I haven’t been doing a lot of in-depth technical blogging here lately because I’ve been working on a very big problem: the state of SQL Server training today. DBA training today has all kinds of problems:
I’d go buy a book, but books take forever to come out.
I’d like to learn about SQL Server 2008 now. Like, right now. Today. So if I go to my local bookstore or to Amazon.com, I can buy books, but they’re half-baked and they don’t include any real-world implementation problems or howtos that have popped up since RTM. People write books long before the final code is even deployed. Heck, I’ve seen SQL 2008 books that don’t even call features by the right names, because the feature names like Policy-Based Management change during development! By the time the right book is ready, my boss already wants things deployed.
I want to learn, but I don’t have the time to go to user group meetings.
SQL Server user groups like PASS are a great way to hear from smart presenters, but unfortunately these meetings only happen once a month, and even then they’re not always in the same city. I was at the West Michigan SQL Server User Group and some of the attendees had traveled 45-60 miles just to get to the meeting. I admire their dedication, but the only thing that makes me drive 45-60 miles after a long day of work is a hurricane evacuation, and even then only for a category 3 or above.
The economy sucks, and nobody’s got any budget money.
We all want to be able to further our DBA eduction, but budgets are getting cut like crazy. We can’t all travel around to the latest and greatest conferences, and we can’t go out to a week-long boot camp that costs thousands of dollars. At the same time, technology is marching forwards faster, and our training gets out of date fast. So when I run into a SQL Server problem, what do I do? I search the web.
It’s dangerous to take production SQL Server advice from “Surfer69”.
When I run into SQL Server problems, I end up Googling the web to find answers. I might find a few forum posts from unknown people, or maybe some Experts Exchange threads. Do I really want to try those solutions on my production SQL Servers? Not really, especially not when they’re written by “BigFreddy22” or “HotMamma31”. I want to know that the person on the other end actually knows what they’re doing, and that they’re a SQL Server professional, not a pimply-faced kid who’s giving bad answers as a joke or somebody who’s just reciting something they heard secondhand from a developer.
I want to be able to drill down into topics and learn more.
I want more than just a one-line answer that says, “Enable AWE.” I want my junior DBAs to be able to see what AWE is, understand what it means, and see it in context of other SQL Server topics. If the instructions call for them to rebuild an index, I want them to click on that instruction and see why indexes need to be rebuilt, and how to do it. The more they drill into a topic, the more they understand the mechanics of SQL Server, and the better their code and their databases will perform.
Some topics are only halfway covered by a bunch of different sites.
I’ve gone to web pages and said, “Well, they’ve got most of it right, but they left off these three crucial details that make a world of difference in a good implementation.” Sometimes I can leave a comment on those sites to enhance the content – but sometimes the author or blog doesn’t allow comments, like Books Online. I don’t have the time to write complete articles from scratch every time the way I did with my SQL Server 2005 Setup Checklist, but sometimes I do have enough time to enhance somebody else’s coverage and make it better.
So with a lot of help, these problems are about to be solved.
I’m working with a team of great SQL Server experts to solve this problem for once and for all. We’re going to change the way DBAs get answers, the way DBAs get trained and the way DBAs interact with each other. Next Monday, I’ll explain it in detail, but for now, check out some of the guys helping to build it:
- Denny Cherry – DBA for over a decade, frequent blogger and user group speaker, Microsoft MVP
- Douglas McDowell – director of Business Intelligence at Solid Quality Learning, DouglasMcDowell on Twitter, Microsoft MVP
- Jason Massie – DBA for over a decade, StatisticsIO on Twitter, pens a SQL Server comic called Captain Varchar(MAX), Microsoft MVP
- Tim Ford – working with SQL Server over a decade, SQLAgentMan on Twitter, blogger and tip writer
- Tom LaRock – working with SQL Server over a decade, SQLBatman on Twitter, speaking at PASS