Career Advice, Oracle or SQL Server?

  • bradwilliams51

    Old Hand

    Points: 304

    Hi,

    I'm looking for some advice, currently employed as a SQL Analyst looking to move in to BI and gain MCSE status over the next couple of years but I have been offered a very exciting Junior BI role for a large insurance company that offers a 6 month fast track program and the opportunity to work with large amounts of data that I don't do at the moment, mainly Oracle, Informatica ETL. However all the work I have done has been T-SQL and I would like to continue with Microsoft, people say that SQL is interchangeable and if I took this role I would like to continue with my Microsoft Certs, working with SSIS, SSRS, SSAS and look at a Microsoft BI role in the future. I just wanted to ask for any advice or experience on the reality on moving from one RDBMS to another and if people have done that, how did they get on or do people feel they have missed on a position because they are more towards the other.

    Any help will be appreciated.

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 124968

    From the perspective of a Business Intelligence professional, there isn't that much difference between a Microsoft SELECT statement and an Oracle SELECT statement. Also, it sounds like you would coming in fresh regardless of database platform. So, I would say take the BI opportunity in front of you, unless there are other options to choose from.

    If you were an experienced Microsoft DBA and offerered a job primarily working with Oracle, then the transition would be more of a stretch, and I'd say wait for something more in line with your past experience.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Alan Burstein

    SSC Guru

    Points: 61021

    There's advantages to mastering Microsoft and advantages to diversifying your skill set. The great thing is that data is hot so, as long as your skills are growing, your career is advancing either way.

    I have been offered a very exciting Junior BI role for a large insurance company...

    What kind of insurance company? I don't know what industry you are in now but you want to take that into consideration too. I've worked for a few types of insurance industries and they're very different. If it's health insurance, that's an excellent industry to be into but has a distinct culture that some people like but I do not care for. Other insurance industries have a better culture but don't have the same level of demand as Healthcare.

    opportunity to work with large amounts of data that I don't do at the moment, mainly Oracle, Informatica ETL.

    I'm a Microsoft SQL Server/BI stack guy and enjoy that more than Oracle but my advise is to go where the data is. It's more challenging but much more fun to deal with large amounts of data.

    I just wanted to ask for any advice or experience on the reality on moving from one RDBMS to another and if people have done that, how did they get on or do people feel they have missed on a position because they are more towards the other.

    There are many valuable SQL skills that will help you in any RDBMS... Learning how to use to a Tally table to accomplish SQL and ETL tasks without a SQL loop, recursive CTE or other RBAR, analytic/window functions (Row Number and Ranking functions, OVER & partition by clause, indexing, etc... these skills help you in most RDBMS systems. What's great about Itzik Ben-Gan books is that he talks about the origins of different T-SQL functions which helps me with other systems.

    Oracle or SQL Server?... I'll take a SQL Server guru or Oracle guru over someone who's okay with both any day. There's a lot to be said for people who have solid skills in multiple RDBMSs too though.

    The major RDBMS systems are very similar and easy to pickup if you understand one very well but there's some major differences. I work with Oracle from time to time and learned it quickly but there's always some random task that's simple in MS SQL Server that gives me fits in Oracle. Keep in mind, to, that a lot of what you need to know for each RDBMS has to do with the OS. If I run out of disk space on a SQL Drive I know what to do and/or who to go to. I would not know where to start if that happened on an Oracle system I'm working with.

    That's my 2.5 cents.

    -- Alan Burstein


    Helpful links:Best practices for getting help on SQLServerCentral -- Jeff ModenHow to Post Performance Problems -- Gail ShawNasty fast set-based string manipulation functions:For splitting strings try DelimitedSplit8K or DelimitedSplit8K_LEAD (SQL Server 2012+)To split strings based on patterns try PatternSplitCMNeed to clean or transform a string? try NGrams, PatExclude8K, PatReplace8K, DigitsOnlyEE, or Translate8KI cant stress enough the importance of switching from a sequential files mindset to set-based thinking. After you make the switch, you can spend your time tuning and optimizing your queries instead of maintaining lengthy, poor-performing code.  -- Itzik Ben-Gan 2001

  • Ed Wagner

    SSC Guru

    Points: 286955

    I've used both SQL Server and Oracle as well. Each one has their pros and cons in the language, but they're both capable RDBMS systems. They both have their own set of tools to work with data, import, export, analyze, etc. Some are better than others and some are a matter of personal preference.

    That said, I think the biggest difference between SQL Server and Oracle is the community. The SQL Server community is the finest I've seen for any technology. I've attended some "Breakfast with Oracle" presentations and they were nothing more than a half-day advertisement where they fed you a continental breakfast. By contrast, the SQL Server community has local chapters with presentations where you learn something. There are day-long SQL Server events all over the world. Not only do you get to learn something, but I've met some really nice people. The people who work in SQL Server seem to really make a difference.

    My best advice is that if you have opportunities in both areas, go with the one you enjoy more. Consider the market (job and pay), of course, but you're going to spend an awful lot of hours working with it, so you might as well pick the one you like.

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