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Craig S. Mullins

Craig S. Mullins

Consultant | Data strategy | Data management| Database Administration | Author | Speaker

Craig is president & principal consultant of Mullins Consulting, Inc. and an in-demand analyst, author, and speaker. He has over three decades of experience in all facets of database systems development including database administration, creating and teaching database classes, systems analysis and design, data analysis, application development, performance management, and data modeling.

Craig has worked with Db2 on the mainframe since Version 1 and has experience working with other database technologies including Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and IMS.  IBM appointed Craig as a Gold Consultant for Db2 and as an IBM Champion for Data & AI.

Craig was named as one of the Top 200 Thought Leaders in Big Data & Analytics by AnalyticsWeek. Big Data Made Simple also named Craig one of their 200 Big Data thought leaders. Craig is a prolific writer, having authored articles for popular journals and websites including Database Trends and Applications, TDAN, TechTarget, Big Data Quarterly, and more.

Craig is the author of three best-selling books on Db2 and database administration: DB2 Developer’s Guide, Database Administration: The Complete Guide to DBA Practices and Procedures, and A Guide to Db2 Application Performance for Developers.

Finally, Craig is a frequent presenter at industry events, having spoken about database issues to thousands at regional user grounds and large conferences including IDUG, IBM Think, SHARE, SSWUG, Data Summit, and Oracle World.

What attracted you to data management or IT, and why did you choose to pursue this career?

I was enamored with data very early in my career, actually even before my career. I started using dBase II when I was in college to maintain a database of my record collection and just kept on learning and branching out from there. In college the data management classes were by far my favorites and when I started an internship with US Steel my senior year, I quickly learned IMS and started coding COBOL apps accessing IMS data. By the way, today I still use that original dBase database, but I’ve converted it to Filemaker.

What has been your greatest career accomplishment so far, and why has it been important to your career?

Probably my most important career accomplishment was the publication of my first book, back in the early 1990s. That book (DB2 Developer’s Guide) helped me get my first job at a software company and prodded me to speak publicly (which I was very nervous about back in the day).

What are the two or three biggest challenges you face as a data management professional / CDO and how can we address them?

I work a lot with DBAs, and I think there are several big challenges that modern DBAs face. Perhaps the top challenge is managing the many copies of data that exist and refreshing test data from production and other sources. Depending on the size of the organization and the number of copies of data this approach is becoming a full-time job! CDOs can assist here by ensuring that the proper tools are in place to manage data copying, but also to curtail the sheer number of copies that exist. This requires some up-front planning and management discipline to implement successfully.

Another current challenge is the adoption of DevOps. All too often DevOps is DEV! ops… with the emphasis all on the dev and the ops being an afterthought. In an organization that has embraced DevOps, a shift will occur placing more of the responsibility for changes, of all kinds including database changes, on the developer. However, the DBA still must be involved to oversee, analyze, and approve any database changes… and even some application changes, such as significant new or changes to SQL statements that can impact application and system performance. And there is a difference in the way database changes are made and the way that application changes are made, so they cannot be handled exactly the same way!  It takes time to get these things right!

How do you see data management / the role of the CDO / IT changing in the next 2 – 3 years?

I think the impact of AI and machine learning will have an incredible impact on IT in both the short term and the long term. As ML algorithms improve, AI will be able to improve the efficiency of repetitive tasks and eventually even complex decision making.  Of course, you asked 2-3 years and I think in that short horizon AI will make its presence felt, but we’ll still be struggling with many ethical and fairness issues. That said, we’re already seeing how AI can improve database performance with the infusion of AI/ML into query optimization (e.g., Db2 AI for z/OS)

Do you have any planned next steps for your career?

I am enjoying my career as an independent consultant, and I hope to continue in that capacity. I would like to think I have another book or two in me… and I hope to broaden my knowledge and experience with AI and ML, as well as to learn more about quantum computing.

What is the single best piece of advice you have received in your data management / IT career so far?  Why has it been so important to you?

Work for the career you want not for the job you have.  Yes, you have to deliver the requirements of your current job, but if that is all you do then you are not planning for the career that you want. Very early in my career I was an application programmer and wanted to be a DBA, so I learned everything I could about database systems (including courses offered by the DBAs at my shop) and I applied for and got the first opening that came up on the DBA team. But I also worked for myself during off hours: reading, writing, etc. and I also embraced things that were outside of my comfort zone, like public speaking. I remember lying awake most of the night for my first public presentation at the Bachman User Conference in 1991! Now, with a lot more opportunities to speak over the years, I never miss any sleep the night before a talk!

Can you share something about yourself as a person that people wouldn’t know about you?

I have over 15,000 CDs and vinyl records. I’ve been collecting since I was a teenager and never stopped!

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