Archive for the ‘Personal Experiences’ Category

At noon tomorrow October 11th (PST), voting for the PASS Board of Directors closes. As members of the organization we are tasked with choosing leaders that we think will positively impact PASS. All 6 candidates are excellent and have been vetted by the nomination committee. Please keep in mind that this is an opinion blog. I have placed my vote, have you?

One candidate that meets my qualifications and stands out for a US/Canada & Open opening is Jason Strate.  With the hours ticking down, I thought I would share with you why I would like Jason to a member of the PASS board of directors.

I was first introduced to Jason via his Blog. The amount of and depth of his blog material has been a tool belt over the years. His Blog continues to provide me information on all aspects of SQL Server as well how to conduct my daily activities. His dedication to sharing his knowledge is a key part of the SQL Server community in my opinion.

I then had the privilege to work with Jason at Pragmatic Works where he played the key role of Architect. Jason and I were on a project together that was challenging and provided us with many opportunities. During this time together I saw Jason take lead roles, provide clear direction, and take on challenges most would shy away from. Jason played a large role in helping me adjust to the role of a consultant. There were many things that made him successful at Pragmatic Works, however, I think his strong communication and organization are what made him stand out amongst his peers.

From a work ethic perspective, Jason is solid! I really can’t say more than that.

Without getting wordy and long winded, Jason is a loyal and good friend. Qualities that I look for in a person I would like to work with, follow, and go to bat for. PASS will always provide challenges to its board due in part to the size and the number of varying opinions. The qualities I see in Jason as a friend are the qualities I would want at the helm of PASS. Jason is also a stellar family man. He is a proud father, a great husband, and a friend to his kids. He is always there for them. Also a quality I like to see in a leader. He is also a very gracious person. He and I play video games into the wee hours of the morning. During these gaming sessions, he has allowed my son to play and join in the reindeer games. He is much younger than both of us; however, Jason allows him to be a kid during our gaming sessions. This quality of patience is also a quality I like to see in a leader.

I respect all 6 candidates (many friends) running for the PASS board of directors. To volunteer for this position takes a very dedicated person and each member running I believe is dedicated to us the members of PASS.  That being said …

VOTE JASON STRATE TO BE ON YOUR PASS BOARD OF DIRECTORS.

A little over 2 1/2 years ago I started a new career at New York Life. I fully expected to spend a lengthy employment and retire from New York Life. Up until 2 weeks ago I was having a successful career in which I was thriving and growing as an individual. I was presented multiple “Thanks To You” awards that recognize employee effort’s and was presented many opportunities to take place in key company initiatives.

During my 2 plus year stint at NYL I was able to help remediate security gaps, assist in virtualizing the DB environment, assist in identifying servers that should remain physical, install/configure/tune vendor installs and take place in many debugging sessions. While taking part in these projects/tasks I was able to make many new colleagues, co-workers and friends. These folks helped me grow technically, professionally and personally. I will miss working with the teams and challenges that were presented to me while at NYL.

So let me rewind the last 17 plus years of my career. During these 17 years I have worked for Nielsen Media Research, Publix Supermarkets and New York Life. All of these major corporations have assisted with my growth. If we look at the common dominator here I have always been comfortable working in stable large-scale environments.  Like a good pair of shoes an old t-shirt or a favorite comfort food, it is hard to step away from this type of stability.

It is 17 years later and I am always amazed at how far I have come. Around May 17th, I received a text asking me if I knew anyone who would be interested in a full- time job at a consulting firm. After many hours of discussion on the topic with Missy and my son Parker, we said let’s hear what they have to say and see if this move is for us. A good portion of this discussion took place at the Epcot Flower Festival which with its good food and beautiful flowers made the discussion less stressful.

At this point you are probably saying enough Dan get to the point. Drum roll please…   As of Wednesday 6/2/2015 I will no longer be working at New York Life. My family and I have decided to step outside of our comfort zone and accept a full-time position at Pragmatic Works. I guess one could say “out of the frying pan into the fire”.  I am excited at the prospects that this new position will provide me. I really enjoy being a DBA, but I have always had a secret love for other facets of the Microsoft Stack. I plan on branching out into Cloud Services, SSRS, SSAS and SharePoint advanced topics/functionality. Yes,  I said SharePoint!  None of this is guaranteed but I am going to build on my current skillset providing value to Pragmatic Works. I am a darn good admin but I am much more than that and need to tap into those skillsets more. At Pragmatic Works I will be challenged to do just that. I am excited to start working for a company that promotes and encourages self-growth and encourages motivated individuals to grow.  So as of 6/3/2015 I will be in Jacksonville walking thru the doors of Pragmatic Works and becoming a member of an already stellar team.

Within many enterprise environments we DBA’s support not only the I.T. but also our business areas. Many times we find ourselves isolated from the Business area either by separation of duties or by the nature of the business. Over the past week I have had the pleasure to work with one of our business areas due to an overflow error taking place within a client application.

It all started with an email from our internal Development team. They were assisting with the overflow error , but unable to identify the problem. Initial speculation was a database schema or security issue.
My initial thought was a data type mismatch between the application and database based on the error message presented to me. Lucky for me I was the Primary DBA supporting this database in our production environment so I knew we did not have any schema changes in the past year , however the application and support team was not willing to accept this. Since the Business user was able to get the application to work in staging I used Redgate Database Compare to validate the production schema against our staging schema. As I expected the Database schema and Stored Procedures matched 100 percent. Security matched 100 percent as well. I was still unable to convince the Development team that the issue was somewhere at the Client.

I needed to take another approach to stay sane. I stepped out of the norm and called our Business user directly. There was excitement in her voice that someone had reached out to her to discuss the issue. I explained to her that I was on a fact finding mission and asked for forgiveness up front since I was going to ask a bunch of questions.

Within 15 minutes I was able to determine the following:
1) The user had received a new laptop and the application was reinstalled
2) This issue had been happening for over 6 months
3) The Data was loading correctly, the Business user however had to click thru the error each time a row was loaded
4) The Business user was willing to execute the Application while I was executing profiler
5) Anything we could do would be appreciated

Working with the Business user I was able to grab the procedures and SQL being executed by the application. Once complete I explained to the Business user that I would need some time to examine the profiler trace. There were no reported errors and it appeared that all the selects and inserts were executing correctly. Looking thru the trace I was able to come up with the following facts:
1) The Table that was the center of the issue
2) The Data that was being selected/inserted into this table
3) That no user errors were being generated

At this point I have completely ruled out schema differences between staging and prod. My next step was to examine the data located within the table. Interrogating the data I found 2 columns in staging that contained data where production did not. The business user quickly brought me back to earth since She explained why we have this data in production and not staging. Our next step was to examine a column which contained data pointing to where a particular image resided. A conference call was started and working hand in hand we begin to evaluate the path to the image. One of the Business users was familiar with how to open up the code for the application in question. Walking thru it we quickly determined that one of the fields was set to an int and needed to be a long int. After a quick change to the application , Success.

This was a wonderful experience. I felt like a contributing member of the team. The Business team I was able to assist brings value to our company and I can say with certainty helps generated revenue which in turn pays my salary. I was able to come home this evening with a sense of pride since I accomplished the following:
1) work outside of the box without breaking protocol
2) gain some insight into a new Business area
3) effectively communicate my thoughts so that they could be understood by our non technical support teams.

Always keep an open mind when trying to resolve an issue. If I had followed strict protocol this issue may have dragged out longer, our Business user would maintain the thought that I.T. is a distant relative and I would have never worked with the good folks I did over the past few weeks.