So THAT'S who needs a DBA on the payroll!

This company manages to get by without a database administrator for more than five years with hardly anyone seeing that as a problem, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"Right up until the system went down for hours after a developer dropped a table from the production environment," fish says. "That's what triggered the hire of the first DBA.

"By that time, the systems had drifted in all kinds of directions: The sysadmin account was used daily by developers to change and access the production environment. The sysadmin credentials were stored in plain text files on web servers. The same backup plan was used for small databases and larger ones.

"And there was no staging for any database -- they were all created with default values on the same disks. And no index monitoring, no data retention in place, garbage data everywhere, no space monitoring or data planning, no monitoring of SQL query response time and no segregation between online transaction processing and online analytical processing.

"There were also daily data spillovers -- full logs and data -- and poor database performance at the server level.

"After the system went down for so long, and the CEO had to explain the problems to the company's clients, the decision was made to get a DBA.

"He gave up after five months on the job -- just too much of a mess to fix and address.

"After that, I got the job," says fish. "I'm on top of all those issues now, and I added some cost-effective disaster recovery solutions, and I'm still doing it more than five years later.

"Now if they decide to go without a DBA, they'll be fine -- for a few months, maybe. After that, crap will creep in slowly with funny results."

Sharky won't tell who made that mess -- just the story. So send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. I'll file off the identifying marks, and you'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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