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I'm confused.

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by pjrbakery, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    Hi guys.

    I seem to be going around in circles with my research into DBA roles. I have got as far as understanding that I need to have experience. That's fine.
    In terms of knowledge I have a science degree for many years ago but no formal IT qualification. I have looked into completing the ECDL and CompTIA A+ certificates and I understand what they are for and their limitations. That's fine.
    I have found out that SQL is where I need to be heading for and that there are vendor specific versions. That's fine.

    This is where I am getting lost.
    Is SQL regarded as a "programming" language? I know that C+, C# etc. are programming languages.
    As entry level study where do I start (having had no programming experience)? Should I learn and practise "SQL" or is there a step/s before this?
    Also I have seen the phrase ".net" quite a lot but I am not sure where this term fits in.

    If you could give me a brief overview or link to a thread or website I would be most grateful.

    Cheers.
     
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    WIP: CompTIA A+, C
  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    SQL (or called sequel) stands for Structured query language so you could call it a programming language or you could called it very similar to Unix (which is an operating system where it's all done by commands).

    Here is a free SQL tutorial http://www.w3schools.com/sql/default.asp

    Here is some info on .Net http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_.NET#Microsoft_.NET
     
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  3. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    Thanks that has helped a bit.

    So you do not need to be a trained programmer to learn SQL.
    As I understand it SQL is the tool for using and manipulating databases, but what does one use to create a database from scratch.
    Example: Microsoft have created a database called Access, but a company may not use this because it is not versatile or powerful enough so they create their own in house database, which they then add data to. Is this going beyond the scope of a Database administrator now?

    What is the entry level SQL qualification? (for example for Microsoft)

    Cheers.
     
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    WIP: CompTIA A+, C
  4. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    SQL is often used as a blanket term to mean both SQL/DML and DDL. DDL is Data Definition Language and is the statements that can be used to define and create a database schema.

    SQL is a domain specific language or DSL, as such it is a programming language but not a general purpose one such as C++, Java or C#.

    There are several non standard extensions to SQL to make it more like a general purpose language such as PL/SQL or T-SQL.

    Nearly all microsofts cert tracks reccomend significant experience before you take them.

    It is not hard to pick up basic SQL, however it can get more complicated.

    I think most people start from either an administration or programming background.

    I guess my main question would be, if you know so little about it how do you know you want to be a DBA ?
     
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  5. greenbrucelee
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    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    When I was at uni I used PL/SQL with Oracle to create relational databases.
     
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  6. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    Hi dmarsh26.

    In a previous job I worked on an inhouse database for a bank. Although I became very familiar with entering, sorting and recalling data, the role did not entail any SQL or technical IT skills (I was just the end user).

    I could see by using the database that it was a very powerful tool for companies that needed specific information in a specific format. Somebody had been commissioned by the company to create the database that I was using and I could see that it would need to evolve as the needs of the business changed over time. In addition to this I have self taught myself to use Excel to a reasonable high level and can use many of its advanced features. These factors lead me to consider working with databases in a more technical capacity.

    I am now looking for a career change and from my research and IT experiences I have concluded that working in a DBA job would be a role that I would find challenging and enjoyable (as I have said in previous posts you can never know for sure until you actually do the job).

    I would acknowledge that I am at the start of a very steep learning curve and that there will be many steps before achieveing a DBA position (not least getting relevant experience). At the moment I am trying to get a clear handle on the best way forward bearing in mind I have no formal IT qualifications.

    Cheers.
     
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  7. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    In case somebody picks up on it.

    I know that Excel is a spreadsheet and not a database. I used that as an example of the transferable skills and general comfort with using IT.

    Cheers.
     
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    WIP: CompTIA A+, C
  8. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Yes. Any syntax that allows you to describe a solution to a problem is a 'programming language'. SQL is a 'database query language' in that allows the user to fashion statements to allow for the querying, amendment, creation, deletion, etc of records and tables in a database. For large problems on large systems it can become quite a challenging environment.

    Database theory would be an essential first step before you can understand anything about SQL. Just google the term to see a list of options for learning.

    .NET is a managed framework for developing applications. I don't use it, so will let someone with more in-depth knowledge cover the theory behind it.

    See above! :biggrin
     
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  9. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    I have in the past tried to use the "help" in Microsoft Office to learn about databases but I didn't really get on with it as a learning resource.

    Off to Amazon I go!

    Cheers.
     
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    WIP: CompTIA A+, C
  10. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Well theres no shortage of good books I've heard good things about this :-

    http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596526849/

    I've not read it as I first learnt SQL at college like greenbrucelee.

    Databases are now a commodity product there are many freely available :-

    DB2 Express, MS SQLServer Express, Oracle Express, Firebird, MySQL, Postgres SQL, HSQL, Apache Derby, SQLite, Berkley DB, Mckoi SQL Database, Ingres, its endless...

    Best of luck ! :D
     
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  11. pjrbakery

    pjrbakery Bit Poster

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    Hi.

    Okay I have found a good starting point at
    HTML:
    http://databases.about.com/
    and the book suggested by DM26 looks fine.

    One last question and then I'm ready to roll.

    Do you have an opinion as to whether I should start to learn SQL using a desktop database such as Access or start with a freely available server database such as Microsoft SQLServer Express?
    If I started with Access for example (which I already have) would the skills be transferable to the more power databases at a later date or since I am starting from a blank canvas do you think I might as well start using a server database?

    Cheers.
     
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    WIP: CompTIA A+, C
  12. wagnerk
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    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    You may also want to check out MySQL, they do an entry level cert (CMA) which are not tied to any particular version of MySQL, but focuses on details of using MySQL that are universal no matter what version of the software you are using. They also have a self-study guides available.

    -Ken
     
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  13. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    I agree with Ken, basically you have many valid approaches, some people like to play with Access, but it is a bit of a 'Toy database'.

    A good starter would therfore probably be either MySQL or MS SQLServer Express.

    As usual MS does a nice job of holding your hand so is always popular, notice that MS uses T-SQL (Transact SQL) . However any product will suffice to learn the basics and you should try to learn the SQL 92 standard first.

    Later on if you decide to focus on one product you can buy a more specific book. Both of these databases have cert tracks.
     
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  14. hbroomhall

    hbroomhall Petabyte Poster Gold Member

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    To pick up on one point...
    You seem possibly to be confusing things here.

    Being pedantic, Access is a database *application*, not a database. In a similar manner, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle and MS-SQL Server (to name just a few) are all applications.

    You create a database application in a language other than SQL, for example C, C++ or one of the .Net languages.

    You create a database using a database application. If it uses SQL you would use the 'CREATE DATABASE' command (followed by similar commands to create the tables in that database). Those commands may be covered up with a pretty GUI, such as in Access, but they issue those commands 'under the hood'.

    Access is a bit of a 'toy' database, but I'd doubt any company would try and roll their own database application because of that. They would just get in a more powerful database application and use that.

    Harry.
     
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  15. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Harry is correct in that people nowadays commonly mix terminology.

    The database is really where you store your data, commonly people also use database to mean RDBMS or Relational Database Management System. This is the suite of collaborating appilcations that most people think of when they say database.

    A RDBMS will typically have at least a database engine and a management client application.

    On top of that people often build applications on top of databases which can further complicate matters.

    Some systems also include extensions to make building applications on top of a database easier, many of these are called 'form builders', examples might include paradox (I know back in the day...), Oracle Forms, Access etc. Others might be categorised as RAD or EAI tools. Access also is a RDBMS and has its own database engine called JET, its just its not a full featured RDBMS.

    Most commercial applications will use a lower level API for database integration or use a databound control library like ADO .Net.

    Database applications are also often catergorised into one of two categories, OLTP or OLAP.
     
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