The developer / DBA relationship.


A large part of my job involves liaising with developers. I spent the first 8 years of my IT career working as a developer before moving into database administration in 2008. Consequently,  I find this relationship to be one of the easier aspects of my job to manage  - which is the direct opposite of how some DBA’s feel :-).

I remember receiving advice from DBA’s when I was a developer and thinking that the constraints that they were placing on me were a little rigid, to say the least.

Back then, I had little experience of what a DBA’s job involved and the constraints that were placed upon them by others (such as data custodians).

However, after making my move to the land of the DBA (over to the dark side, as some have termed it), I find myself in an excellent position to manage this relationship, mainly because I can now clearly see situations from both camps and immediately see any conflicting requirements.

I’d just like to say that whether you sit in the developer camp or the DBA camp, you’ll find this relationship a whole lot easier to manage just by making your mind up to be flexible (obviously within the constraints of you role)  and willing to listen clearly to any opposing views from the other camp.

Lets be clear here about what I mean by listening. I am talking about letting the other party speak clearly and explaining their position. Let them finish and only interrupt then if absolutely necessary – maybe to ask them to clarify a point. When you listen to them, make an absolute effort to fully understand all of their concerns and solutions. Listen to them with an open mind and be prepared to accept that their solution – or at least a portion of it – may have clear, valid merit. Make sure that you understand every word they say. I also think that the test of this is that if the other person has explained something so well – and I have fully understood it, then I should be able to go away and explain it just as clearly to somebody else.

When they have finished, ask them questions, maybe run over a few “what if” scenario’s and get clarification on anything that you are unsure of.

Now, lets be clear, about what I most definitely  do not mean.

Do not just let them speak for the sake of appearing polite and ignore pretty much everything they say. This will probably come back to bite you at a later date.

I mean after all, we all like to be listened to, so just extend them the same courtesy that you would expect then to extend to you.

With the right respect for each others roles I think this relationship can be (and should be) one of the strongest in IT.

I’m going to attempt to put out a short developer tip (or even a DBA tip) every so often that has helped me to manage this relationship – and hopefully will help anybody else to do he same.

I’ve use this page as the index page and so will constantly keep it updated.

About Martin Catherall

Martin Catherall is RockSolid SQL consultant, a SQL Server MVP and Regional Mentor (RM) for the Professional Association for SQL Server. Martin is an SQL SERVER Database Administrator in the Christchurch Area and has been active in the local IT community for over 10 years. He likes learning interesting stuff about databases and passing on his knowledge. In his spare time he likes to learn guitar and hang out with his two young sons Callum Glen and Robert Michael.