Oct 162015

MSOver the past few months, I have been working diligently to learn more about Azure. As a result of my studies, I have successfully passed the Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification exam (70-533). By far, this is the hardest exam I have taken to date.

Over the past 15+ years I have worked very hard to learn as much as possible about SQL Server and the Windows operating systems that it runs on, but that knowledge only took me so far within Azure. I had to look at Azure as an entire suite of products that seamlessly work together, and to successfully pass the exam, I had to learn about each one of them. I found the content around websites to be the toughest to understand. I’m pretty comfortable with how websites are hosted, but I needed to know more on the internals of features such as application settings, diagnostic logs, and monitoring. And of course we can’t forget PowerShell. It wouldn’t be an accurate test without a few PowerShell syntax questions.

The skills we learn over the years tend to be forgotten if we don’t use them. That’s why I’d like to welcome you to the Azure edition of Everyday SQL. I thought the best way to keep my skills up-to-date would be to host a portion of my blog within Azure. Going forward, I plan to post more articles about using SQL Server and other features within Azure.

Before I end this article, there is one thing that does bug me from time to time. It’s the correct way to pronounce “Azure”. It’s a little hard to type out, so I’ll provide you will a link to the Cambridge Online Dictionary where you can play the US version of the pronunciation.

Jun 232015

This past week I finally completed the 70-458 exam to upgrade my certification to MSCA: SQL Server 2012. I never thought it would take me over a year to pass two upgrade exams, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I will say this is probably the hardest SQL Server exam I’ve taken so far.

The format of the upgrade exam is to combine questions from the three standard MCSA SQL Server 2012 exams, 70-461, 70-462, and 70-463. My hardest problem was dealing with the data warehouse questions; mainly the ones around Data Quality Services, Master Data Services, and especially the Project Deployment Model. I had never touched DQS or MDS before studying for this exam, and I can guarantee you that I would not have passed it without studying those topics. I found both to be very interesting features, but I have yet to come across a client that is using them.

The Project Deployment Model is a new concept for SSIS, and I really love it. I have worked with SSIS ever since it was introduced in SQL Server 2005, and this is a major improvement over the previous versions. Gone are the days when you had to design your own configurations for different environments or database connection strings. Everything is built into the SSIS catalog. The new features are awesome, but again, I had to really, really study the new deployment model and how to create packages that use environment variables.

All in all, I think it was a good test of SQL skills. Now let’s see if I can pass the 70-459 before the end of the year.

Jan 152013

For years, actually more like a decade, I’ve been saying that I’m going to get certified in SQL Server.  Well finally after years of saying it, I finally did.  I passed my first exam, 70-432, this past week.  I have to say it was easier and at the same time harder than I thought it would be.  Easier, as in the content that was covered in the test was already 2nd nature to me, because I had been doing this stuff for years.  And it was harder, because of the way Microsoft asked the questions.  Even if you know the concepts behind using a particular feature, you still have to know how to do it.  Now I’m on to my next exam, 70-450, Designing and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

You may be wondering why I am spending time getting certified in 2008 instead of going straight for 2012.  With the certification retirement date fast approaching on July31, 2013 for the 2008 exam, I thought it would best to get certified in 2008 and then move on to 2012.  It’s too late for me to get certified in 2000 or 2005, so I wanted to make sure I have certifications from multiple versions.
My wife asked me after I told her that I passed this exam, “What is my end goal?”.  My answer was to get as many of the SQL Server certifications as I can.  By that I mean that I want to be certified at the highest level of in SQL Server.  It would be extremely satisfying if I can get to the architect level, but I may not even be able to get to the master level.  Only time will tell.  No matter what level I finally obtain, I still know that I’ll be learning more and more about SQL Server as I go along, and that’s the REAL end goal.