Legions of aspiring Spocks will tonight begin to ask the question of whether constructing that excel spreadsheet will be enough to qualify for DBA status (it won't) as the five week video-based quiz launches with the prize, a seat on a commercial Space Adventures flight reaching 62 miles above the earth, into what is officially space.
The competition is being run through the DBA in Space web site and involves answering three questions every week, in the process unravelling what Red Gate calls a Gordian knot of a plot.
It is anyone's guess how many people will enter, the competition is open to (almost) any DBA residing in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia or Germany (with some exceptions), but only 15 will make the finals with the winner chosen on the basis of a public vote and the feedback from an expert panel.
Red Gate Software's joint-CEO, Neil Davidson, says the compeition has been launched as a show of appreciation to DBAs across the world, something the company has shown before with its backing of the Exceptional DBA of the year award.
Red Gate calls DBAs the important people you've never heard of, the master of data who enables medical records to be summoned in the blink of an eye, keeps transport running smoothly, manages the data beneath the electrical grid for billions of people and provides instant access to news, music, phone calls, money and an endless supply of entertainment.
Davidson said when the idea was proposed (by the Mill Agency), the appeal was instant. "People who manage databases are quite technical and the idea of putting someone into space is still semi-science fiction," said Davidson. "The idea is so clear and striking and easy to understand, it clicked and made perfect sense immediately. People just get it.
"DBAs do a really important role in companies, they're not really appreciated and whose work is not really understood."
The criteria for being a DBA is fairly broad says Davidson, anyone that manages a proper database like an SQL server for instance, which in Red Gate (whose employees are not eligible to enter the competition) would be a quarter of its staff.
Red Gate has a history of eye-catching marketing, such as 2010's '10 geeks in five weeks' promotion that offered a free iPad to any job candidate making it through to interview stage.
This is one small step ahead of that. The starting price for the equivalent space trip with Space Adventures is $110,000, but Davidson says the cost to Red Gate is substantially higher than that with all the work that's gone round it.
Another difference between the iPad giveaway and a flight to space is that there is no direct target with it, Red Gate isn't trying to fill any particular position or sell a particular product, "no hard sell," says Davidson though he does hope more people will become aware of the organisation that employs 250 people in Cambridge.
Like the iPad campaign, this competition is meant to be grab a fair amount of attention. however. "This competition is the kind of thing we love doing, something big that gets to the heart of an issue or problem," said Davidson.
"We are a commercial organisation though and we do help this will benefit us and our customers, we hope it will help recruitment and add awareness of who we are amongst professionals and CTOs who have not heard of us before, but this is not a hard sell, you do not have to buy software to enter."