Tough Decisions

Posted by Johnm on Simple Talk See other posts from Simple Talk or by Johnm
Published on Sat, 27 Mar 2010 14:08:38 GMT Indexed on 2010/03/27 14:13 UTC
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There was once a thriving business that employed two Database Administrators, Sam and Jim. Both DBAs were certified, educated and highly talented in their skill sets. During lunch breaks these two DBAs were often found together discussing best practices, troubleshooting techniques and the latest release notes for the upcoming version of SQL Server. They genuinely loved what they did.

The maintenance of the first database was the responsibility of Sam. He was the architect of this server's setup and he was very meticulous in its configuration. He regularly monitored the health of the database, validated backup files and regularly adhered to the best practices that were advocated by well respected professionals. He was very proud of the fact that there was never a database that he managed that lost data or performed poorly.

The maintenance of the second database was the responsibility of Jim. He too was the architect of this server's setup. At the time that he built this server, his understanding of the finer details of configuration were not as clear as they are today. The server was build on a shoestring budget and with very little time for testing and implementation. Jim often monitored the health of the database; but in more of a reactionary mode due to user complaints of slowness or failed transactions. Deadlocks abounded and the backup files were never validated.

One day, the announcement was made that revealed that the business had hit financially hard times. Budgets were being cut, limitation on spending was implemented and the reduction in full-time staff was required. Since having two DBAs was regarded a luxury by many, this meant that either Sam or Jim were about to find themselves out of a job.

Sam and Jim's boss, Frank, was faced with a very tough decision.

Sam's performance was flawless. His techniques and practices were perfection. The databases he managed were reliable and efficient. His solutions are "by the book". When given a task it is certain that, while it may take a little longer, it will be done right the first time.

Jim's techniques and practices were not perfect; but effective and responsive. He made mistakes regularly; but he shows that he learns from them and they often result in innovative solutions. When given a task it is certain that, while the results may require some tweaking, it will be done on time and under budget.

You are Frank's best friend. He approaches you and presents this scenario. He must layoff one of his valued DBAs the very next morning. Frank asks you: "All else being equal, who would you let go? and Why?" Another pertinent question is raised: "Regardless of good times or bad, if you had to choose, which DBA would you want on your team when tough challenges arise?"

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