DBA Survivor by Tom LaRock – Book Review

Book Reviews

How do you become a DBA?

Usually the answer is, “By accident.” You’re a developer or a Windows admin, minding your own business, when the company acquires a SQL Server or somebody installs SQL on a server somewhere. Since you’re the closest thing to a DBA in the shop, your manager asks you to keep an eye on the server – but nobody really even knows what that means.

Six months later, you’re struggling with backups, security, best practices, and you don’t even know what you’re supposed to do first each morning. Or maybe you get the idea that you want to take these newfound skills to a bigger company, and you get a job as The DBA. You don’t have a mentor and you can’t ask questions to anybody. What’s supposed to happen next? DBAs usually work in solitude without guidance, career plans, or heck, even a job desciption.

DBA Survivor
DBA Survivor

That’s where Tom LaRock’s book comes in.

There’s hundreds of books about database administration, but until Tom’s, I hadn’t seen one that laid out the job itself in plain, simple language. He explains the soft skills side of this landmine-filled position and teaches you the political tricks that most DBAs (myself included) don’t pick up until they’ve made half a dozen years of mistakes.

Tom’s personal history qualifies him well to write this book. He’s been a basketball coach, a DBA, and now he leads a global team of DBAs at a major financial institution. His peers elected him to the Board of Directors of the Professional Association for SQL Server. If you were going to pick someone who’s survived the DBA career path and been successful with it, Tom would make the short list.

I reviewed Tom’s book as it was being written, as did a few other SQL community members, and Apress decided to include the reviewer comments in the book itself. I loved this approach, and I think it adds to the book.

My big concern about DBA Survivor is that the people who really need it – accidental DBAs – aren’t going to find out about it early enough in their career. That’s where you, dear reader, come in. If you’re reading this blog, you might already be past the point of your career where you need is book. However, the next time a junior DBA, programmer, or Windows administrator comes to you for advice about SQL Server, consider mentioning this book to them. It will help them get their career on track and prioritize their work to avoid disasters down the road.

Check out DBASurvivor.com to read excerpts from the book.

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16 Comments. Leave new

  • The DBASurvivor.com link is broken.

  • Jeff Stanlick
    May 10, 2010 6:49 am

    It sounds like a worthwhile read, even if you’ve done the “DBA thing” for a while. Anything that gives some insight on navigating the DBA career path successfully is something I need on my book shelf. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • I have this book in my backpack as it is going to be my in-flight reading material as I head off to Chicago today! I enjoyed reading the first few chapters that I decided to pick up the eBook version since they had a awesome offer at the end of the book.

  • I have to chime in here on how great this book is. I purchased it to help find out more about day-to-day DBA activities, from a ‘do I want to be a DBA’ perspective. Not only was the book great (Tom is hilarious and insightful), but the commentary from the reviewers made me feel as though I was reading it with you guys, and added perspective to what I was reading.

    I not only now have a much deeper understanding of a DBA’s role, but have picked up several professional development, life balancing and time management tips from DBA Survivor.

    Thanks Tom for writing, and thanks Brent for reviewing such an excellent book!

  • Cody Kosmerick
    May 10, 2010 12:49 pm

    This book is exactly what I was looking for! I started out in tech support and later got swept into Development which opened up for me the SQL World. I am now working on becoming a full time DBA and have been looking for a book that would quickly get me up to speed on some things. I read a few more reviews and decided to get it. Can’t wait to get it in a week! Great review!

  • Ernie! Yeah =)

  • Sounds like a great book! Wish it was available on Kindle.

  • I wish this book was written about 10 yeas ago – it would have helped me big time.

  • I need this book. Like, now.


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