Becoming a DBA : Live and Learn

Lori Edwards

Published On: November 8, 2013

Categories: SQL Sentry, Career 0

In my new position here at SQL Sentry, I get to talk with many different data professionals. Some of them have far more experience than I do, but I seem to be running into more and more people that are very new to the field or have been thrust into that field. This post is for you – new DBAs and accidental DBAs.

Being a DBA was a second career for me – you can read about how I got here in this post. I had no idea how much I would have to learn. I want to share some of the resources that have been invaluable during my career. These are the places that I went for help and education.

Twitter – There is a strong, active SQL Community on Twitter. I started with following the people who had authored books that I read and then looked to see who they followed. There are also a number of Twitter Lists that you can follow. You can see who I follow at Best thing about Twitter? The #sqlhelp hashtag. Ask a question, add the #sqlhelp hashtag and you get feedback from some of the brightest minds in SQL Server land. Be polite and reasonable (don’t ask for a detailed description of compressed encrypted backups in SS2014 over Twitter) and it’s like being in a master class every day.

Blogs – Blogs are helpful, since they generally provide good information on topics that you can consume in 5 or 10 minutes. I’ve typically followed blogs of people who say things that are interesting to me on Twitter. PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) has a list of their members who blog. I would definitely follow, the SQL Skills group, Brent Ozar Unlimited and, of course, the SQL Sentry crew. Tom LaRock (blog/twitter) also keeps a blogger ranking list that will give you some additional people to follow. Not only can blog posts help you to solve current problems, but they can also introduce you to new functionality.

Webcasts/webinars – There are many different groups that regularly put out webinars. SQL Sentry is currently doing a series on reading execution plans. In our SentryOne Resource Library, we have other videos on query tuning and other tips. PASS virtual chapters regularly have topical webinars on a variety of subjects. Many of the bloggers that I mentioned above put out regular webcasts. You can also watch your Twitter feed for upcoming webinars.

And the best for last – more help from the SQL Community – Pretty much everyone understands that a DBA has to start somewhere – it’s generally hard to go to school to become one. Also we understand that there are plenty of system admins out there that find themselves saddled with DBA responibilities. Because of this, a number of bloggers have put together series of posts aimed at those of you that are just starting out. Here are a few:

There are more resources out there, but hopefully this gets you started. For any of you experienced DBAs that are reading this, please add resources that are/were helpful to you. Choosing to become a DBA involves constant learning, but I can promise that you’ll never be bored. I hope this has been helpful.

Postscript – Somehow, in my haste I forgot two of the sites that I’ve learned so much from:

  • MSSQLTips – There are great blog posts, tutorials and videos here.
  • SQL Server Central – There are great forums here that answer all sorts of questions – plus you can post your own questions and get answers from some very smart people. I also used to take a shot at their Question of the Day to see what I still needed to learn.

Lori (@loriedwards) has been with SentryOne since 2013, and has recently transitioned from her role as Senior Solutions Engineer to Training Manager. She is responsible for all learning strategy and architecture, including building, executing, measuring, and evaluating training for SentryOne. Lori is also currently serving as a Director at Large for PASS. Lori shares tips and tidbits for DBAs picked up over years of working as a DBA, as well as stories about her job here. Whether you are a new DBA who wants to learn or someone interested in learning about what it is like to work for SentryOne, be sure to check out Lori’s blog.