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The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Batting 1000

Nobody bats 1.000, or one thousand. Not in baseball and not in any aspect of life. You might be able to get good hits for a short period of time, maybe a game, a week, a year, but if you keep working at what you’re doing, you are going to make some mistakes, make some wrong or bad choices, or fail. Hopefully it’s not a catastrophic failure, but you will fail.

I was thinking about this while reading Andy Warren’s Investing In Yourself post. We’ve debated about this and I tend to agree with Andy. YOU have to own your training decisions and you have to take responsibility for advancing your career. Your employer may help, but ultimately it’s your responsibility.

He talked about some of the failed technologies in SQL Server like English Query or Notification Services. If you’re bet your career on those are you in trouble? I’d hope not, and I’d like to think that you learned other things along the way and you can switch.

I started programming macros for Lotus 1-2-3 a long time ago, I dropped that for Clipper and moved to FoxPro. Each time I’d made an investment in a technology that got dropped. I moved to SQL Server and I’ve done well there as a generalist, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the best thing for everyone.

If you pick XML now, or SSRS, or SSAS, you are choosing to compartmentalize yourself a bit if you specialize. That’s good and bad as niches tend to pay better, but have fewer job choices. Depending on your situation in life and what you enjoy, that can be good or bad. The important thing is that you are learning and doing something you enjoy.

And along the way remember that your chosen specialty can get dropped by Microsoft. That’s no different than things that have happened in other professions throughout history. Think about what blacksmiths went through 100 or so years ago.

You won’t always pick the right technology to learn, but that’s OK. There are still jobs out there in C and COBOL, there are still people writing in FoxPro. You might not want those jobs, but that’s your choice and you get to make that. It doesn’t mean that your investment was lost. Plenty of people in the world make investment decisions every day and they have to re-make them on a regular basis.

Don’t worry about what’s out of your control, and the decision to keep a technology around is up to some vendor, not you. Do what makes you happy and continue to invest in yourself. You won’t go wrong.

Comments

Posted by Roy Ernest on 8 January 2009

I tend to agree with you. You are responsible for your education. Just imagine, I started my Career in IT with AutoCAD. That was ages back. Then I took a course in MainFrame MVS ESA 9000. Thats where I started learning about DB's. DB2 is a pretty good Data base. Then I moved to Oracle. Worked for a long time in Oracle. I got pissed of with the management of my company, quit the Job. Got another Job as a DBA for an Object oriented DB. (POET)There we shifted to MS SQL. Thats when I got hooked to MS SQL.

Posted by Steve Jones on 8 January 2009

Sounds like you've made some good investments. Congrats and thanks for reading.

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