The conversation started out "What do you do all day?"
I was talking to a fellow IT worker and was trying to explain my job function. I often get this question from non-computer people and I just respond "computers", but this required a more in-depth answer.
I started off with "Basically, I make sure all those databases that the company uses stay up and functional."
"Ah....But what does that mean?"
So I start explaining my day.
My day typically starts with resolving any non-critical problems that happen overnight. I don't have to worry about the critical problems, because they have already been resolved by the person on duty (which is me every other week). I might create a new schema for a user in Europe. Or I might try and find out why userX tried to login yesterday over 300 times using the wrong password. This type of stuff usually lasts from 15 minutes to an hour. In my group, we each have about the same amount of this type of work in the morning. In addition, we'll respond to these type of quickie tasks throughout the day, recording each one.
Then I spend about 15 minutes catching up on how my people are doing with their projects. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but I generally like to get a feel of how things are going before I start doing my heavy duty work.
Most of my day is spend doing what I call "project work". Project Work are those tasks that can't be done in less than a day. A project might be as short as a day, or may be as long as 18 months. An example of a project might be as complex as upgrading Oracle Applications to 11.5.10 or might be as simple as setting up a connection manager for a particular sub-net. I typically schedule my work so I can work on two projects at the same time (ie. while Oracle Applications is applying patch XYZ, I write code for my monitoring software).
Occasionally, I'll have to respond to a critical situation. I have monitoring software running all the time and when it encounters something that it thinks I should know about, the software sends us a message. If a process is running over X minutes, I get a message indicating that maybe I should investigate more. If the software encounters a condition that could potentially stop business, I get notified right away using a text message. If my backups fail at 02:00, I get notified. If the log_archive_dest gets over 90% full, I get notified. On average, I get about three after-hours messages a week when I'm on duty.
I don't worry about backups, they're automated. I don't worry about my alert.log, it's being monitored. I don't worry about the database being up, it's monitored.
The other person usually wakes up from their coma at that point and says "Oh."