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20 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Data Platform [Video]

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20 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Data Platform [Video]

This video should be required watching for any data professional or IT admin out there. If everyone were to watch this, we'd make the world of data a better place.

· Database Zone ·
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At Strata last year, Kurt Brown from Netflix gaves a wonderful talk on how Netflix get's the most out of their data platform. The video is 37 minutes long and worth your time.

The list is specific to Netflix, but if you want you could make your own summary and apply it to your company. Here are the ones I want to call attention to the most.

Act in the best interests of your company. This seems like a no-brainer, but I've learned that common sense isn't so common. So, I'm here to remind you to act in the best interests of your company.

Beware the local optimum, or consider how your actions integrate with the needs of everyone else. Just because something is perfect for your silo does not make it perfect for everyone else.

There is no secret ingredient or recipe. Successful teams, or organizations, understand that every decision comes down to cost, benefit, and risk. You will build better solutions, as a team, over time, by understanding how the weighting of variables is different from person to person.

Gather your data, and then make a decision. Don't be afraid to make a choice. If it is wrong, that's OK. Learn and move on.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. I don't mean in a child-like way, I mean ask meaningful questions. One of my favorite techniques here is the 5 Whys, where you ask "Why?" five times in order to drill into the root cause of an issue. If questions are asked in a constructive and meaningful way, everyone benefits.

Standardize, but only when it makes sense. Many companies will spend far too much time trying to implement standards when they should be implementing a process.

The users own the platform. Here's something I wish I had learned years ago as a production DBA. I viewed the databases as "mine," but they weren't. My role should have been one of caretaker, not gatekeeper. If I had taken the view of the users as the owners, it would have removed a lot of friction.

Let your users have visibility into their systems. There can be reluctance on the part of IT admins to let users see how the servers are performing. The thought is that if the manager sees a red X near their server they will be calling you every five minutes. But the reality is that the users need this visibility. You want them to have this visibility, trust me. It will also reduce friction.

You can't have it all. "Fast, cheap, and easy, pick any two" is the common phrase here. Sometimes you have to give up one thing to get another.

The first 80% of anything is easy. It's that last part, the last mile, that will often be the hardest to get done.

Set expectations. If you are not doing this already, you should start immediately.

Tell instead of ask. Another item I wish I had learned years ago. If you ask for approval from every person and team, nothing will get done. In my case, the project was decommissioning SQL 2000 servers. I made the mistake of asking when I should have been telling.

Make it a shared decision. Involve everyone in the process, but the decision itself should be done by only a few, or one. The point here is that the facts and the decision would not be a surprise.

Trust others. This falls into the "treat others the way you want to be treated." If you want to be trusted to do the right thing, you need to trust that others will do the right thing. I find what works best for me here is to assume good intentions on behalf of others.


I think this video should be required watching for any data professional or IT admin out there. On Day 0 of your career, you should watch this first thing in the morning. It will help your career and your company. If everyone were to watch this then, in time, we could make the world of data a better place.

database ,data platform ,data storage

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