Video walkthrough of renaming or “flipping” databases to minimize down time during a refresh. Most commonly when moving a copy from prod to dev.
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This course covers many of the SQL Server Maintenance items I do every day, week, and month for my servers:
My first course is a good (but not required) starter, covering history, installation, some configuration and the SQL Server tools:
I’d love to get your opinions, questions and ratings for either or both of these. I’m already planning the next one!
Pluralsight courses require a paid subscription.
If you want some FREE training, check out my YouTube channel.
Thanks for watching!
As I’ve been in intense, focused SQL Server training for the last year, I thought it would be a great time to share links to the resources I’ve gathered over the preceding months. To be clear, I’ve not yet had the chance to use all of these resources, but have saved them for future use. So, I can’t guarantee that all of these resources are of equal value or quality. Some types of presentations will appeal to you in various degrees based on your learning style.
I’m not going to list many specific blogs or non-dedicated training resources, but there’s a wealth of information out there if you search for it. One of the best things you can do is jump on Twitter and follow the #sqlhelp and #sqlfamily hashtags to find some of the best minds in the SQL community. You should also join the SQL Community Slack channel and get involved.
Kevin’s Getting Started with Your First SQL Server Instance on Pluralsight.
Though it’s not out yet—but should be very soon—Kevin has a new class on Getting Started with SQL Server Maintenance coming out on Pluralsight that is the perfect next step once you’ve completed his first class.
You should also check out Kevin’s YouTube channel for an array of quick videos on many basic SQL Server concepts you should know.
And to finish tooting our own horn here at Dallas DBAs, you should read all the posts in the Accidental DBA category here on the blog.
For the first of many links to Brent Ozar materials, I suggest starting with his DBA Training Plan series of blog posts to get grounded.
I highly recommend the Accidental DBA Series at SQL Skills. Prepare to go a lot deeper and take your time with these posts. I should probably go back and re-read all of these myself.
SQL Server Tutorial has a nice collection of beginner-level tutorials to help you get a grasp on concepts.
You should definitely subscribe to PASS’s DBA Fundamentals Virtual Group. You can peruse the meeting archive to find past webinars on a variety of topics.
You can learn about SQL Server, Azure, and more at Microsoft Learn.
The SQL Server Central Stairways series covers everything from Azure to U-SQL and more. There’s no particular order to climb these stairways, but some will require more previous knowledge than others.
Microsoft has a collection of SQL Server and Azure Labs and Workshops available for free.
Get a grasp on the basic of indexes and how they work with Brent’s How to Think Like the SQL Server Engine.
Speaking of Brent Ozar, we got in on his Black Friday sale last year for his Recorded Class Season Pass, and it has been a fantastic experience. Not only is Brent a top-notch presenter and teacher, he constantly updates the classes with his latest live presentation, which means you can re-watch the class every few months and learn about different aspects of the topic at hand based on class participant questions.
You can see all the content from past SQL Bits conferences. There’s over 900 videos available spread across dozens of SQL and data-related topics.
Here’s a handful of SQL Server related channels you should definitely get subscribed to today:
Also take a look at the T-SQL Tutorial at Tutorials Point.
As always, Microsoft’s own SQL Server Technical Documentation will explain what’s really going on in and around SQL Server.
Brent has a very nice list of Free Downloads for Powerful SQL Server Management.
Rather than put together my own separate list of Power BI resources, I can’t recommend this list of Power BI Learning Path – Free and Paid Resources by Eugene Meidinger more highly. You should also check out Eugene’s Pluralsight courses.
And, of course, if you watch anything related to Power BI, you should watch the Guy in a Cube YouTube channel.
Are there any great training resources you recommend that I haven’t mentioned here? Please link to them in the comments.
T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party for the SQL Server community. It is the brainchild of Adam Machanic (b|t) and this month’s edition is hosted by Kerry Tyler (b|t), who has asked us to write about “Learning From Others“, by telling about a time something went bad and how it got fixed.
I have an “In Real Life” series of blog posts that are exactly this:
There are a couple of additional issues in the hopper, just haven’t had time to write them up.
Thanks for reading!
T-SQL Tuesday is a monthly blog party for the SQL Server community. It is the brainchild of Adam Machanic (b|t) and this month’s edition is hosted by Kerry Tyler (b|t), who has asked us to write about “Learning From Others“.
I thought I’d join the party this month and throw my latest post into the mix since my entire journey over the last year has been learning from others in the SQL community.
On September 17, 2019, I was given a promotion from Apprentice to Junior DBA. By this point, I had three daily check clients and one weekly check client in my portfolio. Despite the promotion, I was (and remain to this day) very much in training mode. The primary reason for the change in status was the fact that I was starting to interact directly with some of my clients.
Until this point I had been performing my daily server checks and sending my reports to Kevin. From there, Kevin would let the clients know of problems critical enough to warrant their attention. Once I became a Junior, I began to send my own reports to one client and interject in emails to others.
Honestly, this was a bit nerve-wracking at first. While I’m no stranger to emailing clients for work or business, sending emails of a highly-technical nature—especially within a field where I am still quite green—was completely outside my wheelhouse. Kevin has corrected me privately or clarified terms for clients when something I’ve written isn’t completely accurate. I’m okay with this because it not only aids our clients in getting the most accurate information, but it also helps solidify terms and concepts in my mind.
Since promotion day, I’ve added three more daily clients to my routine. Each new client brings another level of complexity and new experiences—including one client using replication, and another using Availability Groups.
Being so new and inexperienced in a job is something I haven’t had to deal with for a long time. To be honest, it’s a very strange feeling to be a middle-aged man about a year into a third career.
I was just getting settled into feeling comfortable calling myself a graphic designer after about five years of experience. When our design clients started drying up and I began learning about photography in the hopes of starting a photography business, I ventured onto shaky ground again. Thankfully, I discovered I was a natural at photography and became rather good at it in a short period of time. Despite all that, the business never got of the ground because I underestimated just how saturated the local market was, so it was a non-starter as a business (and why I don’t count it as yet another career).
Now that I’m a little over a year into the SQL Server world, I’m starting to find balance again. For a long while, whenever I met someone who asked me what I do for a living, I had felt like an impostor saying, “I’m a DBA.” I would sort of waffle and respond with something like, “Well, I used to be…and then I…but now I’m learning to be a DBA.” It’s only recently that I’ve felt confident enough to just flat out declare, “I’m a DBA.”
Comparison is a losing game, especially when you’re comparing yourself to those who’ve been in the game for 20+ years. In my months of dedicated training, I’ve spent a lot of virtual time around DBAs who have been in the business for a long time. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing myself to them, but I constantly remind myself that I’m still new and haven’t discovered my area of specialization yet. The people I’m learning from typically have both experience and specialization in their toolbox.
The biggest challenge over the last few months has been preparing for the 70-764 Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure exam. About the time Kevin laid this challenge out for me, we discovered that Microsoft was retiring most of the role-based certifications in favor of a new framework.
To be fair, Kevin never required me to take the certification exam. He only wanted me to study and learn the material as the next step in my DBA training. Knowing myself, however, I asked him to set me a goal for taking the exam, which helps me keep my focus and move forward toward a specific goal. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft has decided to keep the pre-existing certifications and exams through January of 2021. Our goal is for me to take the 70-764 exam by the end of September 2020.
I’ve been studying long enough now that I’m starting to find and take some free online practice tests for the exam. I have access to the official practice exam which I’ll probably attempt in August 2020 to find my weak areas before scheduling the official exam. I’ve also found several flash card decks on the Quizlet website that were created by previous exam-takers. I’m spending some time each day reviewing and quizzing myself using these decks.
I fully expect to not pass the exam, and I’m okay with that fact—I’ll still give it my best effort. Again, Kevin’s goal has been for me to learn and grow as a DBA through both study and experience, not collect certifications. As I work through the practice tests I’ve found so far, my biggest takeaway is that there’s no replacement for experience. Several times I’ve been completely stumped by an exam question that would likely not cause a problem for a DBA with several more years of experience. But each time I’m stumped by a question, I go research it and learn the answer, thereby increasing my own knowledge.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ll have enough knowledge internalized by exam time to pass, but I’m not going to be terribly disappointed if I don’t. This is just another step on the journey to becoming a better DBA.
Welcome to part 2 of my series reviewing my first year as a DBA. If you missed the first post, you can read it here.
Reflecting back to the earliest days (via re-reading my Dallas DBAs Slack channels from the beginning), it’s very easy to see just how far I’ve come in the last 12+ months. It’s already getting hard to remember the days when I was a Mac-only guy and trying to relearn my way around the Windows OS. I still get tripped up from time to time, but I’m a confident-enough Windows user that now my keyboard shortcut muscle memory defaults to Windows commands, which causes momentary confusion when I try to operate my iMac.
I ran my VM through it’s paces in those days, taking a bare install and getting SQL Server Developer Edition on there as fast as I could. I ran through installs, patching, instance creation, database creation, and a whole lot more. Doing all of this over and over again really helped solidify the basics and give me confidence to move on to more critical issues such as backups, restores, and integrity checks.
Those days were also something of a juggling act since, while the design business was steadily waning, there was often enough to keep me busy for several hours throughout a week. Also, when I wasn’t working on graphics or learning more about SQL Server, I was learning my way around Power BI. I’ve since pretty much dropped Power BI off my radar for now, but will likely take it back up again in the future when it makes sense.
One of the biggest frustrations I’ve had in self-guided learning is discovering that there’s a ton of simply erroneous information out there related to SQL Server. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a blog post or article to eventually find it was just wrong. I don’t know if these authors are just newbies like me, or if they wrote one-off posts from an “it worked on my machine” standpoint. Either way, winnowing out faulty sources was frustrating as an apprentice.
And don’t get me started on technical information that’s just grossly out of date…
Stay tuned for the last post in this new series where I’ll share my favorite and recommended SQL Server training resources.
It was mid-July of 2019 that I got my first real taste of client production servers. We started out small, with me observing daily checks being performed. From there I began to RDP into client servers from home while Kevin watched over my shoulder virtually using Zoom screen sharing. (We were using Zoom before it was quarantine cool!) After about a week of this per client, Kevin felt secure in letting me fly solo, and before the end of the month I had two clients for whom I performed daily checks.
Not bad for an apprentice DBA with less than two months of experience.
Now granted, there have been very few critical discoveries during my time on these clients, and no major emergencies that I can recall. Most days it’s pretty basic and somewhat tedious stuff. My daily reports often look something like this:
Manage Engine: No issues found. DPA: No significant waits or blocks. Jobs: No new job failures. Backups: All backups are current. Errorlogs Login failures for 'sa' are still ongoing (known issue). 4 deadlocks in the last four days. No new errors found.
And while such reports seem boring, they’re a product of something very important. Most of the time, Kevin has whipped a client’s servers into shape before handing them over to me for daily checks. That means we have clients with SQL Server instances that are by-and-large humming along without any problems. This means I’m now on the front lines in detecting issues before they become major problems.
Keeping a daily record of simple things like hard drive space, waits and blocks, job failures, and error log output helps us know when things just aren’t running like they should. Like a canary in the coal mine, we can often give our clients a heads up long before an issue with their servers becomes painful.
Honestly, serving our clients and helping ensure their data is safe so that they can concentrate on operating their business successfully is extremely gratifying.