So In my journey to hopefully become a DBA I figure the first step is probably to start as a Windows System Administrator. Since Junior DBA positions aren't widely available.

What I have: B.S. in Computer Science and Experience working with CS Research Department on Tracing Algorithmns. What I do know: Pretty Advanced Knowledge in C++,C,HTML,PHP. Solid/Advanced Hardware Knowledge (I've built/repaired/maintained various computers). And Good Windows support/knowledge (I've done repairs on sooo many windows machines).

What I need to know?????? I compiled a small list of things I think I need to learn.

  • Powershell (i've worked with bash, but....Powershell+Windows usually is together)
  • MS SQL Server 2008 (Probably more of a side thing, but I'm spending my time learning it currently)
  • Windows Server 2008 (I figure With good knowledge of most windows systems this should be easy to read about through books/practice)
  • Active Directory (I know people that use it, and I dabbled with it a little, but picking up and reading a few books about it would be a good idea)

Any other suggestions? Things I'm missing? Do you think given my knowledge + What I'm going to learn in the next few months will make me applicable to the job market as a Windows System Admin?


Edit: I made small list of things/certs maybe to look into (or at least study for LIKE i was going to take them)

-Powershell -MS SQL Server 2008 -Windows Server 2008 -Active Directory -Microsoft Exchange Server 2010?

Certifications: (MCTS)

MCTS: SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance MS SQL Server 2008-Exam 70-432: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Installation and Maintenance

MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration Exam 70-640: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring

MCTS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration Exam 70-642: TS: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring


(MCITP) (Next Phase)

MCITP: Database Administrator 2008 Exam 70-450: PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Server Infrastructure using Microsoft SQL Server 2008

MCITP: Server Administrator Exam 70-646: PRO: Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator

How does that look?

  • can you be more specific in your goal? Do you want to be what microsoft classifies as an mcitp database administrator - a person that manages sql servers or an mcitp database developer - a person that writes and optimizes sql server based code (theres's a third BI developer but thats also a coding career path)
    – Jim B
    Oct 22, 2010 at 3:42
  • I want to be an SQL Server Admin in the long run, BUT I know a first step probably to take is to Become a Windows System Admin (and then move from there into SQL work). So Im guessing MCITP Admin. I already know what certs I need, just looking for advice on things to learn
    – user57862
    Oct 22, 2010 at 4:35

4 Answers 4


See also:

Microsoft server systems are quite well integrated, everything hooks into Active Directory for permissions and single sign on, but apart from that there isn't anything particular you need to learn, except "as much as you can" and that businesses want you to not lose their data, not break things, then help the business improve, in roughly that order.

So your basic work will be around "is it working, do I have backups, do they work?" then "how do I tell if it stops working" then "and how could it be better, who has problems and how can I help?".


The Microsoft ecosystem is vast, but everyone in it at least needs to handle OS issues. Most of that isn't very different from desktop stuff. The key differences are you need a much deeper understanding of how the Services model works, NTFS file rights, using most of the MMCs (fun ones to poke your nose into are Certificate Manager, and Computer Manager). If you aren't already, become familiar with the Event Log. I can't believe how many Windows admins I know who routinely don't go there to look into stuff.

Other things to really get to know if you're going to be spending serious time in the Windows environment:

  • Windows Authentication Everything uses it, and everything needs to touch it. Some stuff is 'integrated' so you need to know what that means. You need to become familiar with things like the 'double hop' problem, as well as the fact that both computers and users have accounts in AD.
  • What Local System means Windows has several types of 'System', get to know the difference. Some only have access to the local machine while other types can have access across the network utilizing the AD machine account. You'll run into this a lot when picking what user to run Services under, and what user to associate with IIS Application Pools, among other things.
  • NTFS inheritance Not everyone needs to know how file rights work, but having a basic understanding is required for everyone IMHO. How does inheritance work? What impact do junction points have on this?
  • Active Directory structure Again, not everyone needs to know all the details, but a basic understanding of how rights flow down the AD Organizational Unit structure, as well as how the different types of groups work.
  • Storage Windows handles storage differently than Linux does. There really is only one file-system, but how you organize your disks is another thing all together. If you're really aiming at DBA, start becoming a storage geek. Once you make the transition it'll serve you well in designing high performance systems. I/O operations per second are more important than size or MB/s for nearly all databases.

And that's just off the top of my head. I'll add more tomorrow.


To be a good Windows Sys Admin I think at least a moderate understanding of SQL is necessary. You need to know how to get and manipulate data in the course of your duties. I've seen too many otherwise useful administrators consistently hand off projects when any type of SQL knowledge is required. This book did wonders for me when I decided to learn SQL. http://www.amazon.com/SQL-Fundamentals-2nd-John-Patrick/dp/0130669474


In order to be a good DBA, an exceptional knowledge of the underlying operating system isn't strictly needed, although it certainly doesn't do any harm; but of course a basic/medium one is required, and it can also be very helpful in any other scenario that doesn't involve managing a database.

What a SQL Server DBA should know about Windows:

  • Basic networking. Nobody will ask you to configure a Cisco router from scratch, but you shouldn't panic when confronted with a subnet mask, and the statement "you need to open TCP port 1433" should make sense to you.
  • STORAGE. This is the sigle most important point to a good database server, apart from giving it as much RAM as you can. You must be able to manage disks, volumes, partitions and filesystems, and you must know the various RAID levels and when and how to use them. You should also be very familiar with your SAN, if you're using one.
  • Windows security: this is critical to proper SQL Server security, as it very often is (and should be) based on the Windows one. You should be familiar with users and groups, both local and domain ones, and with how authentication between different systems works, or you'll never be able to succesfully query a linked server (or save a backup on a file server). Also, permissions on file systems and network shares.
  • Speaking of services: what are they and how to manage them.

Nothing else is strictly required for a DBA, but of course, the more you know, the better; you shouldn't be required to tinker with Active Directory GPOs, but knowing how them work isn't going to do you any harm.