Saturday, August 23, 2008

SQL Server DBA Telecommuting Tips

1Internet Access
Whether it's Wi-Fi, T1, Air
Card, or a wired connection you can not work remotely as a DBA without being
able to connect to work. There is definitely no need to dwell on this topic,
but it does lead to the next item...
If it is a current or an
antiquated method of connecting to the office I've done it. When I first
started out I was working as an Access Developer. I'd copy my work from my
workstation to disk and then develop on my home PC on the days I'd work from
home using the media as a shuttle. Once it was a day to go back into the office
I'd copy my work back to disk and repeat the process in reverse. Now the
options are usually Citrix or VPN. In order to support your SQL environment you
must be able to connect to it. Using VPN technology on my laptop I end up with
the same connection whether that laptop is on my desk at home or on my desk at
3SQL Management
Chalk this up to the obvious.
You need to have the same software you've access to at work, while at home.
First and foremost for the SQL Server Database Administrator is Microsoft SQL
Server Management Studio.
4Remote Server
This is a must in most (but
not all) SQL Server DBAs' tool belts. It is also a point of contention for many
IT Departments between the Server Engineers, Security, and Database
Administrators. If you think about it, how often do you physically touch the
servers hosting your SQL instances? I think I've seen only five of the
80 servers I support. When it comes right to it, even when I'm in the office,
I'm technically a remote worker. I rely heavily on Microsoft Terminal
Services. After SQL Server Management Studio and Microsoft Outlook, it is
probably my most-used application. If you need to copy backup files or
detach/attach databases to migrate between PROD/TEST/DEV/BUILD, you are wise to
use Terminal Services over Windows Explorer. There is a noticeable performance
hit when copying a file from Server A to Server B using two Explorer windows on
your workstation versus using Terminal Services to connect to Server B and then
copying a file from a Explorer window on Server A. If using your workstation to
move files, you are actually copying the file(s) from Server A to your
workstation and then from your workstation to Server B. Think about the time
difference to do this when moving a 20Gb data file from BUILD to PROD from your
home office using DSL!
Connectivity Software
Just because you're working
away from the office doesn't mean you can ignore your coworkers. Besides the
obligatory email/office productivity software (Outlook, Groupwise, etc.) instant
messaging software is also important. We've used a variety of products in our
company before settling on Microsoft's Office Communication Server (OCS). Nice
thing about it - it uses a SQL Server database. Support your local Relational
Database Management System!
6VOIP Those cell phone bills can add
up over time. Anyone who has ever been on the support line to Microsoft through
two shifts on their personal cell phone can attest to that. Recently I
installed a product from Nortel, IP SoftPhone that allows me to answer calls and
make calls from, my desk phone in the office. While this is not a requirement
to working remotely it does take some of the financial pain away from
7Telecommuting is not for
the Social Butterfly
I do not recommend
telecommuting more than a couple days per week to those individuals who crave
the social aspects of the office environment. You'll find yourself going
stir-crazy if this a personality trait. When in the office you'll spend too
much time socializing to get your "people fix". Telecommuting is just not for
8Don't Become Invisible;
Don't Become a Nuisance
There have been studies
showing that those individuals who work remotely to some extent lag behind
workers that exclusively work in the office when it comes to wage increases.
Much of this has been attributed to the lack of visibility these remote workers
have compared to their office-bound co-workers.

So, how do you get around this? With moderation. I
find that keeping a running email with nothing more than bullet points
highlighting what I worked on over the course of the day, with high-level
detail, provides the proper amount of information to keep my Manager
"in-the-loop". He's often commented that he knows more about what I do than any
of the other staff that report to him. What this also does is prevents the
formation of a bad habit of cc-ing your supervisor on each email you write
during the day in order to simply keep him/her involved and aware of what you're
doing. This documentation also serves a valuable purpose when it comes to your
drafting your annual self-performance review.

9Work Within Your
There is a big difference
between working two days per week remotely and working three days remotely.
There was a large behavioral adjustment when I shifted to three days remote,
even after working remotely two days per week for six years prior. It was
easier to get up and immediately start working, work through lunch, work until
dinner and realize I was still in the clothes I woke up in. It is amazing how
you find yourself working harder and longer and it takes a bit of time to work
out of this mode; a very unhealthy mode. My recommendations to combat

  • Maintain a dedicated home office or area dedicated
    just to work, be it a desk in the dining room or a room solely for this

  • Keep to a routine - get up and take that shower,
    grab your coffee, and walk into your home office. I've known of people who will
    get in their car, drive around the block and then come in through the front door
    and walk into their home office just to put mental separation between working
    from home and being at home.

  • Fight the urge to keep working for just a "few
    minutes more" at the end of the day. It is so easy just to keep working, since
    you don't have to commute back home at the end of the work day. Just like at
    the start of the day, come up with a process that separates work from personal

Oddly enough, when I began working four days remotely
per week I found the transition easier.

10Remember: It's a Benefit,
not an Endowment
Work every day remotely as if
it is something that can be taken away. Sure, you may have situations where
you'll need to step out and take care of something. Follow whatever protocols
your office expects if you were to step away for personal matters if you were
physically in the office. Sure, you may look out and see the lawn needs mowing
or that the laundry is piling up. Resist the urge to do anything about it
though until after work.

Courtesy: MS SQL Tips

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