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SQL Server MVPs give back with new book

Talk about a win-win. A new book gives DBAs and developers the chance to improve their crafts while donating to a good cause.

SQL Server experts are teaming up for a good cause with a new book for database administrators and developers. The best part? Every copy sold will go toward helping a child in need.

The book is SQL Server MVP Deep Dives from Manning Publishing Co., and it includes contributions from a total of 53 Microsoft SQL Server Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). All author royalties are being donated to War Child International, a program devoted to offering aid to children living in war zones.

It is the brainchild of Paul Nielsen, an IT author and consultant based in Colorado. The book includes content for DBAs and developers of all levels and is separated into what Nielsen views as the five key areas of SQL Server: design and architecture, development, administration, performance tuning and optimization, and business intelligence.

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The book has actually been several years in the making. Nielsen originally came up with the idea back when he first joined the ranks of SQL Server MVPs in 2004.

"I thought, here I am surrounded by all these smart people, but everyone is smart at a different depth," he said. "So I may know more about data modeling than that guy over there, but man, he knows more about DBCCs. In fact, he knows more answers [about DBCCs] than I even know questions. So I thought about how great it would be if we could all contribute a little bit to a book."

The idea stalled until 2007, however, when Nielsen said he was inspired during a question and answer session with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates at that year's MVP Global Summit. Toward the end of the session, Gates addressed the topic of philanthropy and encouraged those in attendance to find ways to give back to their communities.

"When Bill Gates said, 'Do philanthropy where you are,' that sort of coalesced with this idea, and I wondered if the MVPs would [contribute to the book] for charity. So that's how this all sort of came about," Nielsen explained.

As it turned out, many MVPs were happy to get on board with the project, including Kevin Kline, a technical strategy manager for SQL Server solutions with Quest Software Inc.

"MVPs in general care about the community -- that's one of the reasons why they get the designation. But we wanted to take that a little further," Kline said. "Paul got the project started and we all chipped in to make this happen."

One condition that Nielsen had was that the proceeds go toward helping children, and War Child International fit the bill. The organization was founded in 1993 with the goal of providing food, clothing and safety to children affected by war. It currently has two independent main offices in Canada and Holland, with other smaller offices located around the globe.

The book was launched at PASS Community Summit 2009, where Nielsen said it quickly broke the record for most copies sold at the conference with 150. The previous mark was 13. The book can now be purchased via the Manning Publications website.

"This is another indication of [MVPs'] commitment to the community and the world at large," said Kline, who added that he felt the contents of the book live up to the cause behind it. "Not only is it a great book that you'd love having on your bookshelf, but you're also giving back, so it's a really great thing."

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