Invest in Yourself Stop Making Excuses

Bob Pusateri (B|T) tweeted a quote image that really struck a chord with me and elicited a strong reaction from myself. It got me thinking I need to write a blog on this, so here we go.

Many times, over the years I’ve had conversations with people in which they have said things like below.

“I can’t learn anything new because my work won’t send me to training”

“I can’t learn about xyz because my boss or coworkers won’t sit down with me to show me how”

“I don’t have time to learn anything new”

“We’ll never go to the cloud, so I don’t need to know that”

“I’m too busy just putting out fires, I can’t leave the office to go to training”

“I can’t learn anything new because my work won’t pay for training”

“My free time is my own. When I’m not at work, I don’t want to think about databases”

“I’m too burned out, to learn anything new”

“It’s just not a priority for me right now”

If you can hear yourself saying any of these, I want you to stop right here and reread the image above several times. If you make excuses like these, you will get nowhere fast and likely become disgruntled which can lead to feeling trapped. If you wish to have a career and not just a 9-5 job it is critical you invest in your own training.

Now many of us don’t have the money to pay for things like week-long conferences or expensive hands-on training, I get that. There are other ways to get training, it’s not necessary to set your target on those. Start small. I challenge you to read one blog a day, that’s it. By doing that simple thing you vastly increase your knowledge. I’ll list a few of my favorites at the end of the blog.

Next, be sure to attend your local user groups, Code Camps, or SQL Saturdays. These are usually free to attend in-person training opportunities on various topics, not to mention it’s your chance to network with other technology professionals. At these events, talk and engage people, as you never know when one of those conversations may lead to your next career opportunity. That’s a win-win. An added benefit is that usually these types of events provide you with motivation to further your own professional development. You’ll be surprised on how they will affect your outlook on work and learning. If you can’t make it out of the office or home for training, did you know there are many virtual training opportunities available like PASS’s virtual user groups ? These are live training sessions, much like those at SQL Saturdays, given during lunch hours or after work. They are also often recorded so you can watch them when its more convenient.

Lastly, do yourself a favor and join Twitter. So many of us in the SQL Community are out there learning from each other every day. Bloggers tend to leave breadcrumbs for learning.

We post links to our newest blogs.

We note things like Currently Reading: xyz Blog Topic with a link to that blog.

Follow the #SQLHELP hashtag. We are all out there helping each other trouble shoot issues and providing references to answers. This is a fantastic place not only to find help, but to learn.

These are just a very few things you can easily do to start investing in yourself and your training. Below I have listed sites for free or low-cost training, links to great blogs you may want to start with. However, you start… the point is to START. Stop complaining and making excuses and just go for it.

I started out working at the Port of Virginia with ZERO SQL Server Database Admin experience straight out of college. They sent me to a SQL Server bootcamp, (the only training I EVER got from them in 12 years) in which after, I took my certification exams and I was off and running with no more training. As we know, when you attend training like that, it’s really just a ton of topics thrown at you, an exam is taken, and nothing is really digested. In order to be successful and keep the Port’s databases running as their only DBA, I had to invest in myself and my own training. If it wasn’t for me taking the time to self-train I would not be where I am today and my tenure at the Port would have been disastrous.

Training Sites

SQLPass – pass.org

PluralSight- https://www.pluralsight.com/

SSWUG – https://www.sswug.org/

LinkedIn Learning- https://www.linkedin.com/learning/

Microsoft Virtual Academy – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/training.aspx

MS SQL Tips – MSSQLTips.com

Blogs

SQL Server Central- https://www.sqlservercentral.com/ (stairways series are good for beginners)

Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting- https://www.dcac.com/publications/blog

SQL Skills- https://www.sqlskills.com/sql-server-training/online-training/

MS SQL Tips- https://www.mssqltips.com/

Simple Talk- https://www.red-gate.com/simple-talk/

SQL Performance- https://sqlperformance.com/

C-SharpCorner – https://www.c-sharpcorner.com/

Summary

Each day I learn something new, I take the time to invest in my knowledge and career. No one has to tell me to do this. I want more out of a job, I want a career, so I make one. As the quote above say, I am unstoppable, there is no reason you can’t be too. I understand that this is a personal choice and it is perfectly fine not to want this, but don’t complain while doing nothing. While there are exceptions to the rule, most companies don’t care about your career trajectory. HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits, not to help you. You are the only one responsible for managing your skills and career, and if your company isn’t investing in your training, you need to do it yourself.

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Keep It Simple Stupid

Some of us take days and weeks to write a blog, while others can take two minutes and write a great blog *cough* *cough* Denny (B|T). Why is that? I think it’s simple, we are thinking to hard about it and over complicating things. Just sit down at your computer and write what’s on your mind. It doesn’t have to be rocket science or something completely mind blowing or life changing. I’ve seen several, as of late, crowd source their next topic, I think this a great avenue to take as it is those people that are likely your readers. There’s nothing wrong with asking others what you should write about, as a matter of fact you might be helping them solve their latest issue.

Anyhow, we made comment today in our team’s chat at DCAC as to why Denny & Joey (B|T) can write blogs and articles so easily, while some of us have must ourselves to get one out as often as we can.

I think the answer is KISS… Keep It Simple Stupid.

Stop overthinking and just write.

I challenge all those bloggers out there, especially those struggling to write their next blog, to set a timer for 5 minutes and see what you come up with. I’d love to read them.

NOTE: This blog was written with a time of 5 mins with 227 words.

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Speaking Internationally at SQLBits

 

I am very excited and lucky to be speaking at my very first international conference, SQLBits. SQLBits, the largest SQL Server conference in Europe, held in Manchester England February 27- March 2nd. It is a conference for leading data professionals with over 70 sessions from speakers all over the world. I commonly speak at User Groups, SQL Saturdays and other Data Conferences here in the United States and have always wanted to broaden my reach to other countries. I am very much looking forward to seeing how or if conferences differ in Europe.  It is a huge honor to have been selected to share my performance tuning knowledge with attendees.

My session, Performance Tuning SQL Server on Crappy Hardware, will be Friday March 1st  @ 4:50pm  in Room 3.

Many of us must deal with hardware that doesn’t meet our standards or contributes to performance problems. This session will cover how to work around hardware issues when it isn’t in the budget for newer, faster, stronger, better hardware.  It’s time to make that existing hardware work for us. Learn tips and tricks on how to reduce IO, relieve memory pressure, and reduce blocking. Let’s see how compression, statistics, and indexes bring new life into your existing hardware.

Be sure to also catch my colleagues at Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting , Joey D’Antoni (B|T) and John Morehouse (B|T), who are also speaking at SQLBits.

Joey D’Antoni –

Azure Managed Instances—Your Bridge to the Cloud – Friday March 1st @ 2:25pm in Room 9

Many organizations would like to take advantage of the benefits of using a platform as a service database like Azure SQL Database. Automated backups, patching, and costs are just some of the benefits. However, Azure SQL Database is not a 100% feature compatible with SQL Server—features like SQL Agent, CLR and Filestream are not supported. Migration to Azure SQL Database is also a challenge, as backup and restore and log shipping are not supported methods. Microsoft recently introduced Managed Instances—a new option that provides a bridge between on-premises or Azure VM implementations of SQL Server and Azure SQL Database.

 Managed Instances provide full SQL Server surface compatibility and support database sizes up to 35 TB. In this session, you will learn about migrating your databases to Managed Instances, developing applications for managed instances. You will also learn about the underlying high availability and disaster recovery options for the solution.

John Morehouse-

SQL Server Databaseology: Deep Dive into Database Internals Saturday March 2nd, 2019 @ 4:10PM in Room 8

Have you ever taken apart a toaster or an alarm clock just to see how it worked? Ever wondered how that database actually functions at the record level, behind the scenes? SQL Server Databaseology is the study of SQL Server databases and their structures down to the very core of the records themselves. In this session, we will explore some of the deep inner workings of a SQL Server database at the record and page level.  You will walk away with a better understanding of how SQL Server stores data and that knowledge that will allow you to build better and faster databases.

There is still time to register at www.sqlbits.com .

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What is Azure Key Vault?

Keys and secrets (AKA passwords)  are an essential part of data protection management not only on-premises, but within the cloud as well. One of the many advantages of cloud is the ability to have a secure, persisted key store. If you have used a password manager like Keepass or 1Password, you can consider Azure Key Vault to be an enterprise level password manager, but also a lot more. One of the functions that Azure Key Vault supports is for you to keep small secrets such as passwords, tokens, connection strings, API keys as well as encryption keys and certificates in a safe tightly controlled secure location in the cloud. It is a centralized location for storing all your management keys removing the need for application owners to store and manage keys. This in turn  helps by reducing the risk of keys being accidentally disclosed or lost.

This service allows you to manage not only your keys but also those who have access to them. You can grant granular permissions to each key to only the users and applications who need access. It also allows for separation of duties as shown in the diagram below.

Image credit

Monitoring for compliance and audit is another crucial component to key management. Azure Key Vault also provides logging into what and whom accesses what is in your vault.  By enabling logging for Key Vault, it saves data in an Azure storage account you create and stores all the information in needs for reporting within a retention range you set. My next blog in this series will show you step by step how to set up and configure logging using Azure Log Analytics.

As with any critical component of your infrastructure, your keys and secrets should be safe guarded against failures.  Thankfully, Azure gives us the ability to store these keys with georedundancy in case of a disaster.  You no longer have to worry about where those keys are stored and backing up those keys off site. However, one large caveat to storing your keys in the cloud is that you must always have internet access. Storing and using keys requires the application layer to retrieve those keys for use, redundant strong internet access is essential to any cloud operations.

Key Vault is also great for creating a secure login to SQL DB. My co-worker Joey D’Antoni (B|T) blogged about it recently here.  In this recent blog he also dives in automation using this secured method and give you a great PowerShell script where he defines a variable called password, and gets from the Key Vault, and then passes it into the –SQLAdministratorCredentials in New-AzureRMSQLServer.

Lastly, part of key management is key rotation. Every company has a different rotation strategy, however,  most of the time changing out these keys is a manual time-consuming process. Azure Automation can help you with this in conjunction with Azure Key Vault. This link gives you all the steps you need to set this up.

Azure Key Vault is definitely a service worth looking to it. It is a relatively low-cost alternative to managing and storing your companies passwords, tokens, connection strings, API keys as well as encryption keys and certificates. Plu it is a great way to get your company’s footprint into the cloud.

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As Microsoft MVP’s and Partners as well as VMware experts, we are summoned by companies all over the world to fine-tune and problem-solve the most difficult architecture, infrastructure and network challenges.

And sometimes we’re asked to share what we did, at events like Microsoft’s PASS Summit 2015.

Awards & Certifications

Microsoft Partner   Denny Cherry & Associates Consulting LLC BBB Business Review    Microsoft MVP    Microsoft Certified Master VMWare vExpert
INC 5000 Award for 2020    American Business Awards People's Choice    American Business Awards Gold Award    American Business Awards Silver Award    FT Americas’ Fastest Growing Companies 2020   
Best Full-Service Cloud Technology Consulting Company       Insights Sccess Award    Technology Headlines Award    Golden Bridge Gold Award    CIO Review Top 20 Azure Solutions Providers