Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top already touched on the question of interaction between DBAs and sysadmins. The answers focused on personal interaction and teamwork. But what about technical knowledge? What aspects of sysadmin work would be helpful for DBAs? What DBA skills would be helpful for sysadmins? If you had two weeks to spend on training, what books and classes would you use?

share|improve this question
Community wiki, please. – Teddy Nov 29 '09 at 16:22
up vote 5 down vote accepted

The interface between DBAs and systems administrators are generally going to focus on performance, so I would start there.

  • DBAs need to understand the various profiling tools that are available from the operating system to be able to trace various performance issues from the database. Ideally, this would include the tools the SAN administrators have to monitor SAN performance as well.
  • System administrators need to understand the general architecture of the Oracle database so that they can understand the I/O profiles that various files will have (i.e. redo logs would ideally be on disk optimized for writes, redo log groups are spread across multiple drives already so that it is not necessary for the system's I/O subsystem to provide additional redundancy via RAID).
  • DBAs need to understand the various options that the operating system/ SAN provides that can simplify or speed up backups, clones, and disaster recovery. For example, some SAN vendors make it possible to clone a database by splitting the mirror and mounting the copy on the test server.
  • System administrators need to understand at a high level how the DBAs perform backups and recovery, how databases are cloned, and how disaster recovery is being done. That allows them to suggest tools that may simplify these tasks and allow them to understand the Oracle tools that are available for those tasks (i.e. DataGuard) to understand the costs and benefits of both.
  • DBAs need to understand the various memory and I/O configuration settings the system provides (particularly things like asynchronous I/O, file system choices, etc.) in order to understand how those parameters may impact things like performance and recoverability.
  • Both groups need to understand the application specific behaviors and requirements to avoid nasty surprises. If you have a data warehouse that loads data between midnight and 4 AM, for example, the admins need to be aware of that so that they don't do something that floods the SAN with activity during that window assuming that no one is using the systems at that hour.

If it's feasible (your DBA and operating system groups are both technically solid, they're physically close by, they both have a reasonable level of communication skills, etc.), I would tend to suggest having the DBAs prepare training for the system admins and vice versa. Oracle University undoubtedly offers more thorough classes to teach someone about the Oracle database-- you could undoubtedly have them put together a custom class that takes a day or two from various courses they offer on things like database architecture. And you could probably do something similar with the company that provides your operating system. That would undoubtedly provide a smoother classroom experience. But it won't include all the organization-specific tidbits that are probably quite interesting (i.e. why things are done a certain way because of certain technical, business, or political requirements). And it also doesn't provide the opportunity to open the lines of communication between the groups. I would personally much rather have the DBAs, for example, learn a little less about a particular operating system profiling tool but feel more comfortable seeking out one of the admins when he or she had a question about using it than to have the DBA learn a little more about the technology and not build up the personal relationships. As a side effect, having both groups train the other has a tendency to let both groups spend some time generating or updating documentation that they don't generally have time for.

share|improve this answer

When doing server clustering... Oracle DBA must be aware of the clustering environment, and vice verse....

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.