Friday, March 09, 2018

On Leaky Pipes and DBAs

How is a plumber like a DBA? 

I was working in my backyard a couple of weekends ago, trying to find the cause of a leak. You see, there was a big puddle of water in the backyard, it hadn’t rained lately, and it was larger than the sprinklers could’ve made. Down here in Texas almost everyone has a sprinkler system -- you kind of have to or your grass and plants will die and your house might come down with foundation problems. So everything has to stay somewhat "moist."

Anyway, it was obvious I had a problem. So I was turning water on and off and running the sprinkler and the hose and then I stopped. And started to think like a DBA. 

What does that mean? 

Well, one of my cardinal rules whenever confronted with a database problem is to do one thing at a time -- otherwise, if you’ve made multiple changes how do you know which helped; and which might’ve hurt? You don’t. 

I had violated this rule in my backyard. So I went back to doing one thing at a time. I figured that would give me the best chance to actually find the problem. This approach might take longer but at least it has a chance of success.

Slowly I stepped through turning on and off valves. And then I realized unless there was a huge flow of water leaking somewhere that I might not even notice the leak. It made more sense to turn everything off and let the standing water evaporate. And that takes even more time.

And then I decided it was time to call in an expert. Let them worry about my pipes and leaks -- and I’ll worry about the database!

Note: The leak was caused by an underground pipe that the experts found quickly using equipment I didn't have (and didn't even know existed). Another good reason to leave things to the experts!

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