Why Going Back To The Basics Matters

I was thinking of posting this in my non-technical blog but realized that technical professionals will find value in the underlying principles and concepts.

When I look at different questions posted on the MSDN and TechNet forums, I notice a common thread. Questions are focused on either “how to do X?” or “what is Y?” types. Sometimes, I see questions about “why is Y not working and how do I fix it?” If you’ve been to one of my presentations, you may have noticed that I almost always start from the basics and internals. Most people find that boring, especially when the attendees consider themselves as senior technical professionals. But what I learn from the attendees of my presentations is interesting. Almost everyone has found some sort of appreciation of the basics. It’s the same thing I teach my kids: Learning the basics is the key to understanding the complex

I also deal a lot with high availability and disaster recovery stuff. When customers ask me questions about how a certain technology or feature work, I ask them back questions that I know they are already familiar with. Often times, they get confused about my approach until I explain that the complex things can be best explained by going back to the basics. It’s like learning how to do complex mathematical calculations or reading a financial statement; they are both founded on the basic principles of math that our grade school math teachers taught us. So, when I explain the concepts behind SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Groups, I go back to the concepts behind failover clustering and database mirroring. Once they understood the concepts behind these two technologies, it becomes easier to discuss more complex architectures like multi-subnet clustering with Availability Groups by going back to the concepts that they already know. I use the same approach when answering questions on the MSDN and TechNet forums. So, the next time you’re faced with a technical challenge, approach the complexity of the problem using the filters of the basics that you already know. You’ll be surprised that you actually know a few things.

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