Training Plan for Junior DBAs Learning SQL Server

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You’re just getting started as a SQL Server Database Administrator – or you’re trying to get there.

Here’s a learning plan and links to free articles and scripts that will equip you to tackle the three most critical skills to for DBAs.


Skill 1: Design Backup Strategies that Meet RPO and RTO

Secret: the DBA is always responsible for preventing data loss, even if it’s not part of their job description.

1.1 Establish RPO and RTO

Learn Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and establish them for every environment. Focus on critical production databases first.

Your mission:

  1. Get RPO and RTO signed off by business owners
  2. Notify business owners in writing if you can’t meet the objectives (this is not a hallway conversation)

1.2 Learn about Write Ahead Logging and SQL Server Recovery Models

For me, learning about Write Ahead Logging made backups and recovery models make much more sense to me, so I recommend doing that first.

1.3 Learn Backup Under the Simple Recovery Model

1.4 Learn Transaction Log Backups and Point-in-Time Restore

Work through the entire series “Stairway to Transaction Log Management” (Tony Davis and Gail Shaw) – registration required

Skill 2: Document and Improve  SQL Server Configuration

Secret: the DBA is responsible for database and server config, even if someone else made the decision.

2.1 Document Your Configuration in Detail

Free scripts to document SQL Server configuration: SQLSkills’ free diagnostic scripts, by Glenn Berry

2.2 Identify the Configuration Changes You’d Like to Research First

Free scripts to prioritize configuration changes: Brent Ozar Unlimited’s free sp_Blitz script (registration required), by Brent Ozar.

Reminder: if you haven’t completed establishing RPO / RTO and changing your backup jobs and restore practices to meet those, do those first before any other configuration changes.

Skill 3: Plan Successful Changes

Secret: Changes you make are going to break things. Change Management is your superpower to handle this without panic.

3.1 Change Request Basic Template for DBAs

3.2 Change Management and Source Control (Grant Fritchey)

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