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this is my first post on DBA. I'd like to get some clear ideas from you. First of all, this may sound as a discussion but it's not a debate. What I'm looking for could be something like "Yes, they can do whatever they want" or "No, no way!"

Recently I've finished developed a web application. Once it's done I was told to contact Server Area department so they could help me out with uploading my SQL db, grant permissions, etc etc.

So, I did that. They explained how they were used to work and we agreed on uploading a non-operational version db, so we could test permissions etc. They told me to handle them a back up of the db. They would restore it. First thing making noise within me. Shouldnt I be the one restoring back ups? "Well.. I'm no dba yet, I'm sure they know better." was my answer to myself since those could be their practices.

Two days later they send me an email, saying the backup is up and giving some suggestions. They needed my db tables to be normalized and have the proper indexes.

My reaction wasn't sweet. First of all, we both had talked about it and the back up wasnt not the operational one... So, are any conclusions relevant?... and bay the way, tables are all fully normalized. Second, is it ok for them to access that deep? What if the information contained in my db is critical?

Thanks a lot, hope for some insights on this matter.

share|improve this question
As a side note, what do you mean with "fully" normalized? All tables in 3NF, BCNF, 4NF, 5NF or 6NF? – ypercubeᵀᴹ Oct 4 '12 at 13:57
I dont know if I can go that deep but what I meant is I have non-repeated info, and every table has it's own key-up. – Daniel Sh. Oct 4 '12 at 14:05
"Yes, they can do whatever they want." – RBarryYoung Oct 4 '12 at 20:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

From what I gather in your post, you are on the development side and they are on the administration side. I can see why they would like to handle the administration portion of the database(s). That would most definitely include backup/restore, security, etc. If they are responsible for the maintenance and administration of the data layer, then that is more than appropriate.

As for their suggestions about data normalization, there is a possibility there suggestions are prudent. At the same time, that would be a database design/development decision which sounds more like your responsibility. Maybe they were just friendly suggestions, that's up to you to decide. But if they were forceful "recommendations" then that would be another story, as you application is likely to adhere to the schema.

As for the restore on a development server, it is very shop-specific. The overruling argument will be who had jurisdiction on that particular server (or servers). Again, this is very shop-specific.

What I'm trying to get at is there are too many variables, and as participants of DBA.SE there is really no way we can give you sound advice. I recommend you take this argument to management in your company that can make a decision one way or another.

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If you cannot trust your I.T. people you have a big problem. Anyone who has the Administrator keys can do ANYTHING.

In my opinion, having someone else look at your database structure is never a bad thing. They are most likely correct about normalizing your database and you probably should pay attention to what they are telling you. These guys do that type of thing because they love it, not because they have to.

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thanks a lot Max. – Daniel Sh. Oct 4 '12 at 14:05

You should always consider any server this way: if there is a user who is a local administrator on the box, they own the box and anything you put on it. You can do things to make it cumbersome for a local admin to access your data, but you can't make it impossible unless you take away their local admin privileges.

Instead of viewing this as a violation of some kind, perhaps - since you are not a DBA - you should welcome and consider their advice. Normalization and proper indexes certainly sound like things you should consider (now, I have no idea if their observations are correct).

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Thats the thing, their observations were not correct. Considering advices is cool though. Thanks – Daniel Sh. Oct 4 '12 at 14:01
@DanielSh. well no offense, but you said you weren't a DBA, so how can you be sure that your tables are fully normalized and that all the proper indexes are in place? – Aaron Bertrand Oct 4 '12 at 14:05
Non offense taken. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "fully" since it seems to take things for granted that maybe I didnt intend to mean. The design of the db was done by me, then checked by a dba. He submitted a few corrections in order to get it normalized (I didn't ask for the "method" involved in that normalizing process). Same with indexes. – Daniel Sh. Oct 4 '12 at 14:09

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