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SQLSaturday #59 – Speaker Interview Series #14 with Grant Fritchey


Sunday, October 31, 2010 is Halloween, and in the spirit of the holiday of ghosts, goblins, vampires, werewolves, witches and warlocks, I just couldn’t resist, to bring you a short Halloween poem to introduce our next SQLSaturday #59 Speaker:

It was a dark and stormy night,  bats

As all these stories go.

The sky was grey, the pale-like moon so low


I was to meet him here, in this abandoned hole

What to expect, I did not know.

I waited and waited, and a little bit frantic

When I asked for this interview, he said my wish had been Granted.


Suddenly the silence was shattered, with a thunderous boom;

I backed away against a door that led to this room.

I started to shiver, and cower in fear;                                                                                   

As a scary looking dude emerged from the rear.                              cat01


I began to run, down the hallway in haste

But he started right after me, and picked up the pace      

I came to a stairway, but there were no stairs

Floating in the air was a table and two chairs


My limbs went numb; I was in some kind of fog

If I die now, who will post to the PearlKnows blog?

The address was clear; I knew this must be the place

And now, out of the shadows, I began to see his face.


I turned around to make my escape,hh

But alas it was over, it was, too late

A hand on my shoulder, a fear like no equal

A voice begun, come on mate, let’s go talk about Sequel


I wiped the sweat from my brow, and feeling quite itchy

I sighed in relief, when I knew it was Grant Fritchey J

This has been one crazy strange weird day,

So, let’s continue my tale, With the Scary DBA!


     Grant Fritchey, aka the Scary DBA, is a SQL Server MVP, DBA and Developer. Currently he is a database  administrator for FM Global, an engineering and insurance   company.  He really revs up the crowd, so I’m sure you’ll want to get to see his session.

RP: Grant, many thanks for your time and appreciate you participating in the SQLSaturday#59 interview series.   Please tell us a little about yourself, your background, your career and your involvement in the SQL Community.

GF: I’ve been working in IT for more than 20 years. During that time I’ve mostly done development & DBA work. I trained to be a Nuclear Power Machinist Mate in the Navy, but quit that to go to film school. I worked on a bunch of low budget stuff & rock videos back in the 80’s but it wasn’t paying the bills, so I switched to IT. I’ve been involved with the SQL community, specifically through PASS, for five years now. I started out with the PASS Book Review committee. That died, so I switched to the PASS Editorial Committee, which died. Then I volunteered to be the Editor & Chief for SQL Server Standard, which I then killed. I’m currently looking for a volunteer committee that’s on its last legs.

RP: Yeah, I know, I never did get my submission published.  I could’ve used the $500 bucks. :-P   But, it was fun being on the editorial committee, and was glad to be one of the technical reviewers.

So, let us know, what is your area of expertise?  How did you become a DBA/SQL Professional?

GF: I have worked primarily in database development, performance tuning, and that sort of thing. I’m very involved in architecting solutions where I work in areas like SharePoint, Reporting Services, & Enterprise Search. I’ve been involved with multiple efforts to automate our development & deployment processes.
I became a DBA by mouthing off, one too many times. I was working for a dot com and we had been without a DBA for about three months. Things were really bad in the database area. I kicked open the bosses door and started listing all the reasons why we needed a DBA. He said, “So which one are you starting with?” I had a new job.


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

GF: Spot the uglier jobs in the area, and clean them out first. That can get you an “atta-boy” which you can translate into a request for doing the next nifty job that comes along. Just make sure you deliver what you say you will, even if it means nights & weekends.



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

GF: Show up! Go to your local user group and ask them if they need help. I guarantee you, they’ll find something for you to do. Contact PASS. Here’s the URL: http://www.sqlpass.org/Community/Volunteers.aspx


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

GF: Spatial data. I work for an insurance company. Knowing where something is, what it’s near, which wind zones, flood zones, earthquake zones that the location is in… that’s of almost infinite value.
FileStream. Get those binaries out of my database. Seriously, this is a great way to answer the needs of document management and keeping the data system clean as possible.
Powershell. I don’t think the implementation of it within SQL Server is as good as it could be, but this language is going to open up administering servers to a whole new realm of automation. Get going on it now.


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

GF: I’ve just finished three chapters for a new book for Red Gate (I hope we’re done) which should be out soon. It’s all about development processes and methods you can use to automate them. I also just finished technical editing a book on the optimizer, again for Red Gate through Simple-Talk. I’m getting ready to start rewriting my book on execution plans. It’s long in the tooth and in dire need of an update, plus quite a few corrections. Other than that, I’m getting ready for the PASS Summit where I’ll be presenting two Spotlight sessions.


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

GF: Scouting. I’m an Assistant Scoutmaster for a Troop near where I live. It’s really great to get a bunch of kids outside, into the woods, in this day & age. Way too many of them don’t venture out of doors except for our hiking & backpacking trips. I also like to study Kenpo when I get the time. Nothing works off stress like hitting people. When there’s any free time left, I’m usually splitting wood for our furnace.


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?

GF: Same stuff that excites me every time. First, I get to meet people, new ones, old ones, people I only know from online. The networking at these events is the best reason to go. If you’re not talking to people, you’re missing out. Second, I love presenting. It’s fun and everyone once in a while you get to teach someone something. Helping out is great. Finally, I just love NYC, so any chance to visit is all right with me.


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

GF: I’m talking about how you can use Dynamic Management Objects to help you in your performance tuning efforts. DMOs are the best thing to come along in a long time and too many people just aren’t aware of how great they are and the power it can put in your hands.

RP: Anything that you would like to add?

GF: Nothing much. If you show up at SQL Saturday, say hi.

RP: Grant, before you go, I wanted to ask you just one more question.  Something I’m sure our audience will be interested in knowing.


GF: OK. One more.


      RP:  Tell us, how did you become known as the “Scary DBA”?  Where did that come from?


GF:  I was supporting a development team on a project. One of the developers, a new guy, came up and asked me a technical implementation question. I gave him an answer. He went back to his team and announced the answer. They then said, wait, which DBA told you this (because we had some disreputable types at the time). He said "Oh, you know the scary one." And everyone said, "Oh, Grant." and then burst out laughing and called me. I’ve been the Scary DBA ever since.

Excellent!  This has truly been an enjoyable interview, and on behalf of myself and all the readers, thank you!  Look forward to meeting you again in NYC.

                                                Happy Halloween! jackOl  



Posted by Steve Jones on 29 October 2010

LOL, great interview and looking forward to SQL Saturday #59. Wonder if Grant will wear one of your shirts, or one of mine ;)

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 29 October 2010

Since they didn't have shirts last time, I'm assuming they won't this time, so I'll be sporting yours... of course, I probably will anyway. Friday shirts work on Saturday, right?

Posted by Robert Pearl on 29 October 2010

Actually, we have just ordered SQLSaturday#59 t-shirts for speakers and volunteers.  

I think volunteers will be Red (for Red-Gate), and Black for speakers....At least it won't clash with anything we wear...

Maybe you can wear one in the morning, and then switch later in the day :-)

Posted by Raghuram (AJ) on 29 October 2010

LOL. Nice one!

Posted by ThomasLL on 29 October 2010

That is a classic. Steve, we need a Hall of fame for great interviews, please include this one.

Good Luck, Grant

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 1 November 2010

Nice Interview

Posted by ms4446 on 1 November 2010

Great Story on how you became the "Scary DBA"

Posted by Robert Pearl on 2 November 2010

Thanks, all for your comments!  Glad y'all enjoyed the interview.

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