Digging deeper into SQL Server


I’m nowhere near where I needed to be. I am not digging enough. I’m not learning enough. Learning opportunities are not landing on my lap.

I have to go out on my own and learn SQL Server on my own time and resources.

This blog was never meant to become an outlet of my frustrations about not getting to that next level. I’m supposed to be focusing on acquiring real-world skills, and not whining about why I am not hitting my career target.

Today, there is no more next level.

I need to just stop looking for that next level and just focus on learning and acquiring new skills.

I’ve been learning – by reading blogs, watching videos, and subscribing to hardcore online training. But I don’t have the kind of job that would allow me to practice.

I remember what Sean McCown (Blog | @MidnightDBA) said in the DBA Roadmap seminar: “If you want to become a SQL Server DBA, there’s no excuse for not knowing stuff about SQL Server (not the exact words he said, but it’s something to that effect).”

I am renewing my commitment to learning more about SQL Server. No more excuses. No more drama.

Just action.

The Tool: Lenovo ThinkPad W530

Building my SQL Server Sandbox on ThinkPad W530SQL Server needs some horsepower to run, some juices, and some muscles. The ThinkPad W530 fits the bill. Glenn Berry (Blog | @GlennAlanBerry) lists the W530 as one of the mobile workstations fit for testing SQL Server 2012.

The Intel Core i7-3720QM Ivy Bridge processor in the W530 allows me to practice most of SQL Server features that demand some computing power. I will dig into Clustering, Replication, and all other High Availability features.

Of course, one of the primary reasons why I decided to shell out some money on a good machine is SQL Server 2012. I can now build SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOn Availability Groups on my own lab!

The 16GB DDR3 RAM that I have in this machine is the amount of memory that will allow me to build multiple Virtual Machines. I am looking at having 5-7 Virtual Machines to form my personal SQL Server Sandbox. More on this in the upcoming posts.

I have more wishlist for my ThinkPad W530 – SSD’s on the Primary Bay and Ultrabay, Maximizing the 32GB RAM capacity, and a better Wireless Network Card. I just don’t have the extra dollars to make those upgrade now.

Focus More On Hardcore Training

I have had Pluralsight for a month now. I was on slow pace in the first month. Having this ThinkPad W530 on my hand builds momentum. I should now take advantage of this momentum and continue to fuel my passion for SQL Server.

I should now switch to doing-mode – practicing more and more on my skills.

Laying The Foundation

I’m changing my mindset from now on. I should totally forget about “getting to the next level.” If an opportunity comes my way, I’ll be glad to take it. But that is not my focus now.

I should start laying the foundation of my career as a SQL Server Professional. That sounds like I’m starting from square one. If that’s what it takes, then Yes. I’m starting all over. And I am making sure that I have the right, strong foundation this time.

In the real world, that translates to acquiring the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 Certification. The exam guides for 70-461, 70-462, and 70-463 are great study guides. So I will be using them as outline for my personal training.

Learning continues.

Author: Marlon Ribunal

I'm passionate about SQL Server. But I feel like I haven't reached my full potential yet. So, this is my mission: My purpose is to help people in their pursuit of growth and development; and, thereby, help myself realize my full potential as a professional, husband, father, christian, and human being.


  1. Pingback: Virtual SQL Playground Adventure: Building The Virtual Environment - SQL Server - SQL Server - Toad World

  2. Hi Marlon,

    Your blog has renewed my drive to further my DBA skills. This post has deep interest to me. How are you liking your W530? I am currently looking for a new laptop. My current X220t’s screen size is just not cutting it for me.

    Also where did you find that the W530 will do 32GB? I have looked at Lenovo’s site and only see 16GB total option.


  3. I admire your commitment to continuous self-improvement. And, I’ll probably grab a W530 for my next laptop.

    Learning on your own is tough especially if you don’t have the opportunity to practice what you’re learning. In my case, I haven’t been doing hard core SQL Server DBA work since the start of the year because I’m being thrown at projects that are not SQL Server-related. What do I do to force myself into practicing and learning? I create content – whether it’s an article on MSSQLTips or a video recording about a specific SQL Server feature. This forces me to test the content in a safe environment and validate information provided in the documentation. This also helps me prepare for when the right opportunity comes to apply the skills I have acquired (not to mention the marketing value I get out of the exposure)

    Great post!

    • Edwin,

      Thanks for the tips! We should chat some time.

      Learning and creating content – that’s my plan. I decided to take a step back to “lay the foundation” of my career. So the content that I’m creating will focus more on the basics of SQL Server. My focus right now is on those 3 exams that the MCSA certification requires.

      And of course, I’ll do some digging into SQL Server from time to time- HA, Monitoring, Performance Tuning, etc; these have been my weaknesses (I know this from the interviews I’ve gone through).

      I think writing for MSSQLTips gets one the right exposure. I should also try that route.

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