Yes, I’m back.
Though not welding an ax like Jack during the notorious scene in The Shining, I am indeed I’m back in the saddle again. My last post was four years ago. At that time my blog was consistently in the top 7% on MSDN. Collaborating with peers inside & outside of Microsoft, posting relevant content, & month-after-month watching the stats rise was a lot of fun. Unbelievably, this blog is still in the top 12%, reflecting, I hope, robust & durable content. We’ll see whether the stats inflect with my new content.
Where’ I’ve Been
A lot has happened since my last post. I’ll never forget the wintry day Mike Ruthruff called to ask whether I’d consider joining the SQL Server Product Team as a member of the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team. Consider? Joining SQL CAT had been a goal & a dream as a customer, & since joining Microsoft doing so had long been at the top of my professional development plan. Would I move to Redmond? Mark Souza (twitter) is the only person for whom I’d do so. My lovely bride & I dutifully packed up & moved from the comfort of the Midwest to the beauty of the Northleft Coast—& what a ride it’s been!
SQL CAT Customer Lab: Sr. Program Manager
As the Customer Lab PM, my motto was Change the World or Go Home. And change the world we did. We did things in the Lab that had never before been done & are likely never to be repeated, including in 2½ years over 100—count ‘em, 100+—engagements, dozens of them with customers who’d parachuted in from all over the world bringing with them some of the biggest, fastest, best, & most interesting apps on the planet where we proved them out with our latest bits & on the best hardware available. We validated dozens of apps on Denali, especially AlwaysOn & Columnstore; hundreds of bugs were documented & fixed for SQL Server 2012 RTM because of our work. Dittos for Azure.
MSIT: Principal Architect
Last year I got a call from another friend, a former colleague from MSIT, Chris Lundquist, who asked me to onboard as an Architect to help with Enterprise BI. More about that exciting transition in another post…
What I’m Doing Now
My current role offers myriad challenges. I still get to work with the SQL Community & SQL Product Group, & last year I accepted the role of MSIT Service Design Engineering (SDE) Community Co-Lead.
Here’s what’s in the lineup for the next few months.
One of the original goals of this blog was flipping the SQL Server /faster bit. Performance remains a passion & it will continue to be so. I’ll also focus on Columnstore indexes, perhaps SQL Server newest most powerful yet underutilized feature.
I’ll speak from time-to-time about my specific roles at SQL CAT & MSIT as well as learnings I’m eager to share.
Service Design Engineering
SDE is the formalized guidance for something I’ve long evangelized to colleagues, customers, & the community, something I call “Engineering Discipline”. In MSIT, though my title is Architect, I work under the umbrella of Service Design Engineering. I accepted a leadership role in the MSIT SDE Community. I’m working alongside Casie Owen, an inspiring colleague & engineer, & more recently Melissa Lowe aka “Mel” (who’s equally inspiring!), & together with other peers we’re hoping to change the world from the inside out. I’ll share our successes & insights.
I’m working on various self-service Business Intelligence (SSBI) projects. In addition, I have the privilege of being a lead in what I’m labeling The Reliability Project, adapting a Failure Mode & Effects Analysis (FMEA) initiative to MSIT & across Microsoft, including a potential collaboration with engineers at Microsoft Trustworthy Computing (TwC) & Microsoft’s Design Excellence team.
User & MVP Community
I remain as passionate about the User & MVP Community as ever. As a founder of two user groups back in Indy, I’m well-acquainted with the challenges faced by groups around the country. As a member of the SQL MVP v-Team, it’s exciting to participate in this vital & vibrant community facet. I’ll share a bit about how I approach my nominations & nominees. Since my last post I’ve spoken dozens of times around the country including several sessions at PASS, & I’ll continue to do so. I’m provided the opportunity to review white papers, tech notes, & blogs, & will cross-reference them here.
Education: SQLMCM Program, Certification, & Mentorship
The SQLMCM program is cancelled, & it’s tragic. I won’t dive more deeply into that now. Yet I’ve found certification & especially the MCM to be an invaluable asset on the job & for my career. Earning my MCM in 2008 has been tremendously gratifying from a personal, career, & relationship perspective. Being asked to assist others & watching them grow is one of the most exciting things about the Community & my work. I’ll share my trials & tribulations as I sharpen the saw in preparation for upgrading my skill set as well as the goings on related to what used to be called #SQLMCM #Northleft.
Effectiveness & Professional Development
Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right thing.”
Having spent much of my geekly career overworked & underpaid (raise your hand if you know what I mean), I’ve invested a great deal of time mitigating the overworked aspect by enhancing not only my efficiency, but more importantly my effectiveness.
Kevin Kline (twitter|blog|blog) has often asked me to share my professional development insights. Masterminds such as Principal PM J.D. Meier (MSDN blog|Sources of Insight blog|Getting Results wiki) & Alik Levin (blog) & Rob Boucher have been primary contributors. Co-conspirators range from Robert Davis (twitter|blog), Thomas Kejser (blog), Joe Sack (twitter|blog), Mike Ruthruff (prolific twitter alias), my wingman Shahry Hashemi (twitter|blog), & many, many others. I’ll share lessons learned from these & other brilliant resources.
During my geekly career I’ve spent lots of nights, weekends, & holidays in the trenches. Many of you, like me, are passionate about SQL Server. Indeed, our enthusiasm is one of our great strengths. Yet there’s much more to life than flipping the /faster bit! My longtime search for balance has begun to pay off. I’ve renewed another passion—for health & fitness. Almost thirty years ago(!) I was one of the primary performers—one of the stars—in Richard Simmons’s original Sweatin’ to the Oldies (yeah, that’s me in the mauve tank top). I’ve gained & lost 75 pounds (~35kg) three times in the past 20 years. Thanks to Dr. Mark Dedomenico’s incredible 20/20 Lifestyles program at Pro Sports Club, for the first time I’ve kept it off for well over a year. I’ve been bitten by the ski bug & I’m a mountain biking phreak.
There are clear tie-ins to professional development. For example, puckerworthy moments on top of a mountain looking into the abyss down which I’m about to launch myself on a pair of boards attached to my feet offer great lessons in facing one’s fears & how to overcome perceived limitations. Details to follow…
And if that’s not enough, I promise plenty of off-topic material.
Thanks for the encouragement, support, & patience these past few years. Stay tuned!
Jimmy May, @aspiringgeek