SQLAuthority Book Review – DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA

DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA – Thomas LaRock

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First of all, I thank all my readers when I wrote that I could not get this book in any local book stores, because they offered me to send a copy of this good book. A very special mention goes to Sripada and Jayesh for they gave so much effort in finding my home address and sending me the hard copy. Before, I did not have the copy of the book, but now I have two of it already! It surprises me how my readers were able to find my home address, which I have not publicly shared.

Quick Review: This is indeed a one easy-to-read and fun book. We all work day and night with technology yet we should not forget to show our love and care for our family at home. For our souls that starve for peace and guidance, this one book is the “it” book for all the technology enthusiasts. Though this book was specifically written for DBAs, the reach is not limited to DBAs only because the lessons incorporated in it actually applies to all. This is one of the most motivating technical books I have read.

Detailed Review:
Let us go over a few questions first:
Who wants to be as famous as rockstars in the field of Database Administration?
How can one learn what it takes to become a top notch software developer?
If you are a beginner in your field, how will you go to next level?
Your boss may be very kind or like Dilbert’s Boss, what will you do?
How do you keep growing when Eco-system around you does not support you?
You are almost at top but there is someone else at the TOP, what do you do and how do you avoid office politics?
As a database developer what should be your basic responsibility?
and many more…

I was able to completely read book in one sitting and I loved it. Before I continue with my opinion, I want to echo the opinion of Kevin Kline who has written the Forward of the book. He has truly suggested that “You hold in your hands a collection of insights and wisdom on the topic of database administration gained through many years of hard-won experience, long nights of study, and direct mentorship under some of the industry’s most talented database professionals and information technology (IT) experts.”

Today, IT field is getting bigger and better, while talking about terabytes of the database becomes “more” normal every single day. The gods and demigods of database professionals are taking care of these large scale databases and are carefully maintaining them. In this world, there are only a few beginnings on the first step. There are many experts in different technology fields who are asked to address the issues with databases. There is YOU and ME, who is just new to this work. So we ask ourselves WHERE to begin and HOW to begin. We adore and follow the religion of our rockstars, but oftentimes we really have no idea about their background and their struggles. Every rockstar has his success story which needs to be digested before learning his tricks and tips. This book starts with the same note and teaches the two most important lessons for anybody who wants to be a DBA Rockstar –  to focus on their single goal of learning and to excel the technology.

The story starts with three simple guidelines – Get Prepared, Get Trained, Get Certified. Once a person learns the skills, and then, it would be about time that he needs to enrich or to improve those skills you have learned. I am sure that the right opportunity will come finding themselves and they will not have to go run behind it. However, the real challenge for any person is the first day or first week. A new employee, no matter how much experienced he is, sometimes has no clue about what should one do at new job. Chapter 2 and chapter 3 precisely talk about what one should do as soon as the new job begins. It is also written with keeping the fact in focus that each job can be very much different but there are few infrastructure setups and programming concepts are the same. Learning basics of database was really interesting. I like to focus on the roots of any technology. It is important to understand the structure of the database before suggesting what indexes needs to be created, the same way this book covers the most essential knowledge one must learn by most database developers.

I think the title of the fourth chapter is my favorite sentence in this book. I can see that I will be saying this again and again in the future – “A Development Server Is a Production Server to a Developer“. I have worked in the software industry for almost 8 years now and I have seen so many developers sitting on their chairs and waiting for instructions from their lead about how to improve the code or what to do the next. When I talk to them, I suggest that the experiment with their server and try various techniques. I think they all should understand that for them, a development server is their production server and needs to pay proper attention to the code from the beginning. There should be NO any inappropriate code from the beginning. One has to fully focus and give their best, if they are not sure they should ask but should do something and stay active.

Chapter 5 and 6 talks about two essential skills for any developer and database administration – what are the ethics of developers when they are working with production server and how to support software which is running on the production server. I have met many people who know the theory by heart but when put in front of keyboard they do not know where to start. The first thing they do opening the browser and searching online, instead of opening SQL Server Management Studio. This can very well happen to anybody who is experienced as well. Chapter 5 and 6 addresses that situation as well includes the handy scripts which can solve almost all the basic trouble shooting issues.

“Where’s the Buffet?” By far, this is the best chapter in this book. If you have ever met me, you would know that I love food. I think after reading this chapter, I felt Thomas has written this just keeping me in mind. I think there will be many other people who feel the same way, too. Even my wife who read this chapter thought this was specifically written for me. I will not talk any more about this chapter as this is one must read chapter. And of course this is about real ‘FOOD‘.

I am an SQL Server Trainer and Consultant and I totally agree with the point made in the chapter 8 of this book. Yes, it says here that what is necessary to train employees and people. Millions of dollars worth the labor is continuously done in the world which has faults and incorrect. Once something goes wrong, very expensive consultant comes in and fixes the problem. This whole cycle which can be stopped and improved if proper training is done. There is plenty of free trainings available as well, if one cannot afford paid training.

“Connect. Learn. Share” – I think this is a great summary and bird’s eye view of this book. Networking is the key. Everything which is discussed in this book can be taken to next level if one properly uses this tips and continuously grow with it. Connecting with others, helping learn each other and building the good knowledge sharing environment should be the goal of everyone.

Before I end the review I want to share a real experience. I have personally met one DBA who has worked in a single department in a company for so long that when he was put in a different department in his company due to closing that department, he could not adjust and quit the job despite the same people and company around him. Adjusting in the new environment gets much tougher as one person gets more and more experienced. This book precisely addresses the same issue along with their solutions.

I just cannot stop comparing the book with my personal journey. I found so many things which are coincidentally in the book is written as how we developer and DBA think. I must express special thanks to Thomas for taking time in his personal life and write this book for us. This book is indeed a book for everybody who wants to grow healthy in the tough and competitive environment.

Ratting: 5 Stars

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

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5 thoughts on “SQLAuthority Book Review – DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA

  1. I had also reviewed this book. In one sentense my review is :::
    “This book is all about improve and express yourself as a excellent DBA”.

  2. Hi PinalDave,
    I would like to take training on sql production dba, where can i take this training (or) will u give this training along with sql dba training.How much does it cost ? Can u let me know the address of SqlAuthority so that i can prepare for coming.
    Can u tell me the difference between oracle production dba and sql production dba?where can i find tutorial regarding sql production dba?

  3. Hi Pinal,
    Thanks for the review and letting us know about this book “DBA Survivor”.
    Can you please suggest some book on similar lines for DB Developers.

    Thanks..

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