analytical disposition. When a database is down and applications are unavailable your environment will become hectic and frazzled.
  1. Focus Your Efforts

    - The job of a DBA is complex and spans many diverse technological and functional areas. It is easy for a DBA to get overwhelmed with certain tasks – especially those tasks that are not performed regularly. The best advice I can give you is to remain focused and keep a clear head.
  1. Invest in Yourself

    - Most every IT professional continually looks for their company to invest money in on-going education. Who among us does not want to learn something new - on company time - and with the company's money?
  1. Diversify your skills

    - A good DBA is a Jack-of-All-Trades. You can't just master one thing and be successful in this day-and-age.  A day in the life of a DBA is usually quite hectic. The DBA maintains production and test environments, monitors active application development projects, attends strategy and design meetings, selects and evaluates new products, and connects legacy systems to the Web.
  2. Have Business Savvy

    - Although DBAs are technologists first and foremost, we need to be ever cognizant of the business reasons that our beloved technologies support.


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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

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