Pre-Con Previews

Q&A with Allan Hirt

Real-World System Design for the DBA: Private Cloud and SQL as a Service

Q: If your pre-con had a theme song, what would it be and why?
For me, it’s probably the Styx classic “Come Sail Away.” It’s got the obvious lyric towards the end (“we headed for the skies” bit), but the song is really about dreams and making them come true. Put another way, it’s about seizing the day and making stuff happen. To transform your business, you need to think big and act big.

Q: What excites you most about databases in the cloud?
The cloud is such an overused term at this point – if it’s “out there,” it’s in the cloud, right? One of the things Ben and I do in our session is define what this really means in context of the database world; the cloud from a SQL Server perspective isn’t just Azure, nor is it necessarily a service like SkyDrive, Amazon EC3, etc. The cloud, like any other approach to deploying SQL Server, has its pluses and minuses. But what the cloud is forcing administrators of all kinds to deal with is that we’ve come to the point where companies to a degree just want availability, scalability, and reliability but don’t want to think about it. The business wants agility, and IT needs to deliver it. As consultants, we’ve seen this ask from customers for years, but we’re at the point where it’s largely possible to deliver it. That’s a lot of fun.

Q: Where does your workshop take attendees beyond what you might cover in a 60- or 75-minute session?
We actually talk about this in a blog post. Bottom line: It’s hard to go in-depth, especially on guidance on how to approach building the private cloud, in an hour.

Q: What's the most surprising statement attendees might hear you say during the pre-con?
I would be surprised if anyone is totally shocked, mainly because nothing really throws me. I guess if I really did have to pick one thing, it would be the fact that the private cloud isn’t too different than some of what is done now. It’s just approached differently in some cases.

Q: What’s the biggest myth about SQL as a Service that you’d like to debunk?
SaaS is not really as hard as people would believe, nor is it an obtuse concept. If you work as a DBA, whether you like it or not, you’re running a business providing a service – even if it is for internal customers. If you think of it that way, it’s eye opening.

Q: What still trips you up in your adventures with SQL in the cloud?
Again, the cloud is a relative term. Ben and I are concentrating on the private cloud, which could be a mix of on premise, off premise, physical, and virtual. The challenge is that each customer has their own parameters and you need to define what the private cloud will look like for them.

Q: If attendees could start putting into practice just one thing after your pre-con, what would you want that to be?
I hope they start looking at their current deployments and see how they can be more efficient and standardized across all tiers, with the ultimate goal of providing SaaS.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2012 pre-con speakers.

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