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									WHITE PAPER

              Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success

                                                             JUNE 2008

        Confio Software   +1-303-938-8282

Executive Summary ……...........................................................……………… 3

Don’t Get Blamed for Other People’s Problems ……………………………… 3

Work on Things that People Care About ………………………………………. 4

Don’t Waste the Boss’s Dollars on the Wrong Thing ……………………….. 5

Keep Your Customers Happy ……………………………………………………. 6

Don’t Waste Time Hunting for the Problem …………………………………… 7

Don’t Use Old Techniques to Find New Problems …………………………… 8

Make Friends with Developers …………………………………………………… 8

Be Proactive ……………………………………………………………………........ 9

Be a Hero, Have an Impact and Get a Raise ………………………………….. 10

Use Best-Practice Wait-Time Methodologies ………………………………… 10

                                  2                   Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
                              Executive Summary
                              Over the years, Confio Software has had the opportunity to learn many tips
Learn the secrets that turn   from the hundreds of DBAs that we have worked with. These tips are based
                              on our experiences tuning database with our clients and working with them
good DBAs into great
                              to most positively impact their organization. The goal of this whitepaper is to
ones.                         help you focus on the aspects of your job that will bring you the most
.                             success. And along the way, we hope to show you how to achieve better
                              database performance and maximize the efficiency of the applications that
                              depend on them.

                              Number 10: Don’t Get Blamed for Other People’s Problems

                              As DBAs you have a unique responsibility to keep databases tuned and
                              optimized so that dependent company applications run smoothly. It isn’t
                              always the most glorious role and you have to accept that we are mostly
                              unnoticed by senior management in the company. But when we are
                              recognized, it usually isn’t for praise, but rather when something isn’t

                                            Don’t Get Blamed for Other
                                            People’s Problems
Do people at your
company ever play the
“finger-pointing” game
or it always the DBAs

                                                         Be ready to prove where the problem lies

                                              Figure 1: Be ready to prove where the problem lies

                              Whenever there is an IT system performance issue people start playing the
                              “finger-pointing game” – developers blame the DBAs; DBAs blame the
                              network admin, and so on. This underscores the importance of knowing your
                              databases and knowing “if” and “what is” the possible problem. More times
                              than not, it actually isn’t the database but rather some other application or
                              command that is hanging up the application. As a DBA, make sure that you
                              have a good understanding of the interaction between your applications and
                              your database. Then be ready to prove where the problem lies using

                                                             3                  Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
objective evidence. You want to be able to easily identify what is the exact
cause of an application delay rather than having management blame the
database (and you).

Number 9: Work on Things that People Care About

Two SQL Statement – Which one would you tune?

So what if there is a delay in an application? You need to identify the best
course of action to resolve the problem and get down to the exact cause.

Let’s look at a real customer case for a SQL statement. As a DBA you could
review the statement, “Insert Eastbound Routes”.

              Work on Things that People Care About

       9      Two SQL Statement – Which one would you tune?
               SQL: “Insert Eastbound Routes”
               Avg Execution Time: 0.43

               SQL: “Aircraft Position”
               Avg Execution Time: 41.73

            Figure 2: Two SQL Statements – Which one would you tune?

Hmm, looking at it you would see that it executes thousands of times and
takes .43 seconds on average. That seems fast. Now we see a different
statement, “Aircraft Position”. Wow – it executed over sixty eight hundred
times and takes an average of 41.37 seconds – over a hundred times
longer. At first glance it certainly looks like we need to work on the “Aircraft
Position” statement because of the length of time it takes to execute.

Now let’s look at the accumulated wait time bottleneck in the database and
see what actually caused users to wait on the database. You can see once
we go deeper into the analysis that even though the “Insert Eastbound SQL”
average execution time was much less , over the span of many executions
is created a much larger amount of waiting. The impact of this fast
running SQL on the users is much more severe.

                                 4              Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
              Work on Things the People Care About

                                                  Top SQLs Causing Users to Wait
                      Insert Eastbound Routes

                                                             Did you pick the
                                                                right one?

                              Aircraft Position

                                                  Total Time that Users are Waiting on the SQL

       Figure 3: By being able to drill down to a deeper level of analysis, we can see that
       “Insert Eastbound SQL” is the real source of application hang-up.

While counter intuitive, “Insert Eastbound SQL” is having a big impact on
keeping application users waiting. While the average event execution
counts were low, the underlying wait-time was the bottleneck.

And if you picked the other command that had high average execution time,
you would have spent lots of time and effort fixing something that won’t
make a difference to your users fixing something that wouldn’t have an
impact and wouldn’t yield any results. By using a Wait-Time based software
tool, you can quickly see what is causing your end users to wait.

Number 8: Don’t Waste the Boss’ Dollars on the Wrong Thing

The above example illustrated that as a DBA you need to be sure you know
what you are fixing. The other common misconstrued fix is that the
applications are not executing properly because of a lack of processing
power or disproportioned server load. While we all love getting state of the
art servers, the overall purchase price and new licensing fees can get
expensive very quickly. There is nothing worse than spending thousands of
dollars and countless hours getting a new hardware ordered and installed
only to have miniscule application improvements.

Here is a true client example. The company had a critical end-of-month job
that was taking days to finish. They thought the fix was to buy a new
$700,000 server to make the mission critical application and process run
faster. But they didn’t actually know if that would help!

                                      5                        Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
                                        Don’t Waste the Boss’ $ on
The company was able to                 the Wrong Thing
demonstrate an 800% ROI
based on cost savings by
focusing on the real
                                 8      True Story:
                                        • Problem: End of month jobs will not finish
                                        • Planned purchase - $700K Server + License
.                                                But just in time…
                                                 • DBA identifies Parallel Query, finds
                                                   root cause, eliminates problem

                                                 ROI = 800%

                                          Figure 4: Help maximize your company’s expenditures.

                           Luckily that company decided to use Wait-Time analysis to identify the
                           source of the problem. Upon closer look, they found a Parallel Query
                           problem and eliminate the root cause of the delay. So they really didn’t need
                           to spend $700,000 on a new server and they were able to finish the job on
                           schedule. The company was able to demonstrate an 800% ROI based on
                           cost savings. Now this is a number that can make you a star with the boss.

                           Number 7: Keep your Customers Happy

                           This is a top rule in any business, so why don’t DBAs do it?

                           Customers could be internal organizations or companies that are relying on
                           your database and applications for mission critical business operations.
                           Either way, make sure that you are taking care of your customers. As
                           professional DBAs, we all work to minimize the time that our customers are
                           waiting on the database. So rather than wait to hear about a problem, be
                           proactive in monitoring your databases to make sure there isn’t anything
                           creeping up that could turn into a potential problem. While this keeps you an
                           “unsung” hero, it is better than becoming the performance scapegoat. Be the
                           one that solves the problem before it’s a problem.

                                                         6                  Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
                Keep your Customers Happy

       7                         SQL Execution Time
                                                                   Do you know when your SQL
                                                                  is taking too long to execute?

   Good DBAs tune
   to minimize the
    time that users
     spend waiting
   on the database

        Figure 5: Using Wait-Time analysis as a DBA can get you deep into analyzing
        trends and uncovering what might be the next performance problem before it
        happens – keeping customers happy.

Number 6: Don’t Waste Time Hunting for the Problem

Following up to tip number 7, as a DBA, it is our job to “know your
database.” But don’t get pulled into the trap of watching overall statistics
and hunting for problems. Have a tool that tells you exactly when and what
is the most serious issues within the database. Which day, which hour and
which SQL are causing Wait-Time for your end-users.

                Don’t Waste Time Hunting for
                the Problem

      6         Know Exactly the Top Critical Issues in your Database

                                                                                SQL and
      Problem                              Problem
        Day                                 Time
                                                     9        3                  Event

        Figure 6: DBAs need a tool that pinpoints the problem; the exact day, time,
        SQL and wait event associated with that problem.

                                 7                       Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
                                 Along with a knack for looking into your database performance, make sure
                                 you have a tool that goes beyond what the basic system health tools
                                 provide. You need something that allows for identifying more than overall
DBAs today need more             time, but that gets you directly to the most critical SQL and Wait-Events and
than system health               allows you to fix performance problems before they occur.
statistics to find and resolve
                                 Number 5: Don’t Use Old Techniques to Find New Problems
performance issues.
.                                As DBA, we all have been around to see our databases grow along with the
                                 company’s dependence on them. We used to have some pretty easy ways
                                 to track performance. We could count statistics and watch cache ratios and
                                 that was enough to identify database hang-ups.

                                              Don’t Use Old Techniques to Find
                                              New Problems

                                       5          You can count statistics    OR
                                                                                     You can identify exactly
                                                                                     where bottlenecks occur

                                           Figure 7: Counting statistics used to be enough to find problems, but now
                                           DBAs need to be able to identify the precise bottlenecks.

                                 The new best-practice is Wait-Time analysis. Wait-Time methods uncover
                                 the bottleneck cause. This more advanced method to database analysis
                                 gives you a leg up on monitoring your responsibilities. You can be confident
                                 that the company applications that depend on your databases have the
                                 information they need in a timely matter.

                                 Number 4: Make Friends with Developers

                                 Partnering with application developers to help them understand the
                                 database has been a big boost to efficiency at a number of the companies
                                 we have worked with. Show developers, in terms they understand, how their
                                 code impacts the database. A picture is worth a 1000 words.

                                 As DBAs we should embrace development organizations so that we can
                                 make better solutions for our end clients. It is amazing the benefits that can
                                 be achieved by giving developers the insights to understand the impact of
                                 their code on real databases. This makes everyone’s job easier.
                                                                8                   Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
Communicating performance issues to everyone involved improves
teamwork and speeds problem resolution.

               Make Friends with Developers

        4                                                  Help developers
                                                           understand the
                       PERFORMANCE                         database, and the
                                                           apps run better

       Figure 8: Help developers understand the database and your company can achieve
       greater performance for the applications that run on them.

Number 3: Be Proactive

Be a DBA leader – don’t wait for the phone to ring with angry end-users. We
have found that it is much better to stay ahead of the situation. If you get an
advance warning of a pending problem, you can address that issue before
the phone starts ringing off the hook.

               Be Proactive

        3      Find the Problems Before the Users Find You!

                   Proactive Alert Status

                Figure 9: Alert tools allow you to be proactive.

With alerting capabilities you can be paged or called when the database
begins to underperform – not after it has crashed!
                                9                   Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
Number 2: Be a Hero, Have an Impact and Get a Raise!

DBAs who solve problems and can demonstrate the results in clear terms
get recognized.

In the example below, look at how the response time for the green SQL
decreases over time. As a DBA that is responsible for performance, wouldn’t
you like to be able to show this report to the boss and to the application

             Be a Hero, Have an Impact and
             Get a Raise!

      2                                                    Look how the DBAs
                                                         improved the response
                                                           of this critical SQL !

                                                                    = Insert Eastbound Routes

         Figure 10: Be able to show management reports that prove the results of
         your hard work.

Pointing out, “Look what I did for you!” isn’t bragging it is just documenting
results. Go ahead, be a hero.

Number 1: Use Best Practice Wait-Time Methodologies

Wait-Time or response time from when your end-users press enter and
when they get their response is the only true measure of performance.
By tracking every step within the database and identifying the Wait-Time
associated with each step, it is easy to find the performance issues that are
affecting your end users. By measuring end-user Wait-Time and ranking
these by the impact it has on your users, management can identify exactly
where in the IT value chain that the bottleneck lies and who/ what is really

                               10                  Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
               Use Best-Practice Wait-Time

        1      Find the Problems Before the Users Find You!



                   •   Database processing includes hundreds of steps
                   •   Identify Wait-Time at every step
                   •   Rank bottlenecks by impact on end user

          Figure 11: Wait-Time is the only true measure of performance.

As we mentioned, this can save a company thousands of dollars because
instead of purchasing more hardware and processing power that can be
unsuccessful, it is an analytics package that can pinpoint the exact
commands and code that are causing application delays.

So these are the tips that we have learned from our experiences. We
recommend that you take a closer look at our technology and approach that
we refer to as the Wait-Time analysis methodology.

About Confio Software

Confio Software develops database performance management software which is
bringing intelligence to the way databases and their applications are monitored,
analyzed and optimized. Built on an industry best-practice Wait-Time methodology,
Confio’s Igniter™ Suite improves service levels for IT end users, and reduces total
cost of operating IT infrastructure.

IT managers and their organizations spend inordinate amounts of time responding
to application performance issues, often in crisis mode. Increasing pressure is
placed on them to improve service levels for both internal and external customers.
Without tools to find the actual root cause of problems, improvement projects spend
billions of dollars on hardware, software licenses, and consulting projects that do not
improve user service levels.

Confio’s Igniter Suite for SQL Server, DB2, Sybase, Oracle and J2EE give IT
managers the capability to unlock the value of their IT systems, ensure service
levels and avoid unnecessary expenditures. Customers worldwide have achieved
ROI in excess of 800% using Ignite to identify critical problems and manage their

                                11                  Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success
For more detailed information or to contact Confio’s executive team, Email us at, telephone us at 1.303.938.8282 or see us on the web at

Confio Software
Boulder, Colorado, USA
(303) 938-8282

                               12                Top 10 Secrets for DBA Career Success

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