Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How Many Database Admins Does It Takes To...

Nowadays, businesses store all their company and customer records in a database. Having a qualified database administrator is almost a necessity for things to run properly. Subjective? I know.

So what does it take to be a qualified Database Administrator?

I don't have the answer to that, but if you were hoping to land a job as the Database Administrator for, you may be in luck. It doesn't take much to beat stupid, and after you hear my story..."stupid" is what you'll be thinking!

I used to host all my sites at HostDepartment. Why? No reason. Once i was there, switching hosts was the last thing on my mind since moving your websites is a pain in the neck. Hostdepartment keeps their servers 'specific to function', so they refuse to install .NET libraries on a linux machine, and refuse to install PHP libraries on a Windows or .NET machine (wait they have 2 different windows machines?). If i ever had a domain name that i needed to use 2 different language types with, i'd have to forward a subdomain's dns to my home machine (which i conveniently setup to handle EVERYTHING) to get around this limitation. FTP rarely worked, so most of the time i'd have to use their webclient and use browse dialogs to upload. Why did i stay? I had workarounds, and moving was inconvient. I DID end up switching hosts.

So what changed my mind?

I began work on one of my longtime "todo list"'d projects, MSS, and i wanted to use some direct SQL to LINQ methods in my Silverlight, and decided i would use a MSSQL database instead of a MYSQL database so i could.  So using their Cpanel (Hsphere) i created a user, and a database. The webclient they had "available" for me to use from the cpanel went to a page that was no longer there so i tried to connect with my SQL Management Studio Client. I had no rights to view or create any databases. After opening a ticket regarding the issue, and waiting a few weeks for a response, i decided to make temporary database on my local machine that i could move later.

4 months pass..

Still no word. I decide to talk with their live chat, and they end up making a new ticket for me about the situation. Almost a week passes and i get a response from some "delightful" lady named Sara. Sara responses gave me hope that things would get fixed this time and we sent a few messages back and forth clarifying the problem. After "fixing it" and creating my database, i could no longer log into my account even after changing my password. Upon her fixing that, the database still wasn't there. About 2 weeks passed and they asked me to send them the queries for creating and populating the tables. I zipped them up and tried to attach them to the support ticket system using their attachment feature...but i got an error saying they did not have rights to do this.

The people relied on to give me rights, couldn't even give their own program proper rights to use all of it's features. I'M DOOMED!

I had a good laugh about that one, but i don't think they found it amusing. I put it available for them to download from my home webserver.  I don't know if they tried my queries, and if they did i don't know what the problem may have been, but she then asked for me to send her a "generated backup" of my database. I gave her my generated backup, and 4 days later i get a response saying this:

"Sorry for the delayed response. I tried to restore the back up (MSS.bak)present at your webspace but it gives me an error message as the .bak file is incorrectly formed. Revert back to me with correct .bak file so that I could restore it for you at the server end."

So my format is incorrect. I didn't have options to give any other kind of format, nor did she specify what the correct format was. At this point i'm questioning why i even have to go through the process of creating my tables elsewhere and then restoring them to the server i pay for.

Sir, you can't wash your car here right now, if you could go down the street and buy some soap, come back & load the machines then we might be able to help you.
I'm sorry sir, that's the wrong kind of soap.

I contemplated making my local MSSQL database available to use outside my network when i realize that almost all of the things i pay for monthly from my webhost, i end up having to do on my own machine at home!

Being comcast sucks (which is a whole other story), i decide i need to switch webhosts. I moved to GoDaddy The first thing i did was create my database for my MSS project, and it took me just a few minutes to create them and populate them. Aside from the ease of DB creating, their site functions much quicker and i'm paying $10 less then i was with HostDepartment! With HD, on windows based machines, i could not create extra ftp logins. GD does not have that limitation :D

So how many database admins does it take to create a database? 

Setup a login? Create my tables? Screw in a light bulb? Who knows...i've yet to deal with someone who would be considered a qualified DBA from my webhost, but i was able to do it!

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