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Cleveland DBA

Colleen Morrow is a SQL Server Consultant at UpSearch, a provider of DBA resources in northeastern Ohio. She has worked in the IT industry for 20 years, doing everything from technical support to development to database administration on Informix, Oracle, and SQL Server platforms.

T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Every month the folks of the SQL Server community get together for a virtual block party of sorts called T-SQL Tuesday.  This month’s party is being hosted by Argenis Fernandez (b|t).  The topic: specialization.  Some folks wear many hats within an organization, others wear only one (off to the side a bit, in a jaunty manner).  Argenis wants to know whether you specialize in a certain  area, what that area is, and whether or not you’ve found that to be a good thing.

The course of my career has primarily centered around databases.  I started out doing Informix technical support, primarily for their programming languages, where I seemed to have a natural affinity.  I then went on to a brief stint as an Informix-4GL developer.  I wrote financial reports for a retail organization, and any time I asked my DBA to create an index for me I was told “no”.  I looked at the DBA and decided that was where the power was and I had to have it! [insert evil laugh here]

So I moved on and became an Informix DBA for my current employer.  And then an Oracle DBA.  And then a SQL Server DBA.  For the past 8 or 9 years that’s what I’ve been doing: SQL Server.  In my opinion, it’s been a good thing. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of what I knew about Informix databases and my Oracle skills have gotten rusty. Part of me regrets that and sometimes I think I should spend a week or so immersing myself in our last lingering Oracle database while I still can.

Work it, girl.

But I realize that the opportunity to focus my attention entirely on one product has allowed me to learn so much more than I would have otherwise.  Now when when things are quiet at work I can play with new features, read up on internals, think about new ways to do old tasks.

Sometimes I wish I new more about other aspects of IT that affect my systems.  If I were a DBA/SysAdmin/SAN Admin, I’d have a better understanding of the big picture (and I’d get my disk requests faster).  But I don’t think I’d know about any one of those things with much depth.  I just don’t think I’d have the time.

Both ways have their advantages, and certainly even the most specialized DBA should have a working knowledge of hardware, operating systems, networking, SANs.  Databases don’t run in a vacuum; all of these components play a part.  But in my opinion, there comes a time, for the sake of your career, when you have to say “I am a DBA”  or even “I am a SQL Server DBA.” and really be the DBA.

So that’s the hat I wear.  Jauntily.


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