Last week at SQLRally, I heard yet another session with the line, “DBAs are dinosaurs.”
And: “DBAs must learn the analytics and cloud right now.”
This is a total load of crap.
1. Most companies aren’t moving to the cloud or succeeding at analytics yet. Sure, they’re putting SOME stuff in the cloud, but not most, let alone all. They still need your help with their on-premise mess.
2. Analytics and cloud tools change dramatically every year. If you learned a lot about the cloud a year ago, you would have decided that SQL Azure was garbage, Azure VM throughput was a joke, and Amazon was the only game in town. Today, the game is completely different – Microsoft has caught up, Azure SQL Database has new capabilities and new ways of sharding data, and Azure VMs are a real possibility. In another twelve months, there’s going to be another new set of decisions and best practices, and probably new leading products to boot. If you don’t need cloud services today, you’re wasting your time learning it, because what you learn will be outdated in months.
3. On-premise techniques are still relevant in the cloud and with analytics. If you learn query performance tuning, for example, your skills pay off not just on your bare metal servers, but also your virtual machines and your cloud servers. Tried and true skills like that are useful at more companies, meaning they’re a safer bet if you need skills that will get you paid.
4. You don’t have unlimited learning time. You only have so many hours per week to learn things, and you should learn things you love with the best chance of paying your bills. If your company is moving to the cloud, great – learn it. If not, learning the cloud isn’t going to get you paid. If you want a different job, talk to your local recruiters and ask them how many people are looking for help with the skills you already have – versus help with the cloud.
When you need to pick your training plan, go to your manager and ask them, “What’s the biggest problem you’re facing right now, the problem that you’d give me a raise if I could solve?”
Learn to fix that problem – ideally, using skills you can build upon.
I’m not saying analytics or cloud are bad – they’re awesome. But if you don’t love something, don’t learn it – learn what you love. Without cloud knowledge, you’ll still be just fine next year, and the year after that.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is either a salesperson, a “thought leader/analyst”, an idiot, or all of the above.