Shop Talk: 2020-07-13

The Recording

The Panelists

  • Kevin Feasel
  • Tracy Boggiano
  • Tom Norman

Notes: Questions and Topics

Last night was the “Let’s get a copyright strike from the TV” edition of Shop Talk.

Migrating from Azure VMs to Azure SQL Database

Tom started us off with a discussion of how simple it was to migrate from SQL Server on a virtual machine hosted in Azure to running Azure SQL Database via Availability Groups. The one problem he ran into was around things like logins and SQL Agent jobs not going over to the AG secondaries because system databases can’t be part of an Availability Group. This feature was announced for SQL Server 2019, but had to be pulled, and as of CU5 at least, is not in the product.

Goodbye, Azure Notebooks

I reported the sad news that Azure Notebooks is going away on October 9th. There are several alternatives available. For training people, Azure Labs is probably the best option. For personal work, Visual Studio Code and Azure Data Studio offer notebook options, though I’d probably just use Jupyter Notebooks off of Anaconda and be done with it.

Visual Studio Codespaces does look pretty good as well and the pricing isn’t too bad. But none of these have what I really appreciated about Azure Notebooks: it being free.

Mala’s Book Corner, Hosted by Kevin

Without Mala here to join us, I decided to take on the mantle of book cornerist, where I recommended Learn Azure in a Month of Lunches by Iain Foulds. I’m going through this now, as it just released—I got my copy about a week ago. It looks like Microsoft is offering a free copy of the e-book as well if you provide them a bit of info.

Staying at a Job

My last question of the night was, how long should you stay at a job? In this case, I broke it down into two categories: what’s the minimum number of years you should stay at a job to avoid the “job-hopper” label, and what are the key conditions for leaving a job?

As far as years of service go, Tracy said 2-3 years. Anders mentioned that he starts looking at 2 years just to stay in tune with the market. When I started my career, 5+ years was the expectation, though I did get some pushback from folks in the audience and we settled on 5 years being a midwestern thing. Anyhow, I’d say that the number today is 2 years: we stay at a job that long and it’s “career break-even.”

This ties in with the other side, conditions for leaving. @thedukeny mentioned boredom and the quest for more money, and Anders echoed on the boredom comment. @rporrata mentioned three things: money, family, and (lack of) training. Tom mentioned the company not paying for training and also falling behind on technology. With Tracy, it’s terrible bosses and old systems.

I mentioned one other criterion: moving up. In the Olden Days, you had clearly defined levels where you could move up in a company, from Programmer 1 to Programmer 2 to 3 to 4 to Architect, and so on. Each role had specified tasks and commensurate pay. You could expect some level of growth at a company over the course of a couple decades. But that’s changed radically at most organizations. Now, you have a role: Programmer. In many places, there aren’t even labels for Junior or Senior—you’re just Programmer. This has nice benefits for employees in making it easier to pick up new problems to solve—you aren’t constrained to doing tasks A, B, and C because that’s all a Programmer 1 does. But it also means that your potential for growth is quite limited. There are no new titles to which you can aspire or big salary bumps which go along with it. And companies have this strange habit of assuming that an across-the-board 2% pay increase for employees is fine, regardless of how that person’s market value has changed.

As a result, people leave companies to grow. Each job change is an opportunity to get back up to your market salary level as well as take on more roles and assignments. There’s also much less stigma about people leaving and returning after a few years, as most people recognize that this isn’t the 1950s or the 1980s in terms of working at companies. There are some “lifer” companies out there with a fairly high percentage of extremely long-term employees, but those are rare.

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