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.

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