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Who Built This Thing?

By Steve Jones,

This editorial was originally published on May 20, 2008. It is being re-run as Steve is on vacation.

I came across a humorous Tweet (since removed for some reason) on David Reed's blog. It said: Was Microsoft SQL Server designed by someone who doesn't need to use Microsoft SQL Server? Jesus.

There are definitely times that I think the people that build the system stored procedures and other code we can see don't really work with SQL Server. It seems that best practices aren't followed and things aren't even well coded.

But most of the people I've met working on SQL Server seem to be really, really smart guys. They care about what they do and I'm somewhat amazed at times how passionate they are. I can't name everyone, but I'll point out one that really struck me.

Recently I was in Redmond for a small conference and quite a few of the SQL Server program and product managers were there to speak about their work and get feedback. Many of the people speaking did a fine job and some were definitely more exuberant than others, but there was one that really stood out in my mind. This presenter works on the spatial team and gave a quick overview, talked about places that his team had debated about going with future work and then walked to the front of the stage to just talk to the audience. He asked us questions, really trying to engage people and drive the discussion forward. And you could feel the passion he had for his work and to build a world class product.

For those of you that don't work in the spatial area, his name is Isaac, and he writes the Isaac on Spatial blog. He really opened my eyes to a subject I had somewhat dismissed since I think plotting locations on a map isn't that interesting. However his passion for the subject, and his lateral thinking to other areas in spatial such as collisions and evolutions of areas in 4D (locations plus time), CAD/CAM work, planning and more made me think that the addition of spatial technologies is more than just a feature match with Oracle.

In many ways SQL Server mirrors what I see in other parts of Microsoft. It's a large group composed of teams, and each of those teams is rather passionate about what they do. They work hard, they make mistakes, they try to correct them and move forward, and mostly they care. They care about what they're doing and it shows when you can sit down with them.

And most importantly, I think they dislike some of the marketing moves as much as we, or at least I, do.

Steve Jones


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