Monthly Archives: December 2013

End of 2013

As the year winds down I, like many others in the SQL Community, start to take inventory. The year has been an explosive year; not only for The SQL Corner but in many aspects career wise. I think one of the major highlights was being allowed to be apart of John Sansom’s project – DBA Jumpstart

Looking back at the year I can honestly say that being part of and in some small way of helping the community has meant the most. It’s easy to get caught up in the game of numbers; believe me I do it all the time. At the end of the day though if we can help one person then it has been worth it.

So here is to 2013, it was a great one, and I look forward to what 2014 holds within our SQL Community. For the new speakers and bloggers like myself lets keep blazing trails and working hard, and for the seasoned SQL veterans who I continue to learn from every day I tip my hat to you.

Looking forward to making 2014 a great year! Be a GameChanger

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If you could give a DBA just one piece of advice, what would it be?

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This post is part of the SQL Community Project #DBAJumpStart by John Sansom.

“If you could give a DBA just one piece of advice, what would it be?”

John asked 20 successful and experienced SQL Server professionals this exact question. I share my own thoughts with you below and you can find all our answers together inside DBA JumpStart, a unique collection of inspiring content just for SQL Server DBAs. Be sure to get your free copy of DBA JumpStart.

Two Essential Pieces to Your Success Puzzle

“If you could give an aspiring DBA just one piece of advice what would it be?”

This is a question that has stood the test of time; one that has been asked by many aspiring DBA’s on their journey. Some might say that you need to be centralized and good at one technical aspect such as replication, ETL processing, database mirroring, disaster recovery, or log shipping. All the technical aspects that a DBA must learn and endure along their journey are all prevalent and are a must for success, but over my thirteen year career to date I can visualize taking a new DBA and, if they are adaptable, teach them along the way.

For me I see two very important pieces to the puzzle that many miss, few obtain, and those who do are humble in their practice.

Hunger

Most people will look at my title of this section and be thinking, “What in the world is this guy talking about, hunger?” No, I am not speaking of food in a literal sense or being hungry for literal food, but do you have the hunger and the drive to learn?

I’ve been around long enough to know and understand the personas of a lot of the all-knowing DBA’s; do they exist – sure they do but the more prevalent ones I’ve noticed something different about and they are the ones who have a hunger or desire to better their skill set day in and day out.

There will be many days on one’s journey that the DBA will experience frustration as the DBA will wear many hats along the way; however each challenge that presents itself can be viewed as an opportunity to learn and find a resolution. Write your own learning destiny, success doesn’t come handed to you. It is something that you have to want and strive for.

Be Exceptional

You may or may not have heard the term “How do I become an exceptional DBA?”.

Being exceptional is going above and beyond the desired task at hand. This can have a broad meaning; how are your communication skills with others such as the business teams, development teams, release management teams, QA teams? Or when you are faced with an issue do you follow it through to the end or do you wait for someone else to help? Or is there something else noteworthy that in your field you can look on and gauge where you are at professionally?

Being exceptional is, at times, doing things that no one else wants to do. For example, the places I have worked at in my career I like to come in and first thing I ask my boss is, “I’d like to have the things that no one else wants to do”. Guess what, so far a lot of times it has been documentation on the system and processes which uncovers a plethora of information about the environment.

I have been asked by many people how do I get there? How do I achieve being exceptional? Each individual is different and circumstances surrounding that individual are different.

For me, I grew up playing sports and was heavily involved with team consensus at an early age and into college that has carried over into my career – I’ve always tried to surround myself with people who have been through the trials before; having a good team. Today, like so many others, I look up to people I consider top in our industry – the Brent Ozar’s, Paul Randal’s, Glenn Berry’s, John Sansom’s, Chris Shaw’s, John Sterrett’s, and Adam Machanic’s. If you have never gotten involved with the SQL community itself start now. The men and women in our industry share knowledge like no other community and a lot of times it is free. Let me ask you this….have you ever been to a technical blog by any of them, checked out SQL server forums such as SQLServerCentral, or logged onto twitter and followed these people. The wealth of knowledge you can pick up on is phenomenal and some of the free tools they offer so you don’t have to re-invent the wheel such as sp_whoisactive, sp_blitz, or Glenn Berry’s diagnostic queries are outstanding!

Whatever the situation, issue or challenge may be, take a step back and be exceptional. Provide leadership through service, and at times put away our ego and pride and just listen – you will be surprised at what you can pick up on by just being a sponge.

Make a Commitment to Yourself

I ask this question of you today….what is your hunger level and after taking inventory are you striving to be an exceptional DBA, or are you satisfied with just showing up?

Be hungry, be motivated, and be exceptional. I will not sit here and expect you to believe that every day will be a rose garden when dealing with DBA tasks, but what I can guarantee is that each person has the ability to make a difference and impact in their respective environments. It only takes one – will you be that one?

Fab Five – The SQL

The History

The original Fab Five dates back to 1991 when five high school kids found their way to the University of Michigan to play college basketball. These guys were the best of the best coming out of high school; four of them were ranked in the top ten while the fifth was ranked in the top one hundred. At that present time getting four guys ranked that high to come to your college was unprecedented in college basketball. They went on to transcend college basketball both in persona and in style.

The Positions

Each of the five guys that made up the Fab Five had their own specific positions they played. For those of you who don’t follow basketball I’ll lay it out for you here real fast:

  1. Point Guard – this position is often viewed as the play maker; they run the team’s offense and ensure people get to where they need to go. One main aspect of a point guard is to understand the coaches game plan and implement that plan. Best way I can think of this position is being a coach on the floor.
  2. Shooting Guard – this position scores points, is athletic, and is reliable in close games. They are often times the teams primary scoring option.
  3. Small Forward – this position is often considered to be one of the most versatile positions on the court; this position can score and they can get to the foul line at will and is one of the key components to any team.
  4. Power Forward – this position wears many responsibilities including rebounding; they typically have a good mid-range jump shot; they don’t mind to get in the mix with the opposing team and do a lot of the grunt work.
  5. Center – this position normally goes to the tallest player and has a great deal of strength. When you find a center who is athletic and tall they are an unparalleled asset to any team. Again this position does a lot of grunt work and gets the job done.

Present Day

The term “Fab Five” has stuck with me throughout my life. I have categorized many things on various levels of what my Fab Five are. My SQL journey also falls into this category. Many times throughout the year I get asked who or what has helped me along my data professional/DBA journey and who has made an impact on me throughout my career. With that said I have categorized who my Fab Five are.

Fab Five – The SQL

Now that we have arrived here to what this blog post is about I have had my own Fab Five from a SQL standpoint that have helped me in my career to date. Please keep in mind that others have helped along the way; these guys have just made a pretty huge impact on me and since I am asked frequently about this topic I thought I’d share them.

  1. Point Guard/Chris Shaw (B|T) – it was 2011 and I attended my first PASS Summit (for those of you who have never attended this conference I suggest you attend). I was able to sit in on a session that Chris presented on, utility databases, and was able to relate and resonate with his ideas to incorporate them into some of my daily activities. Up to this point I hadn’t been really involved in the SQL Community although I had been around SQL for years. I ran into Chris outside the conference while sessions were on break and he was about the most down to earth guy I had met at the conference; here this guy is an MVP like others who were there and he is having just as much fun as the rest of us were. Long story short, after the PASS Summit I started to reflect more on what I had learned and since I had never ventured out much into the community I reached out to Chris to see if he would guide me on some things which he did so without hesitation. Over the course of the past 2 years Chris has been an integral part of my DBA growth to which I’m also proud to call him my friend. I had to have this guy as my point guard as he’s the general and has orchestrated a lot of my ongoing efforts to further my career.
  2. Shooting Guard/Brent Ozar (B|T) – playing ball all my life I wanted to surround myself with good players. I always wanted to play up at a higher level; I figured if I wanted to be the best I needed to beat the best and play with the best. That was my basketball mentality and part of the competitiveness to a certain extent has carried over into my career. I sat back and jotted down who I thought to be in my own views key players in the SQL industry and Brent was one I jotted down. I wanted to learn all the techniques I could from him and his crew  and after the PASS Summit 2011 I started really diving into what Brent and his group had to offer. I started off with his weekly Tuesday morning/early afternoon video sessions. These were quick hits where I could eat my lunch at my desk and learn some new and cool things I didn’t really get to dive into in the past. Along with the videos I have become accustomed to the sp_Blitz and sp_BlitzIndex which his group (Jes, Kendra, Jeremiah, and Doug) provides. One thing I like about Brent’s group is they are just flat out real; what you see is what you get. If you haven’t been on a Tuesday video session check it out – they are just real people like you and I having a good time and teaching some really cool SQL stuff to data professionals like me along the way. Brent gets my shooting guard position because as a shooting guard he can score in buckets and in a variety of ways. Always provides a plethora of information that is both helpful and precise. A lot of my current techniques are attributed to him.
  3. Small Forward / John Sansom (B|T) – I actually was reviewing a great post by John on Automation and found my way onto his Forum. I had been looking to get involved in different ways with the community and have posted some on various boards when I stumbled upon his forum I liked the idea he was presenting. As a few days passed I kept coming back and finally decided to dive in head first. Am I glad I did, in a short period of time John has flat out boosted my drive to do what I can in helping the community. Like Chris Shaw, John has been an instrumental influence on my day to day activities as a DBA/data professional and has encouraged me to not only look for the solution but also think outside the box. He gets my small forward position because again of the versatility, dependability, and flat out getting after it day in and day out. I would put John up against anyone in the community and his integrity to his craft speaks volumes.
  4. Power Forward / Steve Jones (B|T) – If you have dove into the community at all then you know about SQL Server Central or possibly Red Gate. I am blessed enough to work with the Red Gate SQL tool belt daily; because of that I got to know Steve’s work and the Voice of the DBA podcasts/posts he conducts on a daily basis. You want to see a work ethic then look at Steve. Seeing guys like this drives and inspires me more to take what I can do to the next level. One thing I’ve noticed Steve do is always trying something new for example this month is his Power Shell month. Steve gets my power forward position because he always provides me with consistency. One thing he has taught me is don’t be afraid to try something new while testing your theories. My training schedule was waking up at 3 a.m. to run sprints in the street then go shoot 500 jumpers before class followed by practice in the afternoon. Steve epitomizes that work ethic in the SQL community, the daily topics from the Voice of the DBA pertain to real everyday issues that everyone can relate to. Seeing a professional like this just go about his job and continuously knock out speaking event after speaking event, post after post, engagement after engagement is just flat out admirable. Again like all the Fab Five this one has taught me hard work pays off and get in and learn your skill set.
  5. Center / John Sterrett  (B |T) – PASS Summit 2011 was a really good conference I reckon because I came to know John from the same conference, he did a session on PBM/CMS that rocked. At the time it was something we were going to implement in the shop I’m at and seeing it up front in person was perfect. After getting back from the conference I noticed that John put out on his blog that he was taking people under his wing and to let him know if anyone was interested. I reached out and sure enough John has helped me along my journey ever since, just like my previous four have. If you look at what a center does they just flat out get after it. Defense, offense, rebound, gets fouled non-stop but keeps getting up and hustling. John has shown me that hard work does in fact pay off.  From his blog posts all the way through his presentations the information he provides is spot on.

To my Fab Five I thank you, in today’s world this is not said enough. The time that you guys put in day in and day out does make a difference. So when you think you’re doing things in vain it is because of these efforts that it has helped me where I am at.

Crunch Time (4th quarter / Second Half)

When you are down to the last two minutes and the game is on the line what will you fall back on? For me the obvious answer is my training. I was told something one time by a friend of mine, “Somewhere, somebody is practicing getting better while you are not. What will it take?” For me, being a DBA is not just a job; for me it is a career that I thoroughly enjoy. My outlook I had in basketball is the same outlook I have today in my work ethic, I want to continue to practice, work hard, get better, hone my skill set. These guys have afforded me multiple resources to learn from.

I have my own saying that, it only takes one. It took one at Pass Summit 2011 (Chris Shaw) to get me involved in the community and have a strong footprint in how I conduct my DBA duties, it took one in Brent Ozar that decided you know what, I want to help my community and offer videos that others may learn what I already know and provide helpful tools that sets a standard in the industry, it took one in John Sansom to start a Forum that bridged the States to London for a guy who was looking for some identity in how to help others, it took one in Steve Jones who takes time out of his schedule to answer some emails that I send or spends countless hours being the Voice of the DBA which provides insight into the SQL technology, and it takes one in John Sterrett who always answers my attempts to further my knowledge and learn from him, and who introduced PBM\CMS to me.

Conclusion

I said all that to say this, the re-occurring theme is it “takes one”; these guys did it and I hope one day I’m that one to someone else. You see the community is full of men and woman like my Fab Five ~ who is your Fab Five and will you be that one?

Get involved, bring something to the table, and as the renowned Thomas Larock (B|T) says ~ make today your someday!

I’ll leave you with this one encouragement that I’ve shared here before and on other Forums:

Believe while others doubt

Plan while others are playing

Study while others are sleeping

Decide while others are delaying

Prepare while others are daydreaming

Begin while others are procrastinating

Work while others are wishing

Save while others are wasting

Listen while others are talking

Smile while others are frowning

Commend while others are criticizing

Persist while others are quitting