I always consider taking seminars and technical conferences as a key component in my DBA education framework
Last week (Jan 21 to 22, 2008), I attended MS TechDays Canada 2008 in Vancouver, BC. Though the quality of the sessions is above the usual business-promotion-focused sessions, I still feel the quality is only suitable to DBAs with limited experience.
I attended PASS in 2006 and numerous other SQL Server related sessions before, and I must say most of time I feel the sessions are of limited help to my daily work. This brings me to think of this question frequently:
What is the best way to train a seasoned DBA?
After some reading, thinking and research, I believe DBA education can borrow practices/experience from the mature MBA education model, one of which is to use lots of case studies.
Case study aims to train a student to put what have been learned into realistic usage with sound logic behind. The beauty of a case study is that you can look at a case from different perspectives, marketing, production, R&D, leadership, logistics, cost management etc, and there is no right or wrong to an case analysis, however there is definitely a difference between a good analysis and a not-so-good one.
In DBA world, we have something similar, when faced with some strategic issues, such as how to make disaster recovery plan best suitable to the company, how to improve DBA work quality, how to ensure and enhance db system health, how to increase added-values to the stakeholder community etc, we can approach the issues from different perspectives too, such as developing home-made utilities vs leveraging 3rd party tools, upgrading to take advantage of the new features vs. implementing well-crafted process to achieve the same goal. Again, there is no right or wrong here, but there is absolutely suitable or not-so-ideal scenario when considering the approach in the context of the particular business.
With this said, I'd like to see that in future, I can read books composed of business cases dedicated to DBA, and I can attend technical conference with sessions that discuss thought-provoking cases using the real world experience from the presenters. I wish someday I can contribute one or two chapters to such kind of books and/or make one or two presentations with my real world cae as well.