You Are A Coder

So, you say you’re a DBA. I say you’re not. You say you’re a system administrator. I say you’re wrong. We are all coders now. Every single one of us.

You are a coder.

Put down the brick and let me explain.


There was a time when I would give a presentation to a room full of people and ask, “Who is using PowerShell right now?” and get, 15 hands out of a hundred. Last week at SQL in the City in London, the same question came up and most of the room raised their hands.

What’s changed?


Automate all the things!!!

The simple fact of the matter is, anything easy, repetitive, and quantifiable is, has been, or shortly will be, automated. You should not be spending your time installing SQL Server. It’s either fully automatable, just there with a container, a completely functional Platform as a Service offering from one of the cloud vendors, or part of whatever VM allocation method you’re using. That part of the administrators job should be dead and gone by now. If it’s not, guess what your next task is.

Most of your work should be in automating anything and everything you can. Those of us who have been advocating this for years always use the phrase: “Try to automate yourself out of a job.” You never can, but you should try.

Guess what you’re doing during all this automation?


Performance Tuning

Since you’re no longer spending tons of time setting up servers, you’ve now got time on your hands. In order to not get fired, what do you do?

Performance tuning.

Cool beans. Love me some performance tuning.

However, the best way to get performance tuning done is to do it in development. Instead of letting bad structures, horrifying or missing indexes, and terrible code onto the production systems, figuring out that it’s bad, then doing performance tuning, let’s be smart. Let’s fix things at the point of development.

This means understanding the business and business requirements. You’ll have to work with and more directly support the development teams. You’ll be spending a lot of your time working on…



I can keep going. On and on, but I won’t. The shortest possible answer here is that, while you may be specializing in data management, disaster recovery, data performance and optimization, and all sorts of other things related to data, you’re coding. You’re a coder. Just surrender to it. Don’t get hung up on job titles. Embrace the present (it ain’t the future, it’s here right now) and just be a coder.

As a coder, you may specialize in data and data management. That’s fine. In fact, that’s good. Just stop all this nonsense that there’s a wall between administration, operations and development. There isn’t because, you’re just doing what the developers do, only in a different place.

You are a coder.

Side note. Sorry for the second blog post in a row that reads like an editorial. I normally try to sprinkle these around the technical content, but I really had to get this off my chest.

5 thoughts on “You Are A Coder

  • Bryant McClellan

    It has been at least 10 years since I claimed to be a DBA because I no longer do administration. I am a database developer. It also happens that in my neck of the woods I am the performance expert because I’ve spent about 20 years learning it. Performance never made me a DBA IMHO. As a database developer I always felt leaving performance questions to DBAs to solve is a bit like a web developer expecting the System Admins to fix their code performance issues. Then again I expect anyone who writes T-SQL to be able to at least read an execution plan. Heresy, I know.

  • Agreed. I’ve been telling people that I’m 75% database dev and 25% admin for years. And that all database devs have to have some admin skills and all admins have to have some dev skills. It’s not even a “you should do this”, I truly don’t see how you can avoid it.

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