Bad Database Standards, Part 5

None Shall Pass!

Rigidly adhering to a standard, any standard, without being reasonable and using your ability to think through changing situations and circumstances, is itself, a bad standard.

If you happen to be a fan of Monty Python, then you probably recognize the line “None shall pass!” at the top of this blog entry. It is the unchanging exclamation of the black knight in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He just stands there trying to block everyone who attempts to go past him – even after a better swordsman has cut off all his arms and legs.

I’m sure some of the application developers reading this can relate to that story. Valiantly explaining to the DBA why they need to go against some standard or another, only to be told “None shall pass” by that stubborn DBA.

For just about every standard you can think of, I can think of an exception. A good standard should be put in place not to be a rigid bottleneck to productivity. Instead, a good standard is there because it works well most of the time in terms of delivering superior performance, service, availability, or functionality. But sometimes, diverting from that standard can make sense, too. The key is for DBAs to keep an open mind and to be reasonable.

Of course, I do not mean to suggest that just anybody should be allowed to thwart the written standards of the organization whenever they see fit. Instead, all parties involved should be reasonable and have a valid, business reason for failing to enforce a standard. Or perhaps you should look at it as modifying the standard based on new evidence or an unanticipated situation.

When going against a standard makes more sense than enforcing it, let’s all agree that it is wiser to make an exception (or to modify the standard). After all, our standards are supposed to be there to make sure we do the right thing. And they normally do… except when they don’t.

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About craig@craigsmullins.com

I'm a strategist, researcher, and consultant with nearly three decades of experience in all facets of database systems development.
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