Who Am I?

…and why I love what I do.

I started out as a data analyst, first playing in MS Access, and quickly moving to MS SQL Server. I also became a developer in the ASP.NET stack, way back in the 2.0 days (2006-07). Yet I found myself drawn to the data more than the code, for some reason. Perhaps it was the beautiful simplicity of the relational model. Or the myriad of variations that something as simple as an name field could contain & how challenging it could be to massage that “dirty data” into something elegant and consistent for the code to easily manage and present to the user. Or it could have been the thrill of analyzing a workload that may have taken several minutes to run, and then, by applying the right combination of indexes, relations, and set-logic, to bring that workload down to milliseconds.

This job was great. First “real” job out of college; a teeny-tiny software shop, 4 devs & the boss, working with K-12 school districts, making their lives just a bit easier when dealing with the vast swath of standardized testing and government-imposed student performance metrics that ultimately decided how they taught & how they got funded. And we grew, slowly but surely – 5 devs, then 6, then 8. We got to wear so many hats! Developer, Data Analyst, Helpdesk, Tech Support; even Printer, Delivery Crew, Trainer. It was truly a well-rounded experience.

As the years went by, it felt like family. And sure, every family has the occasional episode of dysfunction. But we were in it together, building up the business with passion, commitment, and respect. And those of us that were there since the start, we felt like we knew it all. Because we did; in that little microcosm, we truly were the experts. And each of us had a forte – I was the “data guy”, he was the “self-taught developer”, she was the “tech-evangelist / UX dev”, and he was the “dev architect”. Our best hire came soon after – the “young enthusiastic developer”, a true professional. Then there was our den-mother, bringer of snacks, paycheck-writer and book-keeper extraordinaire. And as always, the father-figure – the big kahuna, the boss man, who was more than willing to get his hands dirty and help with anything we asked him to.

That was a wonderful experience. In the near-decade I spent with that company and those colleagues, many of whom I consider my friends, I learned so much about technology, programming, databases, and business. And we welcomed more and more people into the family – the graphics & print-media design expert, the bright & cheery project manager, the ambitious salesperson, the kind & caring tier 1 support staff, the new data analyst, the veteran DB-dev, the expert architect, the UI/UX dev, the student dev, and even the Russian programmer! (They’re amazing, BTW.) Each & every one of them added value, and taught me something new.

I do not regret a single day of it. It was awesome.

But, as the baby bird has to eventually leave the nest, I needed to venture out, to get outside my comfort zone and see what else was out there, to join a new & different team and environment, to see if I was truly as good as I thought I was. Well, I think we all know the answer to that! (Hint: it’s “nope”.)

Actually, it’s been great – I drank from the proverbial fire-hose, learned a lot in a short time about a completely new line of business & a familiar but larger & much more complex tech stack & environment. So in general, I’m actually enjoying not being “the go-to guy” for every little problem that happens with the database.

And you know what else I discovered? I am pretty darn good at what I do. That’s a good feeling!

But I’m still the DBA. (Technically, one of two, but the other DBA is the company’s old-time-guru-turned-part-time-consultant). So in a sense, being that “go-to guy” hasn’t gone away, it’s just gotten much more manageable – there’s a larger organization of people around me that can help in many different ways. Whether it’s the old-timers with that tribal knowledge of all the hidden rules and nuances of the business, or the SysAdmin who can whip out a PowerShell script in less time than it takes to say “automation”, or the domain expert that can pinpoint exactly why something is broken because they literally “wrote the book” on that problem-space. So it’s really cool.

Plus, it gives me the space and the time to focus on getting really good at DBA stuff – performance tuning, report automation, data integrity, change management, backup/recovery, data security, all that jazz. I’m looking forward to really earning that “Senior DBA” badge – because even though that’s my title, I still recognize that I have a lot to learn. The landscape is constantly evolving – 5 years ago, this whole “Cloud” business was virtually (yes, that is a pun) unheard of; now it’s all anybody talks about. I “grew up” in an on-prem (that’s short for on-premises) Windows + SQL Server + IIS world; but now I’ve got my fingers on AWS instances (both EC2 and RDS), MongoDBs, a SSAS data warehouse, even a sprinkling of MySQL and Azure. Not to mention dozens of SQL Servers spread over 3 offices plus a data-center, and a ridiculously slick converged infrastructure platform called a “VxBlock”. The technology world just keeps getting bigger, better, faster, smarter.

And honestly, that’s why I love what I do.

Written with StackEdit.

Welcome

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more!

Picture mid-2006. A fresh college graduate, BS in Computer Engineering. That’s half hardware, half software. Maybe more like 40-60. Not Comp Sci, though looking back, that might have been a little smarter. I learned a bunch about hardware and embedded systems that I will probably never use in my life. But hey, I can probably solder a capacitor to a circuit board without completely frying both it and my fingers!

So I had some education, but not much practical experience… none, really. But luckily enough, I found a job, in my home town, and started my journey! From data-analyst to programmer to database administrator and beyond, it was a wild ride. The technology space is a fascinating, painful, exciting, crushing, inspiring, challenging, awesome field to work in – and yes, those were oxymorons.

Anyway. Enough waxing dramatic for one post. Stay tuned for more about me! (Sure, it sounds self-centered, but isn’t that exactly what a blog is?)

But seriously. Thank you for reading and please do come back to visit. I promise I’ll attempt to entertain, inform, and intrigue. Or at least one of those.

Until next time!

Written with StackEdit.

Origins

And the DBA waxed wroth…

Genesis of a DBA Universe

In the beginning was the disk array, and all was empty and raw, and Windows Server moved over the face of the platters. And the DBA said: Let there be SQL Server. And there was SQL Server.

And the environment variables were set, and the disks were striped and mirrored, and the config was established, and behold spindle was rent asunder from spindle. And the DBA saw that all was in spec.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the first day.

And the DBA said: Let there be objects. And setup.exe brought forth myriad crawling things upon the face of the array. And instcat.sql brought forth all manner of tables and views that swim unseen beneath the waters. And procsyst.sql brought forth all the built-in procedures and all the operators of the air, that the users might be given wings and take fight over the data.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the second day.

And the DBA said: Let there be databases. And there were databases. And the system administrator looked upon the disk array and did see what the databases had wrought upon the disk arrays, and he did gnash his teeth and seek a new work upon the Internet with an engine of search.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the third day.

And the DBA created users. Male and female he created them. And he said unto the users: Thou mayest create tables and views as thou wilt. Yea, though mayest create even indexes upon the data. Only meddle not with the system database, for it is a holy place, and on the day wherein thou treadest upon it, on that day thy roles shall surely be revoked.

And the serpent crept among the users and whispered to them, saying: Thine roles shall not be revoked. Taste ye all of the system database, for ye shall know of b-trees and hints and ye shall be as DBAs. And the users heeded the serpent and did fill the system database with crap. And the instance did crash and the client did wax wroth at the DBA. And the DBA did gnash his teeth and partake of the fruit of the vine, for behold the users were permanent employees, and the DBA was but a contractor and could not revoke their roles.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the fourth day.

And the DBA did set default databases and default schemata, and did lock down all that was upon the face of the array with roles and encryptions and all manner of quotas, yea even from the transaction logs even unto the archived backup files.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the fifth day.

And the DBA created synonyms and links and did tune the server and apply patches upon the face of the server. And the DBA saw that is was good.

And it was day, and it was the evening of the sixth day.

And on the seventh day the DBA did rest from all the labors of the creation. But lo, his pager did ring and he ceased from resting, and did spend his sabbath on the phone with Microsoft support. And by the time the DBA got through to someone who knew whereof they spake, behold it was day, and it was morning of the eighth day.

And the DBA waxed wroth.