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April 18, 2013 by Mike Hillwig

Every once in a while, it’s a good idea to step back and take stock of where we are in our careers. What works? What doesn’t? And what isn’t going to scale?

In the environment I manage, we started with about 20 SQL Server instances, and the day I started, I was sent a spreadsheet with instances, ip addresses, and passwords. When we built a new instance, someone would email the updated spreadsheet to the whole team. Clearly that doesn’t scale.

Today, with more than fifty instances and a much larger SQL Server team, we have a SQL Server database that we use to track machines, instances, credentials (now encrypted with certificates) and other critical information. This scales better than the spreadsheet. Our next step is to integrate it with the system we use for our Oracle environments and then integrate with our CMDB. Then we’re going to automate it to know SQL versions, builds, invalid passwords, product versions, etc. THAT will scale.

I’m looking at my own life and realizing that the Cranky DBA name isn’t going to scale for me, either. When I first started talking about SQL Server, nobody knew who I was. Cranky DBA was something people could remember. But will that work for me if I ever want to start my own consulting business? And what if I get my dream job, working as an evangelist for a technology company? Would they want me out there selling their products as the Cranky DBA. Probably not. What do I have that will scale? My name.

Over the past couple years, I’ve started getting my name out there in the SQL Server community, and people know me by name now. Mike Hillwig isn’t a stranger anymore.

If you look at my blog, you’ll see that references to Cranky DBA are starting to disappear. Instead, things are starting to live at This comes along with a new WordPress theme. It needs a little more work, but I think it’s something that will scale better over the next few years.