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SQLSaturday #59 Interview Speaker Series #10 - with Thomas LaRock

SQLSaturday #59  Interview Speaker Series #10 - with Thomas LaRock


Today, Monday, we pick up on our speaker interview series, with my interview with a RockStar.  No, it's not Rick Springfield, but he does come from Springfield, Massachusetts.  Let's welcome SQLRockstar, Thomas LaRock.


Thomas is a SQL Server MVP and seasoned IT professional with over a decade of technical and management experience. Currently serving as a Senior DBA for Confio Software (one of our SQLSaturday sponsors), Thomas has progressed through several roles in his career including programmer, analyst, and DBA. He holds a MS degree in Mathematics from Washington State University. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), which we’ll ask him about later. Thomas can also be found blogging at http://thomaslarock.com and is the author of the book, DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA.


RP: Please tell us a little about yourself, your background, your career and your involvement in the SQL Community.


TLR: I have been a DBA for the past seven years, and involved with PASS for the past six. Before I was a DBA I was a developer, working with ASP and VB.NET, and before that it was PowerBuilder. I always had a passing interest in computers, but my degrees are in Mathematics.

RP: What is your area of expertise?  How did you become a DBA/SQL Professional?


TLR: I became a DBA because I was the only person left in the company that had ever done a backup and a restore. But the reason I had even done any to begin with was because I had asked to take on a junior DBA role. And the reason for that was because I wanted to become an Oracle DBA because they can make it rain with the money they make. My area of expertise is a hard one, I don't feel I am much of an expert in anything in particular, but I have a lot of general knowledge in many areas. if anything, my strength is probably my ability to take deep dives into new areas as needed.

RP: What advice would you give your fellow colleagues who are trying to become more senior professionals?


TLR: Try new things, and don't be discouraged if you fail. To me at least a Senior DBA is someone that can take on a new topic and be up to speed in a short amount of time. You don't have to know everything, but you should know where to look for the right answers.

RP:  As I see the question all the time, what do you tell folks who want to get more involved in the SQL Community?


TLR:  I would tell them to get involved! You can volunteer for a local user group, or a SQL Saturday. You can attend PASS, you can write articles, you can answer questions on forums and Twitter, and you can even start a blog. There are many ways for you to give back. In time you may even want to consider speaking at events. Basically any time you look to be connected with other database professionals and share you experience and knowledge, you are being involved in the Community.

RP: What are 3 of your favorite features in SQL Server 2008/R2?


TLR: The only thing that is R2 specific that comes to mind is the Utility Control Point, but I'm not sure that is a favorite. For SQL 2008 I would say that it is Resource Governor, Policy Based Management, and SQL Server Audit.

RP: What are you working on currently?  (Projects, Books/Articles, Speaking circuit, etc.)


 TLR: Answering these questions.


      RP:  Ok, besides answering these questions?   Nobody likes a wise RockStar. J


 TLR: Sure.  I am currently working on...work. Lots of things at Confio have me busy right now. There is a lot to learn about the product, especially because it is multi-platform (Oracle, Sybase, DB2 as well as MSSQL). So I need to learn about each of those systems in order to provide good support. As a result I don't have nearly as much time for writing as I would like to have. I hope to get back in the saddle soon. One thing I have been able to do is attend a handful of SQL Saturday events. I will have spoken at about seven or eight SQL Saturday events this year and will probably do a dozen next year.

RP:  What are some of your other interests, hobbies, etc. when you’re not being a DBA/Engineer/BI professional?


TLR:  Watching my children develop into young adults and helping to guide them along a path that is true. After that, nothing. I tend to work and when not working, be with my family.


      RP:  I can definitely relate to that.  It’s certainly NOT an easy task.      

RP:  Since PASS is coming up first, before our SQLSaturday#59 event, tell us about your unique role at PASS, and well as your involvement.


TLR: My role at PASS is a director-at-large for the PASS Board of Directors. Currently that has me involved in what we call "special projects". The last project I helped with was the 24 Hours of PASS and currently I am trying to help facilitate the PASS Orientation Committee, something dedicated to helping first time Summit attendees get the most out of their Summit experience.


RP:  What are you looking forward to, or, what excites you the most about presenting at our SQLSaturday event in the capital of the world, NYC?


TLR: Did NYC earn some title I am not aware of? I didn't know it was the capital of the World.


      RP:  Have you been talking to Michael Coles?  Man, you out-of-towners are a tough crowd. They used to say New Yorkers were tough.  Alright, I need do some more traveling again!


TLR: Regardless, I am most looking forward to seeing everyone at SQL Saturday.


      RP:  Give us a preview of the topic and session you have planned for us at SQLSaturday#59


TLR: The title is 'Performance Tuning Made Easy' and I try to do just that. Many people struggle with performance tuning because it is an unstructured piece of their work environment. I do my best to give it some structure, which in turn should help make it easier.


Tom, we thank you for your time and your great answers!  Look forward to catching up with you again in the New York City at SQLSaturday#59!  Always fascinating to interview a RockStar!




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