Welcome to the Spotlight Behind SQL Server, a new series from SQLServerCentral.com. As we've grown and spent more time covering SQL Server, we've slowly gained a number of contacts inside Microsoft, including those that develop the product. And we decided to try and interview the SQL Server people inside Microsoft. There are lots of people working on SQL Server 2005 and our goal to is to eventually get to them all.
We know that there are lots of technical things we could ask, and lots of easy marketing questions we could get from them, but you probably read most of those questions elsewhere. So we thought we'd make them think a bit more and get some interviews that showcased the people behind SQL Server. To that end, these interviews will be a little bit different and give you a look at the amazing team that builds SQL Server.
We caught up with Jerome Halmans, SQL memory guru extroidanaire.
SSC : What exactly do you do at Microsoft?
Jerome : I'm a program manager in the SQL Server storage engine, specializing in SQL OS. SQL OS is handles all memory management, disk IO for data pages, user mode scheduling, synchronization and locking.
SSC : What feature(s) of SQL Server 2005 did you really enjoy working on?
Jerome : I only recently moved into the SQL development organization, so I wasn't here through the 2005 development cycle.
SSC : Do you write much code these days or is it mostly managing others?
Jerome : Being a program manager doesn't leave much time for coding. My attention is on advocating for customer requests, coordinating interaction between different groups here at Microsoft, and being an expert on the feature area of SQLOS. Since SQLOS is very deep in the SQL Server engine one might think the surface area is small, nothing could be further from the truth! Every team in SQL Server consumes services provided by SQLOS, so I need to know exactly how those interfaces work, what options are available and evaluate new or alternative services.
SSC : How long have you been working on SQL Server?
Jerome : I've been working with SQL Server for about 9 years, starting with SQL 6.5.
My first exposure was during a stint at a small consulting company. From there I became a DBA at a mortgage company, and joined Microsoft in product support just before SQL 2000 shipped.
SSC : What did you do at Microsoft before working on SQL Server?
Jerome : I worked as an escalation engineer for SQL Server support. The focus was on solving the most difficult problems customers faced. Working so closely with the product and our customers gave me some fantastic insight into both how SQL Server works, and how our customers expect to use it.
SSC : Give us a little background on yourself, how did you get into computers?
Jerome : I grew up in a small town in eastern Montana. In high school I took a class on BasicA and another on turbo Pascal. At that point I saw programming as a fun pastime, not something I was going to have a career doing. When I went to college I was introduced to relational databases for the first time, and loved it. After college I didn't touch a computer for years, and had a completely non-technical job. I managed to get a job doing tech support for MS Office, and decided to stay in the field.
SSC : Where did you attend college and what was your degree/major/concentration?
Jerome : Montana State University in Miles City and Bozeman. Concentrated on Mechanical Engineering.
SSC : Did you see yourself as a programmer/developer when you were growing up?
Jerome : No, it never even crossed my mind. I had planned on becoming a mechanical engineer.
SSC : How do you like living in Redmond?
Jerome : Actually I live about 30 miles north in Monroe, Washington. It's really great living near the mountains, most of the year it's warm, and plants stay green year round. I could go for a few more sunny days sprinkled throughout the year :-).
SSC : Who's the most fun to work with at Microsoft?
Jerome : That depends on your definition of fun! There are many people I really enjoy working with, but no one to single out.
SSC : We've all heard stories of some characters at Microsoft. Any interesting ones that stunned you or surprised you when you first went to work in Redmond?
SSC : What's your current favorite tech gadget?
Jerome : Hmm - Right now it's the navigation system in my car.
SSC : What's the best thing about having a navigation system handy? Does it come in handy?
Jerome : I'm pretty new to the Seattle area, so it's very nice to have a map handy.
It's especially nice when the map tells you precisely how to get to where you want to go :-).
SSC : What does Jerome like to do when he's not working on SQL Server?
Jerome : I have 2 children ages 8 & 2, so they keep my pretty busy outside of work.
We enjoy rafting on some of the calmer rivers here in western Washington, and the occasional camping trip. I also do some wood working, and of course enjoy my XBOX!
SSC : Favorite XBOX Game?
Jerome : I'm pretty stuck on Halo 2. Although I don't seem to have enough free time to practice these days.
SSC : Who's the XBOX champ of the house, you or one of the kids?
Jerome : Definitely me! My daughter is busy with various other hobbies (piano lessons, soccer and school) to have taken much of an interest in video games. My son loves to watch me play, but hasn't yet picked up a controller.
SSC : A few of us here at SQLServerCentral.com enjoy woodworking as well. Have you built any interesting wood working projects?
Jerome : There have been a few. The biggest recent project was an entertainment center. Probably the most involved piece was a music box I built for my daughter's birthday.
SSC : Will we see you at the PASS Summit in November?
Jerome : Yes, I will definitely be there.