SQL Server Blog

The New Adventures of Mike Walsh

Leaving So Soon?

I just started the job I am at about 4 months ago. I love it. I really do – I’d probably tell you if I didn’t (some times I need to work on my filter). This is the first company I’ve worked at without a thick air of politics and clawing for the top that you could cut through with a knife. We have some amazing project management. I work with a lot of people much much smarter than I (Not that that says a lot necessarily 😉 ). Our site sees as many as 20 million or more searches a day for research articles, ebooks, etc. We are in neat industry providing great content to universities, libraries and businesses all over the world. In fact, if you still remember your college days and they were in the past 15/20 years, I am sure you’ll likely remember the words EBSCO or EBSCO Host. Management here is great, they listen and actively seek feedback of their employees. They ask the right questions before committing to a path. When something goes wrong the emphasis seems to be on root cause analysis and fixing the problem before blame even comes up for the most part. Our parent company, EBSCO Industries is one of the top privately held companies in the country. They are a conservatively run company showing growth in a down economy. My company, EBSCO Publishing, is great and I really think I could make a long term impact here if I stay. In fact, I see no reason to move on. Sure there are frustrating days, there are times of doing more operational work than I had hoped but that is normal and common anywhere. I really love it here, love the small town of Ipswich it is headquartered at and really enjoy working on my team and for my manager.

Want a DBA Job?

I have developed some real positive working relationships here in the short time I have been here. I have also had the opportunity to work on some projects already that really helped with performance and analyzed how we are doing things with our SQL Server environment. Want to pick up on that success and run with it? Shoot me an e-mail (mike@straightpathsql.com) and I’ll talk to you about the role I am leaving and they are probably going to backfill. It is in Ipswich, MA.

Then Why Leave?

This is probably one of the more difficult career decisions I have made (and, sadly, I’m an expert on making career choices it seems) because of all that is good here. I have an amazing opportunity that I will always be kicking myself for not exploring if I don’t move forward. It is that simple.

What’s Next?

I have accepted a position with a consultancy out of Portland, Me – Winxnet.  They are a company that is very well respected in New England and have a proven track record of great delivery with their clients. The majority of their clients are in New England. In their home state of Maine (their office is about 45 minutes from my house), they are in business with the majority of the large, well known Maine companies. Elsewhere, they have some great contracts always being created because their reputation gets around. They are a Microsoft Partner in certain areas and have an amazingly talented staff. They have specialists in just about every aspect of the Microsoft development life cycle (SharePoint and .NET come to mind as areas they have really stood out in. They have also stood out in networking and unified communications). The one area that they know a lot about, but haven’t yet specialized in is SQL Server. They always work with it, they help many companies with their challenges but they haven’t ever really built a practice around SQL Server.

That’s where I come in – I have been helping them out on the side (through StraightPath Consulting) with some of their more challenging SQL Server engagements for a few years now. Developing a great working relationship with many within the company. The timing seems right for them to actually further build on their in house SQL expertise and actually develop a true and specialized SQL Server practice. They have asked if I wanted to be a part of helping to form that practice, work with clients, build the practice, document standards and engage in direction setting of that practice with the management team.

I Can’t Say No

Basically, after a lot of discussion. A lot of agonizing over the potential, I came to the conclusion that I can’t say no. I get to report to the COO, Jason Lenardson, someone I have gotten to know over these past few years. Jason and I get to work closely while we define this practice and at the same time I am going to be on the ground running helping existing clients with their SQL Server challenges. When I thought about some of the aspects of what this means:

  • Most clients are a drive away in New England – Consulting with still keeping my head on my own pillow each night (really important, family is key)
  • Working to actually define the services and offerings of a new SQL Practice
  • Being able to help establish a consultancy within a well established company means a real paycheck while we build it (I hate risk sometimes, why I am not independent yet)
  • The ability to interact with customers having real challenges with SQL Server (I love people, just as much as I love working with SQL Server. What better way to combine these passions?)
  • Always Learning (I won’t pretend to know every aspect of every problem I encounter. I know much more than I did 10,5 3 and even 1 year ago and I hope to bring that experience to clients but also looking forward to facing new challenges)
  • Working with people I already know and enjoy working with (Winxnet has a group of really strong A players already on staff. Who wouldn’t want to work with them more?)

I realized I couldn’t say no. It is my hope that this practice grows and we are able to bring on enough clients to hire more resources at some point but it will be an adventure building to that point. I am really excited.

What About This Site, Consulting, Community Involvement, Etc?

No more consulting on the side. That’s fine. I mainly do it because I like the challenge and like helping folks out, not for the money (though it is nice). I will still get to do all of those things but now I don’t have to do it at night, on weekends and sacrifice vacation time to go deliver training to a client – It will be my job now.

I’ll still blog and I’ll probably still blog right here on this site, keeping the url the same. Just now I’ll be cross posting some stuff to a blog on their site, I’ll be doing some exclusive stuff on their site but mostly I’ll be blogging here. My thoughts will still be my thoughts and I’ll make sure to add disclaimers to posts that aren’t relevant to the business, etc. The best part? As work allows, I may be able to do some of these posts on the clock (not all). It is part of my job to provide content to potential and existing clients.

As for SQL Saturdays, Conferences, The User Group, etc. – again, something they will encourage and likely even support me in. I can’t say they’ll pay my travel costs to every SQL Saturday I want to go to, but they understand that it is a mutual benefit to give back to the SQL community and help me develop my own career while learning so I think we’ll end up seeing some of them being covered. They will also be an active supporter, and possibly a sponsor, of the User Group I run in NH. This may also be an impetus to help start a similar User Group in Portland, ME but we’ll see how that goes over time.

Any new consulting work I do will be handled through the sales arm of Winxnet (yay!) and invoiced through them as well (double yay!). As we start figuring out the titles and scope of our services, I’ll put a blog post out that describes our offerings in the SQL Server space.


This should be a really fun adventure. I look forward to more time for blogging and speaking as well as more time seeing issues at client sites and helping folks figure out their database implementation questions. I look forward to helping small shops without DBAs get that peace of mind and I look forward to helping large shops figure out how to maximize their effectiveness using SQL Server.

Mike Walsh
Article by Mike Walsh
Mike loves mentoring clients on the right Systems or High Availability architectures because he enjoys those lightbulb moments and loves watching the right design and setup come together for a client. He started Straight Path in 2010 when he decided that after over a decade working with SQL Server in various roles, it was time to try and take his experience, passion, and knowledge to help clients of all shapes and sizes. Mike is a husband, father to four great children, and a Christian. He’s a volunteer Firefighter and EMT in his small town in New Hampshire, and when he isn’t playing with his family, solving SQL Server issues, or talking shop, it seems like he has plenty to do with his family running a small farm in NH raising Beef Cattle, Chickens, Pigs, Sheep, Goats, Honeybees and who knows what other animals have been added!

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12 thoughts on “The New Adventures of Mike Walsh”

    • Thanks Mike! It has really been great working with you and everyone on your team. Definitely would have enjoyed getting to know you all more.

  1. When an opportunity presents itself in life and you are not absolutely 100% sure about it, just go for it anyway! Risks can only ever pay off if you actually take them.

    Sounds like a great opportunity to me. Congratulations, good luck and most importantly, have fun!

    • John – That is great advice. I think being uncomfortable is sometimes a good thing. It means you are being challenged and will be learning and growing.

  2. Pingback: AJ Mendo

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