SQL Microsoft Certified Master, what’s that? To me it means a milestone of my SQL Server journey.
I began to work with SQL server since SQL 2000 as dev in an internal .Net based project. It was mid of year 2005 but we still used SQL 2000 in our project. We were the only small team which adopted Microsoft based technology in our company, rest of the people used Java + Oracle. My tech lead Ric Zhou asked me to design the database schema and write stored proc. I still remember the 1st task of my SQL journey is to write a stored proc template to handle error handling and nested transaction. Do you remember the
in the old day and that nested transaction rollback behavior (don’t begin a nested tran, use save point!) During this project, Ric joined Microsoft as Sr. Premier Field Engineer. After this project, I coded Java + Oracle PL/SQL and many Oracle report (version 6.0, buggy but good to grow your patience), and the same time I acted as DBA to maintain the previous .Net project.
Mid 2007, I joined Microsoft as vendor Premier Field Engineer as well. Ric acted as my mentor and gave me a 20+ learning items list in day one. I was under pressure as I stepped out my safe zone, but after 3 months hard working I used to it. Sep 2007, I joined another project which in the middle of Death March, it’s over budget at the end. We used SQL 2005. My role first was dev to re-write schema and stored proc of one critical module, the requirement is high performance. After weeks, I became module owner to lead 3 dev to rewrite .Net code. Later I was also owner to transfer data from previous system to the new platform. Before RTM, I also acted as DBA to maintain Dev/UAT/PROD environment and owner of DB version control + release. I continuously worked more than 5 months with no break with team of dedicated and passional people. And finally we delivered the 1st version in time. I learned precious thing from this project, you could always learn more from failure than success. Specific to SQL, I used denormalization method to make query run faster like, there was no HierarchyID in SQL 2005 but I implemented one, paging function, new error handling, template to generate TSQL from schema to meet quick change, data ELT and many other DBA skill like how to configure cluster.
After this project, I became full time employee to support SQL for Premier customer in South China and HK. Any reader who is IT Dept lead, you should buy one Microsoft Premier Support contract, it is worth that price. Any reader who loves technology and enjoys challenges, you should join Premier Field Engineering. It’s place to learn and use your knowledge from real customer case every day. BTW, forget about work/life balance if you are geek you will love those challenges like me. We cover both proactive and reactive request, from storage capacity plan to replace broken SAN, from health check to performance tuning, from HA/DR solution design to fix corrupted database, from teaching workshop to schema design review. Every time I hit a new problem, I learn more about SQL after fixing it.
Microsoft also encourage people to share what they learn and learn from others. My SQL teammate Ernest Ho teaches me A LOT during these years. This crazy hardworking SQL guru is 1st SQL MCM in our region, and this inspires me to consider to try SQL MCM program. But MCM program was costly at that moment, 3 weeks training in Redmond! Year ago, SQL MCM is changed a bit. You could go to the exam without attending the training. I still recommend you should join training from SQLSkill.com hosted by Paul Randal if you have time and budget.
I visited Seattle in Feb 2012 to join an internal meeting, free MCM knowledge exam was offered there. (One more reason to join us, isn’t it?) In the last day of the meeting, I told myself why not to take a trial if I was confident with my SQL skill. Then I booked the exam and rushed into it without preparation. It’s TOUGH 4 hours and I was 100% exhausted after that. Weeks later I found out I passed it when I checking something else in MCP website. WOW! I booked remote lab exam quickly in March before Robert Davis’ last working day, Robert was PM of SQL MCM project at that moment. It’s other TOUGH 5.5 hours! The feeling was like I hoped time would never end then I could have time to solve all the problems but I hoped time elapsed quickly to escape from the mire. No surprise that I failed the lab exam. I realized that what SQL MCM test was different from what I assumed, and there were many thing I should know about SQL. So before my 2nd trial in Oct 2012, I watched all the free video in SQL MCM website and setup my own lab. I learned a lot from this which no one could take away even I’m not MCM. With help from boB Taylor, current PM of SQL MCM, I took the 2nd trial and passed it this time. Now I’m one of SQL 2008 Microsoft Certified Master.