Larry Goldman | Senior Director, Product Marketing
In this installment of our employee spotlight series, we’re pleased to introduce you to Senior Database Administrator Mic R. W. Buchanan. Mic specializes in managed services and consulting for Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Database. She joined Spinnaker Support in August 2021 as a part of the Dobler Consulting acquisition.
Spinnaker Support is proud to be recognized as one of the largest and most effective global vendors of database managed services, and Mic Buchanan and the rest of our database team are the reason. Our seasoned database professionals have become a trusted support resource to our growing roster of customers, and every year, they earn high customer satisfaction ratings.
Hello, Mic. What can you tell us about your role at Spinnaker Support?
Hi, I’m a Senior Database Administrator for Oracle and SQL Server. I work with our SpectrumDB Managed Services team, which supports our clients for installation and deployments, upgrades, maintenance, patching, day-to-day issues, and even projects—basically, all things database for Oracle and SQL Server. My team integrates with the client’s IT staff, whether supporting their DBA or becoming their DBA.
How did you get started in your career?
I graduated from University of Missouri at Rolla, and believe it or not, I didn’t take a single database class in college. I trained as a Linux Sysadmin and Unix C programmer, and Linux is still my native environment. When I see a prompt in a terminal window, “ls” is always the first command, even if the DOS prompt gets all finicky and says it doesn’t understand.
I’ve worked in managed services roles for several years now, supporting Oracle/SQL Server databases for companies all over the world. I put in the time to stay current in the technologies my clients use. I really solving whatever issues clients throw my way. It makes work fun and interesting and definitely keeps me on my toes!
When and why did you get started in database technology?
My first job out of college was working as a functional programmer—think basic “if-then” statements. It took me around three months to move into programming in Unix-C full time. From there I discovered PL/SQL and Oracle, and a year after that I became a full-time database programmer and consultant, mostly extending Oracle EBS code.
I learned the Oracle data dictionary early on, which guides extensions with wide-ranging applications—everything from manufacturing to HR to workflows to projects. It’s always challenging to extend Oracle code while making sure my work my work won’t be undone by patches.
My customizations work evolved into custom application database development. After that, I had the opportunity to move into DBA, my dream job! Now when I say, “I had the opportunity,” what I mean is, my mentor basically threw me into the job of DBA after I pushed the database one too many times while playing with parallel processing for a massive data project. After waking him up late at night a few times to bring the DB back up or tweak a parameter, he pushed management of all the DEV/UAT boxes to me. Then, a year or so later, he moved on, and I took his place.
After I’d worked for about five years as an Oracle DBA, the market for Oracle DBAs in Oklahoma was stagnating, and so I shifted to SQL Server, and Oracle took a back seat. When I joined Dobler, I had the opportunity to do my work 100% remotely, and I also got a better balance between Oracle and SQL Server clients.
It’s been a long road, with many interesting challenges and chances to work on many interesting puzzles, and it’s also been a lot of fun. This team is amazing. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
What do you most like about working with your customers at Spinnaker Support?
In a word, “variety.” I thrive on it, and I have an awesome mix of clients. Some of them follow my recommendations to the letter, and their systems have fewer issues. Some don’t, and then I get to solve some very interesting puzzles. I love digging into an issue and going “elbow-deep” until the solution comes into focus.
I was very excited recently to have an opportunity to help with one of our third-party support clients. I did a detailed database assessment and identified several issues that were impacting performance. Assessments are a wonderful way to help clients meet their goals and understand the tremendous impact of bringing our managed services experience and support to enhance their internal teams.
Do you have a recent example of going “above and beyond” to help a customer?
Yes, about two years ago, one of my clients had a developer who’d suddenly become very ill and had to leave. This developer/DBA had had free reign to develop and design a database and application. The application was very slow, and the data warehouse had ballooned to more than 6 TB. I wrestled with how to make the database smaller and more efficient. There were plenty of fits and starts, and it was a very demanding project, but in the end, I reduced the database to 1.6 TB.
Reports that had taken 5-6 hours to run now ran in 15 minutes. It took a huge amount of effort, but I’m proud of the work I did, and I’m ecstatic that it all worked out. The best part is that the client was way beyond “satisfied” with the work. I mean, they’d expected some improvement, but they were just blown away with the level of performance they ultimately got.
What’s one piece of support advice you would give to a database customer?
Follow database standards. If the database technology recommends something, don’t ask why, just do it. It will make your system easier to maintain, and over the lifetime of the system, it’ll save you money.
What do you like to do when you’re not working miracles for your clients?
I absolutely LOVE to travel. I visited Guatemala recently, over the holidays, which was wonderful. I’m planning an island-hopping trip to Greece, or maybe hiking the Incan Trail in Peru. I am not sure which one yet, but either way, it’ll be great!
I am also really into martial arts. I’m a level-5 kick boxer, and I’m working on my Blue Belt in Taekwondo. I’m at the gym four nights a week. I’ve been doing it for about 10 years, and it’s a great way to both stay in shape and reduce stress and relax after a long day of mental labor. Sometimes, when I get a little wound up at home, my kids will say, “Mom, are you going kickboxing today?”
I have to say, the kids really keep me grounded and remind me of what’s important in life. They’re the center of my world, and they inspire me to make our family as self-sufficient as possible. We have chickens, and I love to grow vegetables in my garden. “Dirt therapy” is a real thing! “Nix,” our Great Pyrenees dog, helps with the chickens and guards our family like a champ.