Database Geek of the Week: Douglas McDowell

Douglas McDowell is the director of operations for business intelligence at Solid Quality Learning, a mentor, solution architect, and project manager..

An interview with Douglas McDowell

by Douglas Reilly

Douglas McDowell is the director of operations for business intelligence at Solid Quality Learning. He is a mentor, solution architect, project manager, and founder of Atlanta.mdf, an Atlanta SQL Server users group. Douglas is involved in business intelligence (BI) issues and his writing can often be found on the Windows IT Pro web site.

Douglas’ calendar reads like a database geek tour, including speaking at upcoming PASS and SQL Connections conferences. He will also be taking part in the SQL Server 2005 launch events in November.

The questions that follow were answered by Douglas via email. For simplicity, I am Doug; he is Douglas.

Doug: You have been involved in database work for quite a while. How did you get started?

Douglas: I am actually a career-changer. I spent 12 years in the hospitality industry as a chef, then pulled a 180 and went back to grad school to study all things technology.

After grad school I became part of a world-class team at Intellinet, where I delivered OLTP and BI solutions for five years. Then I moved to Solid Quality Learning to help build our business intelligence offerings surrounding high-end training, mentoring, architecture and performance tuning.

Doug: One of the biggest issues among SQL Server developers these days is whether to use stored procedures or dynamically generated SQL with parameters. Where do you come down on the issue?

Douglas: I come down on the stored procedure side of the question, but I will always encourage you to go with your development and operational skill set. So if it will be better or easier for you to develop, deploy and troubleshoot an app that relies on dynamically generated SQL with parameters, then that might be an OK route. Otherwise, put it in a proc where you are empowered to own those components.

Doug: What sort of work are you doing these days?

Douglas: Wow. How much space do we have? I have been doing just about everything at once. I have been speaking about SQL Server 2005 BI both here and abroad, doing SQL Server 2005 BI web seminars, writing a few SQL Server 2005 BI Microsoft white papers and SQL Server Magazine articles, and doing a few client BI architecture and performance assessments as well as solutions for a few smaller BI clients.

I have also been working on iterations of the reporting services content in Solid Quality Learning’s five-day SQL Server 2005 BI courseware, which is the only 2005 BI courseware available that I know of in the world. Microsoft is picking it up for partner readiness training.

And I’ve been doing all of this while performing executive functions as the director of operations for BI at Solid Quality Learning, which boils down to a lot of client development, marketing and contracts work.

Doug: What do you think about using VB.NET or C# for stored procedures? Do you think it will be, on balance, a good thing?

Douglas: It is a great thing. The jury is still out for a lot of people, but there are some data manipulation tasks or applications of complex logic for which T-SQL is not the best choice. CLR integration really extends your capabilities.

There are tons of other reasons it is good, and there are reasons it could be bad, too. The bottom line is that you have a few more ways to write bad code then you did before, and it stinks when developers start throwing CLR procedures over the wall and the operational DBA has no clue how to troubleshoot or debug them should he need to. That’s why CLR integration is off by default 🙂

Do you know someone who deserves to be a Database Geek of the Week? Or perhaps that someone is you? Send me an email at and include “Database Geek of the Week suggestion” in the subject line. and include “Database Geek of the Week suggestion” in the subject line.