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The Platform as Code

June 6, 2012
data center

Trying to manage all your servers individually is like tracing cables in this kind of setup.

SQL Server has grown more and more complicated over the two decades that I have worked with the product. At the same time anyone can install it and set up a database with almost no training. There are more and more features and functions to learn, yet it’s become a much easier product to use. It seems as though one person may view the platform as very difficult to use while the next sees is as requiring almost no management. Both of these views can be true, but as we say often about SQL Server: it depends.

When I started working with SQL Server, it was a cumbersome platform, the network configuration could be tricky and it wasn’t easy for developers to master the named pipe connections that were required. Since then it has become a very easy to set up and use platform, with many system administrators managing servers that almost manage themselves. “Almost” being the key word there.

Just as with other Microsoft platforms, the days of having a set of procedures that handle your daily tasks and lead you through the solution are gone. The platform handles the simple stuff, the routine issues, but it is almost a requirement that a good system administrator be able to write T-SQL queries and string together segments of code.

I was reading an interview with Jesse Robbins, the founder of OpsCode, a company focused on infrastructure automation. In the interview, he had a few quotes that struck me as very true. “What has happened over a period of time is that sysadmin skill set has been expanding more and more to include more and more basic infrastructure software development.” The second quote deals with managing more and more servers: ” That is not being built on your back every day, when you’re logging into the same 50 boxes and typing in the same 50 commands. “

Those quotes were similar to some of the presentations I saw on System Center 2012 at DevConnections. There is a focus on automation, on scripting, on working with groups of machines at scale, not as individual systems. The administrators, whether on Windows, Exchange, SQL Server, or some other platform need to learn how to better administer their systems with code, not with the GUI.Steve Jones

SQL Server ConnectionsIf you want to learn more about Systems Center and SQL Server, come to DevConnections in the fall. It’s the best conference to learn about all parts of the Microsoft technology stack. Grant Fritchey and Steve Jones will be there speaking along with lots of other great Microsoft technology specialists.


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