“A good DBA is a lazy DBA”

I’m borrowing from Andy Leonard (blog | twitter) who says all the time, “Good engineers are lazy.”

If you’re thinking, “Why would I want (to be) a lazy DBA?” let me explain. There’s a lot to be said for hard work. However, have you ever seen someone who is always busy but seems to get very little done? Hard work, in and of itself, isn’t the goal. The goal is to get things done. This is where laziness comes in.

If I have to repeat a task, I should look at automating it. I don’t want to have to repeat those steps each time. I want to be lazy. For instance, as an operational person, there are a lot of things I need to review within my production environment on a periodic basis to ensure my systems are running as they should. Case in point: ensuring the SQL Server drives don’t run out of free space. This is something that I should monitor regularly (daily).  There are different ways I could handle this:

  • I could log on to each server and check each drive.
  • I could use a tool like TreeSize to hit the drives one by one.
  • I could automate the checks which results in a report in my inbox.

I prefer the last option. If I’m smart, I’ll even schedule it to run so it’s ready for me when I get in each morning. But why stop there? I could not only automate gathering the data, but also automate some of the analysis. Let’s say I set thresholds and the automation bubbles up anything crossing a threshold to the top of my report, meaning the most important data gets seen first. I don’t want to just be lazy, I want to be very lazy. By being this lazy and automating, I free up the one resource I can never get more of: time.

What can you automate? Anything and everything you can successfully automate frees up time for you to spend tackling other things. The more your organization sees and understands that you do, the more valuable you are. If you are in IT but don’t happen to be a DBA, this is still a solid approach. Let me generalize and say being a lazy IT pro is being a good IT pro.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jose
    Jun 25, 2014 @ 15:08:31

    Amen. couldn’t agree more


  2. Dave Wentzel
    Jun 27, 2014 @ 12:15:13

    Ideas for your next blog post maybe…
    Is it possible to automate too much? If so, when do you stop automating? It seems to me that humans are less involved in heavily automated systems, but their involvement becomes more critical. A kind of paradox. What do you say to those IT practitioners that don’t believe in automation because they believe it will replace them?


  3. Tom Gillies
    Jun 28, 2014 @ 06:26:31

    I’m in two minds about this. I agree with the ideas that routine tasks should be automated and that “efficiency is applied lazyness” BUT… I also think it IS possible to carry automation too far. TOO FAR is when the automated jobs are being run by people who have been given “running the reports” as a task, and who do not understand what the report is doing and do not understand how to interpret the results. The signs that this is happening are that: monitoring activity which is not needed is being run, things are still overlooked and someone starts “checking on the checking”. Also, performing checks is one way people learn about what the system is actually doing. This is a topic worth discussion, even argument, but in the end there will need to be a balance between “routine” and “complacency”, different people and organisations will choose different balance points, but periodically they should think about what they are doing.


  4. Andrew
    Jun 30, 2014 @ 10:28:07

    Mr. Kelley is continuously using the word “lazy” but maybe the term “efficient” would be more accurate? “Lazy” usually implies that someone is failing to do something that should be done and that they have no good reason for not doing it. The term has a negative connotation. Automation of tasks doesn’t leave something undone. Automation makes things happen without a person having to think too much about it. That’s definitely not lazy. That’s efficient…. and not a bad thing.


    • K. Brian Kelley
      Jun 30, 2014 @ 10:44:23

      I use the word lazy here because it is often used as a contrast to that person who you see working like crazy but producing few results. If you do some searches, my use of “lazy engineer” isn’t unique.


  5. Trackback: SQL SERVER – Automate Database Operations for Success – Notes from the Field #035 | Journey to SQL Authority with Pinal Dave
  6. Trackback: JULY 3, 2014 BY PINAL DAVE SQL SERVER – Automate Database Operations for Success – Notes from the Field #035 | SQL Notes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: