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It's the Journey...

By Shawn McGehee,

I get to meet many fellow DBAs, while attending user group meetings, SQL Saturdays, and other community events and here's the one thing we usually have in common: we didn't start out as DBAs, or even think that our careers might take us down this path.

Recently, I sat staring anxiously at a blank document that should have been the Introduction to my SQL Server Backup and Restore book, (I thought I'd get the plug in early!), trying to put into words how and why I came to write it. Where did the journey to this book start? I sat back and tried to remember the exact moment in my career when I knew I wanted to be a DBA…

Fresh out of high school, I was determined to become a developer. In my first semester of college, I managed to land a gig as a ColdFusion developer at a small web development shop. I was the luckiest kid on the planet, working in my chosen field, and earning money, while I was still getting my degree.

We were a young and enthusiastic bunch, mostly first year college kids and interns, and there were never more than four of us employed at the shop at a time, so our tasks were many and varied. One day, a fellow developer was making code changes to one of our backend administrative functions, to delete products from a database, when he became distracted and lost his focus for a few minutes. Distraction over, he placed his headphones back over his ears and continued his work. A few minutes later I heard an exasperated "!@#$!" from the other side of our shared office, and rushed over to his desk.

After the distraction, he forgot to finish the most important part of the DELETE statement, the WHERE clause. We now had an e-commerce site without the most important piece…products. Luckily, this was a development environment and test data. Nothing of major value was lost except a bit of time and a lot of pride. I wondered aloud, though, what would have happened is we'd had this accident in production. He gave me a rueful smile, "luckily that's never happened".

There was no disaster recovery plan, probably because there were no database backups to restore! It occurred to me that if disaster ever did strike, we would be in a heap of trouble. That evening I did some research, and the next day performed a full database backup of every database on our server. A few days later, I had jobs scheduled to back up the databases on a regular basis. I proudly told the boss what I'd done but, really, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We were all very green; we all excitedly took a share of each task, learning bits of development, networking and system and database administration along the way.

However, this was a bit different. I found myself spending hours of my own time reading about the different types of backups, how to take them, where to store them, how long we needed to keep them. I left this company before we needed any of those backups, but I knew already that my future career plans had changed.

The story of how my journey to becoming a DBA started is just one among many thousands, so let's hear yours! The best three stories, as selected by the editorial team on SQLServerCentral, will receive a free hard copy of my book (Amazon voucher). If you're interested in the eBook, it's freely available, for a limited time, from: http://www.red-gate.com/products/dba/sql-backup/entrypage/sql-server-backup-restore (sign up required).

Shawn McGehee (Guest editor).

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