Category: PASS SQLRally
After running three SQLRally events, both in the US and overseas, the PASS Board feels it’s the right time to step back and re-examine our SQLRally event options in the US. Orlando, Dallas, and Sweden have all been well supported, community-oriented, and successful events, but we’ve observed that the North American SQLRally events, compared to the international one, are more resource intensive for PASS.
So instead of charging ahead with the next SQLRally in the US, we want to take some time to review the model and determine what will work best going forward. This means no US-based SQLRally event will take place in 2013.
It is important to note that SQLRally is not going away. The event is modeled differently overseas and is so far working very successfully and efficiently. We hope to learn more from the international model with SQLRally Nordic taking place in October. We are also planning one or two more international SQLRally events in the upcoming fiscal year.
In the meantime for the US, our widely popular SQLSaturday events—40+ events in 2012, several with pre-conference days—are cropping up everywhere and giving members ample chance to improve their SQL Server skills in person. And, along with a review of the SQLRally model, we’re actively investigating other types of US-based event opportunities.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
(Reposted from Tim Mitchell's blog - you can read the original post here.)
It’s hard to believe that after all the hard work, planning, and prep, SQLRally Dallas is just a week away! This time next week the conference will be in full swing for Day 1 of the regular sessions. The pre-conference seminars actually start on Tuesday, so it’s going to be a full week of learning, Texas-style!
For my part, I’m going to be delivering a presentation on Thursday. I’ll be talking about SQL Server Data Quality Services, one of the new features of SQL Server 2012 that I’m really excited about. This one is designed for kids of all ages – whether you’ve never touched DQS or have been playing around with it for a bit, you’ll get something from this intro session.
“I’ll be there!”
If you’re already registered, great! Be sure to stop by my session and say hello – I’d be happy to meet both people who read my blog.
Remember that there are lots of networking opportunities to go along with the sessions and pre-cons. If you love the night life and/or like to boogie, we’ll be having meetups at the Uptown Bar and Grill on Wednesday and Thursday nights. On Thursday, they’ll have karaoke for those of you who have a good voice or a high threshold for embarrassment. On Friday morning (if you don’t sleep in from the late night singing), meet up with me, Andy Warren, Sri Sridharan, and others at the convention center for coffee and chat. There’s even talk of an unofficial meetup near the convention center on Friday night to watch the broadcast of the Rangers pounding the Angels.
If you are registered for the 2-day conference but haven’t committed to a pre-con, I would encourage you to give them another look. Each one of the 7 pre-conference seminars is a full-day deep dive into a single subject, delivered by presenters who are experts in their fields. Whether you want to learn about DBA topics, SSAS, or professional development, there’s a good chance you’ll find a good fit. Remember, these run on Tuesday and Wednesday, so you could even take in 2 of the pre-cons. The full-day pre-cons are priced at $219 each, which is an excellent bargain given the quality of the education you’ll get.
“I’m still not sure…”
I hear you. Perhaps work is busy and there’s nobody to take the slack if you are gone for two or three days. Maybe the boss says he won’t pay for it. It could be that you’re afraid that the material will be over your head, or that perhaps you won’t know anybody. Getting away from the office and out of the comfort zone is taxing, no doubt.
But I’d like to submit to you that your career is worth it. At SQLRally, you’re going to be surrounded by 500-600 people who are a lot like you – problem solvers who want to learn. Every demographic and skill level will be represented, from those just starting out to experts with decades of experience. You’ll get the opportunity to talk shop and compare challenges with hundreds of other database professionals, which is an experience you can’t get from a book or online course. You’ll get to meet and chat with authors, MVPs, MCMs, IT business owners, and other folks who have a lot to teach (and I promise you that they’re just regular people, and most of them truly enjoy getting to know fellow professionals).
In addition to the educational benefits, the networking opportunities are probably the most significant element of Rally. If you’ve ever looked for a job, tried to hire someone, or needed a partner to help solve a problem, you quickly realize the need for networking especially in a wired world. There’s simply no replacement for knowing people in this business. I shared with you in my last Rally blog post about how I came into the job that I have now purely because of the networking contacts I’d made at PASS events. Build your network – one day, you’ll be glad you did.
So if you’re not already registered, I’d encourage you to do what you need to do to be a part of this event. Beg the boss (give him/her this), skip the double-foam-extra-wheat-skinny-caramel-mochas this month, pull an extra shift or two, whatever it takes – it’s an investment, but you won’t be disappointed.
– Tim Mitchell
By Sri Sridharan
(Reposted from Sri's SQL Rocks blog)
On behalf the NTSSUG Board and PASS, Erin Welker (Blog|Twitter) and I are super excited to announce that the Call for Speakers for PASS SQLRally 2012 is now open.
As part of the Program Committee for SQLRally 2012, Erin and I have been working hard along with the PASS HQ team (Marcella, Anika, and Alison) for the last 8 weeks. We have made some minor tweaks from what happened in Orlando and hope this is received well by the community.
1. We will have sessions between 60-75min. How many of 60 and 75 min sessions is something that is still in the works. This was a big ask by many speakers in their feedback, and we are glad to do something about it.
2. Approximately 75% of the sessions will be selected by the Program Committee, and only 25% will be out for voting. We mainly did this is to make it simpler and easier from a process standpoint.
3. Finally, I know many of you personally asked me to allow 2011 Summit pre-con speakers to be allowed to speak at SQLRally 2012 – Dallas, and I was really hoping to be able to do something about it. As I came to understand during this process, one of the goals for SQLRally is to develop new speakers and specifically the pre-con speaker pool. I am not 100% sold with this approach since I could see myself go either way. At this point, this is a non-negotiable item to the host city. So, the rule to not allow a prior year Summit pre-con speaker to deliver a pre-con at SQLRally remains. We still encourage all Summit pre-con speakers to submit for regular sessions.
Hopefully the community likes the tweaks we have made in SQLRally Dallas 2012.
We are excited to announce the formation of the PASS Nordic Region, formalizing our support for the tremendous Nordic SQL Server Community. To help us provide this support, we have appointed two leaders of that community who will serve as PASS Regional Mentors. The countries represented in PASS Nordic are Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
It is also a pleasure to announce that Johan Åhlén and Raoul Illyés have accepted our invitations to become PASS Nordic's first Regional Mentors. Johan is a Microsoft MVP and Chairman of the Swedish SQL Server User Group.
Raoul is a leading voice in the Nordic SQL Server community and a founding partner of the PASS SQLRally Nordic event. He is based in Denmark and recently joined the PASS Board of Directors as a non-voting member in support of our international outreach efforts.
Our efforts to work more closely with the Nordic Region are in alignment with PASS's global initiative. Supporting this initiative, the PASS Board recently appointed three International Board Members: Rob Farley (Australia), James Rowland-Jones (UK), and Raoul Illyés (Denmark), also mentioned above as a new Regional Mentor.
Furthering our efforts to support the international SQL Server community, PASS SQLRally Nordic will be held in Aronsborg, Sweden, November 8-9.
PASS Regional Mentors have extensive experience with the local and regional SQL Server Community and provide help and guidance to leaders of our local chapters worldwide. The Regional Mentors work closely with the PASS Community Team.
Please join me in welcoming Johan and Raoul as PASS Nordic Regional Mentors, and check out more information about PASS Regions and Chapters here.
PASS Director, Global Chapters
Congratulations to Dallas and the North Texas SQL Server User Group, which will be hosting PASS SQLRally 2012 next spring! PASS HQ and NTSSUG are currently working to nail down the event venue and dates – watch this blog, Twitter (hashtag #sqlrally), and the PASS Connector enewsletter for the latest updates.
The 2-day regional SQLRally event, filling the gap between SQLSaturdays and the weeklong Summit, debuted this year in Orlando to great reviews and lessons to share for future conferences. Good luck to NTSSUG – and other PASS chapters pitching in to help – as they strive to take SQLRally to the next level!
You can read more about PASS SQLRally 2012 and the site selection process at:
Thanks to all the attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers who made our first-ever PASS SQLRally regional event last week in Orlando a huge success! More than 440 database pros trekked to the Marriott World Center for 48 technical presentations, and 242 people attended the all-day pre-conference seminars.
It was a busy, exciting week. On-site feedback has been positive and enthusiastic. You can relive the experience via blog recaps, twitter (#sqlrally), and great photos on Flickr (search for the SQLRally tag).
SQLRally Orlando was a collaboration between our two Orlando PASS chapters (oPASS, led by Jack Corbett, and MagicPASS, led by Kendal Van Dyke); the PASS HQ team, led by Craig Ellis with a lot of help from Anika Poliseno and Sanjeet Gandham; and a cast of dedicated volunteers from PASS chapters throughout Florida. Truly a team effort!
As I look back at the event, it’s clear that a lot of SQLRally’s success is due to the wealth of practical experience many of us volunteers gained by being involved in SQLSaturday. The leadership and lessons learned through running the free, 1-day SQLSaturdays are just some of the many intangible benefits that the PASS community derives from SQLSaturday. I encourage you – whether as an attendee, volunteer, or a speaker or aspiring speaker – to become involved in a SQLSaturday near you.
Looking ahead, I’m excited to see the momentum from SQLRally Orlando continuing with PASS SQLRally Nordic in Sweden Nov. 8-9. And on June 15, we’ll start the community vote to select the site for PASS SQLRally 2012 in the US. We expect to announce the winner the first week of August.
(Cross-posted from Andy Warren's SQLAndy blog)
Can it really be less than 30 days to the first SQLRally? As I look back, it seems like a very long journey, and now that we’re close, the remaining time seems to be going by very quickly. I met with Jack Corbett on Friday to review the volunteer list and discuss plans for the sessions we have planned on Thursday after the regular day ends, the ones Jack has branded as Overdrive. Then I spent the rest of Friday afternoon reviewing options for some after-hours events. We’ll publish full details later this week, but it looks like it will be something along the lines of this:
- Tuesday evening – very informal and inexpensive meet-up for those that want to get together.
- Wed evening – drinks and appetizer option for those that want to attend (buy your own), followed by miniature golf. Both designed to get you out of the hotel into the Florida weather and connecting with other SQL professionals.
- Thurs evening – a meet-up at nearby Old Town, which is hard to describe, part county fair, part amusement park, part knick-knack shops. They have, among other things, a first class go cart track and a mechanical bull. I’m envisioning some great video from that!
These are all voluntary and designed to be similar but scaled down to the kinds of activities we have at the PASS Summit. If you’re attending and want to do other things – absolutely! After hours is your time. But if you want to meet some new people and have some low key fun, we’re trying to provide an easy way to do that.
Want to host your own get together? You can always put together a group for dinner, or you can set up something and announce it on the site (after the regularly scheduled stuff of course). If you’re staying for the weekend, you might consider heading to the Kennedy Space Center, taking an airboat ride (real Florida), or for some simple geek fun, head north about 30 minutes to Skycraft to see an amazing collection of surplus, well, everything!
I’ll be on site at the hotel around 1:30 pm on the 10th helping to organize and stuff bags and whatever else, and I’ll be at all the after hours events. I hope to see you at one (or all) of them.
Don’t forget that after April 30th the price increases for the last time to the list price of $399. Save the $50 by registering this week!
[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]
SQLSaturday Site Changes
Earlier this week we deployed the first set of small changes to the SQLSaturday site. We fixed a long standing bug in the iCal, added a list on the front page of reserved dates (often events know the date they want but don’t have the facility nailed down), added sponsor logos to the front page of each event site (example below), updated the networking page to includes photos from gravatar (see example below), and made some minor changes to the admin tools.
We’re moving forward in micro sprints of around 7 days, the second sprint will end on next Tuesday and we’ve already planned number three. The prioritization of these changes is interesting. We’re deliberately going after tasks that are low risk/low cost initially to get our HQ developer comfortable and to make some immediate gains, as we get those out of the way we’ll move into harder stuff. Right now I’ve budgeted for 6 sprints, with an option to do an additional 6 if it makes sense.
We’re also working on engaging a designer to do an update on the look and feel. We had a lot of compliments on www.sqlrally.com, so we want to make a similar investment for SQLSaturday.
Go set up an image at gravatar.com!
Things are proceeding well and I’d almost say smoothly. If you’ve run a SQLSaturday you now what this phase is like – details! Getting volunteer assignments defined and filled, ordering speaker shirts (can’t order too early because speakers change), ribbons for badges, lanyards with sponsor name,etc,etc, etc. We blew through the rooms we had reserved at the site hotel, so we’ve set up contact information for a nearby hotel that has shuttle service. We’re still doing weekly calls and trying to stick to our timeline for logistics and marketing (and actually doing pretty well at that). Registrations are growing nicely and it looks like we may sell out the pre-con seminars.
Jack Corbett is working on some additions to the schedule, a set of informal panel type sessions that will run after the last presentation on Thursday. I won’t steal his thunder by listing what he’s working on, but I think it’s really good stuff, a nice change of pace from the stuff you see during the day.
A good portion of the PASS Board will be on site for the event, we’re meeting parts of Wednesday and Thursday, but we’ll be out and about to see how things are going and spend time talking with attendees.
We’re looking at three candidate cities for the 2012 SQLRally; Denver, Nashville, and Dallas. We laid out an estimated timeline and process back in January, it’s been a struggle to stick to it. Lots of places where we just didn’t know enough about how to accomplish what we wanted, a few places where we didn’t communicate our ideas well to the chapter leaders. Frustrating, for me and for the city teams. Some of it we should have – in hindsight – seen, some of it just the pain of trying something for the first time.
But my frustration aside, we’ve got three cities that have completed applications and are working with HQ to get to the point where we can move to the community selection/vote stage. The biggest holdup so far is identifying appropriate meeting space. Because SQLRally was designed from the start to be a low cost/low risk event, we did not budget for reserving rooms at the event site. That worked in Orlando (and we have it worked out in Dallas), but in particular for Nashville we’re struggling to find space without taking on the room commitment.
Room commitments are one of the hidden risks of running larger events. For example, at the PASS Summit we typically reserve (‘block’) more than 4000 rooms, with a potential exposure to PASS of more than $800,000. We’re not required to reserve the rooms, but from long experience we know that attendees get very, very frustrated if they can’t find a room in close proximity to the event site. For SQLRally we’re looking at a much smaller cost, but our estimate is still in the $35k range.
That’s $35k of risk. In the best case it’s just a guarantee, no cost to PASS, in the worst case we’d pay for $35k of rooms that weren’t booked by attendees (think a natural disaster scenario). We didn’t budget for it in the 2011 budget, and so far it’s not in the draft of the 2012 budget. Because of that I sent a motion to the Board asking for authorization to commit to up to $40k during the negotiation process. That motion was voted down. It’s a tough call, we are typically financially conservative, and there isn’t much profit built into our current pricing model to cover the risk. That means for 2012 we’re going to proceed with basically the same budget/plan as for 2011, but we’re going to talk a lot more about 2012 and beyond. If we want to seat 500+ attendees, our options get pretty narrow if we only want to rent meeting space, to the point that I’m not sure it’s a realistic goal. Lots more work to do in this area.
I had hoped to announce the 2012 location during the 2011 SQLRally, but at this point that is optimistic. We’re still working on locations for Denver and Nashville, and if we can find them we’ll need some time to review the proposals to make sure all the pieces work. Only then can we approve the final cities to go out for vote. There is the possibility – already communicated to the leaders – that we may not be able to find space that meets our requirements in each city, and that may remove them from the list for 2012.
It’s a work in progress for sure. It will be good to finish up the 2011 event so we can step back and decide if and where we want to tweak the formula, because we certainly will learn some lessons we want to apply to version 2.
[cross-posted from Jack Corbett's blog at wiseman-wiseguy.blogspot.com]
There have been lots of blog posts about PASS SQLRally (Bing Search), but there haven’t been a lot recently from the organizers. As today (April 12th) is the last day for the discounted $299 price I thought it would be good to talk about why I think it is a good model for an event, what I’ve done for SQLRally, and why you should attend.
Why is the SQLRally model good?
Because it is a partnership between local user groups and PASS. This is a plus because you have the large event experience of those at PASS HQ, but also fresh ideas and new perspectives from the local people. Just like in any endeavor, you can get stuck in a rut on how you do things and bringing in some new people brings in new ideas that haven’t been considered. This means that each SQLRally will have a unique identity provided by the local organizers, but you get the experience of those who have put on multiple events.
Because it is regional. The PASS Summit is a great international conference, but it is large, expensive, and a long way to travel for many people. This means that you can’t necessarily make it every year. Because SQLRally is regional, it is less expensive, more intimate, and accessible. It also means that you the networking available to you is with more people from your region, which means the contacts you make may be more useful to you than national or international contacts you make at a larger conference. Both have value, but local contacts can help you on-site or, if you are looking, provide you with local opportunities.
It is about the community. This is YOUR event. You selected the sessions from pre-con’s to regular sessions, you go to evaluate the abstracts and select the sessions that would be most valuable to YOU.
What I’ve Done?
My main areas of contribution have been in sponsor plan development, event programming, and speaker communication.
For the sponsor plan development, I got to work with Al Schuler and Craig Ellis and I think we did a great job since we sold out the sponsorships. It was a great learning experience for me because I got some insight into how to market an event to sponsors and how to break out some thins apart from general sponsorship.
Andy Warren and I developed the speaker selection process which consisted of breaking the submissions into categories within each track for voting purposes. We spent a lot of time discussing how that should work and putting sessions into each category. Our goal in categorizing the submissions within each track was to ensure variety in the sessions. It’s really easy to pick all the performance tuning sessions as you know those will be popular, but that wouldn’t make a well-rounded event. Once the sessions were voted on, I communicated the results to the presenters, selected the wild card & deep-dive sessions, and then put together the event schedule.
I’ve also been working on what I’m calling SQLRally Overdrive, which is 3 more laid-back sessions on Thursday evening from 5:45-7:00 pm. These sessions will be designed to have more interaction between attendees and facilitate networking.
Why Should You Attend?
SQLRally brings much of the Summit experience to you. We have a great mix of seasoned Summit presenters along with up and coming speakers who have a lot to offer. With the more intimate setting it should be easier to make new connections and develop those relationships. You’ll learn from people who are DOING the same job you are, and be able to take home practical solutions that you implement the Monday after the event. Check out the ROI page for what you can take to your boss to convince him/her to allow you to go to SQLRally.
I hope to see you there!
- Jack Corbett
[cross-posted from Andy Warren's blog at sqlandy.com]
One of the ways to make the most of a conference (and to help justify the spend) is to go through the schedule and think about what sessions you want to attend. It’s never easy, there are always lots of good choices and it’s hard to settle on just one per time slot. I try to always pick a topic or two that is outside my general interest area just to keep up on what’s going in the rest of the world.
I always pick two per hour, you never know when a session will be filled to capacity or you’ll decide that it’s not quite what you expected. To keep the schedule simple though, I’ve just selected my “A” choices. It’s not simple for to me pick either. For example, at 8:30 am on Thursday I know Aaron will do a great job on PowerShell, and I’d love to hear what my friend Mike Walsh has to say on disasters, but I think I can get the most from the presentation on the Parallel Data Warehouse by Brian Mitchell.
Go print the schedule and start circling, it’s time well spent.