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Becoming a Bilingual Oracle and SQL Server DBA

Writer: Bill Ramos, Advaiya, Inc.

Published: April 2012 Applies to: SQL Server 2012 and Oracle 11g

Summary: Becoming a bilingual DBA can lead you to a rewarding career as an indispensable IT professional. By extending your Oracle DBA skills to learn how to take advantage of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 you will be in a better position to help solve more of the complex business problems in your organization. Start by joining the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS)-Oracle Virtual Chapter at http://oracle.sqlpass.org/, where you can participate in discussions with other DBAs and access a variety of educational materials. This paper discusses the benefits of being a bilingual Oracle and SQL Server DBA and offers resources to help you get started on the next phase of your DBA career journey.

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Contents
The Multi-Platform DBA Challenge ............................................................................................................... 4 Multi-Tool Enterprise Environment .............................................................................................................. 5 Commonality with Oracle Tools ................................................................................................................ 5 High Availability ...................................................................................................................................... 6 Data Compression .................................................................................................................................. 6 Manageability ......................................................................................................................................... 6 Database Programming .......................................................................................................................... 6 Starting Your Bilingual DBA Adventure ......................................................................................................... 7 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................................... 7

The Multi-Platform DBA Challenge


Increasingly, database administrators (DBAs) are expected to do things faster, cheaper, and bettereven while working with multiple database platforms. In December 2010, Embarcadero Technologies, a provider of cross-platform database productivity tools, published survey results showing that 80 percent of DBAs support at least two different database platforms, and 47 percent support three or more (Figure 1).1 In addition, the survey results indicated that 30 percent of people surveyed expected their company to add a new database platform within the next 12 months. Figure 1: Organizations supporting multiple database platforms

14%
8% 25%

20%

1 2 3

33%

4 5+

At the same time, Microsoft SQL Server is the most widely deployed database server on the planet according to a 2011 IDC study on database platform unit share2. Therefore, it is likely to be one of the multiple database platforms that DBAs will encounter in their organizations. In addition, many customers now deploy SQL Server for mission-critical transaction processing or business intelligence workloads that may have run exclusively on Oracle in the past. How can Oracle DBAs turn this trend into an advantage? The answer may be simple: By enhancing existing skills and experience, Oracle DBAs can become bilingual Oracle and SQL Server DBAs, increasing their value to the organization with a broader skill set on multiple database platforms. Organizations today seem to favor bilingual DBAs as well. Why? Mergers and acquisitions often bring companies with disparate systems and database platforms under one roof. A business might decide to implement a third-party application running on SQL Server. New custom applications may be developed on the Microsoft platform, requiring that DBAs support SQL Server. Furthermore, organizations might start using SQL Server to meet their database needs for new deployments. All of these factors contribute to the creation of a heterogeneous database environment, and that inevitably brings a rise in the importance of the DBA role.
1

Embarcadero Technologies, Database Trends Survey Report, December 2010: http://www.embarcadero.com/images/dm/technical-papers/database-survey-report.pdf. 2 IDC Special Study: Server Workloads Forecast and Analysis Study, 2010-2015, by Mathew Eastwood, Kuba Stolarski (2011)

With data being at the center of many emerging technologies, DBAs data management skills become crucial for the success of the organization. According to IDC, the amount of digital data produced worldwide is expected to grow by more than 40 times during this decade.3 This is due in no small part to the explosion of mobile computing. Today, the United States averages 4.3 connected devices per adult, and these devices are playing an increasingly important role in business computing. Chief information officers (CIOs) are looking for ways that these emerging technologies can help to create new opportunities to address business priorities. As a DBA, you likely will be asked to tie these technologies together and manage them in a way that maximizes opportunities for the business. According to Dan Sutherland of The Data Administration Newsletter, this is a sign of the evolution of the DBA role into that of the information architect, who collaborates more closely than ever with business stakeholders.4 In this environment, bilingual DBAs are well positioned to become indispensable IT pros by keeping an open mind about technology options and broadening their technology skill sets while working closely with the business. According to yet another industry analyst, such IT professionals have the following attributes, among others: They have a broad technical horizon. They have mentors or even become mentors themselves, sharing valuable knowledge with others. They routinely take on the most complex business challenges because they know that is where the best opportunities lie.

In short, becoming a bilingual Oracle and SQL Server DBA can be a strong path to becoming an indispensable IT pro.

Multi-Tool Enterprise Environment


As an Oracle DBA, you may not realize that SQL Server already could be present in your organization. For example, if your company uses Microsoft SharePoint portal for collaboration and content management services, SharePoint uses SQL Server for a back-end database. PowerPivot in Microsoft Excel integrates with SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server. Further, SQL Server often is paired with the integration, reporting, and analysis services that support business intelligence solutions. Finally, many third-party applications and in-house custom applications may be using SQL Server as their database.

Commonality with Oracle Tools


While SQL Server may be an unfamiliar to you, there is good news: there is plenty of commonality between Oracle technologies and tools that you already know and Microsoft SQL Server technologies and tools, as shown in the following examples.

3 4

IDC Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC, June 2011. Dan Sutherland, DBAs Reinvented, The Data Administration Newsletter, September 2009: http://www.tdan.com/view-special-features/11305.

High Availability For online transaction processing applications that require high availability, the new Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Availability Groups5 may seem very similar to Oracle Active Data Guard. For example, with Active Data Guard, you can use your standby database for read-only access, while the AlwaysOn Availability Groups has the same capability with its active secondary feature. Data Compression For data warehousing solutions, SQL Server 2012 offers table-level data compression6 and columnstore indexes7 to reduce disk storage and improve query execution times. These capabilities are similar to those found in Oracle Advanced Compression. With Oracle Advanced Compression, you can compress backups using Oracle Recovery Manager. Likewise, with SQL Server, you can specify the use of compressed backups. Manageability For manageability, the SQL Server Utility8 for multi-server management, as well as policybased management9 capabilities within SQL Server Management Studio, are similar to Oracle Enterprise Manager Grid Control. Database Programming For database developers using PL/SQL, SQL Server uses a similar language called TransactSQL (T-SQL). While there are many differences between the two languages, there also is significant commonality in terms of functionality. For example, PL/SQL uses CONNECT BY statements for hierarchical queries, while SQL Server implements these queries by using common table expressions. With SQL Server 2012, the new Sequence object10 is very similar to a PL/SQL Sequence. For more information about these and other similarities, see the Guide to Migrating from Oracle to SQL Server 2008 white paper11.

Microsoft SQL Server AlwaysOn Solutions Guide for High Availability and Disaster Recovery, TechNet, January 2012: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh781257.aspx. 6 Data Compression, TechNet, February 2012: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc280449(SQL.110).aspx. 7 Columnstore Index, TechNet, February 2012: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg492088(SQL.110).aspx. 8 SQL Server Utility Features and Tasks, TechNet, February 2012: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee210548(SQL.110).aspx. 9 Administer Servers by Using Policy-Based Management, TechNet, February 2012: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb510667(SQL.110).aspx. 10 Sequence Numbers, TechNet, February 2012: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff878058(v=sql.110).aspx. 11 Guide to Migrating from Oracle to SQL Server 2008, http://download.microsoft.com/download%2f7%2fC%2f2%2f7C20B070-BFF8-44B4-BD7D1B03DF50F924%2fMigrateOracletoSQLServer2008.docx.

Starting Your Bilingual DBA Adventure


Here are some tips for starting on the path to becoming a bilingual Oracle and SQL Server DBAand an indispensable IT pro: Join the PASS-Oracle Virtual Chapter: The Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) is an independent, user-led, not-for-profit organization co-founded by Computer Associates and Microsoft in 1999. It was created to build a body of individuals who would provide expertise and help educate millions of SQL Server users around the world. PASS is run by volunteers and operates globally through its websites, sponsored events, yearly summits, and localized chapter activities. The PASS-Oracle DBA Virtual Chapter (http://oracle.sqlpass.org/) is a place where you can meet with people who have the same interest in technology and see the same opportunities as you do. You can exchange information with peers and discuss trends that could save you time and help your organization save money. Use training and community resources at no cost: The bilingual DBA community offers several options for training and resources at no cost. Many of these resources are included on the PASS-Oracle Virtual Chapter site. In addition, the PASS-Oracle Virtual Chapter has a LinkedIn group12 that provides a way to discuss ideas among peers and experts.

Further, to get a jumpstart on deep technical training for SQL Server, see the SQL Server track on the Microsoft Virtual Academy at http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com.

Conclusion
Becoming a bilingual DBA can lead you to a rewarding career as an indispensable IT professional. By extending your Oracle DBA skills to learn how to take advantage of SQL Server, you will be in a better position to help solve more of the complex business problems in your organization. Start by joining the PASS-Oracle Virtual Chapter, where you can benefit from participating in discussions with your peers and from a variety of no-cost training and resources.

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LinkedIn, PASS Oracle SQL Server Virtual Chapter group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/PASS-Oracle-SQL-Server-Virtual-4322330.