Welcome to the Spotlight Behind SQL Server, a new series from SQLServerCentral.com. As we've grown and spent more time covering SQL Server, we've slowly gained a number of contacts inside Microsoft, including those that develop the product. And we decided to try and interview the SQL Server people inside Microsoft. There are lots of people working on SQL Server 2005 and our goal to is to eventually get to them all.
We know that there are lots of technical things we could ask, and lots of easy marketing questions we could get from them, but you probably read most of those questions elsewhere. So we thought we'd make them think a bit more and get some interviews that showcased the people behind SQL Server. To that end, these interviews will be a little bit different and give you a look at the amazing team that builds SQL Server.
Our first interviewee is Euan Garden, a frequent speaker at various events. He does a great job and if you see him listed, take the time to go see his presentation.
SSC : What's your official title and responsibility at Microsoft?
Euan :I am Group Program Manager for SQL Server, my responsibilities include product readiness and planning for the next version.
SSC : Give us a little background on yourself, how did you get into computers?
Euan : I started with computers when I was 15 I asked(and got) a ZX81 computer for Christmas, I think it was called a TS1000 in the US, it had a nasty membrane keyboard 16k of RAM and a Z80 processor but I learnt a ton, especially patience, waiting 20-30 mins for programs to load from cassette!
I started getting into databases when I undertook a year in industry as part of my degree, my first job was making some single user dBase III systems multiuser, which was really quite a challenge.
SSC : Where did you attend college and what degree did you receive?
Euan :I have a degree in Computer Science from The Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland. The way the course works is a little different from most US degrees and many UK based ones. It's a dedicated Comp Sci class, so although there are Maths, Stats, Psychology, Legal etc subjects they are all taught from a Comp Sci perspective, plus of course the std Software Engineering classes, this means the course is very focused. It included 15 months in year 3 working as a regular employee in industry and then in the final year we got to choose between real time systems or systems analysis and design as a specialization, I chose the latter.
SSC : Did you see yourself as a programmer/developer when you were growing up?
Euan : Actually no, despite having my own computer at a fairly early age I always wanted to be an Air Force pilot and when I left school I was accepted for an RAF(Royal Air Force) Bursary, I made it as far as Jet Training, which was a blast but didn't make it to operational fast jets so I left and went to University to study Comp Sci. I was lucky enough to hold military and civilian licenses at the same time and have the dubious honor of having survived 2 plane crashes, both of which I was at the controls of. On one occasion it was caused by a flock of birds being ingested into the engine and on the other a log in the middle of a grass strip.
SSC : Were you piloting in both crashes?
Euan : I was the pilot in both, yes.
SSC : Do you still fly today?
Euan : I used to fly but have not for some time.
SSC : What plane would you most like to fly?
Euan : Jet Provost T Mk5, it could do almost 360kts and was fun to do aerobatics and stuff in.
SSC : How do you like living in Redmond?
Euan : I actually live in Bellevue which is right next to Redmond and it happens that because of some boundary weirdness I am REALLY close to Redmond. I love it here, in many ways its like the North East of Scotland where I come from, its very green, rains and snows a lot with a great pace of life, although I have to say that Seattle summers are much hotter and longer than those in Aberdeen, and that's a good thing.
SSC : Who's the most fun to work with at Microsoft?
Euan : Wow, tough question, I think rather than individuals I would say the team aspects of what we do. I can think of many occasions on many different projects where 2/3 folks have gotten together and had fun solving a problem, designing something etc, its amazing how these Ad Hoc teams form and solve issues then move onto the next team, its great to be part of.
SSC : We've all heard stories of some characters at Microsoft. Any interesting ones that stunned you or surprised you when you first went to work in Redmond?
Euan : I've never worked with him but Brian Valentine from the Windows group has provided hours of amusement and motivation for many folks at Microsoft. He has done a series of internal only videos and he does a mean John Belushi impression.
SSC : What's your current favorite tech gadget?
Euan : I'm disappointed with myself right now as my current favorite gadget is 9 months old and that's an Audiovox SMT5600 smartphone. I have spent years trying to find a great PDA, I started with a Psion 3c, followed by the first gen iPaq and finally a Toshiba e740 and none of them has really been the perfect solution, however the Audiovox meets all my needs right now and I have no desire to replace it.
SSC : What does Euan like to do when he's not working on SQL Server?
Euan : I'm a casual gamer, I have an XBOX and I also play PC based games, our dog is always great entertainment as he is either trying to steal stuff and hide it in the garden or trying to cause trouble some other way! I've been pretty lucky in my time in the US to have been able to travel around a fair amount so there is always the hope that I can nip off for a trip somewhere.
SSC : Where in the world do you most want to visit?
Euan : The Giza plateau in Egypt
SSC : Can we get you in a kilt at PASS in Dallas?
Euan : Might be a little hot for that.