TSQL Tuesday #150: My First “Why am I even here?” Job

Thank you Kenneth Fisher for hosting the May month of T-SQL Tuesday. Kenneth wanted us to write about our first technical job.

As I mentioned in my previous T-SQL Tuesday post here, I was a Pharmacy graduate who loved technology. As I decided to change my career into IT, I applied for masters degree in computer technology and finally made it to graduation.

After I completed my masters degree, I felt like I can easily do any job related to computers. I was wrong! I didn’t know at the time that “Degree’s doesn’t matter”.

I had my initial struggles to find a DBA job as everyone was looking for an experienced candidates who can fit their requirements. I took many interviews and failed. One final day, I got an offer for a DBA position in a company (I am not naming it here) after attending an interview for Junior DBA role. I was on the Cloud nine.

Everything is cool, right? No, not as I thought it would be.

On the first day into the company, they gave me an ID card with my happy face picture on it and under it, my job title as “.Net Developer”.

Wait, what?? A developer?

Well, I was in the same shock as you and don’t really know what to say. I tried contacting the management to know why I was placed in a complete different position when they interviewed me for a DBA position. I did not receive any useful information from them. Now, you know why I am not naming the company πŸ™‚

I was angry in the beginning but thought I can learn and survive. You may ask, how can you survive when you know nothing about that technology? Remember, it was my first tech job ever. I was scared and worried if I will get an another job soon if I resign. I tried understanding and learning the code but it was very hard to catch up. I know that job was not for me and always wanted to get a job as a SQL DBA.

I am not an accidental DBA but a planned one who ended up in an accidental developer position πŸ˜›

I was looking for a DBA job while I was still working in this developer position and fortunate enough, it did not took long enough to be placed as a Database administrator in another company.

Since then, I am a SQL DBA who love working with SQL Servers and Databases.

Being a Women in Tech, I faced my challenges in my career but I never thought of changing/moving my career from IT. That’s what I always loved and that was the main reason why I changed my career from being a Pharmacist to a SQL DBA.

From the core of my heart, I always believed “Everything happens for a reason”. This mindset has helped me pass through those initial challenges I have faced moving my career in to IT.

All the past experiences has taught me and helped me to be where I am today as a Women in Tech.

If I turn back and see, I know I made the right decision πŸ™‚

Image Sourcehttps://in.pinterest.com/pin/514817801127582057/

Thanks so much for reading!

T-SQL Tuesday #149: Best SQL advice I would give to my younger self!

Thank you camilahenrique for hosting April month of T-SQL Tuesday. You can find the invitation here.

I give a big thank you to my younger self for changing my career from a pharmacist to a SQL DBA. I always loved computers since my childhood. You may ask, why did you choose to do pharmacy then? It’s a long story! I was just an innocent kid fulfilling my father’s dreams. By the time I realize pharmacy is not for me, I graduated as a pharmacist. I came to the united states to finally pursue my dreams and change my career. I joined as a master’s student in computer technology at one of the great universities in the united states. That was a major life-changing moment for me since I do not have much computer knowledge before. One of my core subjects was SQL. That’s when I was introduced to SQL and SQL Server. I can tell you with my whole heart that at that moment I know the decision I made was right. Though it was very tough in the beginning to catch up with the speed of other students, I learned T-SQL basics and from there, my computer journey started. I was stressed out in many situations and started slow. I thought I would never be able to make it to graduation. No matter how much I learned, I made mistakes and was never perfect. I spent late hours learning basics so I would at least pass the exam. It was a roller coaster ride for my master’s degree but I finally made it to the graduation πŸ™‚

If I can give one piece of advice to my younger self, I would say learning is a continuous process and we all are perfectly imperfect. Failure happens only when you stop willing to learn. There will never be a perfect moment to start learning anything. No matter what you learned in the past or what degree you pursued in the past, that doesn’t have to define your future goals. Anyone can learn anything if we have a heart, and the will to work hard at it.

Learning the basics of T-SQL is really important before moving into complex T-SQL coding skills. I would like to share my favorite youtube channel that helped me when I started my T-SQL journey. If you are starting with T-SQL learning, follow this series from Kudvenkat.

I am looking forward to read all posts for this T-SQL Tuesday and learning from SQL Family!

Thanks for reading!

T-SQL Tuesday #147 – Upgrade Strategies

Thanks to Steve Jones for hosting February month of T-SQL Tuesday! This month T-SQL Tuesday is all about database upgrades.

When I started my first job as a DBA seven years ago, my project was to migrate several SQL Servers and all the servers were in SQL Server 2000. In my first SQL class at my school, I started my learning with SQL Server 2012. It was a shock to me to work on SQL 2000 databases at the time (as I am not familiar with the SQL Server 2000 yet), especially as it was my first job as a DBA.

My first project was to migrate approximately two hundred and fifty SQL 2000 SQL Servers to SQL Server 2012/2016. It took us a couple of years to successfully migrate all these Servers.

I would like to answer the below questions from Steve Jones for this T-SQL Tuesday:

Why do we wait to upgrade?

Fear! Fear of breaking things or impacting performance, I believe. Especially when you are making a big jump in the versions of SQL Server. The old legacy applications may or may not support the newer SQL Server environments. Rebuilding the application can take years, involve more developers and cost more. I believe, many companies are still using the older versions of SQL Server even after the end of support. Some companies are fine to be on legacy systems if their application works fine.

Strategies for testing an upgrade

When I migrated SQL Server 2000 databases, there was a lot of work that needs to be done before even planning for testing. There was deprecated T-SQL syntax like joins were no longer supported in SQL 2008 version of SQL Server. Legacy DTS packages need to be converted or rebuilt to be compatible with the latest version of SQL Server. By using the upgrade advisor and Migration assistant tool, it is easy to capture the incompatible objects. These objects need to be modified to make them compatible ahead of time. If these lists of objects are modified by developers in between, capturing those changes to the modified objects is important. Testing can be done using the backup and restore. You can skip SQL Server 2005 to upgrade the SQL database from SQL 2000 to SQL 2008. Running the compatible object script on SQL 2000 test database is recommended so the upgrade advisor can be run over the SQL 2000 database to confirm no more compatibility issues. Once the database is in SQL 2008 mode, there are very less T-SQL deprecated changes and so easy to upgrade.

Testing the SSIS packages after being migrated from legacy DTS packages is important. Once the database is upgraded on test environments, vigorous testing for any code breakages and application testing is important.

Smoke tests or other ways to verify the upgrade worked

I believe this depends upon the database and the type of applications. When you have databases having the same schema on several servers with similar environments, testing one database upgrade can confirm the other database upgrades to work. There are always caveats in these cases as well.

Moving to the cloud to avoid upgrades

Many companies are moving to cloud infrastructure as there is less maintenance when compared with on-prem environments and to lower their costs. I believe moving into the cloud is one of the options and the reason may not only be to avoid upgrades but to improve the performance and for lowering the costs.

Using compatibility levels to upgrade an instance by not a database

This can be an option to place the database in older compatibility mode even after upgrading the database to the latest versions of SQL Server like SQL Server 2019 but to use the features that are enabled for the latest compatibility databases cannot be used. Features like Query store can be used on older compatibility mode (up to SQL 2008) even after upgrading to newer versions of SQL Server. Though this is an option available, it is not suggested to place the database in older compatibility mode for a longer time.

Checklists of things to use in planning

  1. Using tools like Migration assistant will help identify the incomptibility objects list that needs to be modified to make the code compatible with lastest versions of SQL Server.
  2. Capacity planning
  3. Gathering the deprecated and unsupported feature list for the version of SQL Server you are moving to is important.
  4. Making sure the SSIS packages are tested properly.
  5. Gathering the logins and associated permissions (I used sp_hexadecimal and sp_help_revlogin)
  6. Making sure to take the backup of the database before migration and to place the copy of the database on source server for quick rollback if needed.
  7. Testing is needed if additional features like replication is being used. Making sure the publisher, subscriber have supportive versions of SQL Server to replicate the data.
  8. Making sure to script out the linked servers.
  9. Capturing performance baseline is an option to chose if you would like to use Query store. After upgrading the database to new version of SQL Server, place the database in the compatibility level similar to the compatibility level prior to the upgrade. This will help capture the regressions caused by any plans after the upgrade. We can easily compare the plan regressions and fix the performance issues quickly. To know more about capturing baselines using Query store, please see my blog post here.
  10. What method you plan to migrate a database is important. It depends on how much downtime is accepted for your database and application. Some of the methods to migrate databases are to backup and restore, detach and attach or using full, differential and transactional log backups for less downtime.

These are a couple of things to consider during planning. This list does not contain all the planning information but gives an overview.

The time it takes to upgrade your environment

I believe the time to upgrade the database depends on how large the database is and how many dependent features needs to be moved like for example, replication, whether the application needs to make any changes, what method is used to restore the database on destination (copy files to destination server can take time if the database is huge).

What do you evaluate in making a decision to upgrade or not?

I believe, checking what new features will be used by your database and application after the upgrade is important. Testing is a crucial part to evaluate the SQL engine, database features, and performance benefits after the upgrade. The latest cardinality estimates provide a better estimate which can help SQL engine to create an optimal plan. There are many other features that have been added to SQL Server over the years in improving the performance of the Queries and workloads.

These are some of my thoughts about the database upgrades. I would like to read and learn from the experiences of other SQL family members.

Thanks for reading!

T-SQL Tuesday #146 Preconceived Notions

Thanks to Andy Yun for hosting this month of T-SQL Tuesday. Andy’s challenge for this month of T-SQL Tuesday is to share our learnings that have changed our preconceived opinions.

There are many learnings throughout my career as a DBA but in this post, I would like to share something interesting I have learned in the recent months from Pam Lahoud about tempdb.

I always had an opinion of changing the schema of the temp tables or adding indexes later after the temp table creation doesn’t affect in any way but it’s actually not a good idea. Yes, you heard that right. Altering or adding indexes later after temp table creation within the stored procedures will be marked for deletion and so the cached temp table metadata cannot be reused. It is suggestable to create the index as you create the temp table using the inline index syntax.

Please read the full article here written by Pam Lahoud to know in detail how this best practice can help reduce the tempdb metadata contention. Pam also mentioned other best practices in a detailed in-depth presentation on tempdb internals at EightKB Conference. Here is the link to it.

Also, do not forget to read this wonderful article by Erik Darling on indexing temp tables. Erik explained in detail when can you actually be creating the indexes on temp tables by using the inline indexing syntax, when it can be useful, and cases where it is not an option.

I am looking forward to reading and learning from other SQL community members about what their preconceived notions are.

Thanks for reading!

T-SQL Tuesday #145: Pandemic, Presentations and Perspectives!

Thanks to Xavier Morera for hosting December month of T-SQL Tuesday!

Image

I never experienced how an in-person conference feels like. I started my speaking career during the pandemic through a virtual event New Stars of Data last year 2020.

I see different perspectives about virtual and in-person events. To be very sincere, I love virtual events for many reasons. Virtual events have given me and other new speakers a chance to speak at different conferences worldwide without having to travel.

As I never experienced an in-person event before, I am really looking forward to attending them in near future.

For this T-SQL Tuesday fun, Xavier asked a couple of questions to answer.

  1. Which is your favorite conference and why?
  2. Which is the best venue that you have visited for a tech conference?
  3. Who is the best presenter that you have ever listened to?
  4. Which location would you like for your next event to take place and why Costa Rica?

Which is your favorite conference and why?

My favorite conference will always be the one that has given me the stage and chance as a new speaker, that’s New Stars of Data.

I cannot stop with one conference πŸ™‚ My next Favourite conference is DataWeekender which is also an online data platform event. PASS Data Community Summit 2021 and Data Platform Virtual Summit 2021 is equally my favorite one along with New stars of data and Dataweekender. To list all of my favourite conferences, the list is definitely going to be big. All the above conferences encourage diversity and give a chance for the new speakers to share the same stage as the experienced speakers. New stars of data organized by the DataGrillen team is especially dedicated to new speakers. Their support for new speakers is just incredible. DataGrillen team also organized Dativerse specially dedicated to the speakers coming from underrepresented communities. They also started Dataminutes which is a ten-minute lightning talk conference and now the New Star of Data- Speaker improvement library. DataGrillen team continuously comes up with new ideas to help support the community in every way possible.

DataWeekender team has a style that I love. I just love the way they organize, advertise the event in the most entertaining way possible with an amazing logo. They encourage new speakers from diverse backgrounds and support them.

I am thankful to PASS Summit 2021 and DPS 2021 for encouraging new speakers coming from diverse backgrounds to submit to their conferences and giving them incredible support and a chance to share the stage with very well-known speakers out there. For many new speakers, it is a dream to speak at big events. As these conferences were virtual, many professionals used this wonderful opportunity to challenge themselves and took their first step in their speaking journey. If you can count the number of new upcoming speakers from the SQL Community for the past two years, you will be truly amazed. I believe we need to keep online conferences alive even when we choose to have other in-person conferences. This will help people who cannot afford to travel to other places or countries due to various reasons like family situations/young kids/visa waiting process etc but still interested in presenting and learning from other speakers.

Which is the best venue that you have visited for a tech conference?

I never attended an in-person event before πŸ˜›

Who is the best presenter that you have ever listened to?

That’s a really tough question. Every speaker is special in their own way. I have one speaker who actually inspired me to start thinking about speaking. BrentOzar valuable suggestions from one of his podcast interviews helped me think about becoming a speaker. I cannot thank Brent enough for his continuous support of the community. Kudos to you Brent.

Which location would you like for your next event to take place and why Costa Rica?

If my first in-person event will be in Costa Rica, how amazing that would be? I mean, look at the below picture from TortugueroΒ (β€˜Land of Turtles’). Who would not love to spend their time watching sunrise and sunset here?

The picturesque beaches of Tortuguero, Costa Rica during sunset
Source: https://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/my-favorite-destinations-in-costa-rica/

Thanks again Xavier for hosting this month of T-SQL Tuesday!

T-SQL TUESDAY #143: Short code examples

Thank you John McCormack for hosting this month of T-SQL Tuesday.

For the past couple of years as a DBA, I migrated several databases and used many handy scripts that helped me made my work easier. These scripts may be simple but if you have a migration project involving several SQL Servers with some hundreds of databases, test and production database migrations becomes tedious. I would like to share some of then here which you might already known them very well.

  1. I used this script answered by AlexK (look for the script with most accepted answer) to kill all connections to a database. I used this script in Development/Test/QA/Production during database migrations. A very handy script. I used this script while migrating 200 servers from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2016.
  2. Other Script that I have used for migrations are sp_help_revlogin to transfer the logins during migrations.
  3. When using transactional replication between the servers, I used to see several distribution job failures when a new snapshot generated or during the subscriber reinitialization. The snapshot generating the .sch files for replication with ANSI_PADDING turned OFF instead of ON. I found a very handy PowerShell script answered by Asaf Mohammad in Microsoft forum which will search the .sch file having SET ANSI_PADDING OFF in all the folders and subfolders of the snapshot and replace them with SET ANSI_PADDING ON. Thanks to Asaf for saving many hours. As per the recommendation from this forum, I used this script as a second step in my snapshot agent job so this setting is fixed within the snapshot agent job. After using this PowerShell script, my distribution job worked fine.

None of the scripts I mentioned above were written by me. It is the hard work of other professionals who created these scripts and freely shared the scripts to the world helping other professionals. Kudos to all of them. There are several other scripts that I use on regular basis but I wanted to keep this post short and only mention the ones which I used frequently since past couple of years.

I am looking forward to see what other SQL family members post about their favorite handy scripts!

T-SQL Tuesday #141 Work/Life Balance

I always thought I never had a work-life balance. I am a mother of two little kids. When someone asks me how I manage kids and work at the same time (especially during the pandemic), I mostly respond that it has been a hell of a lot of work when kids are at home and it’s been difficult to handle kids and work at the same time but I love to see my children in front of my eyes.

Whenever I hear about Work/Life balance, I get stressed out and get worried thinking I might doing something entirely wrong. I feel this way because I know I do not have a balance that I would like to have. I always dreamed of having that perfect family time every day but something comes up and that story goes on. As each day passed by, my guilt of not spending as much time with my family has built up doing nothing.

So I thought, what am I doing wrong here or why am I feeling guilty or being so stressed about it? Then I thought, let me think about it for a second. I am doing my job, taking care of my kids, doing household chores, and spending the rest of my time with my kids and family. All the things I do are important for me and my family. I am not wasting any time here. What if I can make little changes and mindfully think of where I am losing much time, I may make things better.

I spend many months thinking of that perfect time to spend with family or to have some self-time focusing on mind and body. I understood later that there will never be a perfect time. Stressing out or feeling guilty doesn’t help. We may have a busy work schedule. That is completely fine. It is really important of how happy we are once we are done with our work. It may be a couple of hours a day or even an hour a day. We always want to spend more time with our family because that’s our life.

I thought, instead of worrying about If I am being right in spending enough time with family, I tried making little changes in my schedule every day which slowly added up some free time. For example, starting my work early in the morning so I can log off a little bit early and can complete my chores a bit early so I can spend more time reading books with my kids and doing some artwork with them. I feel better as I make some changes to my schedule. I still have a lot of things to adjust and make changes to. It is a continuous process.

Everyone’s life is different. Everyone have their priorities. Nothing is right or wrong. Some people love working for more hours. That doesn’t mean they do not care their personal life. They just love their work. It’s all about what makes you happy. Some people love gardening. They find peace in it. I love having a cup of coffee and having some self-time πŸ™‚

It is about finding happiness in the little things we do every day!

Little changes in our schedules can add a lot of time. Observe where you are spending your time and make changes accordingly.

Thanks, Tjay Belt for hosting this month of T-SQL Tuesday!

T-SQL Tuesday #139: Hybrid World!

With the invitation from Ben Weissman for the June month of T-SQL Tuesday, here are some of my thoughts about Hybrid world. Thanks Ben for hosting this month of T-SQL Tuesday!

With the increasing amount of data in our databases, handling the resources might get tough. Many shops currently have their databases spread across different environments like on-premises and on the cloud. While they plan to completely move their data into the cloud, process might be not easy if they are dealing with lot of data across different datacenters. That’s when the Azure Arc data services can really help manage all of these in a single secure location. We can manage SQL managed instances, Postgres SQL instances or in any other public cloud in one single panel. We can run this on our infrastructure or in any other public cloud.

Azure Arc data services in SQL

For the companies who are on-premises, Azure Arc provides the latest technologies like the evergreen SQL which means there will be no end of support for their old versions of databases. This technology provides continuous automatic updates and the features supporting databases. This will help in the capacity optimization and scale-out smoothly for the data workloads on-premises databases with no application downtime.

I did not yet had a chance to work with the companies using the hybrid environments. That doesn’t have to limit me from learning these amazing technologies Microsoft has to offer. I already started my learning journey with Azure Arc data services. It is a bit overwhelming to understand everything at once as there is so much to learn about this new technology. It is never too late to begin the learning. As many companies started moving to cloud, its never too late to improve the skills. With this T-SQL Tuesday invitation from Ben, I started learning about the Azure Arc data services. Here are the list of resources I am following and plan to follow to get started with Azure Arc data services, Kubernetes and Big data clusters:

  1. Big Data Clusters for the Absolute Beginner: Thank you Mohammad Darab for this amazing introduction session to Big Data Clusters. Am sure you are going to give a big kudos to Darab after watching this session. It’s that Amazing! Also, don’t forget to look at the playlist from Darab youtube channel focusing on Big Data clusters.
  2. Azure Arc-enabled Data Services: The Big Picture: This is an excellent 52 minute course by Ben Weissman which I definitely recommend to watch if you wanted to get the overview and start the journey with Azure Arc enabled data services learning. I watched this course yesterday and I love it.
  3. Microsoft Learn: Microsoft offers free training. Customize the path you wanted to learn and start the learning journey. Also, you can get free Azure account for free worth of $200 credit for a month to get hands on experience.
  4. Azure Arc-Enabled Data Services Revealed: Here is the link to the book written by Ben Weissman and Anthony E. Nocentino who are specialized in this area. Understand the core concepts of Kubernetes, fundamentals and architecture of Azure Arc-enabled data services and get in-depth knowledge on these concepts.
  5. Microsoft Azure: Youtube channel for free Microsoft Azure trainings

I hope these above resources will be helpful to you in starting your Hybrid learning journey πŸ™‚

I would like to learn from other SQL professionals about their journey in the Hybrid world!

Thanks for reading!

T-SQL Tuesday: How Do You Respond When Technology Changes Under You?

With the invitation from AndyLeonard for the May month of T-SQL Tuesday, here are my thoughts on how to respond to technology changes.

As there is a saying, “When there is no Change, there is no Growth”

This is true in every aspect of life including technology. As the Technology changes, it is helping our lives to be more simpler and easier than before. With the continuous advancements in the technology, many professionals find themselves rushing in learning the new technologies. These advancements in the technologies adding up new features to previously existed technologies improve in performance and solve problems making our lives easier. The only question is how quickly can we cope with this change?

The only answer I believe is to train the employees with the new changes in the technologies. It is really important for the companies to not only bring the latest technologies to the companies for the use but also to mainly focus on the employee trainings to use the latest technologies efficiently.

Apart from the trainings, there are many employees who love and always look for the ways to learn new technologies. For every new technologies we have now, a free training platform may already be available to train the individuals so they have ease in using those technologies in their work. For example, Microsoft Azure. We do have a free training from Microsoft known as Microsoft learn. Microsoft also offers a free azure account so professionals can go ahead and get that hands on experience as they learn. This platform has helped many professionals across the world including me and helping in advancing our careers. Huge thanks to Microsoft for taking this initiative.

To keep ourselves updated with the latest evolving technologies, I follow several resources out there along with the technical documentation itself. There are several blogs related to specific technologies, communities helping each other to learn these new technologies and several technical newsletters and publications to keep us updated. I follow social media articles and posts from linkedin and twitter to be updated as much as possible with upcoming technologies.

Along with these, there are several youtube channels providing the concepts of the new technologies as they evolve. There are other training companies who can actually provide trainings especially from beginner to advance level along with hands on labs.

Keeping us up to date to know what is going on is not a tough job but investing time and interest in learning these technologies to effectively use in our daily work life is really important.

At the beginning, everything seems to be so confusing. If we see the number of technologies evolving at the same time, it is overwhelming for sure but if we can take one technology at a time and if we can focus on how the new technologies can actually simplify our daily work, we will be embracing the new technologies for the latest innovations they can offer.

Finally, it is very important to be ready for more and more advancements and to anticipate the changes. As the technology evolves, it becomes much easier to use. Keeping ourselves updated is the only way to keep growing!

Change is Good πŸ™‚