Author Archives: Chris Yates

About Chris Yates

Vice President | Director of Data and Architecture

Friend of Redgate 2020

Last week I was excited to receive an email from Redgate notifying me that I have been renewed for another year as a Friend of Redgate. Our shop has been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to utilize some of these products

As for the Friend of Redgate program it has been an amazing journey with Redgate. Six years ago they decided to take a chance on me, and am thankful that they did. Together, we have learned a lot together and I’m constantly realizing how much a program like this continues to make an impact for the community. I think Redgate sums it up pretty well:

“Our Friends are all experts on the Microsoft Data Platform, know Redgate and our tools and share our commitment to the community.

Over the last 20 years, our Friends have worked with us to create a whole host of learning content, solve problems on the forums, and develop even better software for our users. Their recommendations have also enabled us to reach and help more data professionals across the world.

The Friends of Redgate are an integral part of the Redgate team; generously sharing their time, expertise and insights with us. We’re hugely grateful for all their support and look forward to collaborating with the group, and helping them in any way we can, for many years to come.”

I look forward to serving the community, and this program continues to allow me an avenue in making a difference. Thanks Redgate for the opportunity!!

Why I’m Running For The PASS Board – Again

Hello, it’s amazing to me how fast the past couple of years have gone by as I’ve served on the PASS Board. It has been a journey that has been both rewarding and challenging, but I would not change any of it. At times the challenges have been great, the stress large. Representing the PASS Community is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I have given much thought to this, and I am writing today to say I will be running again for the Board of Directors At Large seat for PASS.

Now, often in a post like this you would expect to read about my accomplishments, my vision, and how I will make things better. I will keep this simple, clear, and concise:

  1. I’m running because I believe in the PASS Community and what it has done for me and my professional colleagues.
  2. My passion for helping others succeed has only grown since I decided to initially run almost two years ago.
  3. There is always room for improvement; a belief that has helped me grow in my career. I strive to be better than I was yesterday, and the same concept goes for me as a Board member.
  4. Some believe you can’t make a difference as a Board member, but in living and breathing the Board duties, I have witnessed many great things happening contrary to this notion.
  5. I view this as a WE thing; not a me thing. I was told it would be a challenge, whether that be with community members, working with the Board, or collaborating with PASS HQ. I’m happy to say this hasn’t been the case. We are a team and together we can and do accomplish so much. Doesn’t mean we will always agree; it does mean that tough decisions will be needed. To that I say, let’s go!
  6. While Board members can burn out over time and stop contributing, if you know me at all, then you will realize that hasn’t been the case with me. Listen, I’m not perfect and you will never hear me say that I am. What I can tell you is that I’ll continue to fight for this community and make it better than it was yesterday.

I hope many more people will run for the Board in the future. Yes it is hard work. But despite the rumor that one can’t make a difference – a true difference – they can. Let’s get after it. Believe in yourself and fuel up with optimism.

I appreciate you reading this and if you deem me worthy enough of a second run, I’m happy and willing to serve alongside some great individuals and professionals. It’s been an honor and privilege.

T-SQL Tuesday #119 – Changing Your Mind

This month Alex Yates (B|T) is hosting T-SQL Tuesday which is a monthly blog party started by Adam Machanic (B|T) and co-ordinated by Steve Jones (B|T)

The challenge that Alex has proposed this month regarding what have we, as data professionals, changed our mind about over time is a great one.

Starting out as a developer, becoming a database administrator, and morphing into management I have grown over time in certain areas. One of those areas is the specific need to understand all aspects of the various technical and business units. Particularly how they are intertwined with each other.

Let me explain. My mindset in the past had been fix what needed to be fixed, and on to the next innovative solution. If you didn’t take the solution provided then that’s okay; but expect the issues to persist. Having in depth knowledge of how the processes all flow together and what makes each business unit tick however is something that has helped over time.

I’ve learned that bridging gaps and bringing everyone together has helped immensely in trouble shooting issues, learning what business is trying to actually accomplish, and proving that developers, sysadmins, and DBAs can work together. Who knew right?

This type of mentality is ever challenging and always a moving target. One that will always require fine tuning. When it clicks though the fruitful gains are exponential. The key being to always try to figure out the “why”. Set emotion aside and work together reviewing the facts while partnering and collaborating as much as possible. I’m always enamored when teams who work for the same company struggle with this concept.

Thanks Alex for hosting this month and for what you do in the community. Cheers!

 

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Friend of Redgate 2019

The crew at Redgate has deemed me worthy enough to be in their Friend of Redgate program for another year. I continue to be honored an humbled to be a part of something in which I believe in.

“The Friends of Redgate program is an exclusive group of influential and active community members, such as popular blog writers, speakers, consultants, as well as Microsoft Data Platform MVPs.”

Back in 2011 I was new to PASS, I attended my first PASS Summit and was just figuring out what the SQL Community was. Redgate was the first company to allow me to be part of a program such as this, and for that I am grateful.

I, personally, have been a product user of Redgate for many years and look forward to much continued success in the products that they produce. If you get time go check them out.

Thanks Redgate; it is an honor and privilege!!

SQL Saturday Louisville–Bout That Time

SQL Saturday Louisville is less than a week away!! A lot of hard work has gone into putting on this event by some great organizers and volunteers. It has been awesome to be part of the journey with them. You can check out the event homepage here and if your keen on checking out the schedule then you can check that out here

Fortunate this year to be co-presenting a lunch session with Justin Randall (b|t) “Break Through Your Data Performance Barriers with SentryOne” It’s going to be a fun time as we look into a case study that our shop partnered with them on – going to be an epic time!!

This year will be our 10th event and while I have been a part of these for the last three years I would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment and just thank the many who paved the way for our local community to get to where we are now. If you are coming to the event; please do look around and when you see a volunteer please give them a hearty thank you – believe me; it does go a long way.

Big thanks to our sponsors below for helping support us this year!

180 – Is It Time For A Turnaround?

What needs to change? The challenge to explore is are there things in your current day to day that needs to change? Maybe there are some habits, things, processes that need to be turned around. One of the most difficult things about turning around in my mind is acknowledging the fact that you were actually going the wrong way. What….we make mistakes…..nope, never, nuh uh. Admitting to that is not often an easy task.

We may uncover some inefficiencies in your processes at work, we might discover that the direction we’ve been heading in leads to a dead end, or we may even get to that point where we say, “yeah it’s time for a turn around”. It’s then you begin to start to look for that exit ramp; you look for the place where you can turn your flicker (turn signal for some of you) on so you can get off the journey you are on and go a different route.

How do you turn around? Sometimes our pride makes it hard in admitting the road we have been on isn’t the right road we should be taking. We don’t like using the word humble because it makes you feel vulnerable or weak. In my past experiences in technology, and I’ve been doing this now for 18 years is that there is usually always something we (I) could have been doing better.

The path you are on may feel right and other people are taking it, and because it feels right it is unnatural to do a 180; a different direction than what others are doing – it’s not natural.

When is the last time you yourself have said the words I’m sorry? If you haven’t in a while then yeah it’s unnatural. C’mon you know what I’m talking about. You run into these people everywhere; the ones that think their way is always the right way. They call you stupid or point out your mistakes 24/7 telling you how ignorant you are. Or you run into someone who says you won’t be worth anything why are you even trying. Entertain me for a minute and what if that same person did a 180; they didn’t give you a heads up and came up to you and told you that they were sorry. It’s a different road.

This is all well and good Chris but what about you? Ha, well my friend I’ve been taken several exit ramps over the years to turn around. Both professionally and personally. This post is more on the technical side of the house so, there are some things that maybe we can do differently in our day to day work that may cause us a 180-degree turnaround.

  • Backup plans
  • Maintenance
  • Life Cycle Management
  • Documentation (sigh, yeah I need to look at this one)
  • Platform Upgrades
  • Communication (this could be a topic in and of itself and in my mind should be a continual work in progress)
  • Hiring guidelines
  • Career Pathing
  • The security model for databases
  • Disaster Recovery

The above is not an all-inclusive list but it’s a start. Some of the ways that have helped me over the years and may help you in tackling such an initiative are:

Think Progress, not perfection  – this is a big deal because if you are like me you’d like everything to be perfect. You may find yourself using the term “Never Again”. I challenge you to let go of that mentality and you claim victory one day at a time.  If you mess up one day; and you will. It will be okay. You can’t change yesterday, but today is a new beginning.

Think future, not past – yes the past is important because it is full of lessons learned. With that said the past can’t keep you chained; instead focus on the future of where you are going; where your team is going, and where your shop is going.

Think training, not trying – this may sound weird coming from me because I do believe you should try. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m focused on training yourself for the tasks at hand. Example; if I wanted to go try for the Olympics and I go out and try my chances of succeeding aren’t very high. Why? cause I haven’t trained for it. Then if I look at my day job at the shop if I am trying to do something without training for it am I being efficient enough?

So, I ask this question – is it time for a turnaround? I get to work with a lot of tech people locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. I hear a lot that this would have been nice to know a long time ago and it’s too late now. I’m too far in my career. You don’t want to take that exit ramp because of the unknown. My own personal opinion it’s never too late to make a turnaround.

Now I don’t know the road you’ve been on I can only speak for myself. All I am presenting here is that if you are at a point where you know there needs to be a turn around don’t be afraid to take it. Keep fighting the good fight and make a difference wherever you are.

Interview With Matt Gordon

I’ve been wanting to share a little bit about Matt’s story for a while now and this past week I reached out to him to see if he’d be up for an interview for the blog. As is usually the case he was happy to oblige. I’ve known Matt for, O gosh, a couple of years now. Met him when he first came down from Lexington to speak at our Louisville SQL and Power BI User Group. It’s pretty awesome to see how he’s grown over that amount of time not just as a data professional but also as a speaker.

Check out the interview below:

Tell us your name, what you do, and how you got started as a data professional?

My name is Matt Gordon (b|t) and I’m a Data Platform Solution Architect for DMI. Basically, I’m a data architect and consultant in our Data Platform & Analytics group. While I had done basic maintenance on SQL Server machines for a year or so before this happened, my real start as a data professional was thanks to a wonderful manager of mine. I was working as a support analyst for an enterprise asset management software company and we had a reporting platform that allowed customers to write their own queries against their data that we hosted. As you might imagine, those queries did not always perform well and several of our customers wanted help tuning them. My manager thought I would do well with that, I did decently with it, fell in love with data, and here we are.

I see you speak a lot at SQL Saturday’s; what would you say to someone who is just starting out speaking and wants to get involved?

I would say that there is no better feeling than helping your fellow data professionals solve a problem or think through an issue in a new way. I would also say that involvement in the PASS community will benefit your career and personal knowledge base in ways that you can’t even fathom at this point in time. It certainly has mine.

That said, the one thing I would say to somebody starting out is not to let anything stand in your way. As an example, when I was younger, I stuttered. It would have been easy for me to duck any community involvement and public speaking (and for years I did, even as I attended SQL Saturdays and PASS Summits) by saying that nobody would want to hear me talk. I wasn’t a good enough public speaker, I didn’t know enough, other people knew more. Maybe all of that is true, but people have told me that my community talks have helped them and that feeling is invaluable. If you need any further motivation, just read Mr. Yates tweets every morning!

If you could go back in time; what would you tell your younger self in regards to being a data professional?

I would tell myself to never settle for a title and never stop learning. Don’t say “I’m a developer” or “I’m a DBA” and decide that’s all you will ever be. I completely understand that job roles sometimes aren’t fluid at all – I’ve had my fair share of jobs like that through the years. Being involved in computing (and data specifically), however, almost demands a certain amount of continuing education. I wish I had understood that earlier in my career but I’m glad that I understand it now. I happily pass that advice on to my younger self.

What advice do you have for new data professionals coming into the community?

Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to people who you think are “famous”. There are people in the community who will likely hear about via blogs, webinars, etc. Those people, in almost every case, are just normal people looking to help folks within the community. Whether they’ve headlined a pre-con, spoken at PASS Summit, been on a podcast, etc. they want to teach people what they know and how they came to know it.

I was very intimidated by this for a couple of years until I had a technical issue at my job that really had me perplexed. I happened to be going to Summit so I made a point to go outside my comfort zone and talk to somebody I didn’t know in hopes of resolving the issue. I spoke to Denny Cherry (b|t) on the exhibition floor near his booth and he gave me incredibly useful advice that set me on the path to resolving the issue. Denny was “SQL famous” (and he still is) but he listened and was kind to me despite the number of people queued up to barrage him with questions. In my experience, most names in the Microsoft data community live up to this standard.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I played street hockey in college at the Clemson Street Hockey Club (on sneakers). As much as I enjoy hockey thanks to sending half of my formative years in the Chicago area (go Blackhawks!), I can only skate well enough to stand up on skates and make slow circles around the rink. Ice hockey was never going to be an option for me. That is the only time in my life I was ever able to play competitive hockey and I did manage to score one goal. It was against my roommate, we’re still friends to this day, and it still bugs him when I bring it up!

Conclusion

One thing I am a big supporter and fan of is how integral the local user groups are all over the world are. I probably would have run into Matt somewhere down the road whether it was at an event or conference, but meeting him at a local user group is a story that runs rampant in the SQL community. Being able to meet, cultivate, and grow friendships as such it a key proponent of keeping our community fresh and alive.

Matt, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed and share a little bit about yourself. I look forward to watching you for many years to come as you continue to impact others in the community, including myself.