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I love working with the community. Blogging, webcasting, and answering questions are a big part of who I am, and I wanted to be able to spend more time doing this stuff.  For years, Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp of SQLskills.com have demonstrated their commitment to helping educate SQL Server professionals everywhere.  They share knowledge – not just basic knowledge, but truly advanced topics – on their blogs, at events, and on Twitter.  I don’t know any other consulting firm so dedicated to helping the public.

I love helping businesses solve tough SQL Server problems. In my spare time, I’ve been doing performance tuning, health checks, and staff training for a growing number of clients.  I didn’t want to start a consulting practice on my own because it’s so much work, and I’m lazy.  Paul and Kim have set a high bar here too – SQLskills is a widely respected consulting and training company that provides the best services to some big clients.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

I love training and mentoring SQL Server professionals. I keep working to refine my presentations to make the learning experience more enjoyable and more involving.  When I attended the Microsoft Certified Master program, the first week of training on database internals and performance tuning was the highlight of the course.  I had a great time in the class and I learned a ton.  And of course, Paul and Kim led that training.

I hate losing. Last year at the PASS Summit Celebrity Quiz Bowl, Kevin Kline and I were in the lead, coming down the home stretch, when Kim and Paul came out of nowhere, got every question right in the last two categories, and stole our lunch money. I would have been really angry except that I was amazed Kevin and I scored any points at ALL when we were up against those two plus the team of Grant Fritchey and Joe Webb.

I want to do more of what I love, so I’m joining Paul and Kim at SQLskills. In the last couple of months, after I achieved the Microsoft Certified Master certification, my steady stream of small side jobs has turned into a torrent of tuning and training.  I got to the point where I had to start letting things slide in my life, and I had to turn down some clients in order to have enough time for the people I love.  I’ve had a great time at Quest Software and I’ll miss my coworkers dearly, but something had to give.  I decided to go into consulting full time, but I didn’t want to do it on my own – I’m all about community.  I wanted to join forces with people I respected, people I knew personally, people I enjoyed spending time with.  Paul Randal and Kimberly Tripp are exactly those people.

And I know I keep beating this drum, but you should be used to it by now: get out, blog, present, get involved with the community, and invest in your career.  Just three years ago, I went to the PASS Summit for the first time and I ate every meal alone.  I saw the “insiders” in the community, and I wanted to become a part of it too.  I took ownership of my career, invested time and money in myself, and didn’t rely on anyone else to pave the way for me.

And man, does it pay off.  Today, I’m on top of the world.

You can learn more about the consulting, training, and upcoming events at SQLskills, and if you’ve got questions, feel free to contact us.  Kim, Paul, and I are some of the most approachable people in the SQL Server business.  We want to help you succeed, and we’re here for you!

I, for one, welcome my new Quiz Bowl overlords.

Update: you can read Paul’s announcement over at SQLskills, and ask him why on Earth he’d take a chance on this bozo.

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  1. Congrats! Wish you the best.

  2. Congrats on the new gig, and hope all goes smoothly with the transition!

  3. Congratulations, Brent! And here I was worried you were going back into hotel management! Just kidding. :-) This is going to be good all around.

  4. Congratulations – good luck!!! :-)

  5. Oh yes, Joe and I did so well. What did we answer, two questions?

    I said it on twitter, but it bears repeating. Congratulations and best of luck in your new endeavor.

  6. Congrats Brent, does this mean you Will you be blogging over on SQLSKills or will you be staying here?

    • Thanks, sir! I’ll be blogging different things in both places. My deep-dive technical stuff will be over at SQLskills.com. I’m already working on a series about how iSCSI affects filegroup design, and another series on the differences between VMware and MS Hyper-V dynamic memory management, and how those affect SQL Server. I wanna bring my A-game to that blog!

  7. Hey Brent, my first PASS event was the 24/7 and yours was the best presentation that I saw. Just wanted to say congrats. Paul’s blog is a daily read for me and yours has been ever since PASS congrats on the new job it is a great fit!

    • Thanks, Brad! I’m glad you got the chance to attend that 24 Hours of PASS event – it’s really a great way to get exposed to more SQL Server people.

  8. Exciting news! My favorite website just became more favorite! Looking forward to great things coming out of your move there. Enjoy!

  9. Does this mean a Scottish SQL Cruise is a possibility?

  10. That is beyond awesome, congrats! Now the question is will you be the one lugging their scuba equipment around the airport or just holding their umbrella poolside? ;-)

  11. That makes an awesome trio!

  12. Congrats Brent!

    I suppose the only visible difference we get to see is you in a ‘sqlskills t-shirt’. Other than that, I am sure you will be as much available as you were earlier to help the SQL Server community, blog, tweet, answer questions etc

    • Hahaha, yeah, I’ll be just as involved with the community as I’ve ever been. I would do this stuff for free even if I wasn’t paid for it. (Actually, I did before I came to work for Quest, heh.)

  13. Congrats, Brent!

  14. Big congratulations, Brent! You will have a great time working with Paul and Kimberly. Good job!

  15. Congrats, Brent. I’m sure you’ll be missed at Quest, but glad to know you are going to work with people as committed to the community as you are. Your story about taking ownership of your career is a goof example as well.

  16. Good Luck Brent
    @Fatherjack: – Include the Isle of Man on that cruise and pick me up from Douglas

  17. Congratulations! You have posts that choke me up and just make me want to cry. Not huhuhu-type of cry but the “sniff-sniff” type. Like blind-side-movie-tears, not Titanic. Got it? :)

    This post is one of them. Glad to hear about your awesome news.

  18. Congrats to you and to Paul & Kimberly as well. I am sure this move is a +1 for the community!

  19. That is one ridiculous team, right there. Congrats, Brent.

    Life must be rough :-D

  20. Congratulations Brent!! As a quest customer i would miss you answering questions for free but you are going where you deserve to, no questions about that. Good luck!!

  21. When will we see an official statement from Kevin Kline on how he will hunt you down and drag you back? :)

  22. I hope that Paul and Kim know that I will now be emailing them frequently when I have questions. If you could please set up a special “david-has-questions” email address that hits all of you, I’d appreciate it. Isn’t philanthropy great? I will just thank you in advance.


    David – your-soon-to-be-former-quest-colleague

    • Absolutely. I’m already working on the first answer about, “How do we improve performance when we’re building linked servers on the fly?” Hee hee…

  23. Are you going to be physically moving or will we still be getting all the XOCO updates? :)

    • I’m staying here in Chicago, at least for now – I move all over the place, so sooner or later we’ll be somewhere else. You’re forced to watch me eat even more delicious sandwiches. ;-)

  24. Good for you, Brent. I’m wondering if you’ve read “Linchpin” by Seth Godin because you’re a textbook example of leaving the sausage factory and dedicating your profession to delivering what he calls “art” to people. Kudos and good luck.

  25. Congratulations Brent. Here, at Quest Software, we are extremely proud of you and all that you have achieved. Personally, it’s been so much fun working with you and I hope we get opportunities to collaborate in the future.

    • Thanks, sir! It’s been an absolute honor to work with you, Andy, Heather, Billy, and all of the team, and I can’t say that enough. If we do another version of the book, my dedication will still list you in high regard as one of my favorite managers ever. I wasn’t blowing smoke up your rear. Well, not about that part! :-D You’re not quite as good-looking as I originally said, though.

      • Hey, you can’t take that back! Hope your consulting gigs will bring you to SF sometimes; loads more restaurants to try, and yes, you’ll be picking up the bill for Andy and me :)

  26. Congrats! I met Kimberly at SQL Connections just after Paul came on board – she was concerned about getting the business – now look at them.

    Going to write a post about leaving your employer after they forked out some big money to train you?

    • HA! Thanks. No, I didn’t stick Quest with a big training bill. I signed a contract that if I left within a year of getting the MCM, I’d pay back the cost of the training. I think that was very fair, because I don’t want to leave a trail of pissed-off people behind me. I had absolutely ZERO intention of leaving Quest at the time, but this opportunity was just too good to pass up. I’ll grit my teeth when I write that big check, but in the long run it’ll take care of itself. Or to put it more accurately – I’ll take care of myself, with Paul & Kim’s help. :-D

      • I think you should make that clear for everybody (you ending up paying the MCM bill). Some might get the wrong impression. You don’t really want to scare other companies who are into helping their employees get trained at such high level. ;-)

        • Originally, when we put Brent forward for the MCM back in 09 I brainstormed this very scenario with other people at Quest. It has been a grand experiment for us and a very exciting one. It’s not the money that would scare companies off, as in the grand scheme of things for a company of the size of Quest it’s not that much money. From a business standpoint we wanted a way to capitalize on Brent’s MCM status for at least a year after he passed (see we really were that confident he would pass), and obviously it hasn’t worked out that way. This was a calculated risk that in this instance we were willing to take, knowing full well that Brent may get some offers that were too good to refuse. So the results of the grand experiment are in. I would not see us doing something similar in the future :)
          I want to be very clear though for everyone here that we are genuinely stoked for Brent. What he has achieved in such a relatively short period of time is nothing short of amazing, and vicariously we take a lot of pride in that. We’re also continue to be 100% committed to the database community, not just in SQL Server, but in a breadth of platforms, and we’ll continue to build upon our history of expertise in this area.

          • You know what, I think I’m gonna ask Christian to do a Q&A interview about this very topic because we’re both so interested in how it works.

            Quest has been nothing but supportive of me, and I don’t want to scare off other companies from trying something similar, but you just have to know going in what the odds are like. There’s a chance the employee won’t pass the MCM, and that’s obviously a risk for everybody involved.

            If the employee DOES pass the MCM, they need to have heavy incentives to stay because there’s just such a hot demand for MCMs right now. I had no idea how big of a demand it was going to be until I actually got the certification and the emails started coming in. There was one company waving what they called $1m in stock equity, and they’d settle for nothing less than an MCM. Obviously that’s an extreme case, and there’s plenty of room to debate what $1m of equity really means, but it serves to illustrate the pitfalls for companies who put people through the MCM program.

            My job at Quest is a good example. I loved what I was doing, I loved who I was doing it with, and I wasn’t looking for another job. After the MCM, doors opened for me, and I just got to the point where I couldn’t leave these opportunities on the table. I wasn’t unhappy – but would I want to work with Paul and Kimberly? Does a developer like dropping tables? Heck yeah. Paul and Kimberly haven’t hired every graduating MCM, so it’s not like this opportunity pops up with every Master, but companies still need to be aware of this risk and put the right rewards in place.

          • Thanks for the posts on the topic – I could not come to the conclusion that you would stick Quest that way – and so this fits with how I viewed you before.

            I was able to convince my employer to send me to PASS this year, a relatively decent junk of money for one non rock star employee.

            Curious how you dealt with that issue and per usual, you came through with good information.

            Good Luck – can’t wait to see you present live in Nov.

          • Thank you Brent and Christian, for the clear honest perspectives. Speaking generally it is unlikely a lot of companies will sponsor this for the same reason that the person will leave..they can possibly nail it down with a huge contract..but that would probably mean making the person unhappy while he/she refuses all those offers. Speaking personally and working for a company that is pretty generous with training $, I would burn all my bridges if they paid so much and I left, yes regardless of whether I paid them back or not.

          • @mdba – I think more companies would spring for it if it was less expensive and took less time. Right now, 3 weeks and $20k is a pretty tough risk.

        • Obviously money was not a factor for both parties (in this case Quest & Brent). In my opinion, there is no Risk Factor on the side of employer in this scenario. Sure, there was an anticipation for “capitalizing on the MCM status” but there is no risk there because the prior agreement of the 1 year grace period – if the employee leaves within 1 year, the employee has to pay back the company – nullified the “risk”. What happened was not a “calculated risk” but a “gamble of losing a well-prized employee”, and you cannot really calculate the odds. As they say, you either win or lose in gambling. Brent won.

          • Interesting discussion. To be honest, the fact that Brent is an MCM has nothing to do with us hiring him. It just happened to be that we saw Brent’s talents while teaching him at the MCM class – call it serendipity for sure – and then everything fell together long afterwards.

            There are no other MCM candidates, successful or otherwise that we’ve discussed employment with – as none of them are like Brent. SQL skills are but one part of the whole ‘Brent’ package that makes him like us and such a perfect fit to be part of our small team.

            The fact that he’s an MCM is an added bonus – we’d have hired him anyway.

            Cheers

          • Wow, great thread.

            Congrats Brent!

          • @Paul

            Brent is truly an inspiration specially to people like me who can only dream that one day the right opportunity comes along at the right time. I, myself, have been waiting for that moment. I am just glad Brent has laid out the blueprint.

  27. Massive Kudos and Congratulations, Brent! What a great opportunity for all involved!

  28. Awesome news! Congratulations Brent, you earned it that’s for sure!

  29. Wow, congrats.

    There’s not much more can be said other than that just because it’s so unprecedented.

  30. Congratulations Brent, I think it’s a terrific move and seems like a great fit all around!

    • Thanks, guys. And Andy, my first official act in my new position will be to say, “No, I’m still not running for PASS Board, and yes, you should vote for Andy Warren.”

  31. This is incredible news! As I am always saying to our friend, Tom LaRock, I can say that I knew you when you were a “little person”. Congratulations!

  32. wow, congrats Brent, next step for you is to teach at the MCM ;-) (if you do, I might retake it, I’d be very interested to get a perf tuning/troubleshooting class taught by you)

  33. Not too bad for the hospitality guy! Congrats!
    Talk about a shock, I have buried my head in the sand the last several months with work and summer, and look what happens when I pop up!!

    Not too bad for the hospitality guy! Congrats Brent, you give all us service industry “retirees” something to shoot for!

    Stephen

  34. Congrats!!! BrentO!!!
    All the very best on your new assignment. Looking forward to a traning session with you soon -:)

  35. Congratulations, Brent. Nice going.

  36. Congrats Brent. You keep defying any sense of normal or average and giving me even higher ideals to shoot for.

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  38. Wow, just so inspiring. Hats off to you Brent. Rarely do people get the chance to give up one dream job for another dream job. Keep up the awesome work, and keep on inspiring!

  39. Wow. I am glad I finally logged into Google reader today and saw this. That is GREAT news for you and GREAT news for SQL Skills.

    I am really happy for you. This sounds like the ideal role to bring your “punch harder” game to the people in need out there. You’ll definitely be able to make a larger difference for more companies in your new role and I am sure you’ll stay in the SQL Community.

    I wanted to also say thanks for being where you were, though! Through your blog, SQLServerPedia/etc. I was really able to get my start blogging and giving back to the community myself. Obviously not as full force as you do (perhaps a combination of passion, no kids and a job that paid you to be a community face, essentially) and have done but I’ve been able to carve out a tiny niche. So I really thank you and Quest software for allowing you to do that.

    You’ll be missed at Quest and I know you’ll be missed in your role at SQLServerPedia (by both the folks receiving benefit and us smaller time bloggers). I look forward to your upcoming posts and hearing about how life on the road treats you, man.

    CONGRATS!!!

  40. Brent,

    It’s not only your technical skills that helped you get where you are now. It’s your attitude towards life. I, Sir, Congratulate you.

    @afernandez

  41. Congrats Brent – I reckon that means that next year you’re coming to Ireland along with Kim and Paul?
    :)

  42. Brent – Congratulations on your future gig! A major gain for SQLskills.com and tough loss for Quest. I am sure you will do great in your new role. Just mind the sheep. :-)

  43. So does that mean you will be quitting your position in SQLServerpedia also?

    • Thanks, everybody!

      @Jason – yes, managing SQLServerPedia takes a lot of work. I would be completely honored to continue to do that job, but I wouldn’t be able to do it justice in my spare time. Quest definitely needs a full-time person in that position – we’ve got one employee just dedicated to managing our WordPress/MediaWiki/LAMP stack, and we need a community person too. We’re figuring out how to handle that now.

      • Best wishes Brent! I know you will be having a great time there :) and we will be seeing you a lot there also, so in effect it doesn’t change much for us luckily :)

  44. Congrats, Brent. I’m sorry to see you leave the great team at Quest, but you are landing in a good spot. All the best.

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  46. Wow, I haven’t logged on for a few days and I feel like I’ve missed a ton. I’m sad to see you leave Quest.. you seemed so happy there. Will the people you consult with give you free iPads? :)

  47. Very cool news! All the best Brent!

  48. “Just three years ago, I went to the PASS Summit for the first time and I ate every meal alone.”

    That’s a familiar one. Three years to MCM, impressive!

  49. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Nicely done!

  50. Woah, surely didn’t see that one coming! Congrats on such an achievement!!

    As for the matter related to “was it a good idea for Quest to sponsor the MCM?” I’m quite sure that it has paid off well! Even though you’re leaving Quest, everyone knows that you’ve worked for them and I’m sure people will remember that several years from now. I already knew Quest before I found your blog (ha, sometimes we need to retrieve data from Oracle or DB2), but I’ve surely gotten to know them better just by reading your posts.
    So my opinion: even though you’re leaving, Quest made a good investment (and even more so as you’re paying them back for the MCM).

    Good luck!

  51. Congrats and good luck!

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  53. Belated congrats! You and the SQLSkills folks are my favorite SQL Server Twitter/blog people.

  54. Congratulations Brent!! If you ever pass through Lafayette,Louisiana again, I’ll treat you to a good cajun meal! Best of luck to you in your new venture!

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  56. Wow, congrats to you and SQLSkills. Paul and Kimberly have landed one of the bests! Does this mean I can’t wear my BrentO Quest t-shirt anymore?

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