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The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).

I Don’t Care

It’s funny how certain sentences can both accurately reflect a situation and communicate entirely the wrong message.

When thinking about cloud-based data management, things come down to a simple, if misleading, statement; I don’t care.

I don’t care about operating systems or servers or disks. I need to have a database and it needs to be available and I need a reasonable assurance of performance. Within those parameters, I just don’t care if the OS is patched or not, if the SAN is configured perfectly. I could care less if there are appropriate alerts on the internal network switches. None of that matters to me a whit. I just don’t care about any of that because I’m focused on building a database and writing code and getting an app online. The infrastructure just needs to be there for me. I don’t really care what it looks like as long as it’s there, it works, and I can count on it (within a defined set of expectations). That’s where Azure/RDS/Cloud VMs/etc. get really hot, really quickly.

Why? Because I just have to provision the machine/instance/database and I’m good to go. I don’t have to sweat all the minutiae of server management and network configuration. Instead I’m focused where, most of the time, most of the problem lies, code & structure. I get quickly from where I don’t care to where I do care and where I want to focus my time and efforts. I’m just going to treat this like a toaster. Turn it on and all the basics are there.

Now, all that said, of course there are also servers & databases & apps where I do care about all that “minutiae”, very much. There are systems where I need to squeeze another 3-8ms of performance out of my queries and the only way to do that is to tweak the hardware to a faretheewell. But those instances are really more rare than the ones where I don’t care, by a large margin. Let’s face it, how many of your systems really need more than about 32gb of RAM and two or three disks? Some for sure, but not all and probably not even most. And so, I think we’re going to see a lot more growth as people who are in that “I don’t care” realm realize that they can get stuff done, quickly, easily, with high availability, cheaply. People just haven’t quite yet realized that they largely don’t care and don’t really need to.

And yes, I know you can reverse this and say you don’t care about the cloud, but you & I both know you’re just whistling in the dark. Think about this. How many of you have access to the iron on your VMs? How many of you can actually see the memory & CPU being actively used by all those systems you’re running with in virtualized environments, even when that virtualization is on your side of the firewall. How many of you are moving away from having a GUI on your OS, just getting Core up & running so you have the system you need, but not all that messy overhead of an interface that you’re not going to use once the server is successfully set up?  How many of you just gave up trying to talk the SAN admin into letting you see how they’ve got the disks configured? It’s working right? Aren’t all of these a level of “I don’t care?” So say it with me, I don’t care.

See, gets easy pretty quick.

Oh, but, as far as disaster recovery goes, there I care very much, all the time. And that’s one piece where these cloud based services can help you, but they’re not doing to do anything for you. There, you’re still on your own.

So maybe saying “I don’t care” isn’t an accurate statement. I actually do care, very much. But it’s a question of spending my time where it needs to be spent, spending my organization’s money where it needs to be spent. Caring actually means triage, picking your fights, choosing the hill you want to die on, pick your metaphor. I do care.

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