Saturday June 19, 2004

Database Guru

by Jay F. Davis,

I was a bit surprised to be called a database guru by a client's CPA recently.

It seems that I was able to extract some data from Platinum for Windows, an accounting system used by my client. Which is not a big big deal—after all it's just a Btrieve database.

But when I said that, both my client and the CPA looked at me like I was a space alien. Which tickled me, because I realized that I've developed quite an expertise in databases.

But how would I define a database guru?

I'd start by saying that a database guru is someone who understands intimately how database systems work, and someone who can architect an intelligent database structure with little effort.

But more importantly, a database guru understands that most applications are database-centric. That is, just about every application—be it Quicken, a custom Fleet Management tool or Google—is based on a database. So, the trick is to know enough about how these apps are written to be able to extract data from them as desired.

And that's what I love doing: Re-using and re-purposing data that already exists, without requiring that the client do any more work to get at the data. This is the really cool stuff that I think makes my clients most happy. I love helping people use well what they already have.

So, you can talk to me about database architecture, normalization and star schemas if you want to. (Space alien?) That's the easy stuff. I think a database guru has to do something much more interesting: make data into information.

That's my definition of a database guru.


Above article Last updated: 19 June 2004 10:29:59 PM

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