Get After It

SuccessI was over at John Sansom’s Forum (Blog | Twitter) this week and it was refreshing to see some posts of Data Professionals eager and excited to learn new things and setting their sights on some personal goals for themselves.

It actually motivated me to think about where I came from, where I’m at, and where I want to go. Beyond that though it triggered something in my mind that in reflecting I kept noticing, like the post from the forum I mentioned above, I have been approached many times over about the life I live as a DBA and my daily activities.

How Bad Do You Want It

Let me ask  you something, how bad do you want it? The life of a DBA is not always a bed of roses; it takes hard work on a continual daily basis with continual honing of skill sets, knowledge, and dedication. Don’t get me wrong, rewards obtained are great but nothing is handed to you in life.

The persona of the DBA being perfect is just that, a persona. We all make mistakes but here is the catch. The good or extraordinary DBA’s admit and learn from those mistakes and build on their knowledge base from those mistakes.

Example: Business comes looking for a backup and when you look you notice that your backup process has been failing and no alerts have been set up.

Seems pretty simple right? DBA 101 material however I have seen this happen. Now do you blame someone, step up fix it and take the blame, or start looking for another job? Here’s the thing that keeps coming back to my mind – every day we have choices and how we handle issues. How do you go about handling those issues?

Being A Complete DBA

Is there such a thing? Different views and opinions. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to be involved with SQL for over 12 years now and one thing has held true. I learn something new every day. Whether it is from own experiences, webinars, training, it seems to always be evolving and that is why I enjoy being a data professional so much.

It has been defined to me growing up that attitude is what you or I feel or think about something or someone. What is your attitude toward your career? Do you view your role as a Data Professional one that is defined as a service? In writing this I was reminded of an article Grant Fritchey (Blog | Twitter) wrote back in August of 2013 Database Administration as a Service. It’s a great article well thought out; one of the major things I took away from this article was the call to action.

With Being a Data Professional Comes Great Responsibility

Let’s face it; if you are a data professional than you are entrusted with a great deal of responsibility. If you don’t think that is true just look at the latest security breach in the news. Companies look to you for advice, ensure systems are up and running, data is available when needed, what to do in an event of a disaster, security, security (did I say that twice??)

My own personal opinions of “some” characteristics of a DBA are:







Able to see big picture


Willingness to learn

This is just a few characteristics that stick out for me. There are plenty more, I have not even scratched the surface. You can see where I am going here, a data professional is a unique individual, where’s many hats at times.

Am I a master in all the areas of being a DBA, no and guess what that’s okay. I come from a background where I firmly believe I can always learn something new. Early on in my career I remember Brent Ozar (Blog | Twitter) mention that he picked up something new. If guys that I look up to in the industry are continuously learning then I should never be in a place to say – I have arrived…no, my friends, that will never happen.

Leadership Through Service

I cannot do justice to what I stated Grant shared in his article; however it is an important topic to address in its own section. Even in my own shop, being part of a corporation I still believe this holds true. DBA Teams provide a service to the company. When I first started out as a DBA, I like many others have had, I had a developers background. I immediately saw a gap and that will always be there to some extent. Guess what though, DBA’s can coexist with developers. DBA’s can also co-exist with QA teams, and Infrastructure Support teams, and business units. Tear down the walls that have been built up; in the end whether you are in a shop or out on your own the work being done is for the betterment of a team. If the team doesn’t do well then guess what, well you know what happens.

SQL Professors Call To Action

I ask again, how bad do you want it? If you have been wanting to learn more about the ring buffer what steps are you taking to get there? If you don’t have a DR plan in place on core boxes what is your actionable item? If you have poor performing stored procedures what are you doing to fix them? Oh that index that is missing, have you tied it together to the source of a problem and verified that you really need it? Maybe your replication is broke, in that case find a big wrench. Whatever the task at hand may be how bad do you want it?

Are you stuck in a rut? Are you satisfied with status quo? I’m biased but I believe that we have one of the best jobs in the world; we should have some fun along the way and learn something everyday; while remembering that we are not perfect. Mistakes will happen; pick yourself up, dust off the scrapes and move on.

The SQL Family

It has been said over time that if you are involved with SQL you are part of a family, time and time again I’ve seen this as a close knit group of individuals who, when we see someone fall, dive in to help pick them up. If you aren’t involved; guess what – IT’S TIME.


It’s never to late to start learning, getting involved, or getting back into the game. Just like this community is ours, our professional development is ours. You have the ability to mold and shape your career. Seize that opportunity with confidence and humbleness. Be bold but courteous. Every data professional can bring something to the table – HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?

*credit photo to Phil Mickinney

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