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I have a basic knowledge of T-SQL and SQL Server components. My goal is to master my skills and learn everything about SQL Server to eventually become DBA in the future. I would like to understand deep SQL Server internals, how exactly everything works, when and why. Could you please suggest me a good place to start? IMHO it's just not possible by doing the programming work.

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Books: "SQL Server 2008 Internals" (Microsoft Press) and "Professional SQL Server 2008 Internals and Troubleshooting" (Wrox) would be a good start but there are still large parts of the product not covered by either of these. –  Martin Smith Feb 24 '12 at 12:20
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Learning "everything" about SQL Server just isn't feasible I'm pretty sure. –  Simon Righarts Feb 24 '12 at 12:23
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Just to add to the suggestions on this thread, you might find these interesting

Books:

  • I found Thomas Larock's DBA Survior very useful. It doesn't go deep into SQL Server internals, but it has right pointers to guide a newbie towards becoming a successful DBA. If you are past that newbie stage, you can skip this.

  • Rod Colledge's SQL Server 2008 Administration in action was useful for me as a next step from DBA Survior

  • Troubleshooting SQL Server by Jonathan Kehayias is a great book. It is available as a free download. Also take a look at other books available on SSC. I am currently reading a book on execution plans by Grant Fritchey.

There are some awesome blogs out there:

  • Read everything under the category "involuntary DBA" on Paul Randal's blog. While I understand that you obviously are not an involuntary DBA, they tend to be simpler while explaining things to newbies.

  • Buckwoody has a great blog here and also a useful SQL Server reference guide here. He is blogging about Windows Azure stuff thesedays but you can check the archives

Other Blogs in random order

Podcasts:

Other great sites - SSC, MSSQL Tips, SQLCAT, LessThanDot.

This list is in no way complete and if I have missed some important books/sites/blogs, thats because I too am still learning and my knowledge is limited. Lets hope the others on this thread add more resources.

Good luck!

UPDATE: I forgot to include SQL Server Performance Survival Guide technet article which has loads of links and pointers.

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+1 Can't pick fault with any of your suggestions. –  Mark Storey-Smith Feb 25 '12 at 1:29
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There are a lot of very good resources out there. Microsoft certifications are a good place to start, especially if you have no formal training or experience.

To add to the above links,

Topics covered in these blogs may be a bit advanced if you are just starting out. There is a lot of information to know for SQL Server, try not to get ahead of yourself. These days, there are a lot of SQL deployments involving SANs, so you will want to eventually look at storage sites as well. IMO, try to follow the Microsoft certification because it is a structured process that will provide a very good foundation to build from(no i don't work for microsoft). It may also help you get your foot in the door somewhere to start using what you learn.

It's an interesting journey..Good luck!

edit: corrected the spelling of Adam's last name

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the correct spelling is: Adam Machanic –  AlexKuznetsov Feb 24 '12 at 19:00
    
+1 for the a-list bloggers but I question the MS certifications suggestion. Of the 100+ DBA candidates I've interviewed for clients in the past few years, the MCITP tag on their CVs hasn't been a differentiator. –  Mark Storey-Smith Feb 25 '12 at 1:33
    
@MarkStorey-Smith, I agree about the cert tag. I've interviewed people with certification and or degrees, and it really comes down to the person and the environment. But if you are starting from nothing, and have no experience having a certification is faster than getting a degree and to me shows enough initiative to warrant an interview. Of course the certification could also be a byproduct of the cheat sites, which generally shows in the interview. But the point I was trying to make was follow the course structure, learn about all the parts before you start the deep dives books. ;) –  CleanFill Feb 25 '12 at 14:45
    
Thinking a little more about this question. If a person has very little knowledge and/or experience, then I actually would suggest getting a certification. A lot of research and work by a lot of very talented individuals go into them, and if are honest with the course work, then it pays off. I am not saying people have to get certified for every piece of SQL Server they want to concentrate on in order to work with it. What I'm saying is getting a certification by using the research done by others is a great place to start. Certs and degrees don't make the DBA, that's up to the indiviual. –  CleanFill Feb 25 '12 at 15:29
    
Good point. I'll concede that following the course structure for the SQL MCITP exams would be a good way for someone new to the product to get started. Probably doesn't cover enough internals however. Self-study guided by the topics for a SQLSkills Immersion course would plug that gap. –  Mark Storey-Smith Feb 27 '12 at 7:51
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Definately SQL Server 2008 Internals (MSPress) by Kalen Delaney is a good book on the internal workings of the product itself. For a reference book, I'd also check out Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Bible (Wiley) by Paul Nielsen. This is a great desk reference book for the professional DBA. Unfortunately there is no "one-stop-shop" when it comes to a particular book on SQL Server, but these are good to start your journey.

Good luck!

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