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Help for the Accidental DBA: Using Twitter as a SQL Server Resource

Author: Eric Russo | | October 17, 2014

Have you found yourself thrust into new responsibilities within your IT department as a manager overseeing database operations?

You may be what’s called an “Accidental DBA.”

As we explained in a prior post, it’s tough when you’re a professional new to this job to get up and running when you’re unsure where to start and what to do. We provided some basics for the Accidental DBA, but what happens when you reach an impasse?

Kirsten Benzel, a database developer at SurveyMonkey who began her career as a self-described accidental DBA, found some of her best advice from reaching out to other SQL users via Twitter. Even with some rudimentary training and a library of SQL books at her disposal, she still encountered challenges when trying to stumble through learning SQL.

She solved the issue by turning to social media. Benzel explains:

I hit up Twitter and asked for tips for brand new SQL learners using the hashtag #sqlhelp and got some fantastic replies … Twitter itself is an oft overlooked, yet priceless resource. The best minds in the industry are on there, posting blogs and articles and answering questions.

Although Benzel concentrated on finding resources for database administrators new to SQL, #sqlhelp is used by database administrators of all experience levels. The questions are not trivial either. Some October 2014 examples:

  • Anyone ever put a database mirroring witness in the cloud?
  • What’s the best way to search the plan cache for a particular table?
  • In SQL 2014 would the buffer pool extension flush on a cluster failover? Like SSD pool in a SAN?

Jorge Segarra (also known SQLChicken)is a member of the Jacksonville SQL Server User Group and SQL blogger, and says the value of Twitter to database professionals cannot be underestimated:

In the past year I’ve come to find that Twitter has become an invaluable tool for me professionally as I can get many quick answers and sometimes even more complicated issues resolved. … Thanks to the relationships I’ve fostered with fellow SQL professionals I got world-class, one-on-one help … and all for free. Simply put I cannot stress enough how much Twitter has enhanced my worklife and helped me to be a better DBA as now I have the power of so many sql resources at my fingertips almost instantly.

Segarra tells a story of a time when he needed help for a vexing situation in which a coworker unfamiliar with SQL deleted an .LDF file from a SQL Server 2000 instance when he deemed the transaction log file had become too big. The individual thought a restart would result in the transaction log file being reconstituted, which was not the case. The corruption issues cascaded and worsened. Paul Randal, a SQL expert, responded to Segarra’s tweet for help immediately and was eventually able to help Segarra resolve the database corruption problem. (The process wasn’t pretty or painless, but the problem was resolved.)

What if this and other conventional means of seeking assistance for pressing SQL questions don’t work?

Contact Datavail for more information on how we might best support you and your organization with custom solutions tailored to your needs.

Image by bloomua/123RF.

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