T-SQL Tuesday #111 – Why Do I Do Data

Andy Leonard posed the question for this month’s T-SQL Tuesday, “Why do you do what you do?” For me, this question comes up from time to time and I decided it was a good month for my very first T-SQL Tuesday contribution.


Why Do I Do Data?

My suitcase was rolling on one wheel as I bolted around the corner toward the airline kiosk. I tightened my grip as I imagined the bag twisting a bit more to the right, too much weight for the single wheel to bear, flipping end over end, and sending my underwear and minion pajamas scattering across the airport corridor. And I didn’t care one bit.

I was headed to Colorado to build a rack for our disaster recovery solution. The hardware was shipped to the collocation facility earlier in the week, after spending several days (and nights) testing the hardware: running diagnostics, pre-installing the operating system, stressing the IO. Performance was solid. One server, our new database server, was running ridiculous benchmarks on the IO side. “Dude, you’ve gotta see this”, I would shout out to our network engineer and great friend of mine. I did this at various times during the testing (at least 10 times), and when he finally came over, I dragged and copied a 10GB file between two of our RAID 10 SSD arrays. “You can’t even see the progress bar. Haha. Look man!” When compared to its predecessor, it hit a 300% increase in IOPS.

After squeezing into the seat of the airplane (I made it, phew!), something hit me. How did I get here? Why do I do what I do? I’m about to fly across the country to build the disaster recovery site with a highly-detailed plan for deployment and configuration. It wasn’t only screen shots and step-by-step guides that I captured while installing our database box in the primary facility. The guide also outlined a handful of application servers, some java, some IIS configurations, diagrams with lots of box shapes and arrows, file share DFS settings, a load of items to check off a list, and of course some SQL Server stuff.

In and out in a day and one sleep later, the plan was to head home. And it went smooth. And then I was home. The questions from the window seat lingered.

So why do I do what I do? This is a deeply philosophical question and I’ll admit that it is one not easily answered. I’ve had several debates on this exact topic with close friends of mine and on most occasions we question our existence entirely. What are we all really here for?

For this T-SQL Tuesday, we’ll keep it a little lighter. I’ll interpret this question as “Why do I do data?”.

I Love Technology
Technology has always fascinated me. I grew up in the era of Nintendo, AOL, and 3.5-inch floppy disks. In retrospect, technology and the sharing of information was still in its infancy. Data was not yet at our fingertips; I remember flipping through pages of physical encyclopedias to do research for projects and essays. It’s incredible how much space they took up and how much surface area was needed to learn and take notes. Several large volumes, notebooks, crumpled up papers sprawled out across the floor was a regular occurrence. Now, access to any-possible-thing-I-could-ever-need-to-know sits in my pocket.

I Love to be Challenged.
I’ve had many difficult projects over the years and I’ve worked with businesses whose state of technology could only be described as a “cluster” (not the type that means synchronization of resources).

I Love the Creative Process
Each time, I’ve looked at these as opportunities to “build something beautiful”. A painting, hand-crafted sculpture, and a piece of music can all be considered art. To me, when all the moving parts of an infrastructure all work in perfect harmony, after being creatively hand-crafted and carefully planned out, is a work of art.

I Love Data
You know those wooden puzzles that have a rope and the solution is something ridiculous like passing a square block through a circular hole? When I was young my mother used to bring those home “to keep me busy”. She had hoped it would give her a recess from my never-ending curiosity in how all things work. It didn’t take me long to solve most of the puzzles and I’d quickly resume my interrogation of questions.

These days the circular hole has become a difficult business problem while the square block is the data that solves it.

For Real Though
I’m just a nerd and I do this for fun.

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