Recap: Inside the PASS Board's July 2015 Meeting

August 20, 2015 — The Board of Directors met via teleconference on July 9, 2015 and were joined by new Board advisors Diego Nogare and Eduardo Castro. Here are the highlights of the meeting:

    • Adam Jorgensen introduced the Board to Diego and Eduardo, PASS’s new Latin America (LATAM) Board advisors.
    • We had an in-depth discussion of PASS’s strategy for growing and supporting the BA community and providing true value for the PASS membership across both new and existing communities, as well as a potential future collaboration with Microsoft. Adam shared feedback that he had collected from the Board, Microsoft Board representative Jennifer Moser, and the PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) planning committee.
    • We voted to re-establish the PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) planning committee as a Steering Committee through June 30, 2016. The committee, chaired by Jen Stirrup, will help drive the continued growth and strategic development for business analytics focused events and members.
    • We discussed the process for filling the upcoming off-term seat, as explained in an earlier post.

As we head into the Board of Directors election season, I encourage all PASS members to keep an eye on our Elections page for upcoming events and information.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any of these topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Ryan Adams

August 19, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Ryan Adams, President of the PASS Performance Virtual Chapter, takes us inside his general session, “Install an AlwaysOn Failover Cluster and Availability Group”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Ryan: My favorite would be Thor. It would be cool to summon lightening every time you see a bad practice and lay the hammer smack down when management wants to cut corners without fully understanding the true cost to the business. I hope people walk away with the power to design solid HA and DR architectures and to understand how they can increase resiliency by tweaking a few things.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Ryan: Years ago, when I was supporting servers, we had a fire-drill patching situation. Back then, automated tools for patching were just coming out, and most patching was done manually. We had a couple of SQL Server2000 boxes and we needed to check the current version to see whether they required the patch. I went to Help…About and got a whole lot of nothing. I was intrigued by this application that hid its version and required a query in Query Analyzer—remember that old friend?—to get the version information. Once I started playing and learning, I was hooked.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Ryan: Policy Based Management. This is a fantastic tool for managing large environments to enforce standards and consistency. Not only can you manage all your best practice settings, but you can enforce naming standards for tables, views, stored procedures, and more.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Ryan: The biggest mistake I see is lack of a proper backup plan.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Ryan: I get excited meeting new DBAs. They are often overwhelmed and have a thirst for learning the technology; that rejuvenates me.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Ryan: In my session, I will deploy a Failover Cluster and an Availability Group across a 5-node Windows cluster. The next step for attendees will be learning more about Windows Clustering.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Reza Rad

August 19, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Reza Rad takes us inside his general session, “SSIS vs. Azure Data Factory”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Reza: I am a fan of Batman, especially the incarnation of Bruce Wayne in the newest movie series. Batman is not superhuman; he is mortal, but he has the willingness and substantial willpower to make things right. My favourite character in these Batman movies is Lucius Fox, who provides tools, such as the Batmobile, that Batman can leverage in his missions.

In my session, I will play role of Fox: I’ll explain great tools for data transformation—Azure Data Factory for cloud and SSIS for on-premises—so the audience can use these tools in their missions. The super-power that audience will gain after my session is knowing when and where to use which tool or service.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Reza: I was an intern in a software consulting company in 1999. Those days helped me become familiar with the database world, especially SQL Server 6.5. I soon understood that I enjoyed working with data, building data models, writing queries, and all the cool stuff about data.

I got much of my learning as a self-learner through books, websites, and forums. I also was interested in sharing whatever I learned by posting answers in forums. This helped me to become more expert in data-related fields. In about 2009, I started my blog with technical articles about SSIS, T-SQL, and other data aspects. Now, I speak around the world and write books on SQL Server, Azure, Power BI, and the data analysis field.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Reza: I am a big fan of data transformation and consolidation. I’ve spent many years working with data-transformation tools, from T-SQL code to great tools such as SSIS, Azure Data Factory, and Power Query. I believe that there are many secrets and hidden powers in these tools that can help developers and data professionals. I spend a lot of time sharing my experience and knowledge in these fields so others can benefit from it.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Reza: High tech is great, but it is not the whole story. Creating a fancy chart is not BI; there are many aspects and components. Many BI professionals overlook the backend of data. To have a great BI solution (and any data-related solution), you need to design and implement the backend carefully. The backend can be your database design, performance tuning, SSIS package tuning, data-transfer principals, and so on.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Reza: The world of technology never stops! I like this. There are always new features, new components. There are always new methods of doing things more easily with better performance and more reliable solutions. In this fast-paced career, I enjoy working with best practices of existing tools and services as well as experiencing new features and components.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Reza: I believe that after my session, the audience will have a clear understanding of the similarities and differences between Azure Data Factory and SSIS. They will understand when and where to use which tool and service. I recommend that attendees use these technologies in their real-world solutions to truly understand their awesome power.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Kathi Kellenberger

August 5, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Kathi Kellenberger takes us inside her General Session, “Writing Technical Books”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Kathi: I haven’t been interested in super-heroes much as an adult, but of the super-heroes I know about, I would have to say Batman. Batman’s powers were not from some mutation, immigration from another planet, or exposure to radiation. His powers are based on the ability to come up with great ideas and the resources to turn those ideas into reality.

My session is “Writing Technical Books”, which is a rare super-power indeed. I have been writing for ten years, and my words have reached thousands of people around the world. When I think about how many people I have helped, I know that I have used my powers for good, not evil. This super-power is like a key to the world, and I hope that my session will inspire a few future authors to take that first step.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Kathi: I have always loved logic and data. I remember being obsessed with math problems in grade school, usually working ahead until I completed my math textbook during Christmas break. I also spent hours looking at the library card catalog and encyclopedias. Luckily, I relate to people better now than I did back then!

Unfortunately, my interest in math and science led me to the wrong career. I spent 16 years in a field that I didn’t love before becoming a developer in 1997. I first touched SQL Server in 1998, but didn’t switch my focus until 2002, when a DBA job opened up at a law firm where I was working on a six-month programming project. I really wanted to work there, and thought that I would figure things out given a chance. That turned out to be a fantastic move for me. Not only was it a great place to work, but I finally found my niche.

I think that explaining what you know to someone else, be that writing, presenting, teaching, or blogging, really helps get anyone to the next level.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Kathi: For SQL Server, it is T-SQL window functions. I have been speaking and writing on this topic for at least three years at many SQL Server events. I am always surprised that most people in the audience haven’t heard about them before or at least aren’t using them outside of ROW_NUMBER. By the way, I wrote a book, Expert T-SQL Window Functions, and recorded a Pluralsight course on this topic. The biggest advantage is that they make problems that are difficult to solve outside of cursors easier to solve. In some cases, you will also get better performance over older solutions.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Kathi: I would say blindly following index suggestions from SQL Server. I’ve been doing quite a bit of index tuning for my Linchpin People customers, and I am seeing tons of duplicate and overlapping indexes. The index suggestions might come from the execution plan, Database Tuning Advisor, or even the missing index DMVs, but you have to think about what is in place, not just create the suggested indexes.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Kathi: Twenty years ago, I dreamed of having a computer-focused career. I am still amazed that I get to work in such a fun and exciting field. Sometimes I can’t believe how well things have turned out for me after such a big midlife career switch. I am so grateful to be where I am today.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Kathi: After attending my session, I hope that the participants just start writing!

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Mark Vaillancourt

August 5, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Mark Vaillancourt takes us inside his General Session, “A Bigger Boat: Data Visualization Lessons from the Movie Theater”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Mark: I would have to pick Professor Xavier of the X-Men: his ability to see the truth in people's minds and cut through the false picture they try to present. I am hoping my attendees will learn how to use powers of Data Visualization to help find and show the truth in their data rather than the fantasy that might be more convenient.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Mark: I was working at a regional Theater in IT and part of my job was pulling lists for the fundraising folks. I just kept pushing forward and ended up getting into consulting around SQL Server, mostly with Reporting Services, initially. That led me to BI.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Mark: My favorite is actually not much of a secret. I love how easy it is becoming to get work done in the BI space. The new Power BI is a great example of that. BI does not have to be hard. There are some situations and problems that are, but there are great applications for simplicity.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Mark: I see people get really caught up in how to build something, how to make it work, and sometimes forget to ask if that is the right thing to build. Building the wrong solution really, really well is still building the wrong solution.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Mark: I am excited by the fact that I will never stop learning. Things change so fast and opportunities come up that I never would have dreamed. For people interested in stretching themselves and learning new skills, this is an amazing time to be a data professional.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Mark: I would love to see people take the new Power BI for a spin and act on what they learned in my session. For me, there is huge satisfaction in helping to show someone how to do something themselves that makes their lives easier.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Welcomes Global Alliance Partner Pyramid Analytics

August 5, 2015 – PASS is excited to welcome long-term sponsor Pyramid Analytics to the Global Alliance Program, a strategic partnership that supports the worldwide PASS community.

Pyramid Analytics strives to help customers get the most of their investments in the Microsoft BI stack. To that end, the company prioritizes three key relationships:

  • · Engaging mutual Microsoft customers and channels as a best-in-class analytics platform on top of Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).
  • · Partnering closely with Microsoft, with whom Pyramid Analytics recently unveiled a strategic agreement, collaborating on integrated technology and go-to-market.
  • · Committing to the SQL Server community as a long-term sponsor of PASS SQLSaturday events and other global training and leadership events.

     

“PASS has a history of commitment to SQL Server professionals,” notes Alberto Sutton, Vice President of Marketing for Pyramid Analytics. “Its resources, events, training, and networking opportunities are extremely helpful to build knowledge and careers. Pyramid Analytics has been a long-term sponsor of the SQL Server community and PASS, so becoming part of the PASS Global Alliance Program furthers our ability to connect with our most avid users: professionals looking for the best-in-class BI platform on top of SQL Server and SSAS.”

As a Silver Global Alliance Partner, Pyramid Analytics will be participating as a sponsor at PASS Summit 2015, supporting PASS SQLSaturday events throughout the year, and more.

PASS sponsors are a vital part of the community, supporting the organization’s many training and networking opportunities, including free learning events. Through the Global Alliance Program, PASS looks forward to bringing many new opportunities and added value to our community and to our partners. For information about becoming a PASS Global Alliance Partner, please contact Craig Ellis.

FY2016: Investing in Community Growth

August 4, 2015 — As PASS moves into the next year, I'm happy to announce that the Board of Directors has voted to approve our Fiscal Year 2016 budget. We’re excited about the upcoming year and opportunities to continue building this amazing community.

Last year, our goals for FY2015 were to focus on support for SQLSaturday and chapter growth, as well as for our two major conferences: PASS Summit and PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC). We also prioritized strategic planning for the business analytics (BA) community and focus for our Global Alliance Program and global growth. We committed to investing in the necessary IT to modernize our platforms to enable a stronger community. Over the past year, PASS has made solid progress on many of these fronts:

· We announced our strides and strategies for building and supporting the BA community.

· PASS Summit 2014 saw our highest attendance to date, and we successfully established our venue through 2019, for significant savings.

· We reestablished the strategic focus and community for the PASS BAC 2015, resulting in positive responses from the community and renewed commitment from the industry.

· We added two regional Board advisors to support our Latin America (LATAM) community.

· We relaunched our SQLSaturday website with expanded support for speakers and leaders.

· We made the difficult but necessary decision to retire the SQLRally brand and reinvest those resources into other portfolios.

This year, our budget’s primary purposes are to continue to strengthen our PASS communities. Some key areas of focus in the FY2016 budget include:

· Add a specific BA portfolio, to maintain consistency in the budgeting for our BA efforts, with the aim of continuing growth in both our BA community and PASS BAC event.

· Refocus our SQLRally investments to our SQLSaturday portfolio.

· Increase our global growth through support for our Global Growth Program.

· Add a Sales portfolio, to diversify revenue streams to help ensure the continued success of the PASS community.

· Add resources and staff to support further technology improvements, including a redesign of the sqlpass.org website for better usability and functionality.

You can see this focus in action starting with PASS Summit 2015, October 27–30 in Seattle. With an all-star lineup of expert speakers and can’t-miss sessions, this event represents one of our primary revenue streams as well as offering a wealth of opportunities for community engagement and networking. If you haven’t already registered, contact one of our Local or Virtual Chapters for a discount code.

Next year, don’t miss PASS BAC 2016, May 2–4, 2016 in San Jose. Join influencers in this rapidly expanding industry, to share knowledge and take part in this incredible community.

As far as governance goes, keep an eye out for the PASS Board of Directors elections. Following a successful Nomination Committee (NomCom) election in July, Board applications open August 5. Take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the future of PASS.

As in former years, this year's budget process was successful in large part thanks to our many PASS community volunteers, Directors, HQ staff, portfolio owners, and Finance team. All worked long and hard to assemble the necessary research and crunch the numbers to help us in this important endeavor. Many thanks to you all!

This is a wonderful time to be a part of PASS. I hope that you’re as excited as I am for the future of this community. We often emphasize that “PASS is your organization”—and it’s true. We want to hear your ambitions for PASS; contact us with feedback any time. And thank you for another great year.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance
@Wadamj

Elections Update

August 4, 2015 — The PASS Board of Directors recently completed Executive Committee (ExecCo) elections. When the current ExecCo completes their terms on December 31, 2015, the new ExecCo will be introduced on January 1, 2016. At that time, James Rowland-Jones will assume the role of Executive Vice President (EVP), Finance & Governance; therefore, his director-at-large seat will be left open for one year—the remainder of his elected two-year term.

According to the PASS Bylaws, when a seat becomes vacant outside of a standard election cycle, the Board of Directors will appoint, by a majority vote, to fill the unexpired term. The initial intention of the Board in writing and passing this particular Bylaw (as shared with the community in 2013) was to add any known vacant seats to the upcoming general election. However, this is the first time since the Bylaw took effect in 2013 that a director-at-large seat will become vacant prior to a full term being filled. In our efforts to follow the Bylaws appropriately, the current Board sought legal advice for clarity around the wording in the Bylaws regarding appointing versus electing a candidate for the unexpired term.

As I said earlier, the EVP elect director-at-large seat will not officially be vacant until January 1, 2016. As this date is nearly six months away, the future vacancy of the EVP elect director-at-large seat cannot be guaranteed to actually occur. We have no reason to think otherwise, but as we cannot predict the future with absolutely accuracy, an unexpected illness, disaster, or other unforeseen event must be considered as a possibility, no matter how slight. Therefore, the vacancy does not exist at the time of the 2015 election. (The full term director-at-large seats that are up for election are known vacancies, as the reason for the vacancies is that the term for those seats expires as of December 31, 2015.)

After legal consultation and discussion, the Board has reached the understanding that to adhere to the letter of the PASS Bylaws, we will need to vote to appoint the unexpired term rather than include it as part of the upcoming PASS Board of Directors election. Still, we realize that the Bylaws likely do not accomplish their intended goal. We are working with our legal team to make sure that going forward, the Bylaws match our intentions.

The PASS Board will announce the appointment of the unexpired one-year term seat in January of 2016 when the EVP elect fills his new role on the PASS Executive Committee. If you have any questions, please contact us at governance@sqlpass.org.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance
@Wadamj

Recap: Inside the PASS Board's June 2015 Meeting

July 30, 2015 — Our Board of Directors June 2015 meeting was held in Vancouver, Canada. Most of our meetings occur via conference call every month, but we try to meet in-face at least three times a year. At this two-day meeting we had a lot of topics to discuss and meeting in-person leads to better conversations than a phone call could ever provide.

You’ve already heard much of the news from that meeting from previous posts on the PASS blog and various articles in our newsletters, but here are the highlights.

· On Day 1 we welcomed two recent additions to the PASS HQ team: Georgia Dahle as director of Marketing and Charlie Yates-Bishop as director of Sales. As part of our regular review of internal PASS HQ processes, we also reviewed current IT priorities.

· We revisited a discussion from our January 2015 meeting regarding the introduction of Latin America (LATAM) regional Board advisors. Read more about that discussion here (in English), here (Spanish), or here (Portuguese). After reviewing candidates we voted to approve Eduardo Castro of Costa Rica and Diego Nogare of Brazil as our new regional advisors.

· We reviewed the 2016 budget and set a date (June 24) to vote on it.

· Jennifer Moser introduced guest James Phillips, Microsoft corporate VP of Power BI, who was there to give a presentation on Microsoft’s Power BI roadmap. After the presentation there was a healthy discussion about the PASS BA Community, the BAC, and Microsoft’s role in supporting our PASS family. (Read more about this topic here.)

· Day 2 opened with the PASS ExecCo elections. You can read about the results and your 2016 ExecCo here.

· We made a definitive decision about the 2016 BAC, which will be held May 2-4, 2016, in Santa Clara, California.

· The Board evaluated an offer to extend the PASS Summit Seattle venue for an additional year (2019).

· We made the difficult but necessary decision to retire the SQLRally event model. We explain this decision and what it means for PASS members here.

As you can see, it was a busy two days. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any of these topics please don’t hesitate to contact us.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone at Summit in just a few months!

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Announcing the 2015 PASS Nomination Committee

July 22, 2015 – Thank you to all PASS members who participated in this year’s Nomination Committee (NomCom) elections. Congratulations to Lori Edwards, Robert L. Davis, and Bob Pusateri, the community representatives whom you have elected to join NomCom Chair Bill Graziano and Board-appointed representative Grant Fritchey on the 2015 NomCom.

A total of 540 voters cast 1229 votes in the NomCom elections. To be eligible to vote in this year’s NomCom and Board elections, PASS members needed to update their PASS profile by June 1, 2015. PASS’ secure online voting system, Simply Voting, doesn’t hold any PASS member email addresses or passwords and helped us to ensure that only eligible voters were able to cast ballots and were able to vote only once (with up to three ballots cast).

The NomCom community seats reflect the three seats up for election on the PASS Board this year: one US/Canada and Open, one EMEA and Open and one Open seat. The five-member NomCom will manage the Board elections process, qualifying, interviewing, and ranking potential candidates. A final slate will then be submitted to the current Board for approval. In addition, this year’s NomCom is charged with streamlining the process for involving and evaluating candidates and with enhancing opportunities for community engagement in the elections.

Applications for the three PASS Board seats up for election open August 5. To learn more about the 2015 NomCom election results and preview the upcoming Board of Directors elections, please see the Elections site. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact PASS Governance.

Congratulations again to Lori, Robert, and Bob. And a special thank you to all the candidates for their dedicated volunteer efforts on behalf of the PASS community and their enthusiastic and professional candidacies in this year’s NomCom elections.