About a decade ago my parents began raising sheep. I had grown up on a farm, but mostly around cattle and goats, so it has been fascinating to see how different sheep act (and react) than other animals I’ve been around in the past. The one thing that has made the biggest impression on me is how easily spooked they are. They are exceptionally easy to spook, and once one of them spooks and starts running, the whole flock follows it madly without even knowing what they are running from.
Recently I’ve been getting similar vibes at work. I’ve been promoted to manage the team of Database Administrators and Application Support Analysts at our company, and our workload has us constantly swamped. The DBA’s alone have enough work to keep two more staff members busy full time, but it appears less than likely that I’ll be able to get more than a part-time intern added to our complement. I find myself sitting in meetings half of each day making bigger decisions than I’ve ever had to before, and the mood of the masses (and myself) seems to be getting rather jumpy like Mom’s sheep. I try to make smart technical decisions and not just start blindly running (lest the masses just start running blindly behind me). But I’m concerned that from lack of knowledge about some of the more technical aspects of Database Administration I’m going to make a decision that will prove to be invalid and cause a major set-back for our team, our division, or our company. Worse still, I’m worried that from lack of knowledge I will fail to know about a decision that needed to be made until it is too late. In some companies, a bad decision like that might result in a loss of money and an axe being laid to your head. But in our industry and company structure the stakes are higher than just my job or someone’s profit line. Mistakes here may mean the lights go out for thousands of farmers across the state or that their utility bills become so high that retired, fixed-income grandparents have to choose between running their furnace or buying their prescriptions.
I’ve been working exclusively in the realm of SQL Server databases for ten years now, starting out with no formal education in I.S. or Database Administration. Only in the last few years has it been possible for me to take in an occasional conference for Database Professionals or read technical books and blogs. When I have found time to do that, two names have always stood out among the crowd of SQL Server MVP’s: Paul Randall and Kimberly Tripp. The SQL Server resources that this husband and wife dynamic duo put out are phenomenal! So much so, that when I recently completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Operations Technology, 90% of the sources for my capstone class research project to discover unheeded SQL Server Best Practices that were causing performance degradation at our company came straight from Paul and Kimberly’s blogs.
Paul & Kimberly have a renowned SQL Server consulting and training company called SQL Skills which is now hosting in-depth training classes on the deep technical internals of SQL Server. As former Microsoft employees who have worked on SQL Server for years and even wrote much of the magical code that keeps our data bits all aligned they are uniquely qualified to teach these classes. The classes are intended for multiple audiences including both experienced DBA’s wanting to go deeper and Database Guru’s who are pursuing Microsoft’s elite Microsoft Certified Master certification. One of these five-day classes are coming up next month in Dallas. It’s called The Master Immersion Event on Internals and Performance and is going to be taught by Paul and Kimberly. If you have ever had the chance to sit in on two or three of their one-hour sessions at SQL Connections or a SQL PASS Summit, then you can understand how cool it would be to learn from them for five-days-straight.
To make the announcement of this class even more exciting, it turns out that SQL Skills is giving away one seat in the up-coming class. I would be thrilled to receive the seat because it would mean I could spend more of our training budget on my staff and because I would be able to attend top-notch training at no cost to all the sheep (and cattle-, horse-, goat-, and chicken-) farmers that own our company. And everyone that follows Paul on Twitter knows he would want to keep those sheep farmers happy.