Don’t Fear the Robot Database Administrators

by Nov 6, 2020

Nightmares about automation can conjure up images of shiny robots toiling away tirelessly without ever making an error or requiring a break. At first, they are relegated to performing menial and repetitive tasks that can easily be programmed.

Over time, these robots become more intelligent and begin to exhibit characteristics that allow them to take on more complicated roles in business and industry. Authors of dystopian epics often envision a future where humans are no longer necessary and have become subservient to their automated creations.

An alternate view of the relationship between robots and humans as technology continues to progress is one of collaboration designed to enhance the lives of everyone in society. In this scenario, the human element of society retains its superior standing while taking advantage of the reliability and functionality of advanced robotic counterparts. From the perspective of an interested human observer, this is the more preferred outcome.

A fact that is sometimes overlooked in discussions of automated robotic interaction with humans is that the type of work robots can perform has advanced and now goes far beyond simple assembly-line applications. Robots can appear to demonstrate impressive levels of intelligence that disguise the fact that they are simply advanced programmatic creations.

Software Robots

The technological advances in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have made it possible to develop what can be termed software robots. They use robotic process automation techniques to mimic the human response to workplace activities and can exercise judgment in performing their tasks. You have likely encountered software robots, or bots, while surfing the web. That probably wasn’t really a person who asked you how they could help when you landed on a new site.

As more efficient and functional software robots are developed, a greater number of job categories will be affected to some degree. In many cases, individuals will need to exhibit flexibility and the willingness to learn new skills to adapt to the changes wrought by the introduction of software and hardware robots to the workplace. Database administrators need to be aware, but not afraid, of the potential for collaboration with software robots as they do their job.

Using the Robots Available in SQL Server

An IDERA webcast presented by SQL Server authority Brent Ozar takes an in-depth look at the new class of Robot DBAs that are available in SQL Server 2017, 2019, and Azure. Brent has an inimitable style that synthesizes his deep and extensive knowledge regarding the inner-workings of SQL Server with a delivery intended to connect with the working DBA.

Brent compares the functionality of the robot DBAs present in newer versions of SQL Server to the autocorrect feature on your smartphone or laptop. The robots provide a level of functionality that can assist a human DBA to do a better job, but they are not about to perform a hostile takeover of the database team. The webcast takes a close look at specific robots that have been incorporated into SQL Server. These robots can assist with tasks like:

  • Automatic tuning;
  • Optimizing batch mode execution;
  • Function optimization;
  • Memory grant feedback;
  • Adaptive joins.

Brent uses his expertise to evaluate the functionality of each robot and lets you know how worthwhile each one is and how it works with different versions of SQL Server. If you want to get the most out of SQL Server, you should watch this video and take advantage of the robots where it makes sense for your shop.

The video includes a discussion of how SQL Diagnostic Manager for SQL Server can help you identify issues that are impacting your SQL Server environment before they start to affect your customers. It’s a comprehensive solution that allows you to monitor, alert, diagnose, and report on database performance and availability. Used in combination with the help provided by SQL Server’s robot DBAs, the tool will keep your SQL Servers operating at peak efficiency.