This blog post is part of T-SQL Tuesday, hosted this month by Alex Yates over on workingwithdevs.com. It’s all about changing your mind.
I change my mind a lot. I even changed my mind about what I was going to write about in this post; a post about changing your mind!
Originally this was going to be about Agile vs my former fondness for old fashioned project management. I now much prefer Agile. Something else came to mind though, a topic which has become increasingly of interest to me in recent years. Lets talk about open source.
I was never really on board
What seems like a lifetime ago, I decided the retail worker life wasn’t for me. I started doing self-paced Microsoft training and longed to break into IT, start earning some “real money” for once.
The more Microsoft training I did, the more I hungered for. I was hooked for sure, but I was also becoming hooked on Microsoft products. The documentation and training materials, the GUIs, it all made an IT career feel completely accessible to me, in a way I didn’t think would be possible when I started out.
I dabbled with Linux, mostly Ubuntu, but open source software generally. I found this challenging, it felt way more involved and difficult to learn than the Microsoft stuff. It almost felt elitist, like I would never be good or technical enough to use open source anything, I didn’t deserve to even be trying to learn these things, or so I thought.
Eventually I worked for a company which produced products using solely Microsoft technology, then I went to work for a charity, making heavy use of Microsoft products again. Thanks to the generous licensing terms they offer education and charities, they’re quite difficult to avoid in those sectors.
Microsoft have transformed themselves in the last several years, under Satya Nadella’s leadership, we can all surely agree on this. The Microsoft we see today is nothing like the company we remember even five or ten years ago.
They’ve fully embraced open source, acquiring GitHub, bringing Linux to the Microsoft Store and into Windows (in some fashion). Even SQL Server now runs on Linux! Just now, I saw a LinkedIn article about Teams releasing on Linux. Edge is moving to the Chromium open source project for rendering technology, something unthinkable just a few years ago is running right now on my desktop.
I’ve been taken along for the ride
When you’re essentially a Microsoft focused IT professional, as I have been through choice for years now, it’s becoming very difficult to ignore two things these days, the cloud and open source. Microsoft has embraced these, gone all in, this is the future, they’ve made that clear. As a result, I’ve followed their lead. Open source software I’d previously avoid or ignore is included in my thought process when looking for something new.
A turning point for me was an interview earlier this year, where I was told up front “We are not a Microsoft only company. We use Google’s office suite, open source technology, Apple and Google hardware is offered as an option. We’re looking for a SQL Server DBA, but we’re replacing the systems built on that database platform, so you’ll be exposed to database technology of all kinds, is that a problem?”
How I feel about open source today
That question during the interview? My answer was, “It isn’t a problem. Although I’ve trained primarily in Microsoft technology, I’m interested more broadly in all technology and vendors these days.”
In many ways, that’s something for which I can thank Microsoft for, having watched them embrace open source and even build services in Azure on top of it.
The SQL community is also responsible, there’s so much great stuff around for free, it makes justifying paying for solutions difficult at times. User interface and documentation are two of the difficulties, but tools are available to help open source developments have professional looking user experiences and documentation these days.
I believe the future of open source is bright. More and more people are recognising the benefits, collaboration and development tools, both paid and open source themselves are always improving. People are able to contribute from across the globe, the world is a much smaller place these days.
In my current role, a number of us are trying to get to grips with Terraform, which looks as open source as it gets. Just a few years ago, I would have avoided this in favour of Microsoft’s native solution, ARM templates or Desired State Configuration, but in doing so, would have seriously missed out. So far, Terraform seems terrific.
I can’t wait to find the next great thing in open source, and I’m glad I changed my mind.
Thanks for reading, its been a while since I blogged and I never really got started, but here’s hoping the inspiration takes hold from here on out 😉