Is There a Shortage of SQL Server Experts?

I spoke with a few senior people from Microsoft’s SQL Server group recently and they shared a sentiment that surprised me. Apparently, some reasonably large customers, who might otherwise be very open to running large parts of their business on SQL Server, are opting to stay on Oracle because they perceive that there simply isn’t a large enough supply of very senior SQL Server DBAs and professionals in the work force compared to the Oracle space.

That thinking wouldn’t have surprised me a decade ago, but in 2010? I’m surprised. I learned the adage “perception is reality” early in my consulting career. So, in this case, does it really matter if there’s an actual lack of qualified staff if business decision makers are acting based on that perception being true?

In the short term, this perception might influence whether a company uses SQL Server regardless of whether the perceived lack of senior staff is real. However, if the perception isn’t based on reality addressing the matter with a company is an exercise in helping them understand that there are senior SQL Server technologists available to hire and where and how to find them.

I suspect that reality is a little bit of both.

There are certainly many world-class SQL Server experts, and there have been for quite some time. I suppose it’s more of a matter if there are enough available to satisfy demand. One observation I’ll make is that many of “famous” SQL Server experts I know are consultants who presumably aren’t interested in working full-time for a single company in a DBA capacity. Note that I didn’t say the best SQL Server people are consultants; I used the word “famous.” I’ve long suspected that for every PASS pre-con speaker there are dozens of people who are just as talented on a technical level and don’t desire to be famous or simply haven’t had the break that propels them to attention on the community stage. So, I wonder—am I right about that? If I’m right, then I suspect that the lack of expert and very senior SQL Server technologists is largely perception rather than reality.

I’m not going to share any more of my thoughts on this topic this week. Instead, I could really use your help. I’d love to know what you think. Is there a shortage of very senior SQL Server professionals? If yes, what skills do you think are most lacking? What do you see in your company or companies that your friends work at? I’m thinking that a bit of grass roots detective work can help uncover the truth behind this perception.  Please feel free to email me directly at [email protected] or comment on this article. I’d really like to know what you think.

By the way, I plan to cover this topic more than once over the coming weeks and months. Yes, I said weeks. I’m not going back to writing more than one time per month in SQL Server Magazine UPDATE, but I’m excited to announce that I’ll soon be launching a new blog on that will focus on SQL Server business decision maker’s and those who aspire to be business decision makers. I’ll be writing there at least weekly, and sometimes more often. We hope to launch the blog sometime in September.

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