A Career Poll

  • I was working at a small software company using a product called DataEase back in 1992.  I told management that we needed to look into SQL.  They didn't think so, so I found a company that wanted to do just this.

    It was another software company and we were using OS/2 1.3 and SQL 1.2 (as I remember).  And with a DataEase front end.  Learned a lot.  Then took a position teaching SQL Administration, then from there to Intel.

    Love SQL, tho still not a power programmer.  Now working mostly against Oracle databases at a different company and not sure about it...


  • I'd been a developer in a government shop for eleven years when a position opened in our Data Management Group for a DBA/DA.  I got the position and trained as a DBA on our HP NonStop (Tandem at the time) and Oracle.  After a couple of years, the agency started work on a system that the public would access via the internet.  They hired a consultant to help with the requirements and he recommended using SQL Server and IIS.  So the DMG became responsible for administering the database on SQL 6.5. 

    It didn't take long for more systems to be added and we eventually dropped Oracle altogether.  We've upgraded to SQL 7.0 and 2000 and we're gearing up for SQL 2005 now.  I was kind of disappointed to have my Oracle training and experience go to waste, but the more I've learned about SQL Server, the better I've liked it.



  • I was working as a driver developer for DataProducts in 1998 and I'd just put the finishing touches on a patent when I got a call from a head hunter.  The pay was off the hook so I went.  It was my first introduction to database programming.  I was thrown into a design group where we had to come up with a database design for a genetic research company.  And I discovered that if you ask 6 genetics PHD types "what is a gene?" you get 6 different answers.  We were using Oracle 7 and migrating to 8i.  By the time we were finished I'd had an education in both Database design and how to be a DBA on an Oracle database.  Then the .com thing took off and I got another call from a head hunter.  This time it was a telecom company doing Unified Messaging.  I wound up doing Java middleware for another Oracle database integrating phones, faxes, pagers and e-mail into one solid mail server that you could hook into outlook.  Came 9/11 and october of that year all the funding for startups disappeared.  Our major investor "Global Crossing" was in financial trouble and I was out of work.  My wife in the mean time had been working in tech support for a very small company that does Dojo management software and it had just been bought by a billing company in Philly.  Her product is based on Access but the Philly company uses SQL Server.  They want to integrate the billing with the management software and have it update over the web.  Oh and yeah we want finger print check-in capability as well.  So I learn SQL server, biometrics programming and how to integrate both with a local access DB.  Over the next 4 years I learn quite a lot about sql server,xml, and asp.net.  I can't say I really like SQL server, Oracle had the stability, the features and a robustness that I found comforting.  However SQL server was solid enough for a complete billing database and it was paying the bills for me as well.  Now I'm a captive applications developer for an Insurance company and we use SQL server 2000.  I also have to DBA a bit as we don't really have an official DBA.   Somewhere in there I also learned about game programming and I taught it (C++ for game programmers) at a technical school for about a year and a half.

    Kindest Regards,

    Scott Beckstead

    "We cannot defend freedom abroad by abandoning it here at home!"
    Edward R. Murrow


  • To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail--Mark Twain.

    Programmers are even worse--Stephen Hirsch

    I'll use what I get paid to use, it's simple. I like Oracle because I'm used to Oracle, but SS seems to work OK. It's missing some things that I really like, like the text reporting capabilities of SQL+, but it will do just fine.

  • I got started when Microsoft Business Solutions Dynamics (aka. Great Plains), introduced their CS+ version on SQL 6.5.  I'm an accountant by education but as a software consultant learned the power of an open RDMS quickly and have since turned into a jack-of-all-trades type of resource with some SQL development and DBA skills in my bag.  After learning on SQL 6.5, the release of 7.0 then 2000 just made things easier ultimately making me look smarter.

  • I’ve been an Oracle DBA for 15 years.  Before that I was a developer for a number of years, and before that I was a computer operator and “tape ape” on big iron mainframes.  I have been peripherally exposed to SQL Server since 1999, but for the last 12 months or so I have worked exclusively with SQL Server.  NOT AS A DBA.  That’s always been a bone of contention to me.  Just because you know how to create a table does not make you a DBA.  Having said that I will freely admit that there is a lot more to administering SQL Server than I was at first aware of, but if that is all you do, you will be one bored puppy.  I used to work at a company where all the Oracle developers were called DBA’s because they used to be SQL Server developers before the company moved to Oracle.  In the Oracle world, the two jobs are very distinct, and the skill sets have very little overlap.  As for the relative merits of each database, for each job there is the right tool.  SQL Server is much more friendly and easier to work with (read simple) and Oracle is more robust.  I was surprised to find (whatever the benchmarks say) that in the real world SQL Server seems faster.  TSQL has a long way to go to match PL/SQL as a development environment though.  After 15 years I’m burned out on DBA work and prefer the creativeness of development, so I’m very happy to be in the SQL Server world.  I’m even hoping that with 2005 I can get to play with c#. 

  • I started in the BI world in a large retail organization using Cognos tools and Oracle or DB2 databases.  This company wanted to enable a lot of users to get their own data, expecting a bunch of power users to rise to the top, and that’s what happened.  I became one of them and eventually the metadata creator, trainer, tester, and roll-out person for the company.  Cognos was the perfect product because we were expected to analyze data, not report on it.


    I moved on to a financial institution that wanted a select group of users to produce tons of reports for a wide audience whose expertise was certainly not in generating data.  This company used Crystal Reports and DB2 databases.  Crystal was the perfect product in this case.  The reports we generated were based on the designs of people who needed summary information, and all the report had drill down capability for those that wanted more detail.


    My current company uses SQL Server.  It’s the perfect tool for this company.  It’s small and most people wear a lot of hats.  I was hired to be the data architect, the DBA and the developer.  I’m OK with this because I’ve done bits and pieces of all these jobs and I get to broaden my horizons.  If I were asked to be the data architect, the DBA and the developer with something other than SQL Server I would have problems.


    My point is, use the tool  that makes sense for your environment.

  • I first started working with databases when I used Access as my database for Address Keeper, a little VB app I had on Nonags for awhile.   Just something for me to learn on and enhance my skills.

    Then I took my first internship right out of high school, back in 1998.  That's where I learned what UNIX was and how it had its own databases (but I don't remember which they used then).  They had me using a UNIX workstation but I spent more time in the Windows lab, working on projects with a consultant, learning about this thing called SQL Server.   I also got a little bit of time in with the Oracle DBA, but what little time I did get in scared me.

    The next internship took me into the database functionality with FoxPro

    My third internship brought me back to the MS arena - helping a company move their apps from Access to MS SQL Server.

    In my capstone project, I had the joys of revisiting Oracle.

    I took a break from working at companies with Windows based servers.  That's when I took on my own personal projects and learned a bit with mySQL and postgres. 

    Now, I'm back in a SQL Server environment, and I'm glad I'm back in such an easy environment to work with.  I'm a programmer by nature, but I get our DBA responsibilities as well, so I'm learning some new things as I go. (Though at home, I'm a mySQL kind of gal )

  • I had just made a career move from data entry to networking and installed networks for about a year and a half.  I got tired of travelling and a position on the same contract that would let me stop travelling opened up.

    To this day it amazes me that they actually accepted me for the position.  They did because I knew what data needed to be in the database (because of the previous year and a half) and they saw how I went from knowing almost nothing to knowing a lot about networking and they were counting on my learning ability.

    I got the position Senior Database Analyst/Administrator and knowing almost nothing about databases I converted the database from Access to SQL Server 7.0 in about one month.  I thought databases were just a bunch of spreadsheets.

    I've really only used SQL Server and enjoy it.  When I started working with networks I wanted to get my MCSE.  Once I started working with databases I knew I had found the line of work for me.

    Basically, I didn't really know what I was getting into when I got my first database position, I simply wanted to stop travelling and that did it for me.

    Robert W. Marda
    Billing and OSS Specialist - SQL Programmer
    MCL Systems

  • Hi Steve,

    I started off in '84 as a COBOL and Fortran programmer and moved into "Databases" pretty quickly on UNIX in '85. At that time, I was with a s/w vendor as a suport specialist and had the good fortune to handle multiple brands of databases including Oracle V5.1, Sybase (SS's/T-SQL's fore runner), UNIFY (now dead), Ingres and Informix (almost dead). PCs were still new and FoxPro ruled the DBs on the PCs. Continued on UNIX and specialized in Oracle, going all the way from V5, V6, V7, v8, 8i, 9i and now 10g... For the past 2 years or so, I have had to manage SQL Server (2K for now) databases as well and that is why I joined SSC ...

    Both Oracle and SS have their relative strengths and each have their strengths and thus their respective niche. Many of us do not have a choice in which database our employers or clients use, so the best option is to learn to effectively use whatever database one is working on.

    With my background in Oracle and based on my experiences with SS, I even wrote up this article which appeared on SQL PASS: http://www.sqlpass.org/news/05June/index.cfm?passnews=SQL_Server  I hope this is an unbiased article (I did have someone from MS taking issue with what I said about locking/transaction consistency and I did provide a satisfying reply!) I do write other stuff, mostly Oracle, so maybe I should try my hand at writing for SSC!

    John Kanagaraj

    DB Soft Inc

    Phone: 408-970-7002 (W)

    Co-Author: Oracle Database 10g Insider Solutions


  • Started programming in 1978 on an IBM Mainframe in Fortran. Moved to UNISYS Mainframes in the Air Force (Langley AFB) where I was first exposed to DMS-1100, a hierarchical database.

    I then got introduced to SQL on Teradata database machines (its awesome to open one up and see all the 286 and 386 computers stuffed into the box. A highly parrallel database engin used all of these processors to retrieve data)

    My introduction to SQL Server really started with Sybase 4.1 (?). I interviewed at a company and they gave me a test on SQL. I knew so little that I thought for sure I would never get hired, and I was looking for a back door to sneak out. Well they hired me and there has been no looking back.

    So we now build ERP software on top of SQL Server. As Maxwell Smart would say "...and loving it!"

  • My first real exposure to databases was around 2002 as a programmer on a project using VB6 with SQL Server 7. I was very much at the GUI end of the application and did not pay too much attention to the backend. After lots of upheaval (5 different company names but still working on the same customer contract) I found myself to be the only one left to maintain both the application and the database; we migrated to SQL Server 2000 in 2005.

    I decided that I needed to know more about the back-end, and to make sure I covered a broad range of topics I certified as a Microsoft mcdba. That was a real eye opener for me - I have been hooked ever since and never stopped learning. I have also been fortunate enough to get an introduction to the Sentences associative database - a fascinating technology that deserves wider use.

    I like the SQL Server tools. I use the GUI for the things I do occasionally, while there are productive programming environments for developing the SQL and other scripts that automate the regular stuff.

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