This month the nod goes to none other than Jason Strate (Blog|Twitter). A few years back I sat in on one of Jason’s sessions at PASS Summit. From attending that session I found my way to his blog series called Index Black OPS which helped me tremendously, and I’ve carried some of the methodology since then.
Jason works for Pragmatic Works which is in and of itself a good company; what I’ve seen over the years that resonates with me is an extreme work ethic sprinkled in with some SQL Karaoke madness. A real down to earth guy who has a genuine love for helping people.
On this note I strongly suggest you check out his blog; he has some stellar information over there around several topics:
Don’t just limit reviewing the topics; make sure you check out the resources and publications to.
Like Jason, many SQL family members contribute on a daily basis in sharing their knowledge and helping the community grow. It’s time we (myself included) start paying homage and respect to those that give selflessly day in and day out sacrificing a lot to make our community one of the best there is.
Thanks Jason for being an impact player in our community.
Stay tuned to next month to catch Part 3 in the series of Impact Players.
This months T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by none other than Kenneth Fisher (B|T). His topic for this month revolves around security and how you manage security. There probably couldn’t be a more fitting topic; especially with the many breaches we have had lately both ones that are known and ones that are not known.
With that said I want to take this time to expound on a wider variety of topics instead of diving into specific targeted areas within SQL.
When I first heard this topic I immediately drifted to thoughts such as:
- Vendor Apps
- Breaches within
- Password Strength
Countless times over the years I have seen, reviewed, fixed, and contemplated over security within SQL that simply was an afterthought. Security whether role based, AD Groups, etc. should be worked into any project plan. If you have ever inherited a system only to review that 600 users have sysadmin access you know how detrimental that could be to the data contained within.
Being a DBA means you have great responsibility. Every single database is under your care, own it. Each day someone will be trying to access that database; at least that should be your mentality especially with any production environment.
A lot of us are creature are habits. It is very easy for a data professional to fall into the trap of becoming accustomed to daily routines. Security should not fall into this category; I repeat security should not fall into this category. Do you know who has access to your databases and why? Do you know what user accounts are tied to specific groups? If you can’t answer this then you may find yourself in this category
I like this one, how many of us validate our security measures? Do we take any proactive approaches to see just how safe our data is? Maybe you rely on an outside 3rd party to see if they can hack in; whatever the case maybe it would behoove us as a group of data professionals to be actively testing our systems looking for points of entry. I will be completely honest; if you aren’t you can guarantee someone else is.
Yes, I am a vendor installing an app your company purchased and we will need sysadmin rights on the box or cluster. Um. yeah you go right ahead – NOT. I hope by now, as a DBA, you have strategies in place where you will work with the vendor directly or have some form of processes that allow for tracking of such activity. Remember, these databases are yours if you maintain them; you be the gate keeper not the other way around. Don’t let anyone on your system without our knowledge and you better know what kind of data is on your system and who is accessing it.
If you aren’t careful all your eggs will be in the “protecting from the outside syndrome”. Yes potential threats are rampant from people both stateside and abroad; with that said however have you ever thought about what maybe at risk within your own walls? Do you have safeguards in place for co-workers and fellow employees? Security cannot be just thought of with outside threats. No you need to prepare for both outside and inside threats. To make it even better if you are on a DBA team is your team being audited to keep everyone honest? The data should be your top priority
These little rinky dinky passwords aren’t cutting it guys. Ensure you are following best practices and standards when setting up password strength. The easier you make it the easier it is for threats and breaches to occur. Are the passwords on your systems set to be changed every so often? But that would require a lot of work – yes and when you sign up to be a DBA or Data Professional you retain great responsibility.
Security is one place where you cannot be lackadaisical about. It is a crucial role within SQL or any platform for that matter that usually becomes an afterthought. If you are in a shop you should review your security guidelines and if you don’t have any I suggest that you take initiative and create some. Without proper security you ones business could be jeopardized and once issues arise what would become of the companies reputation; or your reputation. Be proactive, make it yours, own it, and get it done.
What can you do to make your SQL server healthy?
The theme is broad, and there are plenty of tips and tricks that can be said. I’ll only touch on a few that may be of some use in this upcoming year and hope they can resonate with someone in the community.
Policy Based Management and Central Management Server are two useful resources at the data professionals disposal that can aid in a multiple SQL server configuration shop.
PBM allows you to execute a set of standard and custom policies against one or a set of servers allowing you to receive custom daily automated reports. Why not have this at your disposal to see what is going on with your servers before you even get into the office.
CMS allows for a one stop shop of all your servers. One thing I like about CMS is execution of scripts against multiple servers at one time; with that said with much access such as this comes great responsibility and not for the faint of heart. It’s imperative you truly understand what you are working with before getting involved with this but is a great resource to have.
If you aren’t monitoring your servers then why not start today. Some ideas you can take into consideration but not limited to are:
- Job notifications on event of failure
- Space limitations
- Wait Stats
- Index Fragmentation
- User\Login information
- General baselines
- New servers brought online
Don’t end with these; the intent is to get you to think about what might work for you at your shop.
I put this topic in here because I wonder how many people are testing their restores? Do you receive notifications in event of backup failures? Trust me on this; don’t be the one to get caught not having a backup or not knowing if your backup works.
Automate, Automate, and Automate
Look at your day to day activities and then ask yourself; can any of these tasks be automated? The idea is to become more efficient and be pro-active instead of re-active.
DBA Standard Database
Do you have a standard DBA database on all the servers that can house your maintenance stored procedures, tasks, server info (yes you need to know what is in your environment), any other pertinent documentation.
Is your code source controlled? If not time to get in the game. One good place to start is Red Gate’s Source Control utility
Listen, these are just ideas and not even the tip of the iceberg. The intent is to jump start your mind and think of some possibilities that you may not already be utilizing.
I sure hated to miss this month’s block party, but that is okay. Time doesn’t always work out in our favor, but we pick ourselves up and move on. Nothing is handed to you; work hard for it. Look at your environment and be that impact player or game changer. You be the one to make the difference.
**Always always always test new things you find on a test environment. Do not put anything straight into production.
Awhile back I did a post on my Fab Five – was one of my favorite ones I’ve done to date because it dealt with individuals who have made a tremendous impact in my professional career in some form or fashion. I am not ashamed to admit I am a sports fanatic; lived it my whole life both playing basketball at a high collegiate level, soccer, football, baseball, and golf. Sports has been good to me and some of the lessons I learned early on has carried over into my data professional career.
Have you ever been part of a team at work? Even if you are your own department there are other vendors or departments that you have to work with most likely in order to achieve a goal. One thing that always stuck with me and humbled me at an early age is that “there is no I in team”. Being a past point guard one of my jobs was to facilitate the rock and get people involved in the offense. Little did I know how much those lessons on the court would carry over to my day to day work.
I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by some stellar people early on who “invested” (there is that key word again) time in me. My normal routine in high school was waking up at 3 a.m. to get to the gym; meeting my assistance coach. Working out and shooting 800 threes, 200 free throws, countless conditioning drills and the list goes on. Running wind sprints in the street with strength shoes on to gain speed; wearing blind folds as I dribbled the ball to believe in my skill set and handles so come game time I would be sure and capable.
As I sat at my locker I could see a saying that said, “Somewhere somebody is improving getting better each day and one day you will meet that person; what will you do to get ready?”
You know what? All that has carried over into my SQL profession. Don’t get me wrong, a balance has been drawn. Things are different now; I have a family who depends on me and my time is important, but that fire and work ethic is still there – always will be.
Accepting New Ideas
Do you think I walked into college and knew everything that was going on? Ha, back then I thought I did, but quickly realized the level I had to play was nothing I’ve ever seen before. See in high school you could get away with taking a play off, scoring at will. However at this level everyone can do what you do; so what can you do to stand out?
Each day I try to learn something new from someone. The community is filled with brilliant individuals, and so is most shops for that matter. Don’t ever reach the point that you feel you have arrived? If you do than it is then you will start to fail.
Impact Player Series
So, to the point at hand, how do you become an impact player? My Fab Five are top tier individuals, but there are more out there who has helped me with their encouragement and their knowledge. Each month I plan on picking a community member who is just that – an impact player in the community and who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Individuals who get the job done, not afraid to fail, and continuously work to hone their craft.
At the end of the year I will have a 12 person team assembled of impact players that hopefully will benefit others in the SQL Community that they to can learn from.