Interview – Erin Stellato

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: Erin Stellao (b | t): Erin Stellato

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

Erin: Let me state that I don’t think 5 years ahead in my own life, so trying to predict changes in technology really isn’t in my comfort zone. That said, it’s 2017 and there are still a large number of companies running SQL Server 2008 and 2008R2 in production. Therefore, in 2022 I think that companies will still be running SQL Server 2014 and maybe even SQL Server 2012. I expect there will still be a box version of SQL Server that’s current, and people will still be migrating to the cloud. Will there be more solutions in the cloud, compared to on site? That might be too close to call.

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

Erin: Define traditional J I love to ask people what they do all day – whether they’re a DBA, Developer, Systems Admin, etc. I have yet to find a “typical” job description for a SQL Server DBA. I don’t see the role of data professional (credit goes to Buck Woody for that term, I think) being eliminated. As long as there’s data, there will be a DBA or similar person needed. Someone will always need to know how to put data in a database, how to keep safe, how to keep it available, and how to access it. Data just keeps growing – the “DBA role” may evolve, but as long as you like working with databases and data in some capacity, there will be a job for you.

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

Erin: Interesting question – not something I’ve ever really thought about. I think I might be most proud of being known as someone who continues to encourage people to use Extended Events instead of Trace and Profiler. There are many people that evangelize XE, I am certainly not the only one, but in terms of what I’m trying to do for the community, that’s probably it. I think I’ve exposed a fair number of people to XE, but the jury is still out on how many I’ve actually converted!

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

Erin: Reading is an escape for me. So when you say non-technical, non-fiction book I think: learning. And biographies. So…Katharine Graham’s biography, Personal History, was very good. I loved Daring Greatly and Rising Strong by Brené Brown, but you need to be into personal development to enjoy those (I also recommend her TedTalk, The power of vulnerability. And then some fiction books that come into my head:

The Martian by Andy Weir – great premise, lots of technical details, good humor, well written overall; the movie is really good, too

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – clever idea, a love story, and I loved the characters; don’t see the movie

The Mitch Rapp books by Vince Flynn – in the vein of Tom Clancy (whose books I also like), but with an elite fighter instead of Jack Ryan; I hope they never make them into movies

Still Alice by Lisa Genova – told from the perspective of a person with early-onset Alzheimer’s, it hits close to home, it’s heart-breaking, and it’s given me an understand I might not have found; the movie is good, the book is better.

Shantaram: A novel by Gregory David Roberts – from one of Paul Randal’s list, it gave me insight into India and a world that I cannot fathom.

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?

Erin: I think what’s wise is to pursue what interests you. If you want to learn about SSRS/IS/Azure because you find it interesting, then do it. But if you do something because you “have to” or “feel you should”, then when you work with it, when you talk about it with others, when you teach it, it’s not as easy to be passionate about it. I think you can be really good at your job, even if you don’t like it. But where’s the fun in that? You can be focused or you can have a breadth of knowledge, people can succeed either way, it’s a matter of liking what you do.

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