Meme Monday: No! SQL Server is NOT an Operating System!

Thomas LaRock (Blog | Twitter) started something fun called “Meme Monday”. This month the topic is “dumb SQL questions”. Normally I would say there isn’t such a thing as a dumb question because it’s all part of the learning process. How will you learn something if you don’t ask? However, there are times when something happens to change my mind. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened. I know I’ve asked my share of dumb questions but this one someone asked me really stuck out in my mind the most for some reason.

The following dialogue actually happened several years ago. There was actually more to the conversation but it’s not easy recalling a phone conversation from almost 3 years ago verbatim; however, you should get the general idea of what happened.

User: I have to install SQL Server as an operating system, right?

Me:  Umm… no, SQL Server is not an operating system. Just because it has “Server” in its name does not automatically make it an operating system. It’s a relational database management system. You install it on a server that already has an operating system on it, such as Windows Server.

Thought to self: Maybe, just maybe, it would actually help if you took a few minutes to oh, I don’t know, read up on what it is you’re trying to install?

User: Oh.

don’t ask… don’t ask… don’t ask…

Me: What is it you’re trying to do?

User: I’m going to turn one of my desktop computers into a database server for our department to use.

*sigh* Why me? Wait. Maybe it’s not all that bad.

Me: As a play area or for development?

User: No. It’ll be for some production databases.

Me: Can you please hold for a minute?

A few deep calming breaths later after beating my head on my desk several times…

Me:  Yeah, you really shouldn’t try to turn your desktop into a database server for your department to connect to for production stuff. A desktop just isn’t built or configured the same as a production database server. Plus you’ll need not only database backups but you’ll also need to have them backed up to a separate location such as the SAN or possibly to tape.  If something goes wrong and you lose your databases, we may not be able to help you. Let’s discuss this with my manager to see how we can help you.

The Conclusion: All in all, it ended up working out. We put the databases on an actual production database server that we managed. I wish I could recall which edition of SQL Server he had or if he even purchased a license. What’s important is that the user learned something valuable that day and I’m actually glad he called before doing anything. That way we avoided what could have turned into a disaster if he took it upon himself to do all this without any involvement from I.T.

The Moral of the Story: If someone asks you a dumb question, there’s a chance it may be a good thing he/she asked. Otherwise, disaster could strike and you may end up having to deal with the aftermath anyway.


7 thoughts on “Meme Monday: No! SQL Server is NOT an Operating System!

  1. If it’s a good thing he/she asked their “dumb question”, then quit with all your *sighs*, beating your head on your desk, and thoughts to yourself. It’s attitudes like that that give the IT profession a bad name. Not everyone is as smart in computers as you are.

    Yeah, I know this article is 2+ years old. I don’t give a shit.

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m far from it. I’m about as stupid as they come.

      That post was written two years ago about something that happened years before early in my DBA career. I’m also sorry I don’t think and spew forth rainbows and glitter all the time. Guess what? I. Am. Human. I have good days and I have bad days. Yes, there are times when I think “that was stupid” and I vent/write/talk about it. Did I tell someone to their face they are stupid or that their question is stupid? I sure as hell hope not! Could I have written that post better? Probably. But it is what it is. If you want to judge me based on one post I wrote two years ago, then go right ahead.

  2. This question is far from stupid, at face value, why wouldn’t a beginner user assume SQL Server to be an OS? You sound like a terrible person to ask for advice in my opinion.

  3. I am technically an IT professional and would like to think I know a LOT about computers. I had to google this question to make sure, and this was one of the top results.

    Being unaware/having no experience in something =/= stupid.

    That being said, virtually everything I hear from users every day being in IT makes me want to repeatedly hit my face into my desk. A lot of willful ignorance when it comes to non-tech-savvy people.

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