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Carpenters vs. DBAs

Is buying your own "hand tools" for the job a good idea? Or should all tools be provided by your employer? Read on for some interesting insight.

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 Let's get the caveat out of the way up front, I work for a tool vendor.

If you look around at the tools landscape for the Microsoft Data Platform, it's really interesting. There are a few tools vendors, primarily clustered around monitoring tools, and then there are a bunch of point tools for helping with various aspects of operations against the Data Platform (mostly SQL Server). Some of these are free tools. Some are pay-only. Some are a mix. There are variables in the quality of these tools, and I'm sure not going to comment on that. Instead, I find one thing really interesting.

Let's step back a bit. My neighbors have both worked as carpenters (well, one carpenter, and one general contractor who also does carpentry). They both go out of their way to ensure that their basic tool set is what they consider the best (want to start a fight, ask about hammers, it's fun). They pay for these basic tools themselves. They also might pay for some of the smaller power tools themselves. The larger tools will be supplied at the work site.

Compare this with your average DBA or database developer. Some of the tools available for the Data Platform are clearly "work site" tools, especially the monitoring tools. These must be supplied by the organization (gods above and below, the last thing we want is each DBA or data pro to bring in a different monitoring tool).

Then there are the "hand tools" of the data platform pro. Interestingly enough, many of these support a floating license such that you could purchase the tool and then "carry" it with you from job site to job site, like a carpenter. Instead, most every data pro I know will insist that the company has to supply them with these tools, or that the tools be free (although, you then see the company that won't let you use free, but unapproved, tools on their site). They refuse to purchase any tool with their own cash. Even though having this tool could improve their work, maybe even make them look better than their peers.

I find this mindset fascinating. It's especially so because the average salary for a carpenter and the average for a DBA are somewhat far apart ($40,000 to $70,000). You'd think that making nearly double the amount of money, a DBA wouldn't hesitate to purchase a piece of software that would make them better as an individual. By and large, though, you'd be wrong.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. This is just a pitch from a tools vendor. Well, duh. Yeah, it is. However, I also have purchased my own software in the past, and it has helped me be better at my job than my peers. As a wise man once said, "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't fightin'."

As much as our community is all about sharing, and I believe in sharing, there is still a competition when it comes to getting and keeping jobs. You'd think that you'd go for any advantage you can get. I sure have. That includes buying a piece of software that helps me do my job better, out of my own pocket. While I do want you to buy tools because I'm selfish and want to keep earning a paycheck, I also think you should be purchasing tools so that you can become better at your job. Embrace the healing power of "and."

Oh, why would you buy anything but a straight claw hammer?

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Topics:
work ,data ,microsoft ,job ,tools

Published at DZone with permission of Grant Fritchey, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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