Today, I’m not thankful that it’s Friday, although I am happy about it. Today I am thankful for the wisdom of Grant Fritchey ( b/t ). No Grant didn’t help me with any kind of problem, at least directly. Hell, I have never even met the man in person anyway. No, I’m not some kind of weirdo interwebs creeper either. I do, however, follow Grant’s blog and occasional twitter posts. What can I say, he’s a pretty sharp crayon when it comes to SQL, and as a DBA I like and listen to, sharp crayons. Although today I’m not thankful for Grant’s technical wisdom. Today I am thankful for his wisdom related to making the relationships between the DBAs, devs, IT, and business folks better.

As you know, COVID-19 has upended well…everything. This means, that at my company priorities have been upended as well. So with fast responses to technical and business problems, IT hasn’t had to polish things out and make them experiences seamless. This week, I forgot about that and started letting my ego and my own self-importance get the better of me. I was focused on the problems related to databases and the SQL instances I work with, I forgot about the bigger IT picture. During a SCRUM call, I was a little too honest about my frustration related to connecting to instances in the cloud and how unintuitive access currently is, along with the inability to use our toolsets. It was pointed out to me later, that my frustration was a little too apparent and could have been seen as hostile towards the IT folks on the call.

Own itOwn It

So today, I used some wisdom from both Jocko and Grant, I chose to own it. I decided it was better to apologize for my ego whether it was misconstrued or not and make sure to foster a better relationship between IT and the Data Team. So instead of dismissing it as just as a misunderstanding in a moment, I opted to take 20 minutes to send an apology accepting all of the blame. I’m not posting this as a humble brag about my moment of empathy either, I am posting this to both remind myself I will be better publicly and to reinforce the lesson. The bottom line, it is better to remain humble and approachable than to fracture getting work done because of some unmet, implied expectation that neither side had agreed to.

I will be better.

 

When it comes to working with other people it is always best to remember that others are not always on the same page. In fact, when dealing with others that work alongside you, it is imperative to remember they are most likely to see and evaluate issues and opportunities differently from you, especially when you work in different technologies. These differences typically are what makes teams work so well and helps everyone get along.

I recently had an interaction with a colleague who is a developer. This interaction came about when another DBA and I saw a query come across our monitoring tool in a different fashion. The conversation went from a question with the purpose of trying to understand what the developers were doing to sliding off the rails because the initial explanation was dismissive.  Which led to the DBA’s questioning the security and performance of the developer’s new strategy. What came next was just appalling. The developer responded with some snide remark about questioning their approach, their intent was beyond the understanding of the DBAs, and source control was the main objective.

I have to admit, I was left floored. In all my time in IT, I don’t think I have ever been patronized or dismissed so out of hand because I questioned the performance impacts of a development approach in regards to a database server. I also understand that source control is the new hotness and all the rage, but writing code strictly for the sake of better source control sacrifices performance.

Developers and DBAs should be working together. Lord knows most DBAs do not understand all of the implications and complexity of writing front end code, and the same is true of developers with SQL. Getting along is what makes the late nights easier, the troubleshooting faster, and inevitable pissing matches less. It also removes the resentment that leads to higher turnover.

It’s been a couple of years since I have been able to attend a SQL Saturday. I was grateful I was able to make it this year. This year however was a first for me, it was my first SQL Saturday in Minnesota and the first time I went to a precon, both were enjoyable.

On Friday, I went to Monica Rathburn’s (b/t) precon – SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization for the DBA. It was definitely worth the time and expense. I learned a lot and Monica is an excellent, as well as an energetic, speaker. I was reminded, when it comes to SQL not everything is set in stone.

Saturday was equally as good…although the weather turned and spent the day watching snow squalls. It made the 3-hour drive home a bit longer. I concentrated on DevOps tracks, with the exception of a presentation on leadership given by James Phillips (b/t). I really enjoyed James’ presentation and wish more managers were as focused on being leaders as he was.

All in all, it was a great couple of days of learning. My only regret was I wish I had stayed overnight one more night to attend the after-party. Ah well, maybe next year.

becoming a leader

One of the recent books I’ve read for career development, is On Becoming a Leader by Warren Bennis. It was a comprehensive book that took a deep dive into leadership, what is and what isn’t. The main take away I got from this book was, being a leader is hard to do right and easy to mess up. Some of my other notes from the book include:

  • Leaders seek continuous education
  • Accepts responsibility for good, but especially for the bad
  • Gains wisdom through reflection, reflection grants perspective
  • Learning is a tool that needs to be practiced, you can learn anything you want.
  • Question everything, respectfully of course.

Steve Jones (t|b) wrote a blog post talking about the death of the title Database Administrator.Mind you, he was talking about the title of DBA, not the actual job of being a DBA. Semantics, right? If you look across the inter-webs, the death of the DBA has been a favorite on the tech prophets for a long time.  It seems to be an odd prophecy given the ongoing explosion of data being generated. In fact, it’s a reported 2.5 Quintillion Bytes of Data Created Daily. Is that accurate? I have no idea. I’m not sure how you could measure something like that. 2.5 quintillion is 2,500,00 terabytes. To be completely honest, I’m not sure how big that is. 250 zetabyte? 2.5 yoddabyte? Ya, no clue.

More false predictions?

Yes, the death of the DBA has been falsely predict for years, maybe even decades, this is true. Falsely predicted because the prediction is that the role of the DBA will no longer be needed in the traditional sense. Well, these days that prediction could be closer to reality. With the focus on the cloud, DBA’s will no longer be responsible for hardware or even possibly backups, which is going to leave DBA’s with a lot of time on their hands. So unless they want to retire or change careers completely, it means DBA’s are going to have to evolve.

Evolve? Evolve into what? My guess would be if you’re a DBA now, you better start brushing up on your development skills. DBA’s will always be needed, but I think the job is going to transform into more of a development type role. I think the continued push of the DevOps movement into the DBA world is going to be the driving force. Even if you don’t move out to the cloud, you’re still going to be treating builds as deployments.Of course there is also the Data Analytics and Data Science routes.

I suppose when you start seeing big names in the community starting to make moves, you should start considering your options. In July, Thomas LaRock announced his drift towards Data Science. That Brent Ozar guy gives a couple of interviews discussing some of these issues as seen below. All that being said, if you are happy working with data than you need to take a proactive approach in your career. It doesn’t matter what stage of your career your in either, you still need to get out in front of these new trends.

 

 

t-sql-tuesday_FI

#tsql2sdayThis month’s blog topic for TSQL Tuesday is learning goals in 2018 and is being hosted by Mala Mahadevan (b/t). 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.

Focus in 2018

I’m a DBA first and foremost, so I’m always going to be focus on my attention on getting with the SQL Engine, performance tuning, and working with the tools (SSMS, SSIS, SOS, etc). Staying up on new SQL releases and testing new functionality. But 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. Which 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 hinderance.

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
    • TSQL
    • Powershell
    • C#
    • Python
  • Keeping an eye on AI, machine learning, and data science
  • Health

How to get there

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 bit 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 work on practicing. VMs are a great way to work on some of the heavier configuration stuff and query tuning, but to combine my newly learned skills a bit I plan on using more containers for labs. They 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.

Improving

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 and spin up, which should help me learn to manage a number of them. Ultimately I am hoping to maybe 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? Well 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 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 a 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.

I’m a bad DBA, at least from the standpoint of blogging. Only because I haven’t done much of a lately. I did make sure to get a post in for TSQL2sDay to mention who I was thankful for. That was a great topic. So…if you’re wondering why I haven’t blogged, or have checked to see how I like the new job…here is that post.

Recap

At the end of September, I was presented with an opportunity to take a DBA position in Duluth, MN. Given that my wife and I already had a house in the area, we decided it was great opportunity for her and I to get out of the city. So I tendered my resignation to the hospital in Denver, and started my new gig in Duluth October 23rd. Just moving out to the country has been quite the welcomed change for me.

New Gig

The new job has me working in Downtown Duluth, on the hill. Which is awesome, unless you have to hike up the hill to your parked car. In fact, that’s my one complaint about the new job, is parking in Duluth is atrocious but that is neither here nor there.

I have been busy learning a new environment, understanding the business processes, and wrapping my mind around the differences between being a production DBA in a hospital and more of a development DBA here. There are some fundamental differences  that I am finding out that require me to think and approach the job differently. Which is a good thing, I am getting to learn new things. As well as discover some new things.

I was tasked with getting some large databases to work in a container. Which, having only read about and vaguely paying with containers was an awesome change. It took a few days, but I got it done. Learned quite a bit about containers, as well as starting to learn how to approach containers from a DBA standpoint. For instance, restoring large databases in containers is not your friend. At least, not yet.

I would also like to thank Andrew Pruski (b/t) for his awesome articles on SQL and containers. His posts definitely helped me to get SQL going on both Windows and Linux containers.

Other than containers

I have also spent a bit of time getting familiar (and getting my ass kicked) with SSIS. Talk about a shift in responsibilities. Prior to coming here, I never had to do anything with SSIS. It’s both fun and extremely frustrating to work with SSIS. Thank god I dusted off my Pluralsight and Safari subs.

Anyway, I will be better about posting after the first of the year. Right now, I’m still working on getting the house here for the move which has been consuming my time. Then I fly back to Denver to help the wife to get everything ready for the movers, as well as help her drive up. And there’s the holidays. So ya, it’s been a bit busy.