Ordinary Oracle Joe

Just an ordinary DBA's thoughts

How much knowledge is ‘enough’?

Posted by oakesgr on August 5, 2009

I was reading one of Martin Widlake’s excellent posts about the auto stats gathering job when the question popped into my mind – ‘How much knowledge is enough?’

Note the italics on enough. I think it all depends on what the reader intends to do with the knowledge.  

As I’ve mentioned before I’m the team lead for a group of dbas. The team includes two sybase dbas. As an oracle-only dba, my knowledge of sybase is beyond limited, yet I still need to understand some basic principles / phrases / procedures so that I can perform some kind of management function. So where do I start?… and where do I draw the line?

It’s crossed my mind to start reading up on sybase documentation or pick up a Sybase for Dummies type book. Having thought about it though, I’ve decided that this would be not so much a waste of my time, but more that my time would be better spent improving my oracle knowledge.

I never have to login to sybase so what value would I provide by learning basic commands? That does not mean that I’m not interested in learning more about sybase. Just that the way I learn will be more around questioning the dbas I work with.

Luckily the two sybase dbas in question are truly excellent dbas. Therefore I feel able to trust their judgement completely in all things technical. They’re also very patient beings that don’t mind the numerous simple questions I like to ask 🙂

However, the more I work with them, the more relevant my oracle knowledge seems to be. This morning I was discussing an ASE 12.5 to 15 migration with one of them. One of the major sticking points is that the optimizer changes radically between versions and that sql plans can get worse as well as better. Does this ring any bells for Oracle dbas out there?

So it seems that for the moment I will concentrate on learning where I can apply oracle principles to sybase, and probably more importantly, where I can’t!


3 Responses to “How much knowledge is ‘enough’?”

  1. Statistique said

    “One of the major sticking points is that the optimizer changes radically between versions and that sql plans can get worse as well as better. Does this ring any bells for Oracle dbas out there?”

    Ring a bell… you mean sounds an ALARM !!!

  2. mwidlake said

    Hi Graham,
    Firstly, a big thank you for the mention, I’m really glad you like what I blog.

    I know exactly what you mean about needing to know enough about a technology to manage people, I had the same dilemma with managing some Java people at one point. In my case we managed to get a Java trainer to do a day on “Java architecture and concepts for idiots”. IE, managers. It was just right for me.

    As you say, why use time to learn enough to be a junior Sybase DBA when you have two skilled practitioners in your team, it’s better to learn the concepts – maybe reading the Sybase equivalent of the Oracle Concepts manual would be a good middle ground?

    As for oracle version changes, optimizer woes, weeks of pain, frustration…I have no idea what you could mean 🙂

    • oakesgr said

      Hi Martin,

      I think a lot of it comes down to trust. If you can trust those people to do a good job and provide you with relevant info, your life is easier.

      As soon as I finish Christian Antognini’s book I’ll be looking for that concepts manual!


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