The DBA from hell



  • One of my customer has a self-proclaimed DBA which is very convincing in meetings but completely incompetent with a database server. (Well, he's full of shit)

    The customer has a small web application, with around 20 concurrent users at peak time. The hardware is good (actually overkill), but the performance is just awful. At peak time, the users must wait over 3 minutes for every "submit" they do in the application, operation which often leads to a timeout. (At some point I heard the lead programmer saying that he found a way to fix the timeout issue... by increasing the maximum timeout - but this is another WTF story).

    The whole performance issue is caused by the database server. More specifically, by the automated jobs and maintenance plans designed by the "DBA".

    Those plans are pure evil, I'm sure the SQL Server team at Microsoft would cry if they knew what this "DBA" is doing with their product... Transaction logs are truncated and shrinked (not backed up) every hour. Databases are shrinked every 20 minutes. The stored procedures cache (which provides the performance boost of stored procedures) is flushed every hour. Indexes are dropped and re-created twice a day. There are data manipulation jobs that are started every minute, even if they take over four minutes to complete (can you spell deadlocks?). It's just incredible.

    We had a meeting and I suggested to remove the bad maintenance plans. Unsurprisingly the "DBA" refused. According to him, even suspending the plans for a few hours to monitor how the server behaves without them was dangerous and could lead to terrible damage to the databases, which would take him a full week offline to fix.

    Of course the boss does not want to risk such a long offline period. So the "DBA" keeps playing with his plans, while saying out loud what a good optimizer he is and how he is doing miracles every day keeping everything working with the bad hardware. 

    The sad thing is that their hardware is already overkill, but they will upgrade soon and shovel a shitload of money on the database server. Evidently there will be no performance gain, and my guess is that the "DBA" will complain that the hardware is still too weak.

     



  • Sounds like it's time for a consultant to charge $200/hr for 2 weeks to tell the president the exact same thing you did!



  • It is hard to imagine that level of non-competence.



  • [quote user="janke"]It is hard to imagine that level of non-competence.
    [/quote]

     

    Actually, I can totally see someone that incompetent in that position. I once worked for an un-named memory company as an Engineer. When the head engineer quit after 9 years they scrambled around for a month trying to find someone. Enter Saul. This man made my friend's little brother with down syndrome look gifted. Within his first 5 minutes on the job he was trying to jam sticked of ddr into the agp slots. Next he tried to use the impossible Xerox machine. Half of his page was cut off, and from looking at the result and where he put the original in the machine he still couldn't figure out the issue for himself, he had to ask me what was wrong. The next day I came in 2 hours late and the indestructable 11 year old Xerox machine was broken. No one knew any thing and Saul the wonder engineer denied it was him. The company's replacement? An HP PSC 1350, just like the company it does everything shitty and half assed. I tendered my notice some time after that....

     

    But this man sat there for 8 months collecting a paycheck and systematically destroying things. I just hope to try to avoid those types of companies in the future. 



  • Ok... we shrink some of the databases and logs only once a day (or night actually), and the only time we ever have as few as 20 concurrent users might be at the "dead" hours around 3 in the morning... at peak time it's more like 2000. A response time of three minutes would be considered a complete break down, a response time of ten seconds would be considered a serious problem...

    Sounds like this "DBA" has built a system that needs constant administration, to ensure that his position is secure. It wouldn't be that secure if the management realises that the site would probably perform better if run on an old obsolete workstation with an Access database as back end... provided of course that the "DBA" is not allowed to touch it...



  • [quote user="kaamoss"]

    8 months collecting a
    paycheck and systematically destroying things. I just hope to try to
    avoid those types of companies in the future.
     

    [/quote]

     

       Are you mad!?!  That sounds like my idea of the perfect job!

     



  • I think I would spend at least 5 minutes trying to convince them to use a copy of the database with all of the BS removed on it "just to see what happens for a day".  Might be an enlightening experience.

    Peace!



  • I'm surprised the DBA doesn't request a boatload of RAM so he can pin the database to memory, thus working another "miracle."



  • [quote user="Guffa"]

    Sounds like this "DBA" has built a system that needs constant administration, to ensure that his position is secure.

    [/quote]

     

    Finally! Someone who reads the BOFH!



  • [quote user="donazea"][quote user="Guffa"]

    Sounds like this "DBA" has built a system that needs constant administration, to ensure that his position is secure.

    [/quote]

     

    Finally! Someone who reads the BOFH!

    [/quote]

    I think you misspelled "TDWTF" or "Dilbert"



  • The BOFH hardly has a monopoly on job security via "increase network traffic to 90% saturation" switch.  Now if it were located right next to a "electrocute smart-ass before he can ruin my sweet gig" switch...

     



  • I'll send him my business card. 



  • [quote user="emurphy"]

    The BOFH hardly has a monopoly on job security via "increase network traffic to 90% saturation" switch.  Now if it were located right next to a "electrocute smart-ass before he can ruin my sweet gig" switch...[/quote]

    The BOFH is too technically proficient to resort to (the mere illusion of) incompetence to retain his position.  Blackmail, bribes, and well-timed blaming things on others are more his style.

    (If you've read enough BOFH, he does put a DBA in his place at least once)


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