Ever since I was a young kid, I was fascinated with superheros and I’ve always wanted to have a superpower. Now it looks like I got what I asked for and somewhere in the last year I’ve become invisible.

We are having a lot of “End of Year” talks in the company, at all levels. Teams, departments, organizations, business, etc. You know how these go – what did we accomplish last year, what are our plans for next year. So, in the department meeting we talked about the improvements in the applications and new customer demands for the next year. In the organization level we talked more about sales, strategy and plans to cut costs.

Listening to all those discussions, you’d come to the conclusion that we have customers that are paying us a lot and have high demands, they are using applications which we keep upgrading. These applications run on servers, which cost a lot, so we are moving to VMWare, and usage storage which is also expensive but there is nothing to do about it. Everything is hosted in a data center which costs way too much, so we will be moving to a cheaper one. We also have nice processes that we keep improving and internal tools that we are building.

It sounds like we don’t have a database anywhere. Which makes me wonder what is it I do all day. Or more accurately, why the DBA team fails to communicate our value to the business and whether it means that we will be the first team to go when downsizing starts.


3 Comments on “Invisibility”

  1. why my managers are so ineffective at communicating what the DBA team is doing and whether it means that we will be the first team to go when downsizing starts.

    There is a way – try to stop doing what you are doing and let DBs crash and run slow and etc. Everyone will notice that they have databases and that they need DBA’s. 😉
    Yeah… life is life.

  2. APC says:

    >> why my managers are so ineffective at
    >> communicating what the DBA team is doing

    So Chen, did you discuss this with your managers before posting?

    In my experience it’s highly unusual for managers – especially those higher up the chain – to have any idea what their techies do and why it matters to the business. So it is up to us to make our case.

    This obviously depends upon having a forum where your can meet and chat with your managers, particularly the people above your immediate line management. I’m thinking of ad hoc meetings at the water cooler/coffee machine or formal lunchtime/evening socialising. The existence of such opportunities varies from company to company.

    You do a good job of explaining what you do and why it matters in your blog. So you’re aren’t invisible in the Oracle community. Perhaps you just need to focus some energy on raising your profile to a similar extent within your company.

    For instance: you could organise a couple of lunchtime sessions – I believe they call it brownbaggingin the USA – to explain what your department does and what services it can offer to the wider business. An outreach programme, as it were.

    Cheers, APC

  3. prodlife says:


    Many many thanks for your thoughtful comment. It really made me think of the subject in a much more productive way.

    As a result of your comment, I re-edited the post to make it better reflect my thoughts on the subject.

    My direct manager is well aware of the communication problem, but on second read it may have sounded like saying that he is doing a bad job, which is not what I meant.

    the DBA invisibility problem is really not about management, it is more about the bottom line. As companies become more and more bottom line oriented, the way we communicate needs to evolve.

    Sentences such as “We improved performance by 30%”, “we upgraded 95% of our servers to 10.2”, “we reduced maintenance times” and “we increased availability” are no longer interesting without being followed by “… and by doing so we saved the organization x$ a year”.

    Our team is rather loud about what we are doing, but I think we are not loud enough about why should anyone care.

    Another problem may be that we are entirely too good at communicating what we will not do. We DBAs tend to be very protective of our system, our time and our budget, and it may give the organization the impression that we always resist innovation. We need to find more positive ways to say “your idea will compromise security / will be impossible to manage / will increase risk during maintenance”.

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