Category: PASS General
The PASS elections season is almost here! PASS elections are an important annual event, letting members have their say about where they want PASS to go and who they want to guide the world’s largest independent, user-led organization for SQL Server professionals.
In my previous role as PASS President, I was proud to watch PASS’s impressive growth across the world, thanks to the efforts of our hardworking volunteers and leaders. Now as Immediate Past President, I’m excited to oversee the PASS elections and see a new generation of leaders steer PASS in this time of enormous change and opportunity to better serve the global SQL Server community.
The Nomination Committee (Nom Com) manages the entire election for Board of Directors – from qualifying and interviewing potential candidates to determining and ranking the final slate. Joining me on the NomCom will be a volunteer from the Board of Directors and three community members elected by the PASS membership.
The main qualification for serving as a community member on the NomCom is a demonstrable record of volunteering with PASS. Applications for the NomCom will be accepted May 30 to June 6. And all PASS members as of June 1, 2012, are eligible to vote in the NomCom election that will follow. The top three vote-getters will complete this year’s NomCom and will immediately begin preparations for the Board of Directors election.
I encourage you to get involved – whether you’re encouraging others to join PASS as voting members, talking about how to improve the organization, or running for office yourself. If you’re interested in applying for the NomCom or the Board of Directors, you can learn all about the process at the PASS Elections site. As community discussions gear up, let current leaders and candidates know what issues are important to you. And please vote. Support the candidates of your choice, and help shape tomorrow’s PASS!
PASS Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair
Talk of “Big Data” and “NoSQL” is all around us, and given the open-source, non-relational bent of these areas, they may seem largely irrelevant to many SQL Server professionals. But for PASS’s new Big Data Virtual Chapter, the technologies are a big deal in analyzing a whole new world of data.
“Anyone working with Business Intelligence or SQL Server in general should be more than interested in Big Data solutions,” notes the Virtual Chapter’s co-leader Paco González. “It opens a new field for analysis related to a whole segment of information that hasn’t been consumed before.”
Microsoft is making significant investments to create the next-generation Big Data platform. And according to the Virtual Chapter’s next speaker, Andrew Brust, whether you’re coming from the relational side of SQL Server or you’re a seasoned pro with the product’s BI components, these new worlds can be surprisingly accessible. Plus, as you add these technologies to your arsenal, your background in more conventional, enterprise-friendly relational and BI tools will make you more valuable than Big Data specialists without that experience.
At the Virtual Chapter’s next free meeting on June 5, Andrew – a Microsoft BI expert, MVP, and ZDNet Big Data blogger – will give an overview of the Big Data space, key technologies, and how you can get hands-on with them. He’ll also explore the career opportunities and strategies available if you decide to take the Big Data plunge while remaining grounded in your SQL Server environment.
“The goal of the Big Data Virtual Chapter is to provide a community for SQL Server professionals to learn about the use of SQL Server software with Hadoop and related technologies,” adds Virtual Chapter co-leader Carl Rabeler. “We invite all PASS members and their colleagues to join us - share your experiences, problems, and solutions and learn new skills.”
In April, 70+ attendees joined Denny Lee of the Microsoft SQL Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT) for the Virtual Chapter’s first meeting – a Microsoft Hadoop primer and real-world look at customers using Hadoop to gain insights from Big Data. If you missed the session, you can watch the archived recording.
With Microsoft’s Hadoop-based service for Windows Azure nearing release, the Virtual Chapter expects to meet the first Tuesday of every month and ramp up its online resources and forum. If you’d like to speak at or volunteer with the Big Data Virtual Chapter, please contact Paco, and make sure to follow @PASSBigDataVC on twitter for the latest technology and meeting updates.
They’re back! Favorite speakers from PASS Summit 2011 were invited late last week to submit special 90-minute Spotlight session abstracts for this year’s conference.
Spotlight sessions highlight top-rated Community speakers, as determined by attendee evaluations. To receive a Spotlight invitation, speakers had to receive an overall rating of 4.6 or higher for their PASS Summit 2011 session (excluding Lightning Talks and Chalk Talks), with a minimum of 15 attendees and 15 submitted attendee evals.
This year, 27 speakers received a Spotlight invitation and are also welcome to submit Regular and ½-Day sessions, up to an overall total of four submissions. If they meet the speaker requirements for Pre-Conference sessions, they can submit two pre-con abstracts as well. All Spotlight abstracts not selected for a 90-minute Spotlight session will be considered for a regular 75-minute session. (See the PASS Summit 2012 Call for Speakers for all the details.)
Congratulations to all the fantastic speakers who received a Spotlight invitation – we can’t wait to receive your abstracts!
– Adam | Adam.Jorgensen@SQLPASS.org | @AJBigData
(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
We've got some great things going on in the PASS ecosystem and I want to make sure you’re looped in!
The 2012 PASS Summit Preference survey has closed with nearly twice as many responses compared to last year. Thank you! Your feedback will help drive the content at PASS Summit this year.
On that note, the Summit Call for Speakers is open to all community and Microsoft presenters and I encourage you to submit an abstract by the May 13 deadline. You'll need to use your PASS member login to access the Call for Speakers site. If you don't have a login, you can create one now. This year’s program will span over 6 tracks and you can put forward up to 4 session abstracts and 2 pre-conference abstracts. It’s going to be great!
We have selected the remaining folks to help with the program committees. This excited group of volunteers is being notified of their committee assignments and going through training so we will be ready to get going as soon as the Call for Speakers closes. The invitations for spotlight sessions are also going out this week so keep your eye out, you might be invited to submit one of these sessions!
The PASS Summit Program portfolio is moving along nicely with great input and support from the rest of my team of board members. The best feedback I get however is from you, so please keep that coming. Stay on the lookout for my upcoming blog interview with Mike Lynn, our winner from the drawing we held from survey respondents. Mike will get a chance to share what he would like to see at PASS Summit, what he thinks about PASS and how we can continue to become more relevant to each of you in your day-to-day data world.
PASS SQLRally Dallas is upon us next week and this is incredibly exciting. I’ll be attending my second board meeting at the event and delivering some sessions with the rest of a tremendous cast of characters (yes I think you are all characters)! If you have not already done so, please consider making it out to the event and if you’re coming, take advantage of some of the amazing pre-cons that are happening.
Speaking of board meetings, I am looking forward to this one. My first experience was better than expected and the group really aligned quickly to begin delivering on some commitments and planning for awesome happenings this year. There are some big topics to discuss, fun Summit planning, and some special projects being worked on by some great volunteers. Stay tuned for more info on some of these great initiatives.
– Adam | Adam.Jorgensen@SQLPASS.org | @AJBigData
The “Go Jes Go” tweet chanted by the SQL community whenever @grrl_geek Jes Borland [blog] goes on her daily run took on a new meaning last Saturday. That’s when Jes and her team hosted the first-ever SQLSaturday in Wisconsin to great reviews.
Not only was this the first SQLSaturday for this organizational team, but it was also the first SQLSaturday for many attendees. When I asked at the end of the day how many were attending a SQLSaturday for the first time, almost everyone in the auditorium raised their hand. I was pretty shocked, since there have been several events in the Midwest region, including Chicago’s SQLSaturday just three hours away. My initial thought was, “Wow, where have these people been?” Right behind that was, “How proud Jes must be at how the community embraced this opportunity” - a feeling all of us event organizers cherish.
Two words come to mind when describing this day: “organized” and “energized.” (You can read Jes’s recap of the day here.)The core team spent a great amount of time planning and coordinating the event, and it showed in the smooth flow throughout the day. All the volunteers - possibly the most I’ve ever seen for a first-time event - executed their assignments like pros. Volunteer team leader Gina Meronek [twitter] was constantly moving or on her walkie-talkie, checking in with all the volunteers and making sure everything happened on cue.
This event used the recently implemented SpeedPASS for registration. SpeedPASS allows for a quicker flow at check-in, and eliminates some pre-event tasks like printing and organizing all the name badges and raffle tickets for attendees. Even with some attendees who didn’t print their SpeedPASS in advance, there were never more than two or three people in line waiting for their pass to be printed. Kudos to Leonard Murphy [twitter], who worked diligently the week before with the Manage SpeedPASS section of the admin site, even finding a bug that PASS IT fixed before game day. His attention to detail has now helped the next events that use this process.
The speaker lineup was a great mix of locals and seasoned pros, including former PASS Board member Chuck Heinzelman [twitter] of the Microsoft SQLCAT community team. Another key to the success of SQLSaturday #118 was the great venue… for FREE! The event was held at the local college in Madison, MATC, which was spacious and looked brand new. The team did a great job of utilizing the space appropriately, having sponsors near the meeting rooms, where attendees had to walk by if they wanted refreshments. The cafeteria was large and provided a great platform for the event’s “Cows of a Spot” tables, a local spin on PASS Summit’s Birds of a Feather luncheon. With a whopping 21 different topics for attendees to choose from, this was a great added value at lunch, featuring burgers and, of course, Wisconsin brats. The end-of-day raffle was held in a large theatre-style auditorium, with glowing purple spotlight lighting up the stage. And Jes did a great job covering all the PASS events and free resources beyond SQLSaturday that community members can take advantage of.
As I reflect more on SQLSaturday #118, I think it clearly helps if organizers have been to other SQLSaturdays before planning one their selves. Jes and team clearly by-passed most of the usual obstacles you see at first-time SQLSaturdays. Jes has volunteered to help mentor other new event organizers, and I’ll be having her join me on some pre-event calls with new SQLSaturday organizers so she can share some of what she went through. If anyone else is interested in mentoring event organizers, send me an email. The more the merrier!
Last Saturday, the SQL community had a record-breaking five PASS SQLSaturdays, all on the same day and all around the world. The April 14 lineup included one US event, three in LATAM, and one from the fondly called ANZ Tour (Australia/New Zealand) in New Zealand:
- #111 Atlanta
- #124 Colombia
- #127 Rio de Janeiro
- #133 Costa Rica
- #136 Wellington, NZ
I was fortunate to finally be able to attend a SQLSaturday in Atlanta – their fifth event. Audrey Hammonds [blog|twitter] and her volunteer team put on quite a show. Much like Tampa, it was a well-oiled machine. You could see where they implemented lessons learned from previous events and pulled everything together – from a smooth registration check-in and good use of room monitors to appropriate signage inside and out – in high-quality style.
It makes me proud to know that in a single day, over 1600 people around the world were able to take advantage of free, quality training. On occasion, someone will tell me they think there are too many SQLSaturdays, but I beg to differ. These events aren’t intended to be the once- or twice-a-year type of conference like PASS Summit or SQLBits. They are more like a “souped –up” user group meeting, in my opinion, bringing more choices to individual communities and providing it for free.
Every community should be able to experience these free learning and networking events, especially when so many community members aren’t able to make it to the larger conferences every year. Not all the national sponsors and frequent speakers, such as MVPs, can support all SQLSaturdays – and we don’t expect them to. SQLSaturdays are intended to grow the local speaker pool, turning to those presenters first and then rounding out the lineup with featured MVP or Microsoft speakers, especially for more advanced sessions. Still, we absolutely appreciate all the more-seasoned presenters who are willing to contribute their own funds and time to present to as many communities as they can. That’s what I love so much about SQLSaturdays – the balance of beginner to advanced sessions.
In regard to sponsors, as much as many of them wish they could sponsor and exhibit at every SQLSaturday, we know that’s just not possible. Part of my role is mentoring event organizers about how to market to local companies and show them the value in supporting a community event like SQLSaturday. There are a lot of techniques to try with the different industries out there. If you have a SQLSaturday coming up and are struggling to raise funds, be sure to email me. Let’s talk – that’s what I’m here for!
If you are a SQLSaturday organizer who may be feeling your venue isn’t as unique anymore due to the number of events in your area, my recommendation is to change things up every year. As Andy Warren likes to say, “Try new things.” It might also be time for you to take it to the next level and host a SQLRally.
SQLSaturdays are definitely helping to spread the PASS message and benefits more globally, an important initiative for PASS. If you look at FY 2012’s already held and upcoming SQLSaturdays through June 30, we have 10 new countries hosting SQLSaturdays. FY 2011 had a total of 33 US events; FY 2012 will have 38. Surprisingly to me, there have been only five new US cities added to the SQLSaturday roster. My goal is still to see at least each US state get to host a SQLSaturday, and from what I’m hearing, at least a couple more look promising. Stay tuned for more SQLSaturdays on the schedule soon!
For the past 18 months, the PASS Data Architecture Virtual Chapter has been helping IT pros build a firm foundation in database design via free webcasts with the best and brightest in the SQL Server community.
The DArch VC has something for everyone, whether you’re a DBA, a database or data integration developer, a data warehousing professional, a data presentation developer, or a client-side application developer persisting data for later retrieval.
“Data architecture provides the blueprints that we all share,” notes VC Chair Thomas LeBlanc. “We want to make data architecture accessible to all data practitioners, and drive the point home that data architecture is a set of practices and a body of knowledge that overlaps almost all database professionals to some degree.”
The DArch VC meets the third Thursday of every month, usually at noon Central Time. And as PASS continues to reach out to SQL Server enthusiasts around the world, the VC is looking at trying other hours so database pros in different time zones can listen in live.
The VC’s next meeting is tomorrow, April 19, at noon CT (6pm GMT) with Todd McDermid speaking on Data Warehouse Dimension Processing with Integration Services - From Simple to Complex. Mike Fal follows in May with table partitioning, and Louis Davidson and Neil Hambly will be presenting this summer.
If you’re just joining the VC, you can catch up via the online archive, which includes session recordings on data warehouse design (Jeremy Huppatz and John Racer), architecture career paths (Robert Davis), database normalization (Louis Davidson and Karen Lopez), and standards (Thomas LeBlanc), as well as presentations on database modeling (Audrey Hammonds) and design mistakes (Steve Simon).
As the DArch VC grows, it’s also looking for volunteers to manage the following tasks:
• LiveMeeting hosting - creating the LiveMeeting scheduled task, emailing the presenter link to speakers and hosts, introducing speakers before webcasts, and monitoring questions.
• Speaker recruiting - reaching out to presenters in the SQL Server community to share their expertise and making sure session recordings are posted on the online meeting archive.
• Marketing - helping update the DArch website, submitting meetings to the PASS Events page, promoting webcasts via community bloggers/tweeters, and notifying media sites such as SQLServerCentral.com, Megaphone Community, and USGS.
• Website maintenance – acting as webmaster for the VC’s DotNetNuke-based website, hosted by PASS.
“These positions are great for people wanting to become proficient in LiveMeeting hosting, as well as meeting and recruiting speakers from around the world and understanding how to get the most from PASS,” Thomas adds. “Plus, they can lead to even more opportunities to serve in the SQL Server community and grow your career.”
The DArch VC has resources and mentors to help you learn the details of each position, which should take only 4-5 hours a month, but you need to commit for at least a year. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the VC at PASS_DA_VC@HotMail.com or on Titter at @DArchVC.
(Reposted from my blog - you can read the original here.)
March brought the much anticipated SQL Server 2012, and with it a slew of events, including Microsoft’s Special Ops tour, several PASS SQLSaturdays, and rounding out the month with DevConnections and SQLBits X.
My own March Madness took me to three of the month’s SQLSaturday events. Two were first-time events: #103 Silicon Valley, organized by Mark Ginnebaugh [blog|twitter] and his team, and #105 Dublin, organized by Sandra Gunn [twitter] and her team. The third, #110 Tampa, was organized for the fifth straight year by Pam Shaw [LinkedIn|twitter] – the Queen of SQLSaturdays and my mentor. All three events were very successful, with strong attendance and fantastic speaker lineups, great sponsor support (all with several exhibiting onsite, always nice to see), and as much SQL Server 2012 content as you could pack into a day.
Registration and logistics flow at the veteran Tampa event coasted along smoothly, with the first-time SQLSaturdays experiencing a few bumps, as is typical. There’s still more we can do with mentoring new events in this area, although sometimes you just don’t know the best layout for registration and sponsors until you’re onsite and shifting things around. The events all resembled each other, as they should since there is a “model” to follow for a SQLSaturday – most importantly providing high-quality free training to attendees. But it’s always fun to see how each team puts its own stamp on SQLSaturday, often expressed in the speaker/volunteer appreciation parties. March brought some very special touches.
Silicon Valley catered to the Big Geek in all of us by having its Friday event at the nearby Computer History Museum. I think we were all more interested in getting our picture taken in front of Charles Babbage’s Calculating Engine than eating what was probably the best food I’ve ever seen at a SQLSaturday appreciation party (my particular favorite was the asparagus spears wrapped in pancetta - had to fight Denny Cherry [blog|twitter] over these).
Closer to home, Tampa’s Friday evening featured the traditional sit-down Italian dinner, fostering that comfortable feeling of family. The SQL Florida Mafia (yes, we really do call ourselves that – ask Scott Gleason [twitter] why) was joined by many of our out-of-state SQLSaturday circuit speakers, and even the godfather of SQLSaturday himself, Andy Warren [blog|twitter], was present, rounding out the #SQLfamily dinner.
And Dublin, the last of my SQLSaturday March tour, provided dinner on a barge, which turned out to be much different than what I first envisioned. The barge wasn’t the large bare-bones steel ship that you see transporting goods or military supplies. This one was a large cabin cruiser-style boat, with a cozy dinner room downstairs, décor in a lavish plum color, and soft lighting. In between courses during the 3-hour canal cruise, we took in the wonderful evening weather from an open upper deck. I’m pretty sure this type of party was a first for a SQLSaturday event.
Everyone who attended these parties took away the special feeling and character of each SQLSaturday.
(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)
I was asked by someone to write a mission statement for chapters. I don’t know if this qualifies in the truest definition of a mission statement or not but, I partially stole this from a friend, and I hope he doesn’t mind: 2012 is going to be the year of the chapter.
Its been a busy quarter since I took over responsibility for chapters and there have many changes, hopefully this post can summarize the highpoints.
During the past quarter, we’ve seen exceptional growth of chapters, including seeing 12 new chapters formed across the globe!
- BI Chapter in Wisconsin, led by Farouq Abukhamireh
- Algeria, led by Badrou Zeggar
- Bangkok, Thailand, led by Fukiat Julnual
- Ekatrinburg, Russia, led by Evgeny Fedyakov
- Kharkiv, Ukraine, led by Denis Reznik
- Kyiv, Ukraine, led by by Konstantin Kosinsky
- Las Cruces, New Mexico, led by Colleen Barnitz and Russ Burns
- Leicester, UK, led by Gavin Campbell
- Los Angeles, California, led by Kim Schmidt
- Maidenhead, UK, led by Richard Douglas
- Stavropol, Russia, led by Maksim Lemeshko
- Santa Catarina, Brazil, led by Rodrigo Dornel
Last month, I put forward some recommendations to the board of directors for increased spending for the fiscal year 2012 (ends 6/30/2012); two of those proposals were accepted and funded. Yesterday I had the opportunity to lead two separate meetings with our Regional Mentors in order to bring them up to speed on what those proposals are funding.
The first thing this is going to allow us to do is send a “Chapter Kit” or mailing to every PASS Chapter around the globe! I’m not going to spoil the surprise about what’s going to be inside but, we hope that Chapter leaders will find the contents valuable and can put them to good use.
The second program we’re going to implement is to fund some Regional Mentor travel to PASS chapter meetings and SQLSaturdays. The basics are that we’ve given each Regional Mentor a funding allocation and asked them to visit as many chapter meetings in their region as they can, the primary focus being on chapters - especially those that need help with speakers or are otherwise struggling. We are attempting to fill a gap in speakers at local UGs and allow the Regional Mentors to get out in the community and evangelize for PASS.
Both of these programs are new, and both are things that we’ve talked about trying for a good while. I’m expecting both of these efforts to have a positive impact on the community, and I’m expecting to get lots of feedback during the process and learn some lessons while we see exactly how this is going to work and what impact its going to have.
Since I started with chapters, I’ve been pushing forward with a plan to revamp the existing tools our chapter leaders use to manage chapters, and I’m happy to say I’m starting to see some real movement towards helping with our needs in this area! I expect the first round of changes to start being rolled out within the next 45 days. As this project continues, I'll continue to write about the new and exciting changes we’re making.