TSQL Tue..Wednesday: Analogy Time!

Tuwednesday. Blursday. It’s all the same day now, isn’t it? Really this post is just about showing off some incredibly spot-on analogies by fellow #sqlfamily bloggers.

And of course you start with the creme-de-la-creme, Mr. Ozar. We’re having our dessert first, you see. Life’s short, live a little, etc. The one-liner: the database is a walk-in fridge in the back of a restaurant; the DBA is the refrigerator technician; the developer is a chef that works in the restaurant to which that walk-in fridge belongs.

Speaking of food, Deb Melkin describes how execution-plans (query plans) are like a routine for going out and running your weekly errands. And how small changes can sometimes lead to incredibly large differences in the execution of said plans.

Jeff Ianucci has another restaurant-related metaphor. Boy, us DBAs sure are a hungry bunch, eh? And thirsty! Shane O’Neill regales an imaginary youngster in his native dialect about how databases are like whiskey cabinets. It’s true, sometimes the job does drive you to drink. Especially when a developer leaves the door to the walk-in-fridge open.

So what do I tell people when they ask me “What.. what would you say, you DO here?” Well. Let’s say the company is like an animal, right? Any kind of mammal, let’s say. Leopard, Zebra, Elephant, Platypus. Whatever you fancy. The organism’s body functions primarily because of the blood in its circulatory system. Blood delivers oxygen, transmits nutrients, and moves throughout the entire body. So, too, does DATA. It delivers valuable information, transmits decision-making-fuel, and moves throughout the organization. Without data, the company cannot function. It cannot know how many customers are coming in or leaving, how successful a marketing campaign has been, whether a product is selling, or when the next anticipated failure of a WidgetMaker9000 machine might be so they can bring in a service-tech to inspect it.

All of these “measures” are things that the company heads care about. And none of them are knowable without the data. Sure, you can wave your hand around and produce some gut-feel “SWAGs” (sophisticated wild-ass guesses), and if you’re lucky, you’ll only be wrong half the time… maybe 1/3rd if you’ve got some experience behind you. But data has the power to actually tell you those answers. All you have to do is listen.

It’s here that the analogy breaks down a bit, because we assume that, while you as an organism have very little power over where and how your bloodstream is organized & flows, you as a data professional (and as a technology-invested company, on the whole) have PLENTY of that power over your data. You need to invest in the right infrastructure, the right people, the right technology, and the right models, for your business. And much like the searing pain of heartbreak, if you discover that so much of that data-circulatory-system is wrong that it’s killing your organism (organization), “rip it out, and start again.”

Oi. Now I sound like I’m comparing DBAs to gods. Don’t worry, I’ve had enough humble-pie lately to dash that illusion to smithereens, thank you. Now go enjoy some good food and whiskey. ❤

Author: natethedba

I'm a SQL Server DBA, family man, and all-around computer geek.

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