Being a Lone DBA gives you so much exposure to so many facets of SQL Server. Since I am just one I get to work on Replication, Administration, Security, Business Intelligence, Disaster Recovery, Reporting Services, Integration Services, Analysis Services, Database design, Development, Performance… you name it I get to dabble in it. However, being able to work on every facet also means I will never be a Master at any of it and that’s okay by me.
For a Type A personality, like me, this is a hard thing to come to terms with. I‘ve learned with time to be fine with not knowing everything. I relish in the fact that I get to do and experience MUCH more than most. Those that are not Lone DBAs have to divide and conquer or are responsible for just a hand full of areas (like security, or DR, or Change management). However in our line of work, there is always a need for GO TO Experts. Through networking, I have gained several friends that have become my experts. I have an expert for things like PowerShell, Database Internals, Storage, Availability Groups, T-SQL etc… If I need expert knowledge on something they are always willing to lend a hand. If you don’t have a network of GO TO experts whether you are a Lone DBA or not, I strongly suggest you start building those relationships.
So, that being said, I will never be one of those GO TO experts. However, if someone asks a question if I have ever done something or had a particular issue…in most cases the answer is yes. How do I accomplish that? The answer is by creating a broad skill set. I self-teach by dabbling in things. I am not afraid of trial and error. I learn all the SQL Tools I can and use them where appropriate. I attend as many SQL training events I can manage. I am always trying to further diversify my knowledge base. I attend my user group meetings (now run them), virtual training sessions, watch 24HOP sessions, I get the Summit Sessions on USB every year to watch when I have time, and finally I attend SQL Saturdays. All of these avenues are great ways to further my knowledge base.
The most important tip I can give is learn just what you need to get most jobs done and don’t try to master it. It’s okay to be a master of none, revel in it, and embrace you get work on so many things. It will make you very marketable; there are not many of us that are given that opportunity.