Working on Strategy for Local BA Events

December 22, 2014 – With a growing interest in and questions among community members about expanding into business analytics-related chapters and adding more local events such as BA SQLSaturdays, the PASS Board of Directors took up the discussion at our last meeting of 2014.

PASS is pursuing a variety of online offerings to serve business and data analytics professionals and is working with the Virtual Chapters that cover BA-related topics. We are also excited about the possibilities in growing our BA-related local activities and creating more in-person training and networking opportunities. But to make sure that we are serving the community in the best way, the Board agreed on our Thursday conference call to suspend such further expansion until we can develop and agree upon a plan for structuring and growing these new BA community groups and events. (Look for the official minutes of this meeting to be posted on the Governance page in January.)

While we work with community members on a strategy that will successfully move us forward in supporting business and data analytics professionals around the world, we ask that you hold off on any new local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We’ll be looking for your ideas and feedback in the New Year – feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or comments – and please watch the PASS Blog and Community Connector for the latest updates.

Wishing all the #sqlfamily a safe and happy holiday season,
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

PASS Programs Team Leverages Data Science for Attendance Predictions and Feedback Rating

December 17, 2014 – This year, Data Scientist and PASS volunteer Dev Nambi joined the Programs team to help with PASS Summit 2014 sessions scheduling and predictive analytics. Over the past month, Dev and the team have been digging into the data from both session attendance and session feedback, and we wanted to share the findings with the community.

In this first year of doing prediction for attendance, we saw a variety of results, including the reduction of overcrowded sessions. Dev details the results and provides a link to the raw dataset in his blog post PASS Summit Attendance and Predictions. With the lessons learned from our debut effort, we will continue to improve on and incorporate prediction models into our Summit scheduling process.

Dev and the team also examined Summit 2014 session evaluations. This year, we saw a 14.8 % return rate of evaluations from attendees, and we’re looking at ways to increase that number. Despite an increased possible margin of error based on the decrease in responses, we appreciate all the session evaluation feedback we received from attendees and are taking key findings into account as we start planning next year’s Summit. To view the correlations and rankings, please see Dev’s analysis in Say Anything! PASS Summit Feedback and Ratings.

A big thank you to Dev for the time and effort he spent analyzing and compiling the attendance prediction and session evaluations data. Thank you also to Summit attendees for using the Schedule Builder to help with attendance predictions and to the entire PASS community for your feedback. Moving forward, PASS Programs will continue assembling, sharing, and using this information and data analysis to help make the Summit experience the best it can be. If you have any comments or input, please don’t hesitate to email program@sqlpass.org.
– Amy Lewis
Director, PASS Programs

15 #SQLFamily Wishes for 2015

December 9, 2014 – For our last Connector newsletter of the year, we asked 15 PASS community members what they wished for their fellow data professionals in 2015. What did Thomas LaRock, Mark Souza, Rimma Nehme, Kalen Delaney, Kimberly Tripp, and other passionate PASS volunteers from around the world have to say? Read on to find out – then add your own message for the New Year in our comments section.

“Before I make a wish, I must first be thankful. I am thankful for a caring, passionate SQL Server community that doesn’t hesitate to go out of their way to help others be successful. My biggest wish for 2015 is that this special #SQLFamily continues to prioritize others over themselves and that the passion and caring is contagious worldwide. The future of the data industry for all of us is exciting – with lots more to learn and share – so keep an open mind and be ready to embrace and conquer whatever the data industry throws at us. Whether it be Big Data (real-time analytics), Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc., our SQL Server foundation has put us in a great position to succeed.”
– Mark Souza, GM – Microsoft Data Platform Group

“I wish our #SQLFamily love, luck and inspiration. May the New Year bring all your objectives and plans to life! And special wishes for my fellow SQL Server professionals in Central/Eastern Europe – may you have the biggest and best SQLSaturdays and chapter meetings ever.”
– Andrey Korshikov, BI developer, Russia
2014 PASSion Award winner, leader of the PASS Global Russian Virtual Chapter & Regional Mentor for Central Eastern Europe

Я желаю нашей #SQLFamily любви, удачи и вдохновения. Пусть Новый Год принесет задач и планов воплощение! И специальное пожелание для моих коллег-профессионалов SQL Server в Центральной / Восточной Европе - пусть у вас будет самый большой и лучший SQLSaturdays и встречи групп чем когда-либо ранее.

“I wish for SQL Server professionals to learn what kinds of workloads and applications will benefit from In-Memory OLTP and use the new technology to get up to a 30X performance improvement. Then I hope they learn what kinds of workloads and applications won’t benefit from In-Memory OLTP, so they don’t complain about In-Memory OLTP not working! :) I also wish that all SQL Server professionals would have a chance to experience the wonders of the SQL Community first-hand, whether at a major conference, a SQLSaturday, or even a Virtual Conference. Happy New Year!”
– Kalen Delaney, SQLearning, Washington
SQL Server MVP, speaker & author of “SQL Server Internals: In-Memory OLTP”

“On behalf of the Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter, our wish for 2015 is to connect and bring valuable learning opportunities to even more data professionals who speak the Portuguese language, with these goals in mind: Connect, Share, and Learn SQL Server and make our chapter an essential resource for professional career development. Wishing everyone a wonderful new year, full of achievements!”
– Marcos Freccia, Sr. SQL Server DBA - Dell, Brazil
SQL Server MVP & PASS Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter Leader

Em nome do Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter, nosso desejo para 2015 é conectar e trazer as melhores oportunidades de aprendizado e ainda mais profissionais de dados que falam a língua Portuguesa com estes objetivos em mente: Conectar, Compartilhar e Aprender SQL Server, e que possamos tornar o nosso chapter um recurso essencial para o desenvolvimento de uma carreira. Espero que todos tenham um ótimo ano novo, repleto de conquistas.

“My wish for 2015 is that everyone in the PASS community develops a passion for learning. Learn something new every single day – whether it’s cloud, parallel databases, NoSQL, Hadoop, etc. – then start thinking of common-sense ways to put these new technologies to work for you and your organization. And in the middle of all this learning and doing, don’t forget that the ultimate goal of data technologies and the businesses we work for is to improve lives – remember to enjoy your family and friends and live life to its fullest!”
– Rimma Nehma, Senior Research Engineer, Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, Madison, WI

“For the LATAM community, I wish success to all PASS Chapter leaders as they organize their local meetings and SQLSaturday events, and I look forward to continuing the exciting PASS growth in Latin America and helping establish new chapters in many countries in 2015. For the worldwide PASS community, I wish that all SQL Server professionals would take the opportunity to get involved in PASS activities and their local chapters through volunteering and knowledge sharing.”
– Eduardo Castro, Data Architect, Grupo Asesor en Informatica, Costa Rica
PASS Regional Mentor – Latin America

Para la comunidad de LATAM , deseo éxito a todos los líderes PASS Capítulo como organizan sus reuniones y eventos locales SQLSaturday , y espero con interés la continuación del crecimiento emocionante PASS en América Latina y ayudar a establecer nuevos capítulos en muchos países en el año 2015. Para el mundial comunidad PASS , deseo que todos los profesionales de SQL Server tomarían la oportunidad de involucrarse en actividades PASS y sus capítulos locales a través del voluntariado y el intercambio de conocimientos.

"My wish is inspired by one of my all-time favorite quotes: If you want to master something, teach it (Yogi Bhajan). My wish is for you to pick something that you really want to learn, learn it, and then deliver it to your office colleagues, a local user group, or even a SQLSaturday. Our community is so strong – members are always paying it forward – and this is a great way to keep that spirit going. Happy Holidays!”
– Kimberly Tripp, SQLskills.com, Redmond, WA
SQL Server MVP, speaker & author

“I wish everyone working with SQL Server, from accidental DBAs and casual coders to data warehouse developers and performance-tuning superheroes, the chance to supercharge your skills and social network by going to a really inspiring conference. You deserve it, because the world is depending on your databases.”
– Johan Åhlén, Nordic CTO of SolidQ, Sweden
President of the Swedish SQL Server User Group & co-founder of PASS SQLRally Nordic

“I have three wishes for 2015: First, that all database professionals are able to attend at least one SQLSaturday, even if they have to travel a bit to get there; second, that my co-leader, Rob Hatton, and I are able to increase our BI user group meetings to 20 people each month; and third, that I am able to present one of my sessions at an international venue.”
– Mickey Stuewe, Data Architect, Costa Mesa, CA
Founder & Co-Leader of BIG PASS Community user group & 2013 Tribal Awards' best new community voice

“My desire for 2015 is that SQL Server would enter the world of massive parallel processing and would be able to handle truly large amounts of data across many commodity servers, providing high availability with no single point of failure. I don’t want to switch to PDW, Cassandra, or MariaDB (although I love the name :). I want my favorite RDBMS to be able to scale out and send this wish out to those who can make it happen. And for the PASS Global Hebrew Virtual Chapter, I hope that more and more people learn about it, and that with the community’s help, we’re able to continue providing even more valuable learning opportunities for Hebrew-speaking data professionals around the world.”
– Maria Zakourdaev, Data Architect, Perion Networks, Israel
Global Hebrew Virtual Chapter Leader

“My wish is that everyone will review their backup and disaster recovery (DR) plans in 2015. Everyone needs to have a backup and restore plan in place and tested regularly, as well as a DR plan that is tested at least yearly. If you are not familiar with how to implement these technologies, then 2015 is the year to do it!”
– Ryan Adams, DBA at Verizon, Texas
PASS Performance Virtual Chapter Leader, Regional Mentor – South Central US & SQL Server MVP

“Wishing the #SQLFamily a happy and prosperous Connect, Share, and Learn year in 2015! I encourage everyone to continue their data and BI learning globally through our regular PASS DW/BI Virtual Chapter webinars and YouTube Channel – and tell a friend. For my Australian #SQLFamily, let's rock SQLSaturday Melbourne on 7 Feb 2015! Have a safe and fun holiday season.”
– Julie Koesmarno, SQL Server/BI Consultant, LobsterPot Solutions, Australia
PASS DW/BI VC Chapter Leader & SQLSaturday Melbourne Committee Member

“To my MEA #SQLFamily, thanks for all your efforts this year, and I am looking forward to working with you to grow our region and reach even more fellow data professionals next year with great learning and networking opportunities. My wish for the worldwide #SQLFamily is for everyone to enjoy the festive season. Be safe, have a Happy New Year, and return refreshed and ready for even bigger things in 2015!”
– Jody Roberts, DBA, Cape Town, South Africa
SQL Server MVP & PASS Regional Mentor - Middle East and Africa

“One of my biggest wishes for 2015 is for communities to stop competing and instead help one another so that we can all grow stronger together. Whether the communities are for different database technologies, software vendors, or even from different countries with different languages and backgrounds or from different associations and affiliations, ultimately we are all trying to do the same thing in sharing, learning and growing. Together, we can be not only stronger but more effective. Let's all try to do more to embrace and connect with diverse communities and make 2015 a truly special year to remember!”
– Mark Broadbent, DBA, Cambridgeshire, UK
PASS Regional Mentor - UK, leader of the PASS Oracle Virtual Chapter and the Cambridgeshire SQL Server User Group & organizer of SQLSaturday Cambridge

“My wish for 2015 is for all members of our #SQLFamily to have the best possible disaster recovery plans that they never have to use.”
– Thomas LaRock, PASS President & Head Geek at SolarWinds

Announcing PASS Board Portfolios for 2015

Oct. 31, 2014  With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle next week, I wanted to share the details around your portfolio leaders for 2015.

It’s always exciting to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use for our members. Next year will see a few changes to our Board portfolios, including the continuing integration of the Global Growth and Volunteers focus areas into everything we do at PASS as well as the addition of a Business Analytics portfolio.

Without further ado, here are the portfolio assignments for 2015:

    • James Rowland-Jones, who led our Global Growth portfolio and was re-elected to the Board for the 2015/2016 term, will be spearheading our Special Projects portfolio going forward, as our ongoing efforts to better support the global community become an essential part of all of our portfolios. James’ project for 2015 will be to grow PASS’s sponsorship sales activities across the organization.
    • Wendy Pastrick, also re-elected to the Board for 2015/2016, will bring her experience in supporting and growing Global Chapters this year to her new mission with Virtual Chapters, leading our efforts to provide unparalleled online learning opportunities for the global data community through an ever-increasing lineup of language- and topic-focused VCs. 
    • Tim Ford has translated his passion and experience as a SQLSaturday organizer into guiding the SQLSaturday portfolio to even greater growth. We witnessed a record 86 free SQLSaturday events in FY2014 – 34 international SQLSaturdays and 52 US events – and will be rolling out a new SQLSaturday website, enhanced for attendees and organizers. With Tim’s continued leadership in 2015, we are focused on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe through these popular free, 1-day training events.
    • Amy Lewis will take the momentum from a busy first year heading up the PASS Programs portfolio into 2015, continuing to improve processes, support community speakers, and lead PASS’s largest volunteer committees as they select sessions for PASS Summit – this year’s conference features a record 200+ sessions – and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
    • Jen Stirrup, who led the Virtual Chapters portfolio this year, will be taking on a different role in 2015 as she heads up our new Business Analytics portfolio, helping steer the strategy around the growth of this young and growing community.
    • Grant Fritchey, who will begin serving on the Board in January, will take over the Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.

The 2015 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – as well as Founding Partner Board representatives from Microsoft.

Looking over the portfolio assignments above, you can’t help but see how essential community volunteers are to everything we do. Each portfolio leader works with valued volunteers in their area. In 2015, each Director will be focusing on how to better engage more volunteers as a vital part of every project.

As Sri Sridharan transitions off the Board, his work on the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions will continue through the focus and efforts of each Director and their PASS HQ counterparts. This is a similar method to how we approached the Global Growth portfolio, and we expect to see similar success.

The transition to new assignments is underway, and new and returning portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit – you can find us in the Community Zone throughout the week and at the Board Q&A on Friday, Nov. 7 – and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

 

SQL Server and BA: Growing in Depth and Breadth

Oct. 31, 2014  Two years ago, PASS began to expand our educational offerings to include a conference targeted to the business analytics community. This year, we’ve had more discussion within our community about what our business analytics strategy means for PASS.

Next week at Summit, we’ll be holding a special PASS Business Analytics Direction and Q&A session. Throughout the week, members of the Board will also be available to listen to your feedback and answer your questions about our plans for BA. If you will be at Summit, I hope you will take some time to talk to me or other Board members about our BA initiatives.

One of the concerns I’ve heard expressed is that our expansion to serve the business analytics community could negatively affect how we serve our core SQL Server and BI members. I’d like to share with you how we are allocating resources to ensure that does not happen.

Business analytics is a natural extension of our core, data-centric SQL Server and business intelligence communities. We  the DBAs, database developers, data architects, and BI professionals – work with business and data analysts, data scientists, line-of-business managers, and others on the business side whose lives revolve around data every day. The business and data analysts are our colleagues, our clients, our customers.

PASS Summit has long been the main source of fundraising for PASS, funding the many other learning opportunities and programs we offer throughout the year. As PASS leaders saw the expanding attention to business analytics in the data industry, developing a focused conference and other learning opportunities for those working in the business analytics space made sense. This would both introduce an additional revenue stream to help secure the organization’s future capability to better serve all our members and bring us in closer touch with a growing community of data professionals.

PASS’s BA-related activities and budget were structured from the beginning to be fully self-funding, with no cross-funding or subsidization from PASS’s SQL Server-related revenues. When PASS announced in July 2012 that it would be hosting the new PASS Business Analytics Conference in Spring 2013, the conference was projected to break even – we made a modest profit. To date, the net profit we’ve realized from our two BA Conference events has covered the cost of all of our other BA-related initiatives, including staff time to support new BA-related Virtual Chapters, 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition, and other activities.

At the same time, our fiscal year 2015 budget supports continuing growth for our core SQLSaturday events and SQL Server and BI Chapters and Virtual Chapters around the world, an ever-growing PASS Summit, and continuing IT investments to modernize our platforms and take advantage of technology to enable a stronger, more connected PASS community.

The BA Conference and other BA offerings may not be taking funding from PASS’s SQL Server activities, but do these expanded initiatives affect the energy and focus that PASS leaders, volunteers, and staff can bring to serving SQL Server and BI professionals?

Even before launching our BA activities, PASS has been mindful of making investments to support the growth we’ve seen in our local PASS Chapters, Virtual Chapters, SQLSaturday events, and overall SQL Server and BI membership rolls. We have expanded our Community, Project Management, Marketing, and IT teams and have a continued focus on growth – in terms of both quantity of chapters, services, and resources for the global SQL Server community as well as quality of training and networking opportunities. (See our FY2015 portfolio goals here.)

Judging from the energy, hard work, and creativity that’s gone into next week’s PASS Summit – which will feature the biggest program and the largest gathering of SQL Server and BI pros ever – our HQ and community teams are committed to serving the needs of our core members.

One of the strengths of PASS is that our membership is so diverse, made up of a variety of roles, interests, and talents. The PASS community is already the hub and connector for many different data communities – from 275+ local Chapters around the world to 27 language- and topic-focused Virtual Chapters to speaker and blogger communities and beyond. These communities serve different locales, different learning needs, different technology interests, and different career and professional growth goals – and each interacts with PASS in a different way. But they all come together under the PASS mission of empowering data professionals to connect, share, and learn.

The way that PASS invests in these different data communities shows that it can be AND rather than OR. With the passion and dedication of our members and volunteers, we can continue growing not only in breadth, but also in depth in the communities we already serve.

In the coming months, we’ll publish more about our BA strategy and direction. And I hope you will bring your questions to the PASS Business Analytics Direction and Q&A session at Summit on Friday, Nov. 7, at 2:15pm in Room 307/308. I’ll see you there. 
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing


 

PASS Summit 2014 Pre-Con Preview: Brian & Devin Knight

Oct. 16, 2014 – Go inside PASS Summit 2014's full-day pre-conference sessions in this Q&A series with our presenters. We caught up with Brian and Devin Knight for a quick chat about their pre-con, SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution.

Q: If your pre-con had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Devin:
I’d go with Kenny Loggins – “Danger Zone” because it’s an awesome song and so is our pre-con!

Q: What excites you most about working with SQL Server Integration Services?
Brian:
I like the logic problems. Each package you build is like solving a puzzle that has a dozen ways of solving it. 

Q: What's the most surprising statement attendees might hear you say during the pre-con?
Devin: “Okay, now everyone line up for the ceremonial Knight brothers pre-con hug.“

Q: What’s your favorite SSIS transform and why?
Brian:
The Swiss Army knife of any SSIS developer is the Script Transform. When you can’t do something in a native or third-party component, it’s time to whip out a script. We should cover about a dozen different patterns of how to use these in our pre-conference session. 

Q: What still trips you up in the real world when scrubbing duplicate data?
Devin:
Using Regular Expressions to scrub data has always been something that has thrown me, because it feels very unnatural to write coming from a SQL Server background. Luckily, there are plenty of resources such as http://regexlib.com/ to help!

Q: If attendees could start putting into practice just one thing after this pre-con, what would you want that to be?
Devin:
I find that the package restartability section of the pre-con has a lot of content that’s often overlooked but that can be extremely useful for recovering from failed package executions. I think people skip these steps because most people don’t plan for their packages to fail.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2014 pre-con speakers.


PASS Board Elections: The Results Are In!

Oct. 14, 2014  The results are in for the three PASS Board of Directors seats up for election this year. After an extended elections season in 2014, we are proud to announce that Grant Fritchey, James Rowland-Jones, and Wendy Pastrick have been elected to serve for the 2015/2016 term. Grant will serve in the US/Canada regional seat, and James and Wendy were each re-elected to an open seat on the Board.

A total of 3,917 votes were cast this year by 1,570 voters. This is a slight increase when compared to the 3,904 votes cast by 1,514 voters in 2013. For those of us who enjoy data, you can see the voter turnout numbers for the past six years on the Elections Archive page. Results for the 2014 elections are as follows:

Grant Fritchey  1,295 votes     US/Canada seat winner
James Rowland-Jones   1,052 votes    Open seat winner
Wendy Pastrick 1,037 votes    Open seat winner
Sri Sridharan
   533 votes  

To review how the seats were awarded, please see the elections overview document. The newly elected directors will begin serving their term on January 1, 2015.

I also want to take a moment to thank Sri Sridharan for his two years of service on the PASS Board. And while Sri won’t be with the Board in 2015, I know we’ll continue to see great things from him as he continues volunteering and supporting the PASS community.

Now, a few words about voting eligibility for the 2014 elections. As noted in an earlier post, this year the PASS Board extended the deadline for members to update their profile and vote. We did this in an effort to ensure that as many members as possible had the ability to cast their ballot; you can read the details here.

Historically, we have seen the highest number of members casting ballots on the very first few days of the election. This year was no exception, with 535 members casting ballots on the first two days. Between September 26 and October 6, we saw 379 members casting their ballots. 

With the extension this year, we saw an additional spike on October 7, with 262 members casting ballots. Another 394 members voted between October 8 and the close of voting on Tuesday, October 14. 

I’m thankful that we were able to take the steps necessary to get ballots into the hands of the people who updated their profiles. Thank you for your patience, thank you for your PASSion, and thank you for taking the time to exercise your right to vote.

I also want to thank everyone who asked a question in the candidate forums or Twitter chats, who blogged and tweeted about the elections, and who made their voices heard. PASS will always need your ideas, your involvement, and your dedication. As PASS continues to grow, it continues to need more PASSionate individuals to step up and lead. If you're interested in moving into a leadership role within the PASS community, check out volunteer opportunities with your local PASS Chapter or favorite Virtual Chapter and take that next step toward possibly serving on the PASS Board yourself.

And finally, to the newly elected directors: We’ve got some work to do, and I’m looking forward to getting started. See you in Seattle!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

SQLSaturday at Summit: Q&A Panels, Website Sneak Peek, and More

Oct. 14, 2014  Hello, PASS Community! It seems like it was just a couple months ago that we were meeting up for PASS Summit 2013 – I can’t believe it was actually a year ago. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in person in Seattle next month.

As part of our Summit agenda, we always dedicate time to meet with our community organizers, including Chapter and Virtual Chapter Leaders, Regional Mentors, and SQLSaturday organizers. As Director of the SQLSaturday portfolio, I wanted to share some of what we’ll be discussing around SQLSaturday on Community Day at Summit, which is Tuesday, Nov. 4, as well as in the Community Zone throughout the week.

Kicking off the annual SQLSaturday Round Table will be a Q&A with the SQLSaturday leadership team, consisting of myself and our passionate Community Evangelists, Karla Landrum and Carmen Buchman. You can review the agenda here, and please bring all your questions and suggestions. We’re following up this year with some activities that go even further in supporting PASS’s mission statement:

Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn
through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning.

We'll be hosting a new panel featuring some of our most experienced SQLSaturday organizers from around the world sharing their knowledge and tips and tricks for putting on successful events.

We’ll also be reviewing exciting updates to the SQLSaturday website, coming your way by the end of 2014. Working from your SQLSaturday website wish list – which we’ve cultivated over the past few years – as well as with a Community Focus Group, we’ve taken your feedback and ideas and put a great amount of time and consideration into building a more functional and modern web experience for SQLSaturday organizers and attendees alike. We can’t wait to show off the current version at Summit. You can find a list of all the wish list items that we’re integrating into the next SQLSaturday website here. We’ll also be emailing it along with a full Round Table meeting agenda to all SQLSaturday organizers for review in advance.

In addition, PASS Community Evangelists and SQLSaturday organizers from around the world will be available in the Community Zone Wednesday-Friday to answer all your questions – whether you’re looking for a SQLSaturday to attend or want to learn how to host one yourself. Check out the Community Zone Spotlight schedule to see when to stop by and meet with organizers from your area.

Our team is working hard to make these meetings as informational, transparent, and successful as possible, so we can quickly answer your questions, respond to any issues or concerns, and spend more time discussing how we can improve our future events. As owner of the SQLSaturday portfolio as well as a PASS Director-at-Large, I can’t wait to connect with all our passionate SQLSaturday organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees, share what we’re doing today to enhance everyone’s experience, and learn how we can better support SQLSaturday efforts around the world.   

Don’t forget to wear your favorite SQLSaturday shirt Wednesday at Summit, and I’ll see you in Seattle!
– Tim Ford
PASS Director of SQLSaturday


 

PASS Summit 2014 Pre-Con Preview: Allan Hirt

Oct. 7, 2014 – Go inside PASS Summit 2014's full-day pre-conference sessions in this Q&A series with our presenters. We spent a few minutes with Allan Hirt to learn more about what to expect in his pre-con, The A to Z of Availability Groups.

Q: If your pre-con had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Tough choice, but thinking about it, maybe “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush. Besides the obvious if you know me, it’s an instrumental that starts off deceptively simple, but gets really complex and furious at times. I think it’s appropriate. AGs are deceptively simple, but in reality, not at all once you really start looking under the hood.

Q: What excites you most about Availability Groups?
It takes the best bits of a few different things and mashes them into one. That creates certain challenges, but that’s part of the fun.

Q: What's the most surprising statement attendees might hear you say during the pre-con?
If you don’t understand Windows Server failover clusters, you will fail at deploying AGs. 

Q: What’s the biggest myth around AGs that you’d like to debunk?
A secondary replica can be under-powered. That is completely false. 

Q: In the spirit of A-to-Z: What are some first words you’d like to say about AGs? How about a statement to leave attendees with?
First words: The Availability Groups feature is NOT AlwaysOn. AlwaysOn is not a feature.
Last words: Plan your deployments well, and you will be very successful with AGs.

Q: If SQL Server pros could start putting into practice just one thing after this pre-con, what would you want that to be?
I'd like them to understand things like networking, storage, and Windows Server failover clusters so they will have better deployments of AGs.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2014 pre-con speakers.


PASS Summit 2014 Pre-Con Preview: Davide Mauri

Oct. 7, 2014 – Go inside PASS Summit 2014's full-day pre-conference sessions in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this Q&A, Davide Mauri gives us a quick look at his pre-con, Agile Data Warehousing: Start to Finish.

Q: If your pre-con had a theme song, what would it be and why?
“One Vision” by Queen. The data warehouse is all about having one, coherent vision of all company data and information.

Q: What interests you most about the Agile approach to data warehouse design, testing, and implementation?
It gives results quickly, and everyone involved in it, from developers to managers, get excited because they start to understand the strategic importance of the data warehouse. As a result of being able to quickly get insights, they start to use it to democratize the information in the company, really changing how decisions are made and ultimately making the process much more efficient and based on “real” data, not just intuition or, worse, suppositions. This is the era of data-driven decisions, and the data warehouse is one of the backbones of that.

Q: What's the most surprising statement attendees might hear you say during the pre-con?
That the only thing that will remain constant is that requirements will always change. I’m quite sure that many will also be surprised to learn that there is no product or model or tool that can make you Agile. Agile is a mindset, and thus the most important thing is to start to think that way. Everything will become natural after that first step.

Q: What’s the biggest myth around the agile process that you’d like to debunk?
I have two: The first myth is that the data warehouse is now obsolete, and with Big Data tools like Hadoop and In-Memory technologies, one can live without it. It’s really an important myth to debunk, because a data warehouse is not only a physical container, but is the place where people expect to find correct data. It’s a sort of metaphysical concept that alone can change how decisions are made within a company. 

The second myth is about tools that enable you to become Agile. As I noted earlier, this is another myth I’ll try to debunk.

Q: What still excites you in the real world when using Agile data warehousing principles?
I love to see the huge impact a good BI/DWH solution has in a company. And I love even more to see the faces of managers used to waiting for weeks or months to have a new business requirement put into production when I tell them, “OK, you’ll have it in a couple of days.” It’s like being a superhero… except they don’t allow me to go to their offices wearing a blue and red spandex suit. :)

Q: If attendees could start putting into practice just one thing after this pre-con, what would you want that to be?
Automation. I’ll show attendees how they can automate up to 66% of data warehouse creation. This really changes the game because it allows you to support frequent changes and move in the direction of becoming Agile.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2014 pre-con speakers.