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!