Interview – Bob Pusateri

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical), and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Bob Pusateri (b | t): Bob Pusateri

Mohammad: Do you think people who dismiss the cloud as a “fad” or just don’t take it serious enough to learn about it (i.e. Azure, AWS, etc), will be in a tough spot to find a job 5 years from now?

Bob: I definitely see SQL Server becoming more cloud and/or service-focused with time. I think we’re seeing that already with now-yearly releases for on-premises. I think in the next five years we’ll continue to see new development in many cases be cloud-focused from the beginning. There will always be organizations and use cases where the cloud just doesn’t make sense or isn’t an option though. These are things like old code that just won’t play nice, or databases with massive levels of size or activity where cloud pricing just isn’t economical.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Bob: I don’t think the traditional DBA role will ever be replaced or eliminated, but it will continue to evolve. I think a lot of parts of the job that involve maintaining the data and its storage will start to become more scarce, as things move to the cloud, while architectural and tuning tasks will become more important. When every query costs money, organizations are going to start to care about optimizing their code more!

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Bob: Without a doubt, the thing I am most proud of doing within the community is helping new members get started. Making sure they have a great experience and make a new contact at their first SQL Saturday, chapter meeting, or other event. It may not sound like much, but first impressions really do matter. From there, the best feeling in the world is when they enjoy it enough to come back to the next chapter meeting, or go to another SQL Saturday, and maybe get involved in volunteering themselves.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Bob: Every once in a while I get an opportunity to read a non-technical book. One of the ones I most recently enjoyed was “How the States Got Their Shapes” by Mark Stein. This book covers the borders of every US state and how they came to be what they are today. Incredibly interesting.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. Database Engine), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Bob: I think specializing will always have more value than being a generalist. I don’t advocate for being a “jack of all trades” but what I will say is that you can’t be a specialist in a hole either. Keep up with new developments and other technologies enough to understand what they are, what issues they address and their strengths/weaknesses. Nobody can ever be a master of everything; but I’d rather be really good at one thing than just so-so at many things.

Goals for 2018

First Goal

One of my goals for 2018 is to get my MCSE for SQL Server 2016. Prior to March 31, 2017, the exact certification name was called MCSE: Data Platform. Microsoft has since changed things up and now call it, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics.

The process of attaining the MCSE certificate is straight-forward:

First: You must get your MCSA in SQL Server 2012/2014, or SQL 2016 Database Administration, Database Development, BI Development, Machine Learning, BI Reporting or Data Engineering with Azure. (I plan on getting it in SQL 2016 Database Administration).

In my case, I will have to pass the following two exams:

70-764 – Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure (Book I will use)
70-765 – Provisioning SQL Databases (Book I will use)

Second: Once I get my MCSA by passing the two above mentioned exams, I have to pass one more exam to get my MCSE. There are multiple exams and paths you can take, but I will take the below exam:

70-473 – Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions (Azure)

Second Goal

Another goal of mine for 2018 is to do more presentations. I submitted a session for SQLGrillen in Lingden, Germany called:

3 Lessons Learned in Successful Consulting

The talk is about 3 lessons I learned that helped me become a much better consultant. These lessons helped me go from thinking like a regular “9 to 5 DBA” to diving into the world of consulting.

All speakers will be picked after the submission window closes on 1/31/18. The SQLGrillen event is 6/22/18 – 6/23/18.

Very exciting!

Surface Book 2 Review

I finally purchased a Microsoft Surface Book 2. I ended up going with the 13.5 inch model with the following specs:

i7 processor, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD

I did a fair amount of research online before buying it. I wanted something that is not a typical big laptop (15-17 inches) and something more sturdy than the Surface Pro, so I ended up going with the 13.5 inch Surface Book 2.

My Doubts

So, while I was doing my research online, there were a couple of things that I was hesitant about:

  1. Does the battery really hold up?
  2. Software glitches?!
  3. Hardware glitches? Will the keyboard/touchpad work fine? Will it detach/attach and not feel flimsy, etc.?!
  4. Overall weight and ascetics of the Surface Book2? (would it be too heavy?! Will the hinge part where the tablet connects to the keyboard look goofy?!)

Results So Far

After using this thing, these are my answers to the above questions:

  1. I leave the house in the morning for work and the Surface Book 2 is fully charged. I have it on for 8 hours at work doing surfing, typing (word, excel, powerpoint), I watch youtube (about 5-10 videos a day), social media (facebook, twitter), and by the time I get home there is about 25-30% battery left.  HUGE PLUS FOR ME +++
  2. No software glitches for me. I did all the Windows 10 updates, I disabled Cortana, Face login (hello), device usage tracking, etc. and it works like a charm. The laptop boots up in 7 seconds for me. HUGE PLUS FOR ME +++
  3. No hardware glitches so far. Keyboard is awesome! It has a backlight with 3 settings. which is AWESOME. The touch pad is a nice large size. So far I have not once thought, “damn, I wish this was better, or bigger, etc” HUGE PLUS FOR ME +++
  4. The weight of the laptop is about 3.62 lbs (per the box). (The i5 model 13 inch Surface Book 2 3.38 lbs). I CAN DEAL WITH IT ++
Surface Book 2 Review Shell
Very well made

Now I will tell you that the Surface Book 2 does not come with the Surface Pen, Mouse or Dial (the wheel looking thing). You will have to buy those separately.

Surface Book 2 Review Setup
Setup time!

During my research, I read a commenter saying that his Surface Book fan kept blowing. It depends on what you’re doing on the laptop, etc. but so far I have not  had any issues. I read a TechRadar that the 13.5 model is a fanless design. So again, I haven’t had the fan act like a “blow dryer” so I’m not worried.

Surface Book 2 Keyboard
Beautiful keyboard

I plan on buying the Surface Pen and a mouse to go with the laptop.

Any CONS?

Of course. How can there not be a con? :)

  1. Price. Duh.

Final Recommendation

I recommend the Surface Book 2. It’s the perfect combo or portability, lap-ability and laptop. It’s a beautiful design, feels great in the hand and looks gorgeous. I do, however, recommend purchasing a SquareTrade warranty with this. That way you have nothing to worry about any drops, or spills, etc.

Interview – David Klee

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical), and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: David Klee (b | t): David Klee

Mohammad: Do you think people who dismiss the cloud as a “fad” or just don’t take it serious enough to learn about it (i.e. Azure, AWS, etc), will be in a tough spot to find a job 5 years from now?

David: I see SQL Server technologies evolving in numerous directions, but the overarching theme will be cloud. Just look at the current release cycles for on-prem SQL Server. It’s a compiled and boxed version of the SQL Server features that are already released in Azure SQL Database in the previous months. Even the Linux release is (IMHO) partly because cloud-based SQL Server platforms are looking for a smaller footprint operating system. The bigger question for me is – are your applications ready for the shift? Most business-critical app vendors that I see are not yet even supporting SQL Server 2016, let alone newer versions. The limitations of DBaaS also are too much for many of these applications. But… they’ll get there, and you must be ready.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

David: Never. I don’t see it being replaced or eliminated as long as the DBA themselves are able to keep up with change. I see the role evolving, and quickly, however. The role is evolving. Just like with cloud technologies, other features and tasks are changing. DR in the cloud is becoming just a few clicks. Backups and restores are much simpler to set up and manage. Availability is easier with Availability Groups. Many of the routine day-to-day operational tasks that DBAs have been tasked with for years are being automated. However, the role is drastically changing. While these tasks are being made simpler or are being automated, the role of the DBA is changing to be a bit more proactive. The DBA should start to emphasize tasks such as performance tuning, query optimization, and database design improvements, all of which can help to boost the performance of the applications. The other challenge is keeping on top o the all of the new enhancements that the DBA is able to leverage to make their lives easier, streamline operations, and improve business continuity. It’s a never-ending cycle of learning, one that I personally thrive on (I get bored easily!).

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

David: I’m probably the most humble guy in the room and I don’t much like talking about myself. But, I’m thrilled to have been able to help DBAs in the SQL Server community learn more about the infrastructure that their databases are powered by over the years. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed training thousands of professionals at events all over the world on the art of how virtualization, CPU and memory architecture, networking, storage, and the operating system all relate to databases. Most recently, we’re adding cloud into the picture too.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

David: I’ve got a pretty eclectic list of books that I’ve been reading lately. The books that are non-technical but directly applicable to the job are all about the psychology behind presenting, probability and statistics, entrepreneurship, and negotiation. I haven’t had too much time lately for recreational reading outside of more technical subjects I’m afraid. If you want to read two of the best technical books that I’ve ever read, read ‘The Mythical Man Month’ by Frederick Brooks, and ‘SQL Server 2005 Practical Troubleshooting’ by Ken Henderson.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. Database Engine), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

David: I prefer both! Now remember we’re consultants, and we’re asked to do a lot of things around the SQL Server platform, so my view might be a bit skewed at this point. I personally want to see folks that are skilled in many facets of a product like SQL Server and how it relates and applies to the business. It’s more of the mile wide approach from how it relates to the business and how the different features relate to each other. However, for the core features that directly relate to the needs of the client/project, I want the person to know certain critical areas extremely well. It’s a good mix of mile-wide and mile-deep in the areas that matter for their interests and job role. For example, our focus is on how the SQL Server engine interacts with the platform underneath it. I specialize in SQL Server internals, HA/DR, performance tuning, and all of those items for the platform below it. However, at this point in my career, I know how to *spell* SSAS and that’s about it. I can virtualize and tune the infrastructure around your warehouse, but I’ll refer any requests for us working on a warehouse to other folks we know that can do it a lot better than us.

Being a mile wide and a mile deep in certain areas makes you more adaptable as the world changes, and you can transfer the deep knowledge to a new ‘thing’ quicker. If you’re a technologist solely focused on a certain feature of a certain product, what happens if that feature is deprecated? Or a better feature comes out? I had a friend in college who was one of the most amazing Adobe Flash developers that I’ve ever seen. Now look at the state of that technology. It’s virtually dead, so if he had not recognized this and transferred the energy to learning a new product/platform/feature, he’d be out of work at this point.

The same goes for our virtualization knowledge. ‘Cloud’ is shaking up the world. All cloud means is that it’s someone else’s datacenter and they put some serious automation and abstraction around the various components. Our shift to the cloud was arguably quicker than DBAs who had never been involved with the infrastructure and virtualization in their datacenters. Today DBAs need to know about things like IOPs, network firewall rules and routing, and server sizing in ways that some environments insulated them from in the past.

I’ll stop my ramble there 😊 To shorten the response, you should be both. Specialize but have a keen awareness of the things around it, because as the world changes, so should you!

Blog Stats – 2017

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Finally, another full year of web traffic! Time sure does go by fast! My goal was to blog more during 2017 than 2016. Below is the breakdown:

Total # of Blogs Posted (2016 vs 2017)

2016: 10

2017: 37

What Happened in 2017

In 2017, I started a new “interview series” blog posts where I ask professionals in the SQL Server community a handful of questions. These professionals are some of the “creme of the crop” when it comes to the SQL Server community. Microsoft Certified Masters, MVPs, and Microsoft employees.

I am extremely happy I started this and thank all those who participated. I definitely learned a lot and made some great new friends!

You can check out the list of people I interviewed here.

Blog Stats

2017 Stats

As you can see, 2017 was a 438% increase in page views compared to 2016.

Global Stats

51% of the page views are from the U.S., 10% from India, 6% from UK, and the rest of the top 10 include Canada, Australia, Germany, Singapore, Brazil, Netherlands and South Africa.

On to a great 2018!

Interview – Joe Sack

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical), and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Joe Sack (li | t): Joe Sack

Mohammad: Do you think people who dismiss the cloud as a “fad” or just don’t take it serious enough to learn about it (i.e. Azure, AWS, etc), will be in a tough spot to find a job 5 years from now?

Joe: Well, first I should mention I work for a company that sells Cloud services (I work on the Azure SQL Database team, QP focus), so I’m not an unbiased source. Disclosures aside, I have been working with SQL Server since 1997 and I definitely see the shift happening with customers – particularly for hybrid scenarios, with a mix of on-prem, IaaS, and PaaS. As for readiness – a few years ago if there was a Cloud session at a conference, it risked being very lightly attended. Today, these sessions are much more popular. Given the trends we’re seeing, I think SQL Server professionals have a 5 year window to be comfortable helping in both worlds. In general I’m not worried about SQL Server professionals who are resistant to this shift. The market will speak for itself, and DBAs and Developers will then move with the market. Another major factor is the push for skills in data science and artificial intelligence. This too will influence what it means to be a SQL Server professional over the next few years.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Joe: I think the top 25% DBAs can hold on to their traditional role for many years to come. I do see the “average” DBA role as we know it looking very different in a few years – and there will be a tipping point where it will take more energy to find purely traditional DBA work versus learning how to also provide value in a hybrid world. There are so many interesting avenues to explore, so I think if you’re curious and like to learn new things you’ll be fine and you’ll have work to do for many years to come. When you’re not sure which path to pursue, I recommend you pay attention to business and developer pain points. If you make life easier for others and help them achieve their goals, you’ll have a seat at the table.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Joe: I’d say it would be from 2009 to 2011 when I was the acting Program Manager for the SQL Microsoft Certified Master program. It was “acting PM” because my formal role was as a full time SQL Premier Field Engineer during that time with a customer workload – but on the side I managed the certification program and then would take a few weeks on the campus for the management of the event and exams. The MCM community – which to me includes the aspiring candidates, certified folks and instructors, were (and are) incredible and it was such a unique life experience. While I’m proud of my part in the broader MCM story, I also am sad about it. The program was very expensive and I was warned in no uncertain terms it would be shut down unless we made some big changes. In reaction to this, we took steps to scale the program and reduce candidate costs, but I think it was too late. I was grateful that we received a wave of very worthy new MCMs before the program was shut down.

People like challenges and something tough to aspire to. I acknowledge that “cloud speed” may make such a program difficult to sustain from a business perspective. I don’t work in the certification space anymore, but I still keep an eye on it as I think it has its place as a forcing function for learning beyond what your current position may demand. The Microsoft Professional Program, while very different in format and scope from MCM, seems to be getting a positive reception. I hope that program continues to evolve and expand.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Joe: Of all the non-technical books – my favorite by far is “I, Claudius From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius Born 10 B.C. Murdered and Deified A.D. 54” by Robert Graves, as well as the follow-up, “Claudius the God: And His Wife Messalina.” It is the best historical fiction I’ve ever read and an effective study on the perils of corrupt, cruel and insane leaders.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. Database Engine), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Joe: My philosophy is as follows… Look at where your interests and motivations are and where they intersect with market demand. That intersection is where you should unapologetically cultivate your skills. Yes, this means filtering out several subjects. And yes, it means you won’t know everything beyond that scope – but being the full breadth-and-depth expert for all things SQL Server ended years ago.

Also, remember there will also always be people who know more than you. That should keep us all humble – and gives you permission to keep asking questions and learning new things.

One last point on this subject; with SQL Server and Azure SQL Database, be prepared to “re-learn” over time. There is so much content that it doesn’t hurt to revisit old topics that you think you may already understand deeply. We can forget “first principles” or may have misunderstood aspects of a concept the first time around. Revisit the fundamentals periodically.

Mohammad: If there was only one feature you can name in SQL Server 2016-2017 that you absolutely love what would it be? (You can name a couple if you have to :)

Joe: Adaptive Query Processing of course! I’m a PM on the Query Processing team – so I couldn’t be more biased. The QP team is just getting started though, so stay tuned.

Mohammad: What SQL Server feature would you say people are “scared” to implement but would greatly benefit from if they took the time to learn/implement it?

Joe: Based on recent discussions at the SQL Clinic at PASS Summit this year, I’d say Query Store. Some are worried about the overhead – but I think for most, this fear is unfounded. We haven’t posted specific overhead numbers on this, but you can measure this in your own prod-like environment if you have a representative workload to replay. Query Store is beneficial in so many ways. Query Store would have saved me hundreds of hours of troubleshooting time over the early years of my career had this feature been released earlier. If you have it enabled and actively collecting telemetry, don’t forget to use it.

Interview – Tim Ford

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical), and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Tim Ford (b | t): Tim Ford

Mohammad: Where do you see SQL Server technology evolving to 5 years from now? More cloud focused?

Tim: My bet is definitely on the Cloud. The Cloud-First methodology has been in place for a couple of cycles of releases for Microsoft SQL Server now and I don’t see that changing. It’s been beneficial to both Microsoft in terms of revenue and leadership in the Cloud and it’s boded well for SQL Server Professionals because we’re seeing more stable releases of the “box product” because of the vetting in Azure before releasing to non-cloud production. That means it’s ultimately benefiting anyone who works secondarily with SQL Server and anyone using the product.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Tim: There will always be a place for “traditional” SQL Server DBAs but don’t be surprised if some day down the road their role is similar to those COBOL developers that are still out there. Any IT role is in a constant state of flux. Look back at what a “traditional” DBA was doing 5 or 10 years ago compared to now and it’s changed but slowly. Expect that continued rate of change. Those interested in jumping into newer alternatives have nothing but opportunities in front of them. They just need to be proactive with learning those skills and getting their name out there.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Tim: That is a difficult question since I jumped right into volunteerism at my first PASS Summit back in 2002. Having had roles in developing the PASS Virtual Groups, SQLSaturday, and outreach to the Developer audience. I’m really looking forward to the contributions I’ve yet to make to the SQL Community – specifically the PASS association members – in my new role as Executive Vice President of Marketing that I step into on January 1. Likewise the writing I’ve done for various websites aimed at the novice DBA has been challenging but extremely rewarding. Ultimately, I think I’m most proud of what I’ve done with building SQL Cruise – now known as Tech Outbound. It’s been a way for me to provide a training/conference model that has not been offered before and is still unique to the Microsoft Data Platform audience. We Data Professionals have a stressful work structure and are constant learners. SQL Cruise/Tech Outbound allows for that training with Thought Leaders in the areas of performance tuning, configuration, BI, Data Science, Power BI, and now developer topics such as .Net, C#, R, and Python while also enjoying down time in exotic locations and networking with peers; all while bringing your family along to join you when not in class. The success stories of former “cruisers” I’ve witnessed has shown that I’ve made a positive difference in the careers and lives of others and that is an amazing feeling!

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Tim: It’s funny. I used to read all the time. Then I wrote a technical book (Performance Tuning with Dynamic Management Objects with Louis Davidson) and I soured on reading. It takes a lot for me to get into a book anymore but when I do I tend to get swept up in suspense novels and in the case of Jim Butcher’s Dresen Files, urban sci-fi. So that series is highly recommended as well as anything by John Rollins in his Sigma Force series are what tends to capture and hold my attention. Right now I’m in the process of wrapping up my 200 hour certification as a Certified Yoga Trainer so most reading right now is all about anatomy, meditation, and Ayurveda. As a Data Pro I definitely find meditation and mindfulness a tool I use to keep myself calm in high-pressure situations in the office (and as a parent!)

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. high availability), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Tim: Do I think it’s wise? I think that any time you can expand your knowledge base into other areas will always make you more valuable. If you can find areas to scale to that are of interest to you then all the better. The more interested you are in a topic the better you’ll be at it because it will hold your attention and pull you in to learn deeper about it. You can have 20 years of experience in a discipline but if you’ve only worked with a narrow focus of topics in that area then you’re not going to be as attractive to new opportunities than someone who has worked across a broad range of areas in your profession over only 5 years. I definitely recommend growing one’s knowledge base.

Interview – Andy Mallon

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical),  and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Andy Mallon (b | t): Andy Mallon

Mohammad: Where do you see SQL Server technology evolving to 5 years from now? More cloud focused?

Andy: The cloud is here to stay. Over the next five years, it is absolutely going to be used by more people in more ways. Not everyone will have their databases running in the cloud, but aspects of our infrastructure will continue to move into the cloud. Part of our job as data professionals is to help determine what technologies and features we use, what the infrastructure looks like, etc.

Five years ago, that primarily referred to hardware purchases, virtual vs physical, Standard vs Enterprise, and selecting from the features that came in the box. Five years ago, Windows Azure (as it was called at the time) was still pretty novel and wasn’t on the radar for most people to use in that selection process.

Now, Azure is starting to creep into the real-life architecture decisions that we are making. Companies large and small are using the cloud for DR, for elasticity, for novel services, and for massive computing power. In the past year, I’ve worked with both a 100-person company and a 15,000-person company who are both making major investments in the cloud.

Five years from now, I think virtually every company will be looking to use the cloud in some fashion or another. It might not be necessary to be an expert at the cloud, but everyone will need to be familiar with it. We’ll need to be able to know when to use the cloud, and we’ll need to be able to keep up when our employers decide that they are ready to use specific cloud services, and we’re expected to help implement and maintain those systems.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Andy: The SQL Server DBA role is constantly changing. For example, hardware advances (faster, more powerful, cheaper) have moved the line when it comes to performance tuning. Hardware configurations with lots of RAM & all-flash SANs are more forgiving today than when I started working with SQL Server.

Things are going to continue to change. The skills that are important today may not be important tomorrow. There may be new skills that we need tomorrow that we don’t yet have. However, the job of DBA isn’t going away. DBAs will still be around to watch over databases, backups, high availability, and disaster recovery.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Andy: Earlier this year, I was awarded the Microsoft MVP Award for the Data Platform. It isn’t the award itself that I am proud, of, but what the award represents. The award recognizes not only my expertise with SQL Server, but also that by doing what I love, I am having a positive impact on the SQL Server Community. I’ve only been blogging & speaking for a few years, but I absolutely love doing those things. It’s been great to be able to do something I love and know that I’m helping others.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Andy: Most of my reading is technical or current events (I’m a total news junkie!). But I absolutely love Stephen King. He recently wrote a trilogy of books that was really great: “Mr Mercedes“, “Finders Keepers“, and “End of Watch“.

Another of my all-time favorite books is “Stolen Lives: Twenty years in a desert jail“, a memoir by Malika Oufkir detailing her childhood living in the royal court in Morocco, to being a political prisoner with her family.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. high availability), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Andy: SQL Server and the Microsoft Data Platform is simply too vast for anyone to understand it all. Everyone will always have large chunks of the Data Platform that are unknown. THAT’S OK. I have literally never touched SSAS in my career, and I’m quite OK with that. Nobody should feel like they need to know everything–It’s much more important to understand what the limits to your knowledge are.

I also feel that if you’ve been using SQL Server for a long time, then you’re an expert at something. That “something” might be very narrow, or somewhat general–but your battle scars have helped you learn some aspect of SQL Server in detail. As a DBA, the best skills we have are the ones that we’ve learned through real-life experience. Embrace your experience, and build on that experience as you try to learn new things. Ultimately, your experience is the best tool you have for growing your own career.

Interview – Parikshit Savjani

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical),  and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Parikshit Savjani (b | t): Parikshit Savjani

Mohammad: Do you think people who dismiss the cloud as a “fad” or just don’t take it serious enough to learn about it (i.e. Azure, AWS, etc), will be in a tough spot to find a job 5 years from now?

ParikshitShort answer: Yes.

Long answer: Every company today, needs software infrastructure to have a website, an app or a digital presence to be discovered since most consumers today look for products and services on the internet, marketplace or e-commerce site. To get feedback, reviews, telemetry, social media  pulse, gain insights and to predict, again,  you need software and infrastructure to ingest, process, transform analyze, predict and report this high volume, variety and velocity of data. LOB applications like CRM, Finance, HR, document repositories are all software services but doesn’t need be proprietary. While every company needs these software services to compete with others in the digital world, it doesn’t make any sense for them to build or maintain these services and datacenters themselves ground up since it is a very high cost to them with minimal value.

A good analogy here would be, if you are a consultant, as part of your job, you need to travel to different places to deliver services to your customers. Now, a consultant doesn’t buy airplanes or hotels but rather rents a seat in an airplane and books a room in hotel for few nights to do their job. If they are paid handsomely, they might consider a faster flight (better performance) to save time or first class (better capacity) but they will still prefer to “pay as you go” rather than buying it upfront. The same logic applies to all small and large businesses. They would like to invest and research in their core competencies and move or offload their mundane data/IT services to cloud. The transformation may take some time but it has started and is happening at a healthy pace so if you are not part of this wave, you will miss out a lot.

I also feel this might be an opportunity for some of the experienced professionals to lead the transformation since the services by themselves are no different, only the platform changes. By virtue of having worked on these services, they can become SMEs and guide the engineering/software development teams in right direction to add value and guide businesses to embrace cloud.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Parikshit: I don’t see it eliminated but I expect it to change into to a more of DevOps role. The administration part of the role like taking backups or repeated mundane tasks will be going away but performance troubleshooting, query tuning, developing and planning automation for standard deployment, jobs, creating runbooks for alerts, capacity planning will remain.  I already see these changes in some organizations.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Parikshit: Developing Performance Baselining Reports.  :) Also, I love to blog in Tiger team blog and I have got some great positive feedback for some of my posts which makes me feel proud and motivates me to blog more.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

Parikshit: Not Applicable – I have a 2.5 year old toddler who loves to keep me pretty busy outside work. :) On a serious note, I am not a books person. I am more of a visual guy who likes to see or learn it, by doing it myself. For entertainment, I enjoy movies (Bollywood preferred with lots of dance and drama ;) For education, I love to read blogs, whitepaper and video presentations or anything which I can put to practice immediately.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. high availability), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Parikshit: It depends :) on what excites you the most and what you aspire to become. Both have their merits and market in the industry. If you are a breadth guy, you can have wider scope and become an architect who can put together a solution which can be implemented or operationalized by depth guys. If you are going in-depth, you should be smart enough to see and understand the demand and roadmap of that product or technology. If you are investing your time and career on a dead product, it might be waste of your time no matter how good you are at it. Also if you go deep, be really good at it since that will be your value prop and differentiator from the rest.

Mohammad: Finally, for someone who has a deep passion for SQL Server, how would they go about applying for the SQL Tiger Team? Would an “outsider” be considered or does the Tiger Team only hire from within Microsoft?

Parikshit: Tiger team was born on the principle to make the customers and community successful on in-market releases of SQL Server. So, if you have deep passion and knowledge of SQL Server coupled with a mindset to make the customers and community successful, you should consider yourself as a good candidate. The role also requires strong business and inter-personal skills to achieve that goal, scale, support and run multi-billion dollar product like SQL Server. You need not be an insider to be part of the Tiger team but the deep knowledge, passion, customer obsessed attitude, strong business skills are key ingredients.

 

Interview – Anthony Nocentino

I decided to start a series of blogs where I interview key people in the SQL Server community. Instead of me asking technical questions, I plan on asking about their outlook on the future, books they read (non-fiction and/or technical),  and their overall thoughts on where technology (mainly SQL Server) is headed. You can find more interviews here.

Next up: Anthony Nocentino (b | t): Anthony Nocentino

Mohammad: Where do you see SQL Server technology evolving to 5 years from now? More cloud focused?

Anthony: Absolutely more cloud focused. The DBA is a role that is in charge of data. Where that data sits, well that’s an implementation detail. Want to stay employed and in demand? Follow the data. To most businesses, the business is the data. An interesting corollary to this is in the server based computing space. We started with main frames and time sharing systems, then we decentralized into PCs and servers…now we’re centralizing again. But this time it’s a little different with The Cloud, I’m intrigued by SaaS and the fact that it’s a service based model. This enables us to focus on higher level constructs as we build systems.

Mohammad: Do you ever see the traditional SQL Server DBA role being replaced/eliminated?

Anthony: That depends on how you define the role of the DBA. It’s up to you to provide the maximum value to your employer or client. What can you do to make to enable the success of your company or client? Stay stagnant, you’ll be replaced. Constantly learn and evolve, you’ll be the go to person in your organization.

Mohammad: What are you most proud of doing/accomplishing for the SQL Server community so far in your career?

Anthony: Wow, that’s a tough one! For me the most significant accomplishment might be public speaking. If you asked me to speak publicly 2 years ago, I would have laughed and said no thanks. I was absolutely terrified at even the idea of speaking in public. Today, I do it about twice a month.

Mohammad: What non-technical/non-fiction book/s would you recommend? If you only read technical books…what do you recommend?

AnthonySearch Inside Yourself changed my life. I read it about once a year to re-center myself and control stress. I do read a lot of technical books and the standard SQL Server blogs. One book that stood out this year for me is Brendan Gregg’s System Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud a must have for Linux performance topics. I also listen to a lot of Pluralsight courses. I focus mostly on automation and performance. Check out Jeff Hicks’ PowerShell DSC and Remoting courses and of course Paul Randal’s courses. He transaction log course is very good (of course). I also listened to his course Communications: How to Talk, Write, Present, and Get Ahead! Quality stuff.

Mohammad: For someone who’s career focus has been on one aspect of SQL Server (i.e. high availability), do you think it would be wise for them to become a “jack of all trades” by starting to learn, SSRS/IS/Azure, etc. or remain focused on their area of expertise? In another words, which would you say is more valuable? mile wide / inch deep or inch wide / mile deep?

Anthony: For me, I’m a unique combination of both. I have a strong systems background in operating systems, networking and storage, then worked up the technology stack into applications and databases. I’m fairly certain this is what enables me to do what I do today. Really it’s about providing value and enjoying your work. If you want to be an mile deep expert…do it. If you want to be a generalist…do that. It’s about who you’re working for and you enjoying what you’re doing.

Here’s an example, look at how some SQL Server consultants focus solely on SQL Server…maybe even just the database engine. Totally cool. I like to focus on the system as a whole, disks, servers, engine, applications, data, user experience…the whole thing. My observation over the years is, the mile deep consultants will have more clients and likely shorter engagements. While my approach yields fewer clients, but longer engagements. It’s all about what you want to do and who you’re doing it for and you enjoying what you’re doing.

Mohammad: How big of a role (or market share) do you see SQL Server on Linux reaching over the next 3-5 years?

Anthony: I think it’s going to be a slow start. I see it as a new tool in the developer’s tool belt. There isn’t going to be a lot of rip and replace to SQL Server on Linux. I mean really, people don’t like to touch their data platform. Raise your hand if you have a SQL 2008R2 instance or older :) But as developers start to embrace the technology, we’ll see SQL Server on Linux as a core element. Further, it’s not just SQL Server on Linux. Look at all of the other Open Source work at Microsoft. Bash on Windows, PowerShell Core, .NET Core, Containers, Linux in Azure. It’s really a cool time to watch this all happen!

Mohammad: For someone like myself who loves SQL Server, is fascinated with SQL Server on Linux but has no hands-on experience working with Linux. Should I take the dive? If so, how would you recommend I proceed? Should I study up on Linux first, read up on some basic fundamental material before diving into SQL Server on Linux?

Anthony: Well, I know this guy that’s got a few courses on Pluralsight ;) But seriously your approach depends on what you need to get out of it. If your a systems person, focus on the OS. Learn the fundamentals, bash, permissions, file systems, resource management like CPU, disk and memory. If you’re a developer, take the time to learn the new tools available to you. Things like containers, mssql-cli, VS Code…etc.

I will say this about Linux. I started off building my first PC when I was 12. It was Windows 3.1. In college, I started using Linux on my desktop. In doing that, I learned what an operating system really does. It controls hardware…and off I went learning how computers and systems actually work. It’s not that Windows is bad for abstracting away the hard stuff. But Linux really exposes the raw system to the user.

Mohammad: I recently saw the video where Bob Ward demonstrates SQL Server on Linux, running on the new HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen 10 Server with scalable persistent memory, “Enterprise-class “Diskless Database.” Amazingly fast! I’d love to know your thoughts on this new technology and whether it’s going to be the new next “thing”?

Anthony: I think this is a really big deal for relational database systems. This technology will remove the transaction log bottleneck. Log writes are immediately hardened when written to memory. We no longer have to wait for disk. Further, we no longer have to wait for all of the function calls that come along with a disk IO. Once that log record hits an NVDIMM, it’s hardened and your workload gets to move on. I blogged about this last year here.