SQL Server Blog

Free DBA Advice eBook

John Sansom recently completed a great project of his- an eBook with 20 DBAs offering advice and tips to those starting out as a DBA.  There are 19 authors I look up to and myself sharing tips and advice to DBAs looking to make into the DBA world or looking to go further once already in that world.  You should go check it out and download the book and read through the tips from some great community contributors (Steve Jones, Grant Fritchey,  Chris Shaw, Ted Krueger, Jes Borland and Kevin Kline to just name a few of the amazing contributors)

It’s a free resource and I wanted to take a minute before sharing an intro to my content to thank John Sansom for putting this idea together. He just quietly asked a bunch of us to write something, took care of all the editing and collaboration and his idea really was to just get a bunch of folks helping the community. It morphed into an eBook and he did a fantastic job. Impressed with his idea but more impressed with the organizational and editing skills required. John does a ton for the SQL Server community with this posts, his weekly curated list of links, his forums, etc. This is just one more way he gives to the SQL Community. Always impressed by his dedication and sharing.

You can get your own copy of the free e-book here.


Excerpt/Overview From My Contribution

The Attitude of the DBA

I tried to focus on a few key attitudes/areas of focus for DBAs. These are things I blog about regularly here. Some of the tips shared in the eBook were:

DBA Advice Book
DBA JumpStart eBook

Aspiring to be a DBA? Soft Skills First

I’m a consultant now. But when I was a senior DBA or team lead I was often responsible for being part of the hiring decision. When I hired a strong mid-level or senior DBA, I cared a lot about experience and skills and the more senior the more obscure knowledge I would test on. When I hired a Junior DBA, however, I cared most about the attitude. I cared more about humility and a desire to grow and learn than I did about knowing if you could walk through the best practices of post installation configuration options and settings. You see, as a DBA, you are stuck in the middle….  (more in eBook)

…So when I look to bring someone in the world of DBAdom, I want to make sure they have the soft skills that this standing in the gap between business and technology requires:

• How do you present yourself and get along? This matters. DBAs are professional, polite, team oriented people who get along with others. They listen. They can deal with people. I’d rather train an excellent service industry veteran to be a DBA than a well experienced, but obnoxious and arrogant skilled computer science graduate with tons of IT experience.

• How do you take “disaster mode”? If you do your job right as a DBA and you automate, test recovery, plan for failure, etc. this happens less. But even when you do all you can do – disaster still strikes. How do you handle chaos? I care about how you act when impatient CIOs demanding updates while trying to coordinate other IT teams to get you the pieces and parts you need (SAN deployments, new machines being build, new VMs provisioned, backup files moved around, etc.) I can teach SQL skills, it’s so much harder to teach patience.

• How do you troubleshoot? With a shotgun or with a methodology? Poor troubleshooting processes make so many IT disasters worse. Again, I can teach SQL skills faster than I can teach troubleshooting.

• Are you driven? What do you do to learn? Do you love what you do? Do you really want to be a DBA? This is a career field that a lot of people enjoy, do you? Do you know what a User Group is? Have you read some blogs? Do you go to SQL Saturdays or SQL Bits? I want to see that you want to learn and that you are a sponge for knowledge. So when you are preparing to get that DBA job work on some of the soft skills.

You can see more about soft skills in this blog post (Six Reasons I won’t hire you) I wrote and the comments on it.

… (See more in eBook)

Confession Time

So now that some of the basics are taken care of. Hear some of the ways I messed up on soft skills and learn from my mistakes. Maybe this will help you as you journey from Junior DBA to senior DBA…. (Read more in the eBook.. I’ll save all the confessions for you to read there.. They revolve around me being an arrogant, hard to get along with person who sacrificed too much of my life to my job)


Anyway, I hope you check out the book. I’ve been enjoying the contributions written by the other authors.

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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