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T-SQL Tuesday #028 – Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

T-SQL Tuesday

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is brought to us by Argenis Fernandez (blog | @DBArgenis). Argenis is asking if we specialize or not, why we do (or don’t) specialize, and why we feel that’s a good thing.

I started out my career as a Jack of All Trades mainly because my first employer was a small company and there were on two IT people my manager and me.  I wanted to be developer not a DBA, network admin, help desk, or server person.  I started off needing to setup new PCs as our IT infrastructure was being shifted from an AS400 to Windows.  That became me being the “expert” on Windows including obtaining my MCSE on Windows 2000.  As our company grew it’s infrastructure the need for writing custom reports came into play and I started development work.  We next had to setup a website for our company and a couple of companies we bought I moved full-time into programming and started playing with SQL Server.

At my next job I was the only one that had any concept of what a database was.  Most developers could connect to the database to store their data and create tables but not maintain it.  I surprised by some of the basics that were missing such as backups, foreign keys, primary keys, integrity checks, etc.  So I started making myself more knowledgeable on SQL Server and eventually obtaining my MCDBA for SQL Server 7.0.  While doing this I was also the developer for our Sales Force Automation system which involved having a local SQL instance on 500 devices around the country.

The next phase of my career is when I started to specialize in SQL Server.  My only job responsibility was SQL Server.  Before I had been responsible for the Windows Server, Exchange, and development of applications.  Now we had a group that was responsible for each of this things. But my knowledge of those areas has helped me be able to track down problems that were not database problems.

I have found that a DBA needs to be Jack of All Trades to a certain degree because despite what everyone else thinks DBA does not stand for “Default Blame Acceptor”.  We need to understand Windows, networking, and how applications connect to our database in order to provide good support.  We need to understand different CPU architectures and how SANs work to optimize performance.  So in the end we are a Jack of All Trades trying to be a master of how everything effects SQL Server.

4 Comments

  1. Greg M Lucas says:

    I always thought that DBA stood for “Don’t bother asking” :-) As an ex-DBA I hope I can get away with that. Nice post

    1. I wish I could get away with that in my current organization. Unfortunately we are the first ones asked about any problem. I have had situations where we could not ping the server and we were called first rather than the server group.

      1. Greg M Lucas says:

        I know the feeling. You could always try being less helpful (even if it does go against your nature)

  2. Thanks for posting, Tracy!

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