The problem isn’t SQL Server. It’s you.

Throughout all my years in different places, I have seen SQL, Oracle, Firebird, MySQL, DB2, Zortec, Access, and probably a few other crazy databases set up and run, and administered. Of course most of them along the way have been Microsoft SQL Server, (6.5, 7, 2000, 2005, 2008). I’ve worked with some knowledgeable DBA’s, and in those cases everything usually turns out ok.

But sometimes, in some department or place or whatever, your buddy down the street wanting to start a new company, your girlfriends place of work that wants to track orders, whatever, they usually try to get SQL Server running, and what sometimes happens next just makes my head spin. Microsoft, bless them, sometime in the past, not so much now, tried to market SQL Server as “self manageable”. Probably sometime between 6.5 and 7, they tweaked some update stats routines and schedules and its all good, right? Set autogrow by default, and you are good to go. Wrong.

What this awesome marketing strategy did, was get people, places, and organizations, mostly ISV’s to use SQL Server and install it, get their app running, and walk away. Of course it runs for a while, runs like a champ even. But then months, even years go by and the system starts running slow. There is no DBA around, they didn’t need one, SQL Server manages itself! Wrong again.

What you might end up with though, are people using the system that might know a little bit, enough to be deadly even, and they start making changes, when in reality you need a full fledged DBA to manage your server, and database, hence the name DBA (database administrator). But before the DBA comes on to the scene to save the day, you will have the people that blame SQL Server. “Oh SQL Server doesn’t work at all, it can’t perform’”… or “Our other databases run 10x as fast, what gives” (not mentioning they have 3 DBA’s for those “other” databases, but not for MS SQL). and the quotes keep coming.

That is why the title of this post is what it is.

The problem isn’t SQL server, it’s you

. If you fail to realize that MS SQL is an Enterprise class database system, and treat it like some out of the box, already configured, plug and play system, you are going to run into issues eventually. You need a DBA. Probably best to have one BEFORE you implement any system, even if it is a consultant to guide your implementation, and assist as time goes on.

I sometimes get tired trying to argue that MS SQL can hold its own against Oracle, DB2, whatever. Trust me, it can. I could probably go find tons of SQL DBA’s that would back me up as well. It is all about how you manage and administer it! SQL Sever does just fine, as long as you know what you are doing. Just like any system. I think sometimes that if we took SSMS away, and just made everything cmd line/scripting, that people “outside” of the MS SQL community would see how MS SQL works in compared to their own systems.

This post isn’t meant to be a beat down rant or anything, but the same things can be said for .NET compared to Java, C++, etc, or whatever. It just seems sometimes that people that live and breathe Microsoft SQL need to know what the other RDMS/BI systems are capable of, but for some reason the same isn’t true for people that use the other systems. They kind of just brush MS SQL off as a play toy, something that shouldn’t be taken seriously, a “hobbyist” SQL system. Something that any enterprise wouldn’t be caught dead running, that is of course, unless you are Microsoft. :)

I’m still hedging my bets on MS SQL and .NET, I haven’t seen anything better for the price and ease of use, and the best part about it, the community. The MS SQL and Development community is huge compared to anything else, and to me that just puts the icing on the cake. Just remember the next time someone who needs a MS SQL DBA but doesn’t have one complains about performance of their system, you can tell them it’s not SQL Server’s fault, it’s probably the lack of neglect to SQL Server that caused the problems.



  • Enders

    I once arrived to a company where they had a database of 200 MB and a logfile of 100 GB. I asked them if they backed up the server and they did just like the normal windows servers not realizing that they need to back up the database as well.

    Two days later, the accounting system crashed because of lack of disk space. After that we set up a good back up strategy like backing up the log files every hour, an differential back up of the databases at night and a full back up on saturday.

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  • GSquared

    I think the last sentence in the article needs a touch of editing. “…it’s probably the lack of neglect…”, might need a touch of correction.

    Otherwise, I totally agree with the article.