There are 3 types of DBA’s – do you know them?

One of the first questions I have during an interview is : “What is a database administrator in your organisation?” This is often met with surprise because after all, “a DBA is a DBA. You know, the one who knows about the database software.”

There are however several types of DBA roles.  I’ll discuss in this video the different DBA types and their corresponding habitat.

  Click for video

REVIEW: SQLSaturday came to Prague

For the first time was the SQLSaturday event organised in Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The organisation was without beginners mistakes and there were some interesting speakers. A last minute entry was Ola Hallengren, the creator of the famous maintenance scripts that I’ve seen running in many shops. His presentation was titled  ‘Building a Performance Monitoring System Using XEvents’. I was surprised to see this presentation, because this was the exact thing I have been working on for half a year, and I hardly found anything on the web on this. Olla’s has some good material for custombuild monitoring extentions. I’ll blog about it in the extended events series, and if you’re interested, Ola’s contribution can be downloaded from the SQLSaturday page here.




Food, raffles and afterparty in downtown Prague. A well organised SQLSaturday.

Review: SQL Server Execution Plans


Book: SQL Server Execution Plans

author: Grant Fritchey aka the ScaryDBA (

level: 300

Verdict:A good and very solid introduction to execution plans.

listprice:  $25


Grant Fritchey’s SQLserver Execution Plans is an introductory overview of execution plans in less than 250 pages. The target audience are developers and DBA’s who would like to understand about how their SQL code affects the execution plans and therefor performance. The book starts with explaining on how to acquire estimated and actual executionplans ( the GUI, text and XML variant), what the symbols in the graphical plan mean, to the more advanced topics, such as plancontrol via hints and planguides. The subjects are well taught, providing clear screenshots and the book doesn’t get fluffy of chatty.

This book won’t teach you SQLtuning skills, but a good understanding of executionplans is a first step toward this goal.


Clean layouts, good structure of the text, good teaching material.

Why I went to India for a certification training.

(On our day off, we went to Hatu Peak to throw snowballs and enjoy the view)


Image this: you’re going for 5 weeks to the Himalayas to have a computertraining. Six days a week with a private, vendor approved teacher the whole day learning about your favorite subject. Far away from home, just study-study-study, eat, sleep and repeat.


Sounds nerdfest? I’ve done it twice. Surely it’s fun to concentrate on your study, untouched by everyday’s worry back home. No distractions, no duties. Just you, the teacher and lot’s of keyboardtime together.



There are several reasons why I choose this way of training. First of all, it’s much cheaper: for example, a MSSQL administration workshop 70-764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure combined with 70-765: Provisioning SQL Databases will cost you 5600 euro’s. In India, it’s less than half: 2400 – and that’s including the hotel, airport transfer, dinners and exams. It’s without airfare though, so the longer you stay the more you save.

The quality of trainings is as good as the teachers, but my experience has been very well so far. Not all the stories I hear are so positive – sometimes the chemistry isn’t there and you’re into a rolling eyes experience. But again, most of the people I have met are very experienced teachers – and I didn’t have any problems with their pronunciation of the English language.

To me, it because a format: go abroad where the prices are low and the quality good. Add to  that the small vacation feeling and I have found my trainingformat.

Coming back was harder.


Check out this video for an impression.



Review: SQL Server 2000 Performance Tuning



The `SQL Server 2000 Performance Tuning’ provides the reader with an extensive overview of the functionality that MSS2000 has for performance tuning. This book has been written by the manufacturer of MS2000, and has therefore some specific properties a reader has to taken into account. One of them is that every single tuning-feature is mentioned, although their relative impact (hence importance) on performance is not discussed. Another one is the white-book nature of the information presented; very general advice for the entrylevel DBA. For example: in the chapter `Hi-performance Backup and recovery’ (it has only 18 pages) is says: “plan full backups for off hours”, ” use differential backups”, “use multiple data files” etc.

This book has the title `Technical Reference’ and should be regarded as such. The DBA, working in a company which doesn’t consider performance-tuning important enough to dedicate a policy to, who is confronted with a sudden structural diminishing of performance and is to find out where this bottleneck stems from will not benefit from this book. For example, the book dedicates a mere two pages on “interpreting Graphical Execution Plans” and gives only 1 example. For a useful checklist on where to look first when confronted with the so-called `query from hell’ one should read other books. But for the novice in tuning, the one who is unfamiliar to concepts like locks, RAID, system monitor, I/O,page vs rowlevel, differential backups, how to log in on queryanalyzer, index tuning wizard, etc this book can serve as an introduction. But once past this introduction, this book has served it’s purpose.


Review: Unix Shells by Example


The ‘Unix Shells By Example’ is a well-known book in the field of shellscripting. It has about 640 pages with a CD-ROM included. The book is well edited, with good white-spacing and clarity in layout. Having taught the unix shells for over 15 years, the author really knows her stuff, and the text is factual and to the point.The index seems complete and one doesn’t have a difficulty in finding the right info one is looking for. These properties should be normal for books, but computer books seem often an exception.

The chapters deal about the central unix-commands for scripting (Grep, AWK,SED) and the big three shells (korn, bourne and C-shell). The author explains the subject in great detail by showing examplescripts. First you’re given the data or text to be edited, then the script or commandlines and finally a lenghty line-by-line explanation of the scriptsyntax. The subjects of the scripts range from explaining the basic unix-commands to complex intertwining regular expressions, functions, obscure nawk options etc. The author also touches the subject of shell-history, making comparisons of the three shells, giving ‘lab-exercises’ and some unix background about commandtypes,login and inheritance. The apparent subject that is missing in this book is the Bash shell, the preferred shell in the Linux community. However, a seperate book on this subject is available (Linux Shells By Example). As with all books that have an extensive coverage of the subject, this book too can be overwhelming for the absolute beginners in shellscripting. It takes some time before one writes sytax like:
nawk -F: ‘BEGIN{printf(“What vendor to check?”);\
getline ven <“/dev/tty”};$1 ~ ven\
{print”Found” ven “on record no” NR}’ vendor

Instead of searching the pages for the basics, beginners should consider buying an entrylevel book. Conclusion: For the intermediate scripter who visits shellsites like shelldorado and lurks newsgroups in search of advanced programming constructs to steal this book is a great find. You won’t be left with a feeling that you’ll outgrow this book. For newcomers in scripting this should however not be the first book to buy, they’re better of with titles like “learning shellscripting in 24 hours”. But once through these 24 hours, this book can only be warmly recommended.

Review: UNIX PowerTools


The Unix Power Tools has already established a reputation of being a classic. The behemoth has no less that 1073 pages and goes accompanied by a CD with a lot of small shellscripts that are described in the book. The authors show a thorough understanding of the subject and are able to explain the ways of Unix in a casual talkative way. Much work is devoted to the layout and the text edition. For example, the crossreferences are well done, greyed out in readable italics. The publisher seems to understand the importance of easy readable text. Many of us know how a good book can be spoiled by hasty and bad editing, and it’s a relief to see that O’Reilly takes this issue seriously. The text is divided into paragraphs of about 1/4 to 1 page in size. These paragraphs deal with the Unix commands, the shells, the history of unix or the included nifty shellscripts. One might think that the authors view Unix as a collection of structured trivia – a view I personally like. You won’t read this book `cover to cover’ (to use that awful cliche), but you’ll start joyreading for that bit of advice or for that handy tool they’ve written. (For example: the thing that got me up the wall was that filenames can have empty spaces at the end, so it seems you cannot delete them. I should have known that one way earlier :^( ) Sometimes the authors write down some very casual paragraphs: a flame from usenet (Why NOT to use the C-shell for programming), the history of a command ( grep is: g from global, RE is regular expression, and the P stands for print, hence g/RE/P) or other fun to read items. It will not be the book you’ll grab for serious studying or when the system goes down unexpectedly. The problems with big books are usually twofold and this one suffers rather badly from it. First of all it is written for the novice and expert alike – a concept that comes from a marketing and not from educational point of view. The authors repeat the man pages – did you know you can find files by name with the `find’ command? And they go on for every Find option. The novice who didn’t know about the find command will not try anything as fancy like to build a database with the filestructure in it in order to speed up his find command. Equally, experts won’t like the basics explained. The second problem with big books is that lots of the presented material is not relevant to your need or situation. You haven’t got the C-shell? Throw away a couple of pages. Don’t like the chapter ` vi tips & tricks’ , `Saving time at the commandline’ or `creating custom commands in vi’, then you can skip another 100 pages. Conclusion. Although lot’s of information isn’t relevant to your need, unix-implementation, shell or skill-level, this book is easy to read thanks to the good layout and small paragraphs. The authors truly have years of experience and have made many handy shellscripts. For those of you who want to like to master the commandline of Unix and like to skim for the golden hint, this book is a true find. But if you know what you want to learn then dedicated books present a better alternative to this somewhat unfocussed book.

Review: Solaris 2.6 Administrator Certification Training Guide, Part 1


This should be regarded as a single-purpose-book; make you a certified solaris admin. It’s not a good reference-book, not a book ‘great for beginners, usefull for guru’s alike’ nor a ‘explains all theorie, but has great practical value’ and other contradiction idea’s. No, it’s a certification book, training you to do the exam. I like the cd-rom very much, many questions (some are wrong answered ,though) and nice ‘flashcard questions’. Can one certify by reading a book alone? No, with this subject some experience is vital – but even a x86 with a free solaris 7 will do the job. This book will show you the way, but you have to work though the matter yourself, behind the keyboard. If that would not be the case, then the certification wouldn’t be valuable. This book is a good help, although we can’t compare many books on this subject, can we?