I have been doing a short HA/DR refresher on www.pluralsight.com and Russ Thomas said something during the module on backups that caught my attention. he said taking a backup and leaving the only copy of the backup on the same server whether backup was taken is one sure way of displaying your incompetence as a database administrator. This statement caught my attention because it made me begin thinking of all the other ways the “incompetence” of a professional with a lot of years of experience can be displayed through just one or two acts of negligence or carelessness.
However, I do think that the exposure of such “incompetence” may not be because the professional is actually incompetent, it could just be because he or she is not paying attention to the little details. We all have situations where an external consultant or auditor comes into our environment and makes a twenty page PowerPoint presentation which a lot of screen shots and three quarters of the slides have pictures of gargantuan log files, almost-full file systems, and wrong parameters. The Consultant or Auditor ends up scoring a huge point on your account.
I am sure this happens in other areas too: finance, security (both physical security and IT Security). it happens because the pressure of work has made a lot of us forget the basics we learnt. We know all the stuff and we can all discuss it in long meeting with a lot of finesse in our vocal prowess (was that even a correct expression?) but we simply have stopped practicing what we know. I do think some consultants would have less to do and show off with if we are a bit more careful in out apparently routine jobs.
I heard a wise boss once say “You are as good as the last good thing you did” and he was right. Getting things wrongs tends to get more attention in IT and in the world than getting things right. getting things right is considered normal. You have to be either extraordinarily adept at you implementations or extraordinarily loud in promoting them for you good work to get any attention in the eyes of you managers. But just let one single file system get full and everyone will know your name!
So what is the point? Well I believe since knowledge is so prolific and accessible in our day, our problem is not likely to be that we do not know what to do, we may be simply lack the motivation, courage or resources to do it. But there are some things we can do that we are yet to do and I do think in order to preserve your professional pride, you need to pay attention to those little things. Get what the standards are from the Internet and apply them, keep the routine jobs going, assess yourself before someone else does. Russ also did say it is much better for YOU to find a problem and solve it (even when everything looks fine) that for someone else to find it for you.