One of my training class attendees had an interesting observation:
“All this week, when questions have come up about niche topics, you’ve been able to immediately give the name of one person who specializes in that topic. For example, when columnstore indexes came up, you immediately referred us to Niko Neugebauer’s blog post series. When Extended Events came up, you referred us to Jonathan Kehayias’s blog post series. If we wanted to start blogging about something, what areas are wide open for the taking?”
With every release of SQL Server, Microsoft brings out cool new features. No one person can possibly cover all of them, and heck, the entire community isn’t even big enough to cover ’em all. This leaves some open topic niches:
On-premise blog topics that need lovin’:
- In-memory OLTP (Hekaton) practical use cases and performance tuning
- R – the language itself has some exposure out there, but there’s zero coverage around practical use cases inside SQL Server and performance tuning it
- Always Encrypted
- Distributed Always On Availability Groups (or for that matter, even single Availability Groups, or the new Standard Edition basic version)
- Enterprise automation with PowerShell (Mike Fal specializes in this, but doesn’t blog too often)
Basically, go through the What’s New in SQL Server 2016 (or even 2014) and you’ll find a ton of stuff that the community just hasn’t been writing about. In addition, cloud coverage is wide open too: we just don’t see a lot of practical hands-on posts about Azure SQL DB, Azure Data Warehouse, PowerBI, or Amazon RDS SQL Server.
Having said that, there’s a reason some of these topics are open:
- They’re relatively new – not a lot of people have real, hands-on experience with these (although we see a few armchair architects regurgitate stuff out of Books Online)
- They’re relatively unproven – they may not ever get adopted or improved
- They’re changing fast – especially the cloud topics
When you invest a ton of your time into building expertise and material for one of these new topics – like Jonathan did for XE, and Niko did for columnstore indexes – you’re basically gambling your time. Either they’re going to catch on and you’re going to have fame and fortune, or you’re going to be the guy with a book on Service Broker. (And you’ll notice that his awesome new site doesn’t focus on Service Broker, either.)
To be fair that’s like the only book on SB there is. I know it’s not the hot flavour but Klaus basically cornered the market and there’s something to be said about that!
I’m one of those who actually have that SB book, and spent a few years building and working with Service Broker applications. I loved them, and I think it’s a shame it doesn’t see wider adoption.
Hello Tony, I hope that you have enjoyed reading the book 🙂
In the SQL Server world, I try to build a reputation as a generalist. A well-rounded database developer.
But at work, I’ve got a reputation as being hyper-specialized (which can be a double-edged sword).
I admire the amount of focus Niko and Jonathan have demonstrated, but that focus will pay off more when doing consulting/training work and less when working for a single company.
Even then, I’d be afraid to hear something like: “We’ve got a powershell problem, why would we talk to the in-memory guy?”
Michael – you don’t WANT customers to bring you a PowerShell problem if you’re the in-memory guy. You want to be THE in-memory guy, so that anybody in the world with an in-memory problem says, “I don’t care what it costs to hire him – we need the one in-memory guy who’s the best.” That really turns the tables on your career value.
Buck has a great way of saying that: in an immature market, be a generalist. In a mature market, be a specialist. SQL Server overall is a very mature market.
Powershell automation? You may want to check out this guy: https://sqldbawithabeard.com/
Richard – yep, I’m already a subscriber, but he only posts once or twice a month. That means there’s a lot of room in the market for folks who want to own that topic.
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