As we approach the end of 2009,  I want to give myself a review on where I have been, what I have done and where I can grow next year from a SQL Server consultant point of view.

Part Time – Enough Time For Fun

As I have posted before and explain on the about us or services page, StraightPath is a part time venture I started to give a venue to use my experience to help companies having challenges with SQL Server. This year I was able to help more organizations, offer some one off advice through e-mail and delivered a few onsite mentoring engagements. Not bad for “spare time” – I have enough vacation time to get to travel for a couple clients and spend time off with the family.

2009 Highlights

Prior to 2009, I had a couple core clients with small interactions. It was more advice over the phone and remote work checking server health and giving advice on performance problems. They were mostly Remote DBA/Remote “Performance isn’t what it should be, Help!” engagements.

In 2009, I had the opportunity to continue this same work with some core clients but also expand out to offer some training over conference calls and in person and work with a very large client subcontracting on a performance and DBA/Development best practices mentoring engagement.

Some of the highlights, I would use in my own “self review”:

  • This Blog – I started this around Christmas of 2008 and the primary focus is not the business. In fact this is really the first post about that since this blog’s inception. This is a great way for me to share and give back to the SQL community. Readership has been increasing slowly but steadily (up to around 3,000 unique a month, not bad for me) and I have 50 more RSS subscribers than I thought I would (plus a lot of viewers from the syndicated blog on SQLServerPedia)
  • Articles/Wiki Articles – I submitted an article on Troubleshooting to SQLServerCentral and either wrote from scratch or adapted from this blog several wiki articles on SQLServerPedia (Shrinking, SP_Configure, Multiple Instances are the ones that come to mind first). Some of the work was included in “Best Of” publications from each site.  Going from having never written for the community to writing two articles worthy of inclusion with great content in these print publications was humbling.
  • Week Long Mentoring Engagement – I was able to travel to Mexico to work with a large manufacturing client for a week. They were experiencing performance issues that had significant price tags associated through the downtime. Through analysis, interviews and research I was able to find and repair (with them, teaching the staff the how and why) several pieces of low hanging fruit. I also ended the week with an impromptu course on Database Administration, Performance Minded Development and some best practices that were relevant to their environment and my findings. The questions were great, showed me that knowledge from the week was being accepted, stored and used.
  • Custom Course on Database Administration – One of my longer term clients who have been engaging me as a remote DBA had a budget to bring me onsite this year. I was able to teach a 3 day course on Database Administration concepts in SQL Server, Performance monitoring and performance tuning for some of the development staff. The class was tailored to what I knew they needed and tips and tricks for their environment.
  • Several production systems are running a bit faster – Through working with various clients and giving advice, quick courses to development staff and assisting with production configurations and rollouts there are systems at several organizations running either better than they were before or running for the first time with best practices kept in mind.

2010 Goals

No review is complete without talking about where you want to go next. This won’t necessarily be my complete list of blogging goals, etc. I am sure there will be a meme of resolutions floating around come new years eve and I will probably join in.

Where do I want StraightPath to go next, though? I don’t know what the long term plans are for StraightPath Solutions.  For now, I  have some great colleagues in the full time role and it is comfortable and convenient. So what are some shorter term goals for StraightPath?

  • Build on the successes of 2009 – I want to continue helping the existing clients that have all been gained through referral. Along with them, I would like to work with at least 2-4 more clients in 2010. And for those clients?
  • Focus more on mentoring – Yes, some clients just need help and answers and they would rather just rely on a consultant than a full time resource due to budget, timeline, or other concerns. I will still work well with them. That being said, I want to focus on engagements where I can share knowledge and become a mentor and then a trusted advisor allowing the client to use those skills I shared.

The rest of the goals are all around community, blogging, personal goals and those will find a home in a later post this week.

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