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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).

For the Aspiring DBA

Getting started as a data professional is an incredibly daunting task. If you’re not concerned that you’re going to mess stuff up and cause a system to crash and burn, maybe you’re in the wrong job. The amount of information you have to learn is insanely huge, coupled with the fact that you are straddling application development, system administration and business needs, multiplied by the factor that all the apps, all the code and the very server structure on which you’re building everything is constantly changing. Concerned now? Good. Stay that way.

The one piece of advice I want to offer you is that very state of concern. You are in a wonderful and horrifying position. If you’re working in the database administration space, you’re tasked with protecting the data that the business needs to run. This means you need to worry about backups and database consistency. You need to sweat whether you can run a point-in-time restore operation at 3AM. You have to worry about security on the system and whether or not you have disks laid out correctly. In short, you have stuff to worry about. If you’re working as a database developer, your worries are no less than the DBA. You have to ensure that you’ve got a system that will collect the data needed by the business and do it in a timely manner. You have to have appropriate data constraints in place, or you will get bad data into your business. You too need to worry. If you’re working in the business intelligence space, you don’t have any room to breathe either. You have to ensure that your queries are well written, pulling back the data accurately and with adequate performance. You have to ensure that you’re feeding information into the business that allows them to make correct decisions so you can keep collecting your pay check. Worry central.

Now, relax. My real piece of advice to you is to relax. You are launching yourself into a vital position within most companies. You know this. So, take your responsibilities seriously. Take your time. Relax. There’s a saying I read about from Special Forces (that my cross fit trainer also uses), slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Make sure you do the things you have to do. Slow down. Get them right. Slow is smooth. Then, you’ll deploy your backup process once and it will work, the first time. Smooth is fast. You have to be the person that takes a breath before you commit that change to the data structure so that you know you’ve tested it so it won’t break production. You’re the one who will run the report twice to validate the outcome before it goes to the decisions makers. You’re concerned, but you’re relaxed.

This post is part of a series of posts from all over the SQL Server community. The inspiration came from John Sansom (b|t) who is gathering everything together in an e-book. I’ll announce that as soon as it is available.

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