Meeting Mr. PythianPosted: November 30, 2007
Just in case you never heard about Pythian: They are a company specializing in remote DBA services. There are other companies that do remote DBA, but Pythian is special, because other companies don’t contribute to the community nearly as much as Pythian does.
They have a Pythian blog, with useful technical articles. Incidentally that was the second blog I started reading (The first was Tom Kyte’s). Their second contribution to the community is even more unique – Log Buffer – the weekly compilation of everything that is hot in the DBA blogsphere.
With so much community interaction going on, it was not surprising to find out that Paul Vallee is on top of every industry trend and has some unique ideas on where the industry is heading. Talking to him for few hours gave me more stuff to consider than I usually encounter in a week or maybe two.
Paul is a huge believer in the future of MySQL. I know a lot of Oracle DBAs think that MySQL is barely a database, but according to Paul there is a huge demand for DBAs that can manage MySQL, because many organizations find out that in some cases Oracle is too much of a database. I have some experience with MySQL and I can’t say I like it much. On the other hand, I like the MySQL community a lot – it is small, friendly and very helpful to newbies. I’m not sure this nice community realize how much more mature Oracle is. Not just in terms of features, also in things like scientific thinking and optimization methodologies. MySQL community needs people like Tom Kyte, Cary Millisap and Jonathan Lewis, to give structure to the community knowledge sharing and discussions and add deeper and more methodical content.
As I wrote in the beginning, Paul is working hard to anticipate the trends of the database industry, and he thinks that DBAs that define themselves by vendor (Oracle DBAs vs. SQL Server DBAs) are a thing of the past. The same way that developers tend to work in multiple languages through their careers, DBA careers are heading the same way. I’m not sure I agree with this view, I have a feeling that there is a fundamental reason that makes it sensible for DBAs to stick mostly with one vendor, but it is certainly something interesting to consider.
It was not surprising to hear that Paul believes in hiring the best DBAs he can find, the surprising thing was that he seems to think that a DBA team is about as strong as the best person in the team. A team with one very experienced and competent DBA will be significantly better than the same team without him. It makes sense to me, but it is well known among developers that a team is as good as its *worst* developer, so you really want your team to be as strong as you can get while pretty much everyone is on the same level. Another thing to think about.
As you can tell, it was a pretty interesting dinner 🙂 I’m still a bit stoked that I got to meet a real live CEO, and one that founded a company that I really admire. This is just too cool.
I didn’t post suggested links in a while. Lutz Hartmann wrote about an interesting initiative from Oracle and Netapp. I was excited about it for a full hour, before our storage manager told me that since we are moving away from Netapp in the near future (It is not Netapp’s fault! We love Netapp! It is a political decision), we won’t be testing the new initiative.