I am a backup guy. 2010 marks my twentieth year as an IT pro, and for almost all of it, I have been a backup and availability guy, because IT really is all about the data.
I am not a database administrator, but I know enough about SQL to deploy the servers, architect the storage, and create some databases. More importantly (to me), I know how Microsoft SQL Server’s databases work well enough that I know how to back them up. It’s the same story for Exchange, for SharePoint, and even for Windows file services.
When you are a backup guy, you tend to also be a storage guy. I confess that I do not have a fiber channel SAN in my house, but I do have an iSCSI solution. As a storage guy, you again get the opportunity to touch a great deal of Exchange, and SQL Server, and SharePoint, and Windows Server in general. When you are a backup guy, you tend to also be a high high-availability guy. The reason for this is because many folks start their availability efforts with a reliable backup plan and deploying resilient storage.
And as a storage guy, you get to be close friends with the clustering guys (especially in the Windows Server 2000 and 2003 days). And even as some applications started doing their own availability, they still needed storage—so the storage guy gets to be pretty friendly with the application guys. Over the last several years, I’ve become something of a disaster recovery guy. Again, the skill set requires enough understanding of all of the server offerings to understand what it would take to resume services from another facility or from bare metal, and more interestingly, understanding the business processes enough to help facilitate which IT mechanisms need to come up first or last, so that the rest of the business can resume operation.
Most recently, I have started becoming a systems management guy. In part, it is a similar skill set of understanding a little bit about how each of those Windows servers work, so that you can monitor their health or maintain their services. Also, more and more, we are seeing data protection be considered less of a tactical tax in the IT department and more of the overall systems management plan, especially when terms like business continuity and disaster recovery start getting more air time. That’s why, when I joined Microsoft to manage Data Protection Manager (a backup product), I became part of the System Center family of management solutions.
In my heart, I am a “What if this happens? Then we should plan to. . .” backup and availability guy.