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The Sixty-Second Guide to becoming a SQL Server DBA Expand / Collapse
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Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 12:50 PM
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Just the guidelines I was looking for. Thank you very much.
Post #830205
Posted Monday, December 7, 2009 2:20 PM


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Glad I could help, angelo.

-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Post #830272
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 12:14 AM
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I just read the article and am now a full fleldge SQL Server DBA. YooHoo!! I feel my wallet fattening now.
Post #832741
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 8:23 AM


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RACOONRACER (12/11/2009)
I just read the article and am now a full fleldge SQL Server DBA. YooHoo!! I feel my wallet fattening now.


Well, at least you have the first prerequisite for being a DBA... a good sense of humor.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
How to post code problems
How to post performance problems
Post #832980
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 7:32 AM


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For a very, very simplistic view of becoming a SQL Server DBA 5 stars, however in the REAL WORLD only 1 star - how many of us actually wanted to become a DBA and just fell into it by accident? Hell I even had to retake Database Design in my degree as I didn't "get" Normalisation (eventually it clicked) however I didn't become a SQL DBA until nearly eight years later - now *then* 3NF et al became very handy.

How many companies acutally give people training? Not willingly I'd guess.

I'd add a few other points for the real world:

1. Get a mentor - a few posters mentioned this and this is how I got started.

2. Buy one book and one book only - the rest is on BOL/Web/SSC (Unfortunately you could just buy Inside SQL Server 2000 however now they've split it into about four books - pick one!

3. Become a contractor. I've been a SQL DBA Contractor for nearly 10 years and in that time I've been a Developer, Production DBA, you name it I've had to fix it! And it's probably only at this stage that I can fully understand SQL Server (I'm still working on AS!)

4. MS Courses/Exams - sure, they're nice to compliment your CV and brag to your collegues, but in my time I've only been on a few SQL2K and one 2005 course and have never taken any exams - i'd probably fail!

I had a conversation with a SQL DBA staffer colleague and I was taking about index fragmentation and using DBCC SHOWCONTIG and what scan density was and how to fix it all. He looked at me blankly then said he didn't know any of that - this guy has a MCITP for SQL Server 2005!

I rest my case, m'lud.

Rgds,

quackhandle


SQL 2K acts like a spoilt child - you need to coax it round with lollipops.
Post #846151
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:38 AM


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quackhandle1975 (1/12/2010)

4. MS Courses/Exams - sure, they're nice to compliment your CV and brag to your collegues, but in my time I've only been on a few SQL2K and one 2005 course and have never taken any exams - i'd probably fail!

I had a conversation with a SQL DBA staffer colleague and I was taking about index fragmentation and using DBCC SHOWCONTIG and what scan density was and how to fix it all. He looked at me blankly then said he didn't know any of that - this guy has a MCITP for SQL Server 2005!


quackhandle


lol... I don't remember seeing that particular DBCC statement on the MCITP exam questions either, although they check to make sure you know how to defrag indexes or data, even if you don't know how to view fragmentation. :) I suppose they don't expect you to know every available DBCC statement although I am little surprised that a DBA might not know that particular one.

While I agree that there are probably many "certified" DBA's out there that cannot do or understand some common maintenance tasks, this does not automatically nullify the education that might be obtained in the pursuit of a certification. Yes, obviously, experience provides the best instruction in how to be a DBA but you might be shocked to know how much "basic" information and functionality is unknown to DBA's with over 10 years experience because they rely solely on their job experience and never bother to take a class or pursue a certification because they are already "in the trenches" so what could they possibly gain?

I was recently surprised by 2 DBA's in one of my SQL Server 2008 implementation classes who had never heard of partitioned tables on multiple drives and the benefits of using them (as well as several other features of SQL Server that have existed since 2005). They immediately went back to work, implemented them and raved about the dramatic resulting increase in performance in their queries. And they each had over 15 years of experience. I would certainly say they know much more than I do overall because of their "trench" experience but no one knows everything and certainly much can be learned by taking classes and becoming certified. But certification is not the END. It is part of the means to become more knowledgeable and prove some level of knowledge in a given technology, kind of like going to college and getting a degree. I don't believe that certifications prove that you have reached the end of the highway and are at the top of the heap, just that you have been educated on most of the basic tools and methods to do the job well. Obviously, many DBA's, especially ones that frequent forums, are interested in knowing and doing everything to become an amazing technician. But don't discredit a method of learning and verifying your education that may add something to your arsenal of tools or your resume. If certifications were truly worthless, my inbox would not be full of job offers looking for certified technicians.

And don't forget the people skills, the most deficient area for most technicians :) This alone has produced more return business with my clients than any awesome skills I have displayed. I have not found a certification for that one yet...

KILL 51!!!


Peter Trast
Microsoft Certified ...(insert many literal strings here)
Microsoft Design Architect with Alexander Open Systems
Post #846230
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:41 AM


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quackhandle1975 (1/12/2010)
For a very, very simplistic view of becoming a SQL Server DBA 5 stars, however in the REAL WORLD only 1 star - how many of us actually wanted to become a DBA and just fell into it by accident? Hell I even had to retake Database Design in my degree as I didn't "get" Normalisation (eventually it clicked) however I didn't become a SQL DBA until nearly eight years later - now *then* 3NF et al became very handy.

Not sure that I understand what your point is here, but my article is NOT aimed at people who already have a well-planned out career path for becoming a DBA, including plenty University courses supporting it. Rather it is for folks for whom this is either something of a late decision or else a complete surprise ("Mary, you're the new DBA."). In terms of absolute numbers or even percentages, I do not know how common this is, however I do know that 1) this is one of the most common questions that we get at SQLServerCentral, in fact I would estimate that it is about the fifth most common question.

And, 2) I became a DBA through this route and by far, the majority of DBAs that I know, IN THE REAL WORLD, came through this route. When I went to college, DB Normalization wasn't even taught yet, Codd's work was still being published for the first times and the were no production Relational or SQL DBs on the market yet. So for the first half of my career, every DBA that I know had to learn Normalization on their own, OTJ or in company-paid training.

How many companies acutally give people training? Not willingly I'd guess.
Depends on what you mean by "willingly". The vast majority of companies with enough paid IT staff to have "DBA" as a distinct position do have paid training, however, you usually have to ask for it or you don't get it. And it certainly is about 10 to 100 times more common and more likely than being able to get a good mentor.


-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Post #846238
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 1:35 PM


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I became a DBA because I wanted to too. Many moons ago, I interviewed to be a web developer (my first tech job), but what they really needed was a database developer, and since I showed more database aptitude than the others applying for the web dev job, they offered it to me.

Over the next few years I flipped between web developer and database developer, but mostly database developer ... which became lead database developer. When they talked to me about switching to web dev full time, our DBA position just happened to be open, and I told them that I'd rather take the DBA position. So they made me head of the data management team. Many, many years later, I'm still a DBA.

And just FYI, DBCC ShowContig was deprecated in SQL Server 2005. You should be using sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats now. That's why it's not on the certification test. So perhaps the interviewer know something you didn't know after all. Or at least he knew enough not to know the things he didn't need to know.

DBCC ShowContig is scheduled to be removed in the next version of SQL.




My blog: SQL Soldier
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Post #846506
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 3:17 PM


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Getting bogged down in semantics here.

Whether its Showcontig or sys.dm_db_index_physical_stats or whatever the next command will be - the point I was making is that someone with an MCITP did not know about Index Defragmentation, however that isn't his/her fault, that's down to the course/exams. In my experience I found MS based SQL exams and courses aren't real world enough, but I guess that's why sites and forums like this exist.

I was simply stating that it isn't just about books/courses/exams sometimes it takes a few years of OTJ learning to get where you want to be, be it SQL DBA/Developer/Warehousing Guru.

RBarryYoung made his points I just felt they were far too simplistic.

qh




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Post #846587
Posted Tuesday, January 12, 2010 3:24 PM


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And I do agree completely. I think the certification tests should be a measurement of your knowledge gained through experience rather than gained through memorizing a test guide. I don't think they are good for teaching you to be a DBA, but they may be a valid resource for showing you where you need improvement.



My blog: SQL Soldier
Twitter: @SQLSoldier
My book: Pro SQL Server 2008 Mirroring
Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008
Principal DBA: Outerwall, Inc.
Also available for consulting: SQL DBA Master
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