This morning, Ted Kreuger wrote a post called Microsoft Isn’t the Devil. He writes:
“What does kill me is the people that insist on the public bashing of a product, like SQL Server. I’m not referring to the daily Oracle DBA that has to install SQL Server. I’m referring to the people that have based their career, income, and livelihood to supplying services to customers based on the product. Truly speaking, I’d like to see those people move on. Work on something you think is perfect in your own little world. My only hope is that really does happen and you end up losing that income that supplies you with your fancy toys and vacations.”
I got a chuckle out of that because I kinda identify with that audience. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post called SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition Sucks, and I stand behind every word of it.
For the last several years, I’ve worked through the “regular” feedback routes. My clients have talked with their salespeople. I’ve talked with my Microsoft contacts. I’ve written calm blog posts about the new 64GB memory cap, and I’ve linked to other folks’ blog posts when they’ve written about the limit.
Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I tried something different – I went back to the ProBlogger well and looked at the 20 Types of Blog Posts. I love going back here to get inspired to find a new way to tell the same story. I don’t post outright flames very often just as I don’t post lists or interviews very often – I try to mix up my post formats to avoid getting into a rut. (I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who posts the exact same blog post every time.)
When I wrote it, I knew it’d ruffle feathers. That’s the whole point. Sometimes to get attention to a problem, you gotta raise your voice.
It worked. Spectacularly. It got picked up by HackerNews and Reddit, and I got off-the-record emails from several of my Microsoft buddies. (I love it when they use a different communication source than their Microsoft emails to avoid being recorded, hahaha.) It got the attention I wanted.
If Microsoft announces that 2014 Standard Edition can use more than $500 of memory, I certainly won’t be able to take credit. I’m going to tell myself, “Those nice guys were always planning to raise the limit anyway, because they knew how incredibly stupid that limit would be in the year 2014, and down the road in the year 2019 when SQL Server 2014 is still under mainstream support.” (I bet my 2019 Roomba will have 64GB.)
MVPs aren’t zombie cheerleaders.
“You represent the community as a highly skilled community figure that portrays how effective and valued the product is.”
BS, and I don’t mean Big SQL.
I’m me. Just because Microsoft handed me an award doesn’t mean I’m going to change the way I write or the way I present. I know too many MVPs who think, “Oh, I have to behave now.” If you believe that you suddenly have to start acting more civil to Microsoft just because they gave you the MVP award, then that means you weren’t acting like an MVP before – so why did they give you the MVP award? They don’t give you the MVP award as recognition of how you might clean up your act.
Whether you’re an MVP or a blogger or someone just thinking about traveling down that path, here’s my advice instead:
Be yourself, and be honest.
I bash Microsoft products when they suck, and I cheerlead Microsoft products when they rock. The fact that I do both tells my audience that I’m not playing around – when I say something’s good, it’s really, really good. Ted writes that Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of developers for the SQL Server product, and that’s just an excuse – it doesn’t take a lot of developers to change the number 64 to 256. (Or if it does, maybe we’ve got zombie developers, too.) It’s not the MVP’s job to make excuses for a decision like that.
So c’mon, Microsoft – give me something great to say about the SQL Server 2014 licensing, and I’ll sing it from the rooftops.
Well said, Brent. I read Ted’s post earlier, so it is refreshing to read a counterpoint with a position closer to my own.
I am not one of the annointed ones, aka MVP. Oh, I was nominated a couple of times, but likely did not blog enough to appease the final selection committee. It was an honor to be nominated, for sure.
To Ted’s point, I put two children through college with my excess earnings from consulting on, primarily, SQL Server. MS has been a very good partner through the years. But, they are way off the chart (in a bad way) when it comes to modern needs in big data scenarios. Yes, there is the HD Insight initiative. Yes, the BI tools are very useful at the end of the day for analysis. But, the engine that has been the cat’s pajamas for decades is not in the game for the new and coming needs in data management arena, as you so clearly noted with the 64GB limitation. Hahaha. Or, urp.
Data engines have traditionally taken years to be replaced, and we practitioners know why this is the case. That said, greenfield developments are on the uptake and the growing communities around NoSQL, Hadoop distributions, and related tools are not made up of one-off cowboys and script kiddies. Far from it, of course. Just as MS is dampening their Developer Evangelist community, others are ramping up. The effect is evident.
I have been an MS fanboi for years, without shame. Now, I take a longer view of the landscape for solutions to emerging problems that are not easily addressed by yesterday’s technologies.
Thanks, Dave! I appreciate it. It takes guts to stand up here on this one.
I have reached the point, realistically where odds are there are not another technology I will ever have worked as long with as SQL Server. I have quite the history with the product and as I have said before, SQL Server has fed and housed my family for a long time.
To some extent, like my children, whom I love, there are things I wish my kids did better (like picking up after themselves) and there are things I wish SQL Server did better. Doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids and I don’t love (differently) working with SQL Server. But just like I call out my kids when they do things I wish they didn’t do or when they need to do things better I have the same attitude with SQL Server (or any technology for that matter).
When you work with something and stop caring and offering opinions is when you should worry. Not when the opinions offered are not the ‘nicest’…
Henry – yep, agreed. I caught a lot of flack from both Microsoft folks and community folks for my delivery mechanism, but it’s funny how nobody disagreed with the message. I can understand that – it’s like being upset with a parent who spanks their kids. Maybe I spanked Microsoft too hard, but sometimes you have to get out the belt to get your point across.
Or maybe that was just my dad. 😉
Well said, Brent. Too many folks out there think that we (I’m not an MVP, but I do make a living out of SQL Server) owe some sort of sheepish devotion to the mothership. In reality, Microsoft is at a time when it could use self-criticism – but the sad truth is that MSFT kool-aid drinking is at its worst when you’re inside. Too many folks with gargoyles on. The culture of “Dear Leader” is alive and well in Redmond.
I, for one, hope this changes soon. Too many strategic mistakes being made. 64Gb on Standard Edition is a good one to point out as an example.
Argenis – thanks, sir! I appreciate the +1.
The best thing that ever happened to me was NOT being renewed as a Digital Media MVP in 2009(I used to be a SQL MVP but by some stroke of insanity I asked Microsoft if I could transfer my MVP to Digital Media).
I was pissed at first as that same year my MVP Lead told me I was doing things that were way ahead of anyone else. Several of my sites crashed (I had no backups…horror) and a new Lead was re-assigned to me and I didn’t take the time to explain. Quite frankly I was in a personal economic tailspin and the last thing I cared about was the triviality of a Digital Media MVP.
But when I got perspective, I realized that I was FREE. I could now say “Microsft abandoned Silverlight” (gasp) or “I love ubuntu”, etc., etc., etc.
Being an MVP should not mean you are one of the few people that own a Zune, Kin, or say “Bing” when you really mean “Google”. It should mean what it says it means – you are a respected, recognized, credible expert that helps people. You shouldn’t have to leave your opinions at the door.
There’s an old maxim: you’re not a friend if you’re not willing to speak the truth.
That’s how I view my relationship with Microsoft. I make good money supporting Microsoft products. However, I can’t avoid telling Microsoft the truth when they make choices that could limit their products and, subsequently, my career.
That’s why in just about every security presentation I give, you’ll hear me lament about the fact that the best security features are only available in Enterprise Edition.
Being an MVP doesn’t mean I suddenly become a yes-man. If anything, it should make me care more about the future of the product. Which means I should be more and more willing to speak up, in public if necessary.
KBK – thanks, and your truthy feedback improved me, that’s for sure. I still wince when I see old videos of me logging into something as Administrator. (sigh)
I really appreciated that ‘2014 SE sucks’ blog post, Brent. It was another sign, along with this post and amongst a rising tide of signs, that I could no longer avoid the way the wind seemed to be blowing in my own life regarding SQL Server.
I don’t want to trash Microsoft, really, since SQL Server has been very good for my career and the community is top notch. But we’re, like, heading in different directions, man.
Tim – that’s interesting. What changes are you thinking of making?
Most of my research and learning these days is going into re-acquainting myself with Linux and PostgreSQL, learning NoSQL solutions like Hadoop, Cassandra, and MongoDB; Flume for pushing data around; A coding language (I chose Python) to future proofing myself against the decline of need for sysadmins.
Fortunately, as Microsoft is sorta stagnating at the Standard Edition level, I don’t have to put a ton of effort into keeping up and can use my brain power instead in these other spaces.
At this point I could lay down a laundry list of other cautionary signs that having me betting my career on a different path, but I’ll leave just with a story readers can interpret however they will. More frequently than I like I meet older technology professionals in the twilight of their otherwise successful career built on expertise around RPG/Cobol/mainframe. More often than not the story ends with them laid off just before retirement. I have no intention of that being me.
Man, I hacked that last story up. I meant I hate to hear about older tech workers betting their careers on a technology and getting jettisoned. I actually love speaking to older tech workers.
Well said, Brent. I have always been a Jack of All Trades (JOAT). I started in the UNIX world and learned Windows as a backup technology. I migrated to networking and VoIP, and then things started to repeat, as in Linux. Somewhere in there I saw an opportunity to become a Small Business Specialist with MS, and have made a good sideline living with that product. I have colleagues who have done that solely, with excellent success. Their SBS product has been a JOAT workhorse in it’s own right. Now they have decided to send it EOL. Many businesses and careers, as well as lives, will be affected. To everything, there is a season.
My main contention is, I don’t have to weather a season just because MS says this is the season we are in. I can make my own season. And have. Any financial guy will beat you over the head with ‘diversification’. It’s time we IT guys realized that this also applies to our careers. We make our own roads, and if MS wants to be a part of it, fine. It’s time they started realizing that if they want help towards the bottom line, then help us to help you.
So, don’t be a scapeJOAT. Make your own path. Stay true to self, customers and the technology (in that order), and factor in for yourself some jettison protection. Thank God for what you have, always speak the truth (even when it hurts), and let MS figure out where they fit into the mix.
My 2¢ worth.
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