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It's the Journey...

It's the Journey...

Shawn McGehee
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item It's the Journey...
Barry G Freeman
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I started, like most as a developer working in C#.

One day my manager said "We have 6.5 terabytes of census and mapping data coming in. Build a database server handle it. oh, and make sure it's secure and we don't lose any of it."

I'd never even heard of SQL Server, or at least only as in something to connect to.

The next 14 years I basically taught myself: Backup/Restore, T-SQL, Jobs, Scheduling, Replication, Clustering, Mirroring SAN, NAS, Vmware and DoubleTake

SQL Server Central has been a great help over that time and continues to be.

DBA (Dogsbody with Bad Attitude)
Frank Fulton
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I started with Punch Cards; so yes I have been around for a while. Life is always interesting, when you follow or buck the flow.
Your never know how technology will change you as it, it self changes; but the ride can be wild. I have always found it to be a fun ride, like a rollorcoaster that never ends
Jeffrey Williams 3188
Jeffrey Williams 3188
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I started my career as a computer operator for the Army. Left the Army and went to work as a computer operator and realized I wanted to move into programming.

After 5 years of learning on my own - I was finally able to get a position as a Mumps programmer. For those that don't know, Mumps is an old technology that is actually an OS, application environment (programming) and database engine (without a DBMS). The vendor for the applications I supported wrote their own DBMS product.

After several years as a programmer, the existing DBA retired. A new DBA was hired - but didn't work out and the programmers were offered up as temporary DBA's to cover until they were able to hire someone more permanent.

Turns out, I enjoyed doing this work and took the position full time.

When an opportunity came up to move over to supporting SQL Server - I jumped on it and now support both SQL Server (primary) and Intersystems Cache (Mumps) systems.

Jeffrey Williams
Problems are opportunities brilliantly disguised as insurmountable obstacles.

How to post questions to get better answers faster
Managing Transaction Logs

Dave Poole
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Although I started out as an Analyst/Programmer on an HP3000 mini-computer my route to becoming a DBA started when I joined a B2B direct mail house.

As someone with Aspergers the idea that data could predict how people would behave was something I found fascinating and frankly a bit of a life line. I got a job in an advertising agency and my data analysis skills and tilt towards things mathematical turned out to be useful.

After writing a system in Access to track suspects, prospects and customers in response to direct mail campaigns and reverse engineering a few ad agency systems I was sent on the SQL6.5 courses (both of them)!

From there I joined a small documentation company with a thriving web content management arm and of course all those things were backed by SQL databases (except the one backed by a case sensitive SyBase DB:crazySmile. As the CMS market was imature I spent a lot of time reverse engineering the various CMSs with a view to being able to out-perform out-of-the-box code or integrating them with MS Word to facilitate content authoring. I also discovered SQLServerCentral while working there and the rest, as they say, is history.

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I enjoyed the story, thanks.

Jason...AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
I have given a name to my pain...MCM SQL Server, MVP
Posting Performance Based Questions - Gail Shaw
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Andrew Kernodle
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Well, my story probably isn't exciting, as there's not all that much to it, but I'll toss it into the pot Smile.

I started college with the goal of becoming a psychologist, but within the first year, that idea burned itself away quite quickly. I knew I wanted a different career, and I pondered on it for a good bit. Eventually, I decided that, since I worked with computers a lot for both entertainment and knowledge purposes (such as constructing a trio of computers from separated parts to learn how to do it), Computer Science would probably be an ideal major.

One quick trip to the advisement office later, I'd plunked myself into the world of programming. The majority of the courses for my degree involved learning the ins-and-outs of C++, and while they interested me, I didn't feel overly enthralled by the prospect of programming in such a language.

One course, however, was focused entirely on database programming. In it, we learned about MySQL, and the various means of operating and managing a database. Now that was interesting! The coding constructs made sense, the things you should keep track of and manage were common sense in my eyes, and manipulating data was fascinating to me for whatever odd reason. I breezed through the class and had a blast, eagerly looking forward to the second half of the course the next semester.

Unfortunately, the instructor quit the university at the end of the semester, and he didn't get a replacement. I was thoroughly disappointed, but I kept studying databases in my spare time, learning bits and pieces about management and manipulation. Once I'd graduated, I was certain I wanted a job, any job, working with a database as soon as I could get it.

It took a year, but I managed to land a job at a small business in a town near where I currently live, and I've been ecstatic ever since. It's been just short of a year since then, and I've been gobbling up all the information I can about SQL Server and how to program fluently in it. I know I have a huge amount to learn before I can say I truly know the language and its operations (if I can ever really mean it when I say such a thing), but I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing what I can learn next, and where my choice of profession will take me in the future.

- :-D
Greg Charles
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I was a COBOL programmer for eleven years before jumping to administration. I was a system lead when two of our three DBAs left to work for a contracting company and I applied just to see what the job entailed. One of the things I liked was the opportunity for training and self education.

Sixteen years later, I still enjoy DBA work and wouldn't want to do anything else.

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I became a DBA because I used to be in sales and marketing. (Isn't that the career-path everyone takes?)

I got a sales job at a small direct-mail marketing company in the outskirts of Houston, TX. They were branching out into a new market, and needed salespeople. My wife was working there, in a technical position, and told the owners of the company I would be a good fit. We interviewed (the owners and I, not my wife), and they hired me pretty much on-the-spot.

Then I found out their CRM system was post-it notes, or scraps of paper. They didn't even have file cabinets, or folders, for keeping track of customers and orders. I'd get an order in, write down the specs on it, in note-form, write down the customer's credit card number and the amount to charge, and give the financial paper to one of the owners, who'd run the credit card through one of those retail-store card-scanners, and pass the order data to the production manager. Hopefully, the order would be done correctly, the charge would be done correctly, and the customer would call us back for another order next month. Hopefully.

There were three other sales teams, and this system seemed adequate to them, at least "just for now". They were looking at getting a copy of Peachtree accounting so the orders could be put in there, at least for invoicing.

I'd been a computer hobbyist since I was 8 years old (I missed punch cards by about 5 minutes when I first started out), but never had gone past the stage of writing WordPerfect macros to make my own job easier. But I knew this wouldn't be adequate to my needs.

I started out with an Excel spreadsheet, to at least keep track of the customers, but knew this wouldn't last very long. That same day, I decided "If a database is what I think it is, it's what I need. Why do they call them 'relational' though?"

By the time I'd been there a week, I had an Access database that seemed to work. Was a disaster by my current standards, but boy was it an improvement over post-It notes and random slips of paper! By that time, my team (me and an assistant) was generating 85% of the company's revenue, while the other three teams were taking care of the other 15% between them. Volume alone would have made paper systems impossible to manage.

Pretty much immediately, the other sales teams wanted to use "it" (the Access database) for their customers and orders. Then the accounting people (one of the owners, really) wanted access to "it" too, to see the order details that could be billed. Then the production people wanted into it, so they could keep track of what was coming their way and make sure inventory would work.

So I worked out how to make Access allow more than one person to use it at a time, and went around the office telling people, in my best Dr. Frankenstein voice, "It is alive!" and telling them how to use it. I even put in a splash screen for when it started up that just had the word "It" on it.

In very short order, we needed a real database engine, switched to SQL Server with an Access front end, and I had gone from, "Why do they call them 'relational'?" to "I'm a what? DBA? What's that stand for?"

For the next few years, I was in charge of "It", and had become a DBA. Been one ever since, about 12 years now. That original company never really recovered from transfering their top salesperson into IT, and went out of business eventually, but it's turned out well for me. And I did eventually find out what "relational" means, too.

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"Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon
Tom Thomson
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I became a DBA by accident. Actually, I should say I became a part-time DBA by accident, because I've never been a full time DBA.

I was a mathematician but went into computing because it seemed interesting. Worked on computer languages, data communications, declarative systems, massive parellelism, and other odds and ends, which involved some contact with databases (pre-relational and, later, relational) and even developing one functional DBMS, making that run relational (as opposed to functional) DBMS benchmarks, developing infrastucture (eg concurrency management) to support a massively parralel system running Oracle PS, and running a project that included development of (oh horror! :blushSmile an OODBMS. None of that involved any database administration at all (other than thinking about what admin tools we would build for various sorts of DBMS). Then, at age of 56, I was recruited as VP of R&D at an internet startup. We were going to build a map of the internet (which wasn't as big in 2000 as it is today, but was still pretty large) which would include every link (no, I wasn't at Google, and we weren't in search) and some applications, which I soon calculated would need 42TB initially and have to be powered by 42 servers (no, you can't blame Douglas Adams for those 42s :-P) and would grow exponentially over time. We never got to build the whole thing (before the bursting of the internet bubble took us out) did generate some revenue from mini-apps the data generated by pre-production versions of our trawlers (amongst others MS bought services from us) so we had some production databases that had to be administered. As I was the guy with experience developing DBMS I was stuck with administering them - very much part time, obviously, given my other resposibilities. That was my first experience as a (part time) DBA. That of course was pretty minimal DBA experience, but somehow people got the impression I was an expert.

The result of that strange impression was that after that firm disappeared in the bursting of the bubble I got a call from the former VP of operations, asking me to come and sort out databases at another very small firm, Neos Interactive. As well as in-house databases Neos had databases deployed on customer sites supporting customer systems requiring 24/7 operation, customers were suffering database performance problems, and no-one had a clue about backup or recovery, source control for database code, or proper control of maintenmance and support (which of course had to include updating database contents when releasing new music/films/anything else to the customers, which was committed as a ten times per year action, and from time to time, at the request of a customer, changing the way features and media were presented to his customers (who were the end users of our systems) and, of course, no-one had a clue how to do these without major disruption to the customer, let alone without severe risk of major disruption. Most of the databases were very poorly normalised, the database causing performance problems had a user interface wide open to abuse and it had been heavily abused by the application developers, contracts said database password must not be common between customers but in fact the only database user was SA and its password was blank, So sorting out that mess should have been a full time DBA job.

However, I had to be a part time DBA again. Having a senior guy with a lot of experience in software was a new experience for this firm, so a whole lot of stuff (mostly technical, but administrative stuff too) was rapidly piled on me. I continued to be a part time DBA as I moved through a series of different job titles: head of research, head of R&D, chief architect, acting CEO (briefly, thankfully) and technical director. There was no way I could spend most of my time on database, and as time went on there was even less time for DBAing. Eventually we decided to set up an office in Beirut to take over all the London office's functions except media licensing. After some initial training they took over (amongst many non-database things) responsibility for upgrading our systems from SQL 2000 to SQL 2008 and determining how we should attempt to exploit new SQL features, and later on took over 2nd and 3rd line support of some of our middle East customers. When they had demonstrated their ability to handle the job, we shut down technical operations in London and I was able to depart without feeling I'd left Neos in the lurch.

So, that's it - how I accidentally became a part time DBA and continued to be one for almost a decade.




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