Chen Shapira wrote a very nice note about the unconference (and Oracle Closed World) presentation that I did at Oracle Open World this year, loosely titled “The Beginner’s Guide to being an Oracle Expert”. In her comments she has captured a point more clearly than I have ever expressed it: “DBAs are under a lot of pressure not to be experts.”
I am not a working DBA – yet I spend a lot of my time solving problems for DBAs and helping DBAs do their jobs better. How do I manage this ? By knowing more than they do about the technology they are using***; and I’m in that position because I have the time to investigate and test and experiment – time that a working DBA is usually not given.
It’s easy for me to make that time, of course, because I am self-employed and create my own timetable – and on my timetable I aim to average one day per week working at home investigating mechanisms and solving problems: call it my R&D budget. I’ll charge you more for the time I spend on your site because I’ve spent time in my “lab” making sure I know the answers to your questions before you even ask them.
I have the time to be an expert because I can choose how I use my time; the typical DBA is not so lucky. If you want to be an Oracle expert, time is the most important commodity.
*** I should point out that there are areas of the technology where I am not an expert – so there have been occasions when people have asked me to do a job and I have suggested they contact a colleague who is an expert in that particular field.
Footnote: as I glanced through this note just before publishing it, it crossed my mind that DBAs are often advised to ignore the wait event “SQL*Net Message from Client” as it’s only “think time” and doesn’t affect performance. When you’re aim is to become an expert “think time” becomes very important, and ends up making a huge impact on performance.