Interview – John Morehouse

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: John Morehouse (b | t):John Morehouse

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?

John: I don’t believe so, no.  While the cloud is definitely changing the landscape of the traditional database administrator I think that on premises installations of SQL Server will be around for many years to come.  The cloud is slow to being adopted in several sectors, namely financial and health care.  Both of those sectors have strict guidelines around data security (as they should) so I think organizations are weary of it. However, with that said, I do think that individuals will be missing out of future career opportunities by not having some level of understanding of various cloud technologies.  I myself recognized the shift in this landscape and recently took a new job with a new company in part to explicitly gain more exposure to Microsoft Azure.

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

John: If you are active in reading SQL Server related sites, you have probably seen multiple articles around this very topic.  I do not believe that the traditional role of being a database administrator will be replace.  I know that starting with SQL Server 2017 Microsoft introduced an automatic tuning feature that will automatically identify and fix certain performance issues. I personally think this is a great feature to implement as it’ll help organizations resolve issues much quicker.  If issues are resolved quicker, then the customer end user experience is better, they buy more widgets and it rains money.  However, even with features such as automatic tuning, you’ll still need someone at the helm.  Even sophisticated systems (like the Space Shuttle) still has to have individuals at mission control to check up on things, make adjustments and even potentially hit the abort button. I think DBA’s will be around for quite some time regardless of the ongoing speculation on the interwebs.

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

John: Excellent question.  I think I’m most proud of the Omaha SQL Server User group.  Let’s use the TARDIS and travel back to mid-2007.  The local user group had been dead for sometime and I knew that I wanted to reboot it and get Omaha involved in the community.  Myself and a colleague decided to make a run at it and try to get things rolling.  Fast forward 7 years later, I moved to Louisville, Kentucky and turned the reigns over to someone else locally.  At that time, we had a very solid user base with an average meeting attendance between 30-40 people along with a mailing list of 800+ people.  This is an outstanding accomplishment for city like Omaha, Nebraska (yes, we had SQL server in Omaha, Nebraska).  We also hosted two SQL Server events in the last years of my tenure and had great turn out at both events.  I’ve always been very proud that I was a part of that journey and to be able to give back to my local community.  There are some really great #SQLFamily members in Omaha.

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

John: Right now I’m reading a book by Tom Roush called “Stupid Things Papa Did When He Was Younger“.  Tom was a #SQLFamily member who recently passed away and on the day of his passing, his book was published. It was an honor to have known him and his stories are always well worth the read. I am also a fan of self-help type of books.  I’m a firm believer that we can all be better people, so I’m trying to improve myself in this journey we call life. ;-)

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?

John: As someone who is a die hard DBA (IE: I’m not a Business Intelligence guy), my recommendation is to have hybrid approach to this.  I love all things about the internal workings of SQL Server but I can also stand-up and manage the other facets of the stack.  I think as a database administrator, one of our roles that we should fulfill for our employers (or our clients) is to know as much of the landscape as possible to help drive the organization in the right direction.  So I’d recommend people to examine what they are passionate about within the field, obtain specific knowledge about that passion while being aware of the peripheral technologies.  This peripheral knowledge combined with that core expertise can only help the individual.  Once you’ve learned something, nobody can take that away from you and it is yours to wield.

Interview – Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman

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: Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman (b | t):Kellyn Pot'Vin-Gorman

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?

Kellyn: As I’m very multi-platform, I think the answer depends on the platform, the technology and the business you work for.

Those who work in larger enterprises, for government, finance or security are going to be more hesitant to move to the cloud.  Other reasons that will hold migrations to the cloud back:

  1. The Oracle cloud isn’t as mature as Amazon or Azure and still needs more time to catch up.
  2. I know of Fortran developers that are doing just fine managing what is left still in play.With the amount of Oracle DBAs retiring and those that will remain to work on-premises, the newer ones can manage those going to the cloud.
  3. Applications can transition to the cloud more easily and readily than home-grown or multi-tier systems.

Do I think those DBAs updating their skills will be more in demand and have an increase in salaries vs. those on-premises?  Yes, absolutely.

Azure is making it easier for DBAs to transition to become adept in cloud database management and they’ve continued to have a focus on DBAs, not just taken the easy route of aiming all enablement towards development.

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

Kellyn: No, the role may change a bit, but it will always be.  As we improve the optimizer performance and database technology, there will always be those environments that require “a human touch” of the expert.  There is a company that I spoke to a couple months ago, that has shifted 30% of their business to auditing cloud deployments.  Of those audits, over 80% of them aren’t viable and must rebuilt from the ground up.  Almost every one is because they didn’t have the database, the security and administration expertise to build the cloud deployment out in the first place.  The project thought they could speed up deployment by bypassing DBAs and others, but instead, discovered catastrophic flaws due to this choice.  There is a reason for the gatekeepers in technology.  DBAs with expertise in optimization, automation and security practices will continue to be in high demand for the long haul..

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

Kellyn: I’ve only become a part of the SQL Server community in the last year, having been a long time contributor for Oracle.  I would have to say, becoming an Idera ACE and becoming president of the Denver SQL Server User Group.  This is a great group of volunteers on the board and I hope that I can serve as president in a way that they can continue to do greater.

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

Kellyn: I’ve had the great pleasure of working and being taught by some of the best in the business, but as SQL Server DBAs, it’s time to learn Linux.

A Practical Guide to Linux by Mark Sobel

Linux, the Complete Reference

Pro SQL Server Internals by Dmitri Korotkevitch

And just because it’s awesome:  Mastering Trace Data by Cary Millsap

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?

Kellyn: I have a very unique view on this topic.  I started out very multi-platform and then worked for two companies, (Oracle one of them) where I went in deep.  I believe in a little of both due to this.  Pick something that inspires you in a primary technology and then widen your knowledge in other areas.  As you learn about different technologies, it can make you better at the one you are passionate about.  My answer is a mile wide and an inch deep except in those that you become passionate about. For those, dive, dive!!

Interview – Rie Irish

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: Rie Irish (b | t):Rie Irish

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?

Rie: I don’t think so. They might not be able to get a flashy job at a fast-moving software company, but there will always be companies or industries that move more slowly than technology. The banking & hospital administration industries are a prime example of those that don’t respond quickly to leaps forward in technology and are far more likely to have reservations on the security of the cloud. My advice here would be to become familiar with the technologies. If you aren’t pursuing a job in that realm or your current job isn’t likely to need it, then a working knowledge is enough to keep you “in touch.” Then, when it becomes necessary, you’ll have a bit of a head start on where you need to be.

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

Rie: If you read too many SQL Family blogs, you’d be convinced all of our jobs are going away tomorrow. They surely believe the sky is falling! I don’t think DBA jobs will ever disappear. If you believe everything you read, then our jobs should have all been eliminated a decade ago or maybe longer. They will always be a need for administration, maintenance & recovery personnel. That isn’t to say the role of the “traditional” DBA won’t change. Of course it will, just as technology changes. That being said, there are some things you don’t want to leave to chance or to someone that’s just a button pusher. And the integrity, security and availability of your systems databases are one of those things.

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

Rie: This answer is a no-brainer. I’m most proud of being a part of the book, Let Her Finish: Voices from the Data Platform. A total of 7 authors, including myself, collaborated on a book dealing with all different aspects of the data platform, from BIML to backups. My chapter was on creating a disaster recovery plan. Each woman that contributed a chapter was an MVP or an MCM. Brilliant women with great experience in the data space agreed to write a book with me. We released the book during PASS Summit in 2017, with proceeds going to a women’s charity. The driver behind the book was supporting women’s voices in tech. We wanted each woman that contributed to the book to tell her story, in her own words. Without interruption or interpretation. It isn’t often that women get that chance. It was a great honor to be a part of the book.

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

Rie: I found a book that is a blend of technical & non-fiction.  A colleague recommended the book Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats and it changed the way I think about apps & web forms!  Don’t worry, this isn’t some feminist book.  It talks about how biases, averages or the status quo fails us all, but especially anyone that’s a person of color, not straight or otherwise coloring outside the lines.  It’s taught me to expect more; demand more from the technology I use.  Examples are far reaching.  An app for helping a woman track her cycle assumes we’re all trying to get pregnant (newsflash: we’re not!).  Social media apps tell us to wish happy birthday to deceased friends & relatives.  In 2011, if you told Siri you were considering shooting yourself, she gave you directions to a gun store.   It helped me understand how biases & a lack of diversity fail us as we develop technology to solve problems.

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?

Rie: I think it’s probably best to blend those two paths. If you’re too focused, you’ll find a more limited range of options when you want to transition jobs. At the same time, if your skill-set covers a wide variety of experience but none of it goes very deep, you’ll find the same problem. My advice would be focus on something, but only go a half mile deep instead of a mile. That leaves you some bandwidth to get a working knowledge of several other aspects of the job.

Interview – Amit Banerjee

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: Amit Banerjee (b | t):Amit Banerjee

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?

Amit: The world even today is about hybrid cloud. There are aspects of a public cloud which are very appealing like elastic compute and storage that open up a vast variety of opportunities for businesses around the world. This allows companies to leverage PaaS services built on top of a virtually infinite compute and storage and allows them to monetize their data assets and gather critical insights for their business. This wouldn’t have been possible traditionally without expensive investments in hardware. “Not enough hardware” is not a valid reason for the inability to solve a technology problem anymore. As we know the world today, it is hybrid and the lines between on-premise and public clouds are being blurred day-by-day! They are probably not going to be in a tough spot in about 5 years but will definitely have an advantage if they know about on-premise environments and the cloud. Disclaimer: I work Microsoft who is one of the major public cloud players in the world today.

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

Amit: The SQL Server DBA actually plays a pivotal role in the hybrid cloud world today. A good example of this is that a chatty application over the network was not probably not as big an issue when operating within internal boundaries of a corporate network. But when that application migrates over to the cloud, the fact that it is chatty can lead to latency issues and possibly additional network egress costs which leads to a poor customer experience and an added expenditure. This is hardly the reasons why someone would make the move to cloud. My personal viewpoint is that that DBA now becomes the gatekeeper to decide whether an application is ready to migrate to the cloud, play a critical role in deciding what the most optimum architecture would be and ensure that the business features being added to the database are in alignment with cloud and database best practices.

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

Amit: It is always humbling and gives me a sense of great personal satisfaction when I am able to help a customer of SQL Server learn about a new feature or enhancement which would bring business value to their environment. This happens in the form of blog posts, presentations that I deliver and freeform interaction with the community at conferences like PASS Summit, SQL Saturday.

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

Amit: Start with the Why by Simon Sinek is one of my favorite books. This is a great book for any individual or leader in any organization. It helps you think about the WHY in the business before focusing on the implementation and driving work only from a tactical standpoint.

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?

Amit: I believe in the “T” model. I have had the good fortune of working with some of the brightest minds in the industry and I have noticed that they consciously follow the T-model in the skills that they are building. I would challenge that you would find a deep technical expert who knows everything about the SQL Server product (database engine, SSRS, SSAS, SSIS), Azure and other technologies. What has driven success for the individuals that I respect and admire is the ability to build subject matter expertise in an area and effectively collaborate with other subject matter experts in other areas which they require.

Mohammad: Finally, for anyone who has a deep passion for SQL Server and customer satisfaction, 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?

Amit: A tiger team is a group of experts assigned to investigate and/or solve technical or systemic problems. Since SQL Server has evolved over the decades to become a RDBMS leader on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, the need for having a group of experts to investigate and solve systemic problems in the product no longer exists. Now the “SQL Server Tiger” moniker exists to represent a group who are SQL Server subject matter experts, have a high amount of customer empathy and have extensive experience working with customers using SQL Server in Tier-1 environments. This group is able to solve niche problems with the product that some of your Tier-1 customers report, ship enhancements and features to help increase the ROI for SQL Server based on customer feedback and have fun while doing all of this! J If you feel that you have a penchant for doing any or all of these, then we are always happy to talk to you. If you are interested in becoming a SQL Tiger, be on the lookout for openings on the SQL Server Tiger team on our Careers website in case you are interested in working on the team.