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The old IT conundrum (how do I get from here to there) Expand / Collapse
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Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 7:21 AM
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I work in a large shop and I'm currently doing client work. Building universal xp image for all hardware, group policy, etc. but I want to move to the server side, more specifically SQL administration. We have 7 guys in our SQL group currently and I've been trying to buddy up with those guys, but they're a pretty tight knit group.

So basically I'm looking for some advice and answers.
1. I'm currently studying to get my MS certs, I figure this can help since I don't have any true hands on experience with sql admin. stuff. What else could I do to help my cause?

2. I'd like to work on some projects that I could show potential employers if I were to get a interview. Could somebody give me some ideas on what would be good resume fodder? (web apps, etc....)

That's it in a nutshell.
Thanks
Post #444317
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:30 PM


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The way I did it early in my career was answer as many questions for my peers as possible. Then I'd take the question & answer to the guys I was trying to impress to verify I had it right. After a while they got sick of me doing their work without being on their team and I got transfered. Probably won't work every where or all the time, but it worked for me.



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Post #444539
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:43 PM


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Get a copy of SQL Dev Edition, or at least a copy of SQL Express, and start playing with it at home. Build some databases for your own use.

I have a "ProofOfConcept" database on my computer at home, where I run scripts that I find on web pages like this one, to find out what they do, why they do it, etc.

Ask questions here. Ask questions of the SQL team at work. "Hey, guys, I'm building a database on my computer at home, and I ran into a problem ...." allows them to show off their expertise, and gives you a common interest with them. Both will build affinity (friendliness), so long as you don't overdo it. Ask their opinion when you run into a controversial subject on this web page. (Ask about identity columns and mention the name "Joe Celko". Then ask about "GUIDs". Look it up after the argument has resulted in at least two lynchings.)

But, most importantly, do get access to an SQL server of some sort, even if it's Express on your home computer, and do stuff with it. Try running and restoring a backup. Try building a database of something you're interested in. Test out concepts you run into on this page. Find more pages to read. Do the tutorials on MSDN.

Then you'll know what you're getting into (at least more than you might know now).


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Post #444548
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 12:57 PM


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Just another 2 cents, although SQL Server 2005 Express Edition is free, spending the extra $50.00 for SQL Server 2005 Developers Edition is (in my opinion) well worth while. The Developers Edition has all the power and features of the Enterprise Edition.




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Post #444557
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 1:12 PM
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@GSquared - I assume your "ProofOfConcept" database is homegrown and designed with enough complexity to be helpful in testing random code snippets. Are you willing to share this SQL "petrie dish"? Or is it just "AdventureWorks"? ;)
Post #444566
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:06 PM
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When you said the DBA group was a tight knit group, did they not welcome you to ask question? I had this problem before, at my old company a lot of groups were very closed (Operation, ERP, Reporting...) and if you asked them a question, they thought you were after their job. Every time I tried to say 'Hi' and started a conversion, in 5 seconds, they would pretend they were very busy and I had to leave. I was still remained as a stranger after I worked at that company for a year.
Post #444597
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:19 PM


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My ProofOfConcept database rarely has any consistency from day to day. Usually, I throw together whatever tables I need in order to have just enough to test the exact thing I'm working on.

For example, I created table:

dbo.Hierarchy(ID int identity primary key, ParentID int references dbo.hierarchy(id1))
go
create index IDX_Hiearchy_ on dbo.hierarchy(parentid)

I then populated it with a few thousand rows of data, including some hierarchies with up to 101 levels and multiple branches.

Then I created four different procs and functions for resolving the hierarchy, including two cursors, a while loop, and a CTE.

Then I created a separate many-to-many hierarchy, to parallel corporate customers. Each company can have any number of agents, each agent can belong to any number of companies, each agent can have any number of orders. Online, the personnel assigned to a company can see the orders placed by agents who are affiliated with them, but only if the order is also associated with them, and cannot see the orders placed by agents who aren't affiliated with them or orders placed through other companies, even if the agent is also associated with them. This reflects an actual business need for two companies I've built databases for.

So I threw test tables into ProofOfConcept, with nothing more than single-column primary keys and FKs, a few indexes where the tables had more than one column, and then built a variety of procs to test performance and execution plans using various CTEs, loops, complex joins, table variables, temp tables, etc. I load up the tables and run them in dozens of different ways.

The whole point is to test completely in isolation from anything other than the exact problem I'm currently tackling. I can keep a dozen copies of a proc, put in all kinds of comments about testing, run profiles in complete isolation from anything other than the actual test at hand, etc. That's also why I run it on an isolated, low-end computer, so the results aren't polluted. It's just scientific method (controls and variables) applied to SQL.

So, yeah, I could provide you with a create script (current one is attached, if you want it), but I don't know that it'll do you much good as it currently exists.

I don't know that I've read about using this exact concept, but I'm pretty sure I didn't invent it myself and that plenty of other DBAs have the same (or similar enough) systems they use for isolated testing.


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ProofOfConcept.txt (14 views, 57.09 KB)
Post #444606
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:41 PM
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@GSquared - Wow, that's quite the setup. Sorry for assuming you were using AdventureWorks! Your approach is quite intriguing and seems comprehensive, even if your attached script is not, yet. I'll be chewing on that code for a while.

I'll see if I can design and create my own PoC db, both as a test of my skills and as a sandbox for learning other concepts.

You've really pushed me today. Thanks!

Is it possible there is a repository of other db's of this nature? Sounds like a cool project to start ....
Post #444620
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 2:50 PM


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Answering questions somewhere like here is good practice as well. Find questions, look up answers, try to solve the issue, etc.






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Post #444624
Posted Thursday, January 17, 2008 3:28 PM


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Steve Jones - Editor (1/17/2008)
Answering questions somewhere like here is good practice as well. Find questions, look up answers, try to solve the issue, etc.


Actually, that's probably an even better idea than it might seem at first glance.

If I were looking to hire a DBA, and a candidate had "active on SQL Server Central and ... (list of other SQL web pages) ...", and could prove they had a certain screen name and certain level of activity, that would have the potential of being a major plus in the hiring process.

I'd be able to look up the discussions the person had been involved in, and get a feel for personality, skills, etc., outside of the horribly artificial environment of an interview or CV/resume. Are the posts professional, personable, helpful, etc. Does he always recommend cursors on global temp tables with clustered indexes on nvarchar fields in his solutions to questions asked here, or is he sane? Does he ask questions to expand his own skills? Does he insist that his way is "the only right way" or accept input from other people?

All of that can be demonstrated in places like this web page, and could go a long ways towards helping to determine the hiring answer.


- Gus "GSquared", RSVP, OODA, MAP, NMVP, FAQ, SAT, SQL, DNA, RNA, UOI, IOU, AM, PM, AD, BC, BCE, USA, UN, CF, ROFL, LOL, ETC
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