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Red Gate’s new Scary DBA: Coming to a town near you

Grant Fritchey, The Scary DBA, has now taken the leap from being a Simple-Talk author and FoRG(Friend of Red Gate) to being employed by Red Gate as 'product evangelist'. As Bob Cramblitt finds out, it means that Grant gets more time to do what he enjoys doing; talking and writing about SQL Server topics that fascinate him, such as query tuning, execution plans, performance monitoring and backups.

He’s big, tattooed, bluntly honest and some say scary.  He’s Grant Fritchey, Red Gate’s new product evangelist.  If you don’t know him already from his frequent presentations, two SQL Server books, or articles in Simple-Talk and SQL Server Central, you’ll probably run into him at a SQL event sometime this year.  And, you’ll probably like him for all the right reasons.

Freelancer Bob Cramblitt talks to Fritchey about his scary moniker, career choice, presentation approach and new job.

BC:
How did you get the name “Scary DBA” and who do you scare?
GF:
A while back, one of the development teams at my previous employer ran into a technical problem with the database.  They sent a new developer over to the DBA team to find a solution. I met with the guy and helped him out. He went back to the team, announcing he had the solution. The team asked who he talked to and the new guy, not knowing my name, responded, “Oh, you know, the scary one.” The entire dev team said, “Oh, Grant.” They immediately started calling me The Scary DBA. I liked it.

I don’t try to scare anyone, but I guess I look a bit rough and people find that intimidating.

BC:
As a kid, you probably didn’t think of a DBA job as your future career. How did you get into technology and why is it satisfying for you?
GF:
No, as a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. I got into technology as a way to pay bills. I was able to fix people’s computers when they asked, so I started working on them for money. But the thing is, I really enjoyed it.

The constant learning that’s required to be in IT makes it a great job. Plus, when you create a new piece of code or improve an old one, you get immediate satisfaction. That’s a wonderful feeling.

BC:
What do you think are the biggest needs in the DBA community and how will you help?
GF:
I’m not sure about the biggest needs. But, I do know that people out there in the trenches need knowledge and they need help getting their jobs done.

I’ll try to do both.  I’ll present what information I know and assist people in gaining knowledge. And I’ll try to get them solutions that can help them do their jobs better so that they can get home and do things besides work on databases.

BC:
Before being hired by Red Gate you were a Friend of Red Gate. What made you gravitate toward this company?
GF:
I started using SQL Compare shortly after it was released. I loved the software. I can say the same thing about most of the software released by Red Gate. But the thing that made me love the company was the fact that they were so responsive.

A long time ago I had a problem with SQL Compare. I posted the problem to the forum. I had someone respond to my post to get more information. Then, about a week later, I received an email with an attachment that was a beta copy of SQL Compare with the fix in place, asking me to try it out. That pretty much did me in. I’ve stuck with Red Gate ever since and from what I’ve seen, nothing has changed the company’s responsive nature.

BC:
How will your role change now that you are a product evangelist for Red Gate? What will you be doing?
GF:
I’m going to be doing what I’ve already done within the community: blog, write articles, write books, do webinars, present at conferences. But now, because of Red Gate support, I get to do more of it.
BC:
Can we still rely on you to be candid and critical?
GF:
Absolutely.

Do I think that every single Red Gate piece of software is perfect and without flaw? Yes, I do.

Ha, thought you had me with that question didn’t you? But seriously, I’m a fairly honest and blunt person. I don’t think it’s possible for me to change just because I changed jobs. I’m going to do my best to help Red Gate, yes, but I don’t see why I can’t help the community at the same time.

BC:
I saw you speak at SQL Saturday #46 in Raleigh and was impressed with your ability to engage the audience. What’s your presentation approach or philosophy?
GF:
Only present on topics that you’re excited about. It’s that simple for me. Since I get to pick my topics for presentations (most of the time), I pick topics I can be excited about.

Passion is a very useful tool. If I’m passionate about a subject – query tuning, execution plans, performance monitoring, backups, whatever – I can communicate that passion to the audience. They might not get passionate themselves, but through showing the technology that gets me excited they can better understand why I’m passionate and take the knowledge of that technology away with them, which is the most important thing.

BC:
What’s your schedule looking like this year?
GF:
The details are still being worked out. I will be posting updates to my blog, www.scarydba.com, but we’ll also be posting things through Red Gate, SQL Server Central and Simple-Talk.

I will be at SQL Saturday #67 in Chicago on March 26th. I’m also going to be presenting at my own SQL Saturday, #71 in Boston, on April 2nd. After that I’m doing a full-day training session at SQL Rally in Florida, May 11-13th.

BC:
What do you do when you’re not educating and evangelizing?
GF:
Educate and evangelize. Seriously. I volunteer with my local Scout troop. I’m a Scoutmaster, so a lot of the same things I do for databases I do for camping and hiking. And, of course, I spend as much time as is left over with the family. When I’m not doing those things, I like to read, mostly history and science fiction.