Why the Polyglot DBA?

I have been a database administrator now for over 15 years, almost from the start I have been working on multiple database technologies.  My original focus was on Oracle, and SQL Server soon after.  A few years ago I decided to go for a change and focus on MySQL, and in my current position I’m managing MySQL, SQL Server & ramping up with MongoDB.  I chose polyglot DBA as polyglot is defined as knowing or using several languages, each of these databases has it’s own unique features that need to be understood.

As I continue to work with & learn new features of these technologies, I wanted a place to track my thoughts & notes.  There are a lot of great blogs that I follow, but sometimes I find that I need more information – are there prerequisites that are missing?  Do I need more detail on why something is done a certain way?  I document a lot, when working with large teams and being a technical lead I had to get standard procedures set.

My background:

I originally started with Microsoft Access as part of my IT strategic planning co-op position, which might be looked at as a bit of an odd place, but I loved the ability to design my own application, and track the information that I had collected.   My subsequent co-op positions were with the database administration group, and I’ve remained with the role ever since.

As an enterprise DBA, I started with Oracle, working with some of the old 7.2.x databases right around the time Oracle 8.0 was released.  After graduation from college, I became a full time member of the team, and my manager quickly handed off the SQL Server 6.5 instances that no one else really wanted to manage.  In this position I also spent some time working with SAP & some related tools, and some project management work towards my SAP deployment.  Being relatively fresh out of school at the time, I earned my Oracle 8i & 9i certifications as well as my Project Management Professional certification.  Over the years at the next company, I started to work more with local high availability technologies – in SQL 2008 R2 it was clustering, in Oracle 10g & 11i it was Oracle RAC, and spent some time working on the business intelligence tools side.

My next move was a big jump – leaving behind what I saw as more established technologies at time (Oracle & SQL Server), and moving to MySQL 5.5, plus moving from a traditional IT type role into a DevOps sort of function, while still being a production DBA.  It was a gamble on the part of both myself and the company, but I think in the end it worked out.  I had an opportunity to start from scratch and learn a new technology, and how to incorporate it into a growing companies needs – This wasn’t just setting up a cluster in a local data center, we had to be be able to failover to another datacenter across the country.  In the end we went with Continuent’s Tungsten Enterprise, but I’m still amazed at the expansion in HA/DR options available to MySQL now.

This past fall I started again, the big change was going from working with a team of DBAs to being on my own, as part of the systems team.  I originally came over as a MySQL DBA, but a recent company decision made SQL Server the primary focus.  Since they I’ve been working on SQL Server 2008 R2 peer to peer replication (while it is working well, it does have some big downsides for our deployment), and in the process of evaluating SQL Server Always On Availability Groups (focused on 2012, but based on some networking concerns, maybe 2014).  We also have a few MongoDB implementations which I’m trying to learn, a bit of a departure from my relational DBA role.

So that’s my background, I’ve done some jumping around, but I love having the opportunity to learn new technologies, and new features within my current technologies.  Knowing multiple technologies has been beneficial in getting a good understanding in what may fit a certain requirement.  My goal in every environment I’ve worked with is to focus on stability & consistency, and with the advances in technologies and automation tools, I’ve been able to do a lot in those areas.

I’m also trying to focus on getting technical certifications, if I’m learning a new technology/version, I find this helps me to cover areas I may have missed in the past.  As of June 2014, I’m working my way through SQL Server 2012 Exam 70-462 – Administering SQL Server 2012 Databases, and just completed the (free) Mongo DBA102 course offered through MongoDB University.

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