This month’s blog topic for TSQL Tuesday is learning goals in 2018 and is being hosted by Mala Mahadevan (blog/twitter). Mala has challenged the SQL community to list out specific learning plans for the upcoming year. It’s an awesome topic for this time of year, especially as we’re slowing a bit to focus on family and gear up for a New Year.
Learning in the New Year
I’m a DBA first and foremost, so I’m always going to focus my attention on getting better with the SQL Engine, performance tuning, and working with tools (SSMS, SSIS, SOS, etc), attempting to stay current on SQL releases, and testing new functionality. I also realize the world is changing and so is the role of the DBA. More and more environments are moving to the cloud or will have some kind of cloud connection in the near future. This means DBAs are going to have to embrace working more with code and getting better at development. Having some development skills can only be an asset, not a hindrance.
My focus for the upcoming year is
- DevOps and how to use CI for normal DBA tasks
- Query tuning
- Containers and how to use containers with SQL
- Getting better with SQL development and development in general
- Keeping an eye on AI, machine learning, and data science
How do I plan to get there? Well, I am going to use the resources at my disposal. I already have subscriptions to Pluralsight and Safari Books Online. I try to carve out an hour each day to work on a video or read a chapter of a book. I use Feedly to follow various blogs and feeds. Then there are a few podcasts I follow and listen to. PASS Virtual Chapters and SQLSaturdays help to round it all out.
Listening, reading, and watching are great ways to learn for me, but I need to practice and use what I learn for it to stick. Of course, with the new job, I get to use more of these skills all the time. However, I still need to continue to practice. Virtual MAchines (VMs) are a great way to work on some of the heavier configuration stuff and query tuning. In the future, I plan on using containers for labs, where possible. Containers are quick and easy to spin up, and if I trash something…I can just nuke the environment and start over. Also, it gives me some experience with cross-platform work.
It’s great to learn the basics, but to get better you have to work on more complex problems to push your comfort level. I can spin up a couple of VMs here and there to test with. Containers are easy to get going, which should help me to learn to manage a number of them. Ultimately I am hoping to get to a point where I can work with Azure by the end of the year.
You might have noticed in my list of skills I want to work on to improve for the upcoming year, I listed health in there as well. It wasn’t an accident, and it was very much intentional. Why? Well, it’s obviously a goal and it’s that time of year right? It’s more than that for me at this stage of my life, it’s become a necessity. I’ve spent so much time over the last 15 years of my life focused on my career and getting better at my job, that I have let my physical health slide. Oh sure, I get out occasionally to ride my dirt bike, or hike…but it isn’t enough. Going to the gym here and there isn’t enough. Having an overview of nutrition isn’t enough. I need to learn more. No, I’m not sick but I can be better.
To be a better data professional, I need to undo the years of sitting in front of the computer. I need to move more, eat better, and get better sleep. and find a way to occasionally unplug from work to experience fun. Maybe that isn’t for everyone, but for me, it’s become a need. So I’m going to focus as much energy on my health as I do my job this year.