Back to Basics

BasicsI can sum up this blog post in two words: The Basics

What do you mean?

I cannot be the only one in this same boat. There have been times where I, as a DBA, have overcomplicated resolutions when there was simply a very non complex answer. Come on, you know what I’m referring to – the basics. In looking up the exact meaning of what basic says; the dictionary tells me it is the “fundamental or basic principal”. I took that meaning this week and looked deeper into how I attack some DBA related items and I keep coming back to – “keep it simple” and “get back to the basics”.

The Basics

When I say basics I’m coming at it from a DBA standpoint. Do you have your own checklist that you go by for daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly checks? If not, then this is as good as time as any to start.

What are some of the things to include in your basic checklist?

Some items to include, but not limited to are:

  • Backup processes and alerting upon failure
  • Review of jobs (if any have failed)
  • Anything in the SQL Error Logs?
  • If you use Policy Based Management (PBM) and receive reports – any action to take?
  • Security logs – have you checked?
  • If issues are found how do you handle them? Just don’t sweep them under the rug
  • Hopefully you have something in place that tells you when you are running low on space (storage)….if not might want to start thinking about getting something implemented; by the way how is the space looking?
  • You’re fragmentation process for indexes working properly?
  • Remember those backups you checked? You spot checking any restores to validate them at all?


The list above is just a simple list to get started with….get back to the basics of DBA work. It’s a fun and enjoyable ride, but keep one thing in mind as you traverse through the SQL terrain not to overcomplicate things. You will find many checklists on the web by some renowned DBA’s that one could model a standard off of if you don’t already have one. I’m a big believer in automation and automate what you can to help you become more efficient and streamlined. Get the reports emailed to you when you start your day, at best make sure notifications are set up on the jobs running in case of failure.

Keep it simple, get some standards in place, above all remember the basic principals. Don’t overcomplicate issues and when you run across them don’t sweep them under the rug and wait for the next DBA to come along to fix them; take the time to fix them correctly.

So You Want To Go To Pass Summit?!?! Back in 2011 I was afforded the opportunity to attend PASS in Seattle, Washington. It was the first time I had made such a journey to this conference; I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve heard the stories, the     many positive things regarding the sessions, learning, and networking – but to be quite honest the stories do not give PASS justice until you experience it first hand. I get asked this question all the time by various  people throughout the country – Should I attend? Because of the interest I want to take a moment and lay out how it has benefited me in the span of 2 years.

The Beginning

When asked to go to PASS I figured it would be like any other business conference I had been to (boy was I wrong). Leading up to my departure I had a lot of work to get done and wasn’t really in a place I felt like I should go. I started to review the sessions online and I quickly saw how vast the information really is. Looking at the sessions I began to look at the speakers, some I knew and some I did not but what was obvious to me is that a lot of the leading leaders in my industry (DBA) were going to be there; hearing them speak on topics of interest to me I thought to be an extreme plus…..moving on

The Expectations

My expectations were that of learning some new techniques from the Jason Strate’s (B|T), Brent Ozar’s (B|T), Chris Shaw’s (B|T), etc. but what I walked away with were new connections with a SQL family that was over 2k strong and memories that I will take with me for the rest of my life. PASS has so much to offer to each individual, from the sessions, to the vendors interacting, the kick-off speakers, and much more.


From my own personal experience attending is something that kick started my career into overdrive. From it I became more active in the community, started to speak locally, created the SQL Corner, and made many new friends along the journey. No, PASS is just not another business conference where you go and sit in on meetings; of course you do that but it is much more. Being part of the SQL community means you are part of a family and all the family comes together to gain more knowledge within the perspective fields.


Why should you go; glad you asked. I think PASS sums it up better than I ever could here. This year in 2013 PASS is going to be in Charlotte, N.C.; if you haven’t reserved your spot yet I hope you do so. It is one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended from both a business and personal standpoint. Do you want to kick start your career? Are you eager to learn more and connect with other people that are trying to do the same? If you are then PASS Summit is for you. If you have questions you can contact them here or drop me a line and I will do my best to get you an answer.

T-SQL Tuesday #44 The Second Chance What a perfect way to start back on the blog after taking a month off for vacation and family time – T-SQL Tuesday. If you are hear reading this blog chances are you already know what T-SQL Tuesday is; if you don’t then first off I want to take a moment just to fill you in. Adam Machanic (T|B) came up with this block party every second Tuesday of each month. It is a party where a host can present a topic to a community and then the community can blog about the topic ~ fantastic idea! How can you host; well I’m glad you ask….you can contact Adam via his blog and let him know you are interested…he has all the information you need to know and what the requirements are from here.

In saying that, this months party is hosted by Bradley Ball (T|B) and is labeled T-SQL Tuesday #44 The Second Chance.

I’ve been asked this question from time to time in conferences or groups that I have spoken to. I keep going back to a certain point in my life that I remember very vividly which I will try to do it justice in this blog post.


Being a developer for many years and then transitioning over to DBA for again many years I have had my share of mistakes that I have made….guess what? We all have and no one is perfect. Mistakes will occur; it is inevitable. How you learn from those mistakes are integral for ones professional growth. Do you pick yourself up, accept needed constructive criticism from a co-worker, or maybe no one knows about the mistake that you made. In that case, do you own up to it or do you try to sweep it under the rug? It’s all right to make mistakes ~ how do you learn from it?

The Blunder

I remember coming right out of college and accepting my first position. It was a position where I had a friend working from high school; he had already been on the job developing and working with SQL for some time and I was green as the grass that grows in the summer time. One of the duties I was afforded was building import process for files to load into the system. Back then there wasn’t SSIS, we used a language called Progress which is similar to what a VB (Visual Basic) is. Now that I’ve dated myself a bit I’ll share the mishap. In building an import process it was tested and moved on to production, to not go into to much detail about the broken processes in place a break in the code would display a message box when certain criteria was hit. Needless to say in a 500,000 record file the scenario was hit often; what was the solution – instead of asking for assistance and not to hit the enter key 500,000 times on the message box another developer decided it would be a grand idea to stick a pen cap in place to hold the enter key down. Now, mind you 20 yr. olds might not be a seasoned vet but this did smell fishy. The import graciously finished but since the pen cap was doing a nice job it just went on ahead and loaded the data again on a second run. After realizing what had happened it was then felt prudent to perhaps rope the ole boss in. Ah yes, that was a fun conversation – one might ask – you mean you loaded dups into the system; didn’t the import take that into consideration – I’ll plead the fifth. I learned how to clean up a lot of data at an early point in my career!


Everyone will make mistakes; how you learn from them and how you proceed in taking a negative and turn into a positive rests solely on how you handle the situation. You will have choices and times will come where mistakes will occur ~ Progress Not Perfection.