Interview – Argenis Fernandez

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: Argenis Fernandez (b | t):

Argenis Fernandez
Argenis Fernandez

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

Argenis: I see SQL Server continuing to gain ground and becoming even more prevalent than it is today. SQL Server on Linux will be HUGE. It already is with more than 1M Docker repo pulls.

And SQL Server is today and will be everywhere. Cloud, On-Prem, your laptop. Now that it runs on Docker a lot of developers will love to have a local instance they can develop on – for free. Quick and easy. Microsoft has REALLY turned around from how things were pre-Satya. I’m loving it. I do feel that SQL Server could use a little more love on the “size of data” realm. Meaning, handling terabytes or data in SQL Server should be “easier” than it is today. And I think sooner than later Microsoft will acknowledge that and work on features to handle that scale problem..

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

Argenis: I’m not sure that we even have a great definition of what a “Traditional SQL Server DBA” is.

Let me give you an example: If you’re babysitting a reindex or DBCC process every weekend, trust me when I tell you – you WILL be rendered irrelevant. Maybe not next month, but at some point you will be. You need to provide value to your employer by automating everything that can be automated, and help your business achieve better outcomes by not only keeping the lights on…but so much more. You need to figure what that “so much more” means for your company.

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

Argenis: Quite honestly, Argenis Without Borders 2.0, when we raised over $25K for Doctors Without Borders. Not a technical achievement, but something that actually touches lives in peril.

I owe a lot of that success story to my good friend and fellow troublemaker Kirsten Benzel.

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

Argenis: I only read…stuff on the Internet. I’m too much of an ADHD victim to read a book all the way through. I have read quite a few, but it’s not something I do frequently.

Catch up on blogs, twitter, and really good sites like, for example, SQLPerformance.com. It’s time well invested.

If you want to get a feel for what the startup world is like and innovations taking place constantly, be sure to check Hacker News.

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?

Argenis: That really depends. I consider myself mostly focused on the DB Engine, but I became a pretty knowledgeable person in the storage realm in the last two years since I joined Pure Storage. That combination has proven to be very good for my career. So I’d say…just find something you love and be really good at it. If you want to be a good generalist, you can be successful at that. If you’re bored and twiddling your thumbs all day, find something that’s intellectually satisfying.

And surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Not that intelligence is contagious, but ideas and conversations spark good changes in your brain…embrace your inner geek!

Interview – Denny Cherry

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: Denny Cherry (b | t):

Denny Cherry
Denny Cherry

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

Denny: For a lot of people things are definitely going to be more cloud focused. Some companies will stay on-premises for a variety of reasons, but for a lot of people moving to the cloud is going to become a reality. The cloud isn’t that scary. It’s a little different, but that’s about it. Looking at Azure SQL DB, it’s basically just SQL Server. It does most of what normal SQL Server does, it runs queries, etc. There’s just less patching and day to day management that needs to be done because Microsoft is taking care of that for you.

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

Denny: No, I don’t see the role of the traditional DBA being replaced. Evolving? Absolutely. But not being replaced.

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

Denny: The best thing I think I’ve done for the SQL Server community would probably be getting Speaker Idol up and running at the PASS Summit. This gives new speakers who aren’t well known to the committee a chance to get in front of an audience at the PASS summit, get feedback from some great presenters (the judges) and one of them gets a slot the next year at the summit.

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

Denny: It’s been a really long time since I’ve sat down a read a book, technical or not. For technical knowledge I just Google these days. If you had to make me pick a book, then I’d go with Kevin Kline’s T-SQL book from 200 years ago (or something like that). It should be on every data platform person’s shelf.

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?

Denny: I would still say focus on one area of SQL Server, but broaden how you work with that component. Myself I’m an engine/HA/performance tuning guy. I basically never touch SSAS, SSRS, SSIS, etc. I can install all those things, but that’s about it. But because of how I understand how the engine works, I have a better understanding than most about how SQL DB in Azure works compared to RDS in Amazon for example. So while I’d stayed fairly narrow in SQL Server terms, I’ve been able to spread out a bit outside of the database engine so that I can see it in more global or enterprise deployment terms. The traditional DBA isn’t going anywhere, and there will be people who only deal with on-premises deployments for years and make good money. But there’s lots of money to be made in this cloudy world as well.