What really makes someone working in and around SQL Server truly successful? Adaptability to the requirements we are given, while putting aside what we feel is the only right way to complete a task.
Without this going into a comparison between consulting and fulltime employment, we’ll look at how you need to be adaptable as it pertains to each task you are confronted with. In the end, consulting and fulltime employment do follow the same standards and are always constrained by the requirements set by a higher entity.
Let’s take tools and your ability to use them in your daily tasks. The first obvious tool is SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). SSMS is probably the most highly used tool when working on a SQL Server engine or feature service. However, can you depend on this all the time? No. You should be able to adapt to the situation and utilize several means to complete a task. For example, I strongly recommend not installing SSMS on true database engine designated servers. It promotes remote connections to and utilization of SSMS on the specific server. On several occasions, I’ve experienced RDP sessions that were left open with SSMS open and running. Just recently I had a client that had an RDP session with SSMS consuming 25% of the total processing power on the server. Luckily this was limited to 2 logical cores on the server and the server was still able to perform but, the possibility there is obvious and the impact can be great.
With SSMS not being on a server, what do we do when it comes to connecting remotely? What if SSMS has been blocked, constrained on installations in the environment, there are VPN restrictions, or there is simply no supporting installation of it? What if you need to run a query to quickly troubleshoot an issue? We’re moving to adaptability. SQLCMD is a solid resource and may be effective in this case. Scripting, PowerShell, secondary tools – there are all types of tools that, even if you are very uncomfortable with, you should be familiar enough to turn to when the need arises.
Lastly, adaptability is a must when it comes to clients and/or employers. If you are a consultant or a fulltime employee in a new job, you must adapt to the security and requirements they dictate. This adaptability must also be rapid. Remember, the client or employer is the customer and, "The customer is always right". We simply work with them to ensure tasks are completed with the tools we are allocated to use.
Restricting yourself or considering something like SSMS to be the one, the only, and the almighty tool to use in every situation is a failure to become a highly adaptable and successful SQL Server Professional. If there is anything that I would hope to teach or mentor people on, it would be to utilize every means, within the requirements of the entity you work for, to complete a task successfully and accurately – no matter what it is or no matter how you feel they should be doing something.