Interview – Aaron Bertrand

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: Aaron Bertrand (b | t):

Aaron Bertrand
Aaron Bertrand

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

Aaron: I think you will see more cloud adoption. Customers will get over some of their fears and apprehension, and the cloud service providers will find the “sweet spots” for different types of workloads and applications. However, there will always be customers that won’t trust “someone else’s computer,” or can’t – due to various industry or governmental regulations. Aside from cloud, I think with the evolution of SQL Server on Linux and Visual Studio on Mac, we’re seeing a more imaginative Microsoft that might have a few surprises for us yet.

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

Aaron: Not at all. As SQL Server branches out onto the Linux platform, and as we see our favorite platform enhanced by things like JSON, R, Polybase, and U-SQL, there will certainly be a lot of positions that will require an expansion of the traditional skill set. But that core role still has a place, even if the physical location of some of the things they manage will change. Remember that not all customers will adopt these new features or offload management to the cloud. And across the board, there will always be the need for architecture, design, tuning, and troubleshooting – software can help abstract some of these things away, but not all of them.

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

Aaron: I’ve been very fortunate to have been doing what I love for much of my career. When I was starting out, I got a lot of help from the community; to this day, I still do. I like to think that I give back at least as much as I have taken, and that I have done so consistently since the late 1990s. It’s hard to answer “what I’m proud of” without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, but I have always tried to make the community a priority through speaking, blogging, and helping people offline

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

Aaron: People have time for books?

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?

Aaron: I think it is good to have a working knowledge of the technologies that are in use in your environment, but I think it is unreasonable to expect to be good, never mind an expert, in all of them. So, for me, I would prefer to specialize in one or two narrow areas. I feel I’ve had a relatively successful career so far, exclusively using SQL Server. I have no idea how to use Analysis Services, or Reporting Services, or Integration Services; I can barely spell them. In the end I think it comes down to personality type and long-term goals – some people want to become experts in everything, or be able to solve every problem. I’m quite happy letting other people deal with Reporting Services issues when they come up. :-)

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