I’ve worked with SQL Server long enough to have interacted with several hundred database professionals, one on level or another. I’m going to take that as license to tell you this, one internet friend to another: You’re probably not the DBA you think you are.
If you’re just starting out as a DBA or SQL programmer, then you likely know that you don’t know much. You’re spending your days working out the ways to do different tasks, looking up best practices, and stumbling over “Oh, wow!!” moments in various blogs and books. Good for you! Never stop studying, my friend.
You have a few years of SQL Server on your resume…maybe even several. You’ve worked for long enough, and/or for enough companies, that you feel like you’ve got the basics. You probably have a sense for your strong points…”I’m good with query tuning.” “I’m really an admin guy.” “I’m happiest elbow-deep in SSIS.” You might be on a team with other SQL folk, or you might be the only DBA/dev/BI guy in a smallish shop. Backups, security, user requests…got it covered.
The thing is, you don’t (bless yer heart). Yes, I know you passed your MCITPLDLOMP last year, or whatever the latest test is, and good for you. But you haven’t picked up a book since, or made a conscious effort to learn a new thing. Reading blogs is nice, and I’m glad you do…but reading blogs is not the same as studying.
This doesn’t apply to you? I see. Then you won’t mind answering a few questions…
- What’s the difference between char and varchar? Between nchar and char?
- What are the requirements for an indexed view?
- What should you do about blocking? How about deadlocking?
- What does the sp_ prefix signify for a stored procedure?
- Name three DMVs you use on a regular basis.
- What’s the syntax to expand a data file? (No fair reading the last blog.)
- Name three things that really bother you about the product.
- Have you looked at SQL 2012 yet? Great. Now, have you installed it? Played with it? Explored Filetable, or any of the new cool features?
There’s tons more, but that’s a start. The thing is, at least 80% of DBAs I encounter in the wild* will get most of those questions wrong. If you have 5-10 years of SQL Server administration on your resume, and these questions lose you, start studying.
High level guys? I’m not going to presume to offer you advice. I suspect you got here by study and experimentation, so you’re most likely in the habit. Just, you know, be sure you’re not fooling yourself.
*In the wild meaning, away from conferences. Conference DBAs are often better educated, because they give a flying shit about their education. So say we all.