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Onboarding a New DBA


#1

I've just recently taken over supervising a team of database administrators and I have to admit, it's a bit daunting. The issue that I have is I'm responsible for the hiring of new database administrators and the on-boarding process. I do have an administrator to assist with the hiring, so that doesn't bother me too much. What bothers me is the on-boarding and that's what I'm hoping you seasoned DBAs can assist me with.

What is your on-boarding process for new DBAs? Do you let them right in your production databases from the word go? Do you limit them to just the test environment for a certain period of time? What about learning the business processes that these databases support? Also, just so you know - there isn't a lot of environment documentation so sitting them down with manuals on how we operate is not an option.

Pretend you have one DBA that supports the entire environment and you are hiring 5 newbies. Your primary DBA has to support the environment and on-board/mentor. What approach would you take?

I look forward to your responses and thank you in advance!

~The Accidental DBA


#2
  1. have they ever worked in a production environ in previous job
  2. is it similar to you current environ
  3. what skill sets do they have to hit the ground running
  4. what mistakes have they done as dba in past. how did they recover
    if they have been fully vetted during interview I dont see any reason to hold them back especially if they are quality dba. u dont want to lose talented people bcs of paranoia

#3

If you don't mind, let's assign these topics letters so they can be commented on easily by everyone without having to repeat the criteria.

A) Do you let new DBAs right in[to] your production databases from the word go?
B) What about learning the business processes that these databases support?
C) Pretend you have one DBA that supports the entire environment and you are hiring 5 newbies. Your primary DBA has to support the environment and on-board/mentor. What approach would you take?

A) Depends on the experience of the DBA. For a DBA with 1-2+ yrs exp., yes. If not, typically not. For brand new DBAs, definitely not.

B) They'd need mentored into that. Bring them along to meetings, even if they don't fully understand all that's being said at first. This has always been a learn-as-you-go process.

C) Depends on what specifically the DBAs do.
If they're "production only" DBAs, they can take over the physical aspects of setup and tuning fairly quickly, since they're very common across shops.
If they need to help model data, logically and/or physically, spend time with them and define a rigorous methodology for doing that. Inferior data modeling is often at the heart of future db problems!!
If they will do day-to-day support, show them the last few issues you've had, the areas where you'd expect to see problems and the areas where you wouldn't (for example, on our servers, we have plenty of RAM (amazing I know!) but are very CPU strained).