Automation is a Key Skill for the Modern DBA

This month we had T-SQL Tuesday #130, hosted by Elizabeth Noble. Elizabeth and I had some good talks about database development and DevOps last year, and I managed to convince her to host one of the blog parties. I had expected that people might focus on the software development side of automation, but many of the posts cover administrative topics.

The recap is coming next week, and I look forward to it, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Good DBAs, as well as many sysadmins and Operations staff, have known that automation is important for years. It helps to ensure a smooth running environment and helps us cope with the volume of work that is thrust upon us.

There were a few interesting posts. Greg Dodd talks about the advantages for his employer when he automates things, which is important to think about. Spending time automating things can slow down the initial closing of tickets, but it pays dividends in the future. It’s an investment, which is something to think about when you try to reduce repetitive work. Especially if your boss is concerned about the time taken to solve some tickets.

One of the big advantages of DevOps, as well as general automation, is consistency. Taoib Ali explains how he enforces trace flags with automation, and Kevin Chant talks about SQL Server updates. Deepthi Goguri explains how to handle DBA work at scale. These are all situations where a little automation is not only useful, but perhaps essentially to reducing mistakes and human error.

As we move to a larger number of versions to support, a great variety of platforms, including the cloud, it’s critical that a DBA not be required to click around in SSMS or connect to lots of systems to manage them. Learning to automate can produce some great blog posts for your brand, give you interesting conversation ice breakers at events (or on social media), and generate some stories that will impress interviewers.

If you aren’t sure how to get started, consider reading Eitan’s Laws of Automation. It’s a look at what to automate, why, and a few ideas on implementing changes.

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