DBA (Database Adventurer)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"I regret to announce — this is The End. I am going now. I bid you all a
very fond farewell." - Bilbo Baggins

Soon, I'll nuking this blog I've (barely) maintained for the past 6+ years. Time for something 2.0-ish.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

End of the weekend

I'm at the end of a very long day which started last night, because I got very little sleep at last night at scout camp. All in all the camp was very successful and the boys had an absolute blast. My discomfort was well worth it for their sakes ;)

Coming home is always nice; air conditioning, own bed and home cooking. I'm also glad I took the extra hour on arrival to air out everything before packing it away until the next camp.

Tired and sleepy...


Saturday, September 17, 2011

It rained for most of the evening, but I was able to catch a brief period of light sprinkling enough for me to pitch my tent. The boys are tenting with other scouts in their patrols, so their accommodations were ready when they arrived. The rain also made it possible for us to light a fire, something we thought might not happen since drought conditions has caused a burn ban for most of the summer. As long as there is moisture on the ground, "light 'em up boys!"

Going to bed it was very humid, but by 2:00a or 3:00a temps dipped into the upper 60's and I was chilled enough to crawl into my bag. That felt good. I was woken up at 7:00a by my boys rapping on the fabric of my tent asking for keys to the van so they could get the food out. They seemed to be in very high spirits and that makes a Father's heart happy.

The day ahead involves a hike, water activities at the nearby lake and other scouting skills. For now, I sit in my tent listening to the sounds of kids preparing breakfast and contemplating coffee (vital).


Friday, September 16, 2011

Going camping my boy scouts in a few hours. It's the first campout since the Spring and the first real opportunity for me to unplug from work for a couple of days since the job change. We'll be cooking, hiking and kayaking in temperatures not in the 100's. Look for tweets, status updates and picture blogging.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SQL Stuff Learned Today

Being away from a technology as vast as SQL Server for a few years is like reacquainting with an old friend you haven't seen since childhood. Your friend has matured and added a lot of sweet features to his/her list of mad skillz. Getting back into the SQL groove in the middle of 2008 R2's lifecycle and now almost Denali isn't exactly like riding a bike, but the core passion and love for this line of work is fueling my learning and resolve to take the product serious this time. I feel like I've been given a second chance with Database Administration and I aim to invest the time to truly master it.

Speaking of Master, Kendra Little (blog|twitter) received her Microsoft Certified Master designation in SQL Server today. A very big CONGRATULATIONS to her, because it really is a big accomplishment. :)

Fellow Dallas/Fort Worth resident Sean McCown (blog|twitter) has posted couple of great articles recently from his daily experiences and highly animated conversations (smack-downs, really). From these, I learned that if full backups can be restored then ALL of the data is available regardless of source filegroups or server. Also, how to troubleshoot contention in the TempDB. Great reads; follow the post links [1], [2].

Also I learned from Books Online that if you have databases in a Simple Recovery Model, the transaction log is truncated at every checkpoint rather than after every backup like myself and a few other non-DBA types thought. This further supports the reality that changes made to a database will be absolutely lost since the last full or differential backup up to the point of failure. If the business cannot tell you how valuable their data is, then it's best to err on the side of caution and set your databases to the Full Recovery Model.

Lastly, I learned that the #sqlhelp hashtag is awesome. It's like a Bat Signal to DBAs. Pose a SQL question on Twitter with that tag and you WILL get help.

Until next time, PEACE!


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Two Days In: Getting Oriented

Second full day as a bonafide Database Administrator has been completed and I am mentally stretched and swimming in an ocean of question marks that are beginning to form coherent questions, soon to be addressed with my new team members. The mental stretching actually feels good (at the end of the day) and is making me realize that I haven't been really exercising my brain for the past few years. I may have been extremely busy supporting many IT infrastructures at a basic level, but focusing on database technologies for one customer (my employer) at a much deeper level is causing me to really think (Like).

Through conversations with the Data Team Leader, I know that she expects me to ask questions without actually telling me that she wants me to ask questions. I only asked a few questions today which were at a very high level. At the time, my meager interrogation felt inadequate given the mountain of infrastructure, process and history I have to learn. But after thinking about it tonight, the effort was appropriate for my sixteen-hour tenure; I have to understand the basic framework of my environment first before I can ask the deeper questions with any sensibility. I now understand that I'm probably being to hard on myself and should let the enthusiasm and passion for my craft fuel learning and excellence, rather than forcing the knowledge which can lead to burn-out, mediocrity and failure.

The SQL Server environment I am working in is a legacy SQL 2005 environment supporting high-volume ad-hoc reports development that has mushroomed over the years to support the demand. Also, the organization has been in operation for over 10 years and they are now realizing the benefits to employing an Enterprise Data Warehouse (in it's early stages) which means a lot of SSIS learning is in my near future.

So far, I have been getting familiar with my new surroundings: discovering the low-down on the backups situation and gathering the basic information on the SQL instances and databases. I have been methodically using the scripts in Rodney Landrum's most-excellent eBook "SQL Server Tackle Box". I highly recommend that you read it and test out the scripts in a sandbox environment first, just so you can get used to the outcome and know what to expect before executing them on a production box.

Once again, major props to the SQLPASS community, SQL Server MVPs and the whole #SQLSERVER gang on the Twitter-nets. I am just about reaching "stalker status" with many of you ;) Until next time, PEACE!!!


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Countdown Stops / The Big Switch

I knew it was ambitious to attempt a 10-day blog-a-thon after a couple years of very infrequent posting, but even though I stopped 4 days into it the countdown still continued (funny how time does that). So now I am at the eve of "T minus 1 day", my time has been served with 2X Software and a new adventure begins in the morning.

Being a Database Administrator isn't new, but after a 4 year absence it sure might seem like it. I'm sure 10, 15 and 20-year DBA veterans experience something new every day. My short term focus is clear: settle in, get to know the people, assess the environment, learn the objectives and be a SQL DBA.

This new opportunity would not have been possible without the help and support of the following people. First, God deserves all the credit for causing "everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom. 8:28 NLT). Second, my family for supporting their Daddy wholeheartedly no matter what he decides to do. Next, to all of you who have been praying for my job search and have been willing to circulate my resume within your network. Lastly to Comforce Technologies for finding my profile on and to NTSP for extending the offer to join their team.

This blog is about to see some action of a different kind. Bookmark it and/or subscribe; I hope my contributions will be worth your while.

Friday, June 24, 2011

T minus 7 days: Last Free Lunch

Somehow I've slipped into blogging in the morning, but since this launch countdown is for working days, dear readers, we're still on track.

The title of this post isn't metaphorical, because today is my last free lunch provided by my current employer, 2X Software. Coffee, soft drinks, snacks and free lunch on Fridays are the perks I am leaving behind, but sometimes a better opportunity requires such bold sacrifices ;)

Yesterday, I was reminded that Microsoft has Virtual Lab environments specifically tailored to particular scenarios for nearly all of their products including (surprise) SQL Server 2008 & R2. There is absolutely no sign-up required and a single or set of Hyper-V virtual machines are prepared for you VDI-style. There are on-screen instructions for the scenario which can be downloaded to PDF file and the servers are completely controllable by you just like a real server... because they are real servers! Granted, Microsoft is guiding you in the textbook method of performing operation rather than real-world scenarios, but for brand new and Junior DBAs this is a ready, available and effective resource. The only thing it does require is a Windows workstation with IE8, RDP 7 and .NET 3.5 - Windows 7 is probably preferred.

Happy Friday Everybody! I'll talk to you later.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

T minus 8 days: No Particular Update

Today was a hodgepodge of ramping up activities for the new SQL Server gig which starts on July 1st now (that's news, right?). I installed Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit 5.5, but didn't get to do anything with it. I also read a few great tutorials on MSSQLTips covering Stored Procedures, SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Integration Services. My last professional exposure was SQL Server 2005, so I have some "refreshing" ahead of me. :)

I am also amassing a list of books that I want to purchase (someday), but I'm still going back and forth on the "real bound book vs. eBook on an iPad" debate. eBooks are much less expensive and not as cumbersome, but will I miss the tactile quality of a bound book? Will eInk be as efficient for me as a few dead trees? Seriously though, I should stop moaning about it and just go the eBook route and become a proper member of the 2010 generation. There, debate over... I think.

I'm behind on blog reading and Google Reader is reminding me of the backlog every time I log in. I'll begin to tackle that in the morning and post comments. There's a lot of you out there in SQL Server Land that I'd like to get to know and participate in your conversations.

That's about it. Blogging is coming easier to me now that I've committed myself to the daily exercise. I figure it is just a log of my ramblings on the web, so I'm coming to you just as I am - warts and all. Have a good Thursday and I'll catch up with you tomorrow.

Oh if you're interested, below are the links to the MSSQLTips I read today.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

T minus 9 days: Justifying the Enterprise License

(Great, now I have to blog every day...)

At the last North Texas SQL Server User Group Meeting (NTTSUG), it was mentioned that Enterprise Edition IS SQL Server while Standard Edition is merely a stripped-down version of it. So why would you not employ SQL Server Enterprise in your environment? Cost. A Standard license is roughly one-fourth the cost of Enterprise Edition and could be worth the savings if your applications don't require the Enterprise features (you can find a "Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server 2008 R2 article at

But let's consider a tiered environment where you have four SQL Servers for development, testing or user acceptance, staging and production. If my reasoning is correct
(and please set me straight if I'm off base), a Standard Edition tiered installation would require four Standard server licenses. That cost should equal one Enterprise Edition server license provided you are working with the same number of processors. Now hang in with me here; Microsoft offers a SQL Server Developer Edition which is Enterprise Edition (bells, whistles and features) with "special licensing" (around $50?). Couldn't you use the Developer Edition server licenses in all of the non-production servers and Enterprise Edition server license for production?

Two factors that I can think of might burst this thought bubble. First, Microsoft may call "foul play" and state that the Developer Edition is purely for development; not testing and not staging. Second, Developer Edition may not entirely be congruent with Enterprise Edition and if that's the case, all of your development, testing and staging could be really risky to migrate if it deviates even slightly with Enterprise Edition in production. Otherwise, this theory could be a way to truly justify working with the fully featured version of SQL Server... right??

As always, comments, rants, corrections, rebukes, and attaboys are welcome.


Monday, June 20, 2011

T minus 10 days: I Am Validated!

Not only in job interviews, but with people whom I engage in general database conversations, the question inevitably is asked "So what do you like about being a DBA?". I'm a geek - standard nerd - and when I answer this question, I feel the need to validate the geekiness of my response with a statement to the effect of "Yeah, I know, it's a sickness I have.". The fact is I LOVE DATABASES. I could perform a Steve Balmer-esque rant hopping on a stage and chanting "databases, databases, databases, databases".

To my delight, I found in the first chapter of "Beginning SQL Server 2008 Administration" published by Apress an interview by the author, Robert E. Walters, with contributor, Grant Fritchey, about Grant's DBA career. A question from Robert was "What do you like about the job?". Following is Grant's response.
"I work mainly as a development DBA, so my work entails understanding business processes and definitions and turning those into structured storage. It requires me to cover a lot more territory and understand a lot more about the business, software development, database development, systems and so on, than other IT jobs. We straddle the fence between pure systems work and pure development. It really keeps things interesting. Plus, there is so much to learn about how the SQL Engine stores and retrieves data, the best way to get or send data to the applications, all the management tools, and so on. It makes the job a challenge every dat, and almost every day you have to learn something new. "

"I especially love query tuning - getting an execution plan and the I/O and CPU costs of the query so that you can figure out which are the costly operations, which tables need new or better indexes, and which queries are badly written or just need a bit of tweaking. It keeps you on your toes mentally, and you get immediate feedback on how well you're doing your job. You can take a query that runs in 45 seconds but is called several times a minute and make it run in 45 milliseconds, and you know that you just helped the company's bottom line and really earned your salary."
Finally, I realize I am not alone in warped enthusiasm for this career. I'd love to hear what makes other DBA's love their work.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

New DBA Gig: 2 Week Preparation

As mentioned in tweets, Facebook updates and LinkedIn status, I was able to land (finally) employment in Fort Worth as a Database Administrator. Late on Friday, I gave my current employer the customary two week notice which sets my official start date to Tuesday, July 5. My family and I couldn't be more excited for this opportunity to re-ignite my career in the Database world.

I have a fortnight to transition from my "old job" and ramp up for the "new gig" and naturally, I developed a few goals that need accomplishing during this time. The first goal is not to be dismissed prematurely, at least not without a full 2 weeks of pay. It's easy to succumb to "short termers disease" and slack off while biding time before the new job starts, but I need to strike a healthy balance between transitioning out and preparing for new responsibilities.

The next set of goals are to holistically study the roles of a SQL Server Database Administrator, acquaint myself with new features in R2 and Denali, and develop an appropriate routine for the environment I can anticipate to be in. The focus here is to be prepared for anything my new employer wants to throw at me. I was told during my interview that the company is growing rapidly and they have specific initiatives to upgrade to SQL Server 2008 (R2), Data Warehousing and introduce Business Intelligence.

Lastly, I'd like to get in shape: physically. I know that when I exercise regularly, my energy levels increase and my mental ability is more focused. Also, I haven't worn business casual attire in over 4 years and I would like to lose an inch or two in the waist so I can fit in my Dockers again (I just don't have the resources right now to invest in a whole new wardrobe).

Oh I almost forgot about blogging. As my peers in the #sqlserver community aptly demonstrate, I need to develop a routine for regular or daily blogging. This helps me to stay encouraged in my career, share my daily adventures for others to learn from experiences and to contribute to the community in general. I look forward to the future and hope you will join in my journey.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Re-entry into the Database Administration Sphere

Four years ago, I left behind a 10-year career as a Database Administrator (Oracle and SQL Server) to join a cloud services startup in what promised to be the last job I would ever have. Yes, those words do look ridiculous, but it was a risk I had to take because it really had potential to be the next big thing. In early May of this year, I made the decision to return to my "DBA roots", refresh my knowledge of database concepts and drum up some interest among my contact base and IT-specific job boards.

So here's the situation; I love relational database technology. Frankly, I love computer technology in general and wish I could master everything about it, but since life is short and if I must choose a specialization, then databases it is. Next, to which brand of database do I give my attention (my experience is equally split between Oracle and MS SQL Server)? Currently, I'm leaning (and learning) toward SQL Server for the following reasons:
  1. My most recent database experience is with SQL Server.
  2. SQL Server has gained exponential credibility in the Enterprise than it used to.
  3. The #sqlserver and #sqlpass communities appears to be strong and genuine source of support, learning and encouragement.
I'm studying the self-paced MCTS certification track for SQL Server 2008, reading blogs by the many SQL Server professionals out there, participating in discussions on Twitter and attending SQL PASS meetings here in North Texas.

My goal is not just to be a Database Administrator, but to really master this technology so that I can share my experiences and give back to the community that's helping me get back in. For now, however, I can regularly share my daily experiences in learning and in practicing these database concepts.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ON HOLD - What's Your Story (Part 2)

Part 2 of this train of thought will be completed... someday. A fresh wind of purpose has awakened within me recently and I must go and harness it's potential. More on that soon (very soon).