Your Contract / Part-Time DBA

Having been a full-time DBA for many years, and having worked myself out of more than one job, I’m going to suggest that many companies do not want to hire a full-time DBA. They really want to hire an expert part-time DBA, someone who can solve their immediate problems, then bring their servers to the status of maintenance mode, where everything is working like a finely tuned machine. That same DBA can make himself/herself available for regular server audits, an occasional server tune-up, and emergencies/catastrophic failures on an as-needed basis. He/she can perform regular monitoring of database server metrics to intercept as-yet-undetectable problems before they become actual problems. Many budding problems give early warning signals if you know what to look for.

DBA’s are expensive, especially good ones. In today’s economy, companies hire only who they must. By the time many companies decide they must hire a DBA, it’s because their database servers are “on fire”. 

As a DBA who has put out many database server ”fires”, I can tell you that the problem is never a single problem or even 5 problems. It’s usually 50 problems and they have to be solved one at a time which can take days or weeks depending on their causes and/or severity.

How and why do database servers get “on fire”, where their degraded performance begins to affect every aspect of a company’s business operations? 

Many people think that database servers will “automagically”, like some black box, just work. It’s not true. Database servers require ongoing data and database maintenance and fine tuning, as well as proactive monitoring of performance metrics to ensure optimum service. The acts of modifying data and adding data to a database alter the performance characteristics of the database server and the applications that access the data. 

Why is it that database servers can appear to run perfectly for months, even years, and then suddenly, performance begins to deteriorate? 

All databases, when they’re small, present few performance problems. As databases grow, formerly undetectable small problems begin to manifest themselves as bigger and bigger problems. Some problems have “tipping points”. There are hidden thresholds in SQL Server that, once reached, suddenly manifest themselves as major problems.

Why do problems with query deadlocks and query timeouts start to appear when they formerly did not exist? 

Microsoft SQL Server is an enormously complicated product that is capable of handling a broad range of data management and data retrieval applications. Because of this, it is highly robust and can mask many problems in application implementations - up to a point. The points where problems usually begin to occur are four-fold:

  1. High usage, and/or,
  2. Large databases, and/or,
  3. Poorly implemented applications, and/or
  4. Inefficiently written SQL queries and/or supporting database infrastructures. 

Each point presents different challenges to reliable, predictable database access. 

Why do some database servers seem to “break” and reach the point where they are barely usable? 

Best practices have not been implemented. Best practices are just that and they exist for a reason: they enable high performance and prevent problems from occurring. 


Because of the nature of SQL Server, I do not have to be on-site to be your part-time DBA. I can work on SQL Server database servers anywhere in the world. I have done so on many occasions.

Comparing the costs of part-time, expert DBA services to the cost of a full-time, expert DBA, the part-time DBA solution is a bargain.

If you need help with performance tuning your SQL Server,  contact me to schedule a free consultation.