Archive for April, 2011

New Job, New Manager? Make your choice … April 26th, 2011

Vinod Kumar

JobSearchOne of the key metrics in any HR scorecard will be the aspect of Attrition. And I have done many scorecards for the companies I used to work and they used to have Desired Attrition VS Undesired Attrition in the management scorecard. But this is a single dimension of how the employer tracks their employee from an attrition point of view.

Anyway, this post is not about the employer point of view – but our point of view as Employees. I have read multiple reports stating one of the major criteria for employees quitting is their boss or yet another report. Now you might say, what can we do – I don’t have control on this. Well, let me give you my perspective.

You not only choose a job, you choose your manager too.

Let me elaborate on this a bit more. For all practical purposes, your manager will be the individual who controls what you work on and what work environment you will get end of the day – so all the more requirement for you to get a right manager Smile.

Now in any interview you will always find a sweet spot of 10-15 mins when you get to the end of the interview – you will be asked if you have any questions. This is your time to evaluate the other side as much as they have done their part in evaluating you. Now having a good number of interesting open ended question is important – even more important is listening to what comes from the other side.

Ask of the project : This is a typical way to analyze how your potential boss handles the team projects. Ask of typical team meetings – that gives you an idea to how he/she handles the problems of team and projects by providing solutions. This will also give you a gauge of what culture you will be getting into.

Ask about customer : This is yet another way to gauge who will be your potential customers and most importantly your potential managers perspective and belief on customers. The last thing you don’t want to get into is – bad politics. I stress on this because, if your manager hates the customers and if you are loved by your customers – your manager is not gonna like it either. More worst, if you treat your customers like how your manager treats, then you are going to surely have a dissatisfied customer. Both are bad.

Little questionEye for what is said between the lines : I know as an interviewee you are stressed out just being in the room with all eye’s focusing on you – but look for patterns and signals that are not being said too. Look at how the interviewer (particularly the manager) to some of the key words. The number of times they say “I” instead of using “We” to refer the team – this shows how much the manager is self-oriented VS Team oriented.

As called out before, listen carefully for the complete length of the the interview. Look at how the manager is quizzing you. Are they listening to your answer or just jumping on everything you say in confrontational mode? This behavior, if very strong and dominating, you are likely to have the same behavior from them once you join their team too. On the contrary, if the manager listens to you calmly, prompts / helps you when you are guessing or searching for answers, offers / asks you for a coffee or water, shows his / team’s work cubicle on the way to reception – All are great indicators you have someone who will guide you when you land in that job. So keep a close eye to these patterns.

In conclusion, if you have accepted an offer for a job. Next time, think if you have also accepted (in your mind) to work with your manager. Now choice of a manager is also a choice !!!

Do pass me your comments. Have you ever thought on these lines in the interviews you were part of in the past? This post was inspired by a student who wrote to me about how to face interviews, but I thought rather than rehashing thousands of common interview facing ideas I wanted to talk about the lesser talked about topic. Hope you had fun reading this far.

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Files and FileGroups with SQL Server April 12th, 2011

Vinod Kumar

At MTC, in multiple customer engagements I have seen questions from DBAs getting confused with the Physical and logical structure of SQL Server databases. Rather than repeating what the BOL documents: “Files and Filegroups Architecture with SQL Server”, I thought will call out some of the lesser known facts of using files and filegroups with SQL Server in this post. I know some of these can be basic but still relevant for a good read for those who have not thought of it.

Generic file Usage:

  1. Files cannot be shared between databases.
    This is totally different from how you might share files in a clustering environment via SAN help. But inside a single database instance, the data files cannot be shared.
    The other lesser known feature is Shared Scalable Database (SSD) – is also a cool technology. More on the LINK: “setup is well documented” at the support site.
  2. Files can be created only on local drives, unless a special trace flag is used. For more information about the supported uses of this trace flag, see the Knowledge Base article, LINK: "Description of support for network database files in SQL Server".
  3. The drive should not be a compressed drive.
  4. The file system on the disk drive can be NTFS or FAT. But highly recommend using NTFS as there are features built specifically maximizing being on NTFS. Like SQL Server – LINK: Instant file initialization.
  5. Log files cannot be assigned to filegroups.

Best Practices: The data files and log files should be on separate drives so that a crash on one drive does not cause the loss of both data and log files.

Quick Quiz: Do you need the primary data file available to backup your transaction log after a crash? 

Do write your answer on your blog (link this post) or via twitter send me a note (@vinodk_sql) with proper documented links to support your answer.

Filegroups and beyond:

In a nutshell, filegroups are a named collection of one or more physical files that form a logical unit, filegroups allow files to be grouped together for administrative and data allocation/placement purposes.

  1. When a database is created, the primary filegroup is created to hold the primary data file (.mdf).
  2. Primary filegroup serves as the default filegroup for objects added to the database without having an alternate filegroup specified for them.
    Note: Assigning objects on a specific filegroup is simple – just use the ON <<filegroup>> option with the Tables, indexes etc objects creation / alteration command.
  3. All system tables are allocated in the primary filegroup.
  4. Filegroups per database is 32767. LINK: Source.
    Anything apart from the Primary FG are the User-defined filegroups – these are any filegroups that are specifically created by the user when first creating or later altering the database.
  5. A file can belong to one and only one filegroup.
  6. In general, a filegroup can contain many objects, objects reside on one and only filegroup. Except for the case of Partitioning with SQL Server. Link: Partitioning tables with SQL Server.

There are lots more interesting information DMVs can expose from SQL Server. I will reserve the same for a different day. Hope you have a great day and pass your comments.

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What does it take to be Successful? April 11th, 2011

Vinod Kumar

“In my opinion” the simple mantra for success over the years has been – PASSION. I don’t want to justify as it has worked for many people I know. For me, it has been the Passion for SQL Server – little more than a decade and my passion never dies for this amazing product !!!

You might read multiple management books, watch hundreds of movies, read blogs and state this is one of the dimensions – Yet this is the most important one.

Unlike the Dilbert cartoon, you are unique in your own way and need to be self-motivated rather than just always aiming on a moving target set by others. Comparing with others is fine when you are starting your career because you atleast have a baseline to start. But after that initial inertia broken and momentum once built – it is you whom you need to challenge day-in-day-out. Your passion breeds positive attitude that will automatically lead you in the success path.

There is no shortcuts or hacks to success. Look at the best around, from Sachin Tendulkar to MS Dhoni – the passion for the game and the hardwork behind the game make them what they are. If you are looking for shortcuts, then it is just your laziness that is taking over you.

With TechEd India 2011 fever subsided, I am relatively relaxed and expect me to start blogging again. Anyways, if you are not on my twitter (@vinodk_sql) – feel free to add me. I am much active out there Smile.

I am passionate over such topics too, so if you do like them – drop a line and based on the feedbacks I will see to add more thoughts. I know these are not carvings cut on stone – just yet another opinion.

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