January 24, 2018

Life of MySQL DBA

What is it like being a MySQL DBA? It is interesting and challenging!  A MySQL DBA is accountable equally for technology and business operations. Everyone agrees the accountability for technology operations but few asked my how on business operations? I am explaining here in this post how MySQL DBAs can equally create  business value?  A serious MySQL DBA is never the career for someone who is looking for 40 hours / week job, It is a very demanding profession! MySQL DBA is accountable for entire MySQL Infrastructure Operations  , It includes but not limited to responsibilities like Architecture, Engineering, MySQL Operations Monitoring / Trending,  Performance Health Check / Diagnostics / Forensics, Tuning , Scalability, High Availability, Disaster Recovery and Upgrades. Recently a college graduate who want to pursue the career of MySQL DBA approached me asking what is it like the life of an MySQL DBA? So I thought let’s write a post about the life of an MySQL DBA!!

What will be the profile of  MySQL DBA?
A true MySQL DBA is an courageous problem solver, At times he/she is expected to remain calm and address the problem than getting sensitive/emotional (many times I was called for emergency support during personal vacations, I am ok with it because it’s the nature of my Job!! ) because anything happen to MySQL Infrastructure you will be blamed (even when it’s not your mistake) so be cool and never ever get into panic/anxiety situation (practice meditation & yoga, It will support you at personal level during turbulence) with any level of odd experience in your MySQL Operations, Expect the worst and be prepared for it ! Remember Murphy’s law “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong ! ” . Now on technical competency front every MySQL DBA is expected to know MySQL Architecture, MySQL Operations Management (Monitoring & Trending), MySQL Troubleshooting, MySQL Performance, MySQL High Availability and Disaster Recovery. Thankfully MySQL ecosystem is rich when it comes to knowledge sharing and support.  Percona’s investments in MySQL research and innovation made MySQL DBA ecosystem more stronger and healthy ! The following are few books (must have) in every MySQL DBA library:

  1. High Performance MySQL (Peter Zaitsev, Vadim Tkachenko and Baron Schwartz )
  2. MySQL Troubleshooting (Sveta Smirnova)
  3. Expert MySQL (Charles Bell)

 What makes you The Expert MySQL DBA ?
Practice, Practice & More Practice over multiple MySQL (MySQL GA, Percona Server, WebScaleSQL and MariaDB) infrastructure and continuous learning is key! MySQL DBAs need to automate their routine tasks to find more time for learning, community contributions  and attending MySQL events (You can learn a lot from these events from peers & experts !). Be open to learn from every MySQL flavour (MySQL GA, Percona Server, WebScaleSQL and MariaDB) available  this get you to be an unbiased MySQL advocate. Take the full ownership of your MySQL Infrastructure like Performance, Scalability, High Availability, Disaster Recovery and Security because strategically/economically it never make sense for hiring multiple MySQL DBAs for addressing different areas of MySQL Operations! Last but not the least never limit your scope to just MySQL because most of MySQL implementations are on Linux, Good understanding of Linux Operations comes handy many times in your career so please do some investments for learning Linux!!!

Where do I start my career as MySQL DBA?
Once you have basic knowledge in MySQL DBA Operations, Start actively networking with MySQL DBA Managers and Database Architects. The initial days please don’t expect challenging opportunities, There is nobody in this planet who risk their mission critical MySQL database with junior DBA(s) ! The early days of your career sometimes will be limited to assisting Principal / Sr. MySQL DBAs but this will give you access to experience/knowledge of someone who is working with MySQL production infrastructure for many years. The early days of your career as Jr. MySQL DBA is very important because it equally provide to guidance and practice governance in MySQL Operations Management successfully. You must never get bored doing repetitive tasks initial years !!

What does MySQL consultant career path look like?
The value of MySQL consultant grows higher with more years of experience and volume/transaction of MySQL database he/she managed. If you have entrepreneurial interests the independent MySQL contractor (I am an independent MySQL contractor for many years) is very promising, exciting and rewarding!

How MySQL DBAs can equally create  business value
Faster, Scalable & Highly Available MySQL infrastructure is very important for successfully running planet-scale Internet/Mobility Application or SaaS. Think about “Cost-To-MySQL-Outage” for an online commerce or advertisement network business? A seasoned  MySQL DBA should proactively plan Optimal, Scalable, Highly Available and Secured MySQL Operations to address customer experience & revenue!

So have you decided to be a MySQL DBA?    
Good luck !! Start your learning with an positive mind and spend all your productive hours in reading the research & experience of many professional MySQL consultants (there are many available in public domain already!)

About Shiv Iyer 12 Articles
Independent and vendor neutral MySQL, MariaDB and Percona Server consultant with core expertise in performance, scalability and high availability. Shiv is a frequent speaker in Open Source Software conferences worldwide. Shiv currently is the founder and principal of MinervaSQL, An boutique private-label MySQL, MariaDB and Percona Server consulting and remote DBA services company with several customers worldwide. Shiv in the past worked for companies like MySQL AB, SUN, Oracle, AOL, Nike, eBay, PayPal, PalominoDB (acquired by Pythian) and Percona in Sr. MySQL consulting and professional services roles. To engage MinervaSQL for MySQL consulting and professional services, please send email to shiv@minervasql.com