Many of us DBAs have been able to put off dealing with the cloud. That time is quickly coming to an end. But when was resistance to change ever a great career strategy in a tech field? Besides, two or three or four years from now, you might not have much choice in the matter. You don’t want to be way ahead of the curve, but you do wanna be just ahead enough, and so the time to start your cloud education is now.
The imperative to adopt cloud solutions will likely come down from on high. The good news is that you can ramp up fast. Operating a database in the cloud is different, but it’s not that different. Your mileage may vary, depending on whether you’re doing a lift and shift or moving to a different platform altogether. Thankfully, Microsoft has blessed the SQL world with a plethora of options, from running your favorite flavor of SQL as an Azure VM to the Azure SQL DB platform-as-a-service. (The plethora of options can be a curse, too – so many choices that you can get analysis paralysis, but that’s why you need to get educated about your choices to have a good discussion with management.)
You might get to make the change slowly—or you might not. In either case, if you play your cards right, the cloud has the potential to make your job a whole lot more interesting. I meet a lot of DBAs and I don’t know many who love to see their beautifully tuned database crunched by a disk failure, or enjoy getting up at 2:00 AM because an OS patch failed. In the cloud, those problems are someone else’s to deal with. You get to deal with the enjoyable problems – the problems where you look like a hero instead of a failure.
Other skills, like query optimization and performance tuning, are just as relevant in the cloud, if not more so. And hopefully, with the time you’re not spending babysitting hardware, you can do cool things like learn new technologies and muck about with machine learning.
There’s work to be done, for sure, but it’s nothing to be scared of. Microsoft has published a good one-pager about some of the most common myths that might stand in the way of your ascendancy to the Cloud DBA Throne. Here are a few:
- “I’ll lose a lifetime’s worth of work.” Migrating doesn’t mean losing all your stuff. You can send your scripts, queries, and macros to the cloud using script libraries, and the vast, vast majority of your skills are still relevant – just used slightly differently.
- “Cloud performance can’t compare to my on-prem server.” It might be better, especially if you take advantage of automatic performance tuning recommendations provided by Azure. Let’s be honest: you’re not doing a great job of tuning all of the indexes, on all of your databases, on all of your servers. You’re stretched a little thin.
- “Cloud is cloud.” Not exactly. For one thing, Microsoft can save you big bucks when you apply your on-prem licenses to Azure. Plus, the platform for Azure SQL DB is tuned by the folks who make SQL Server. They know stuff, stuff like the new Azure SQL DB Hyperscale white paper that I’ve been giddily consuming.
You can check out the full list here. If you’re a sharp DBA, the cloud is more opportunity than threat. Grab it by the horns. (Wait, which one has horns, opportunities or threats?)