Category: Virtual Chapters
You’ve probably tapped into the gold mine of session recordings available to PASS members from events such as PASS Summit, PASS SQLRally, and 24 Hours of PASS. But did you know you also have access to hundreds of hours of free SQL Server training via PASS Virtual Chapter archives?
From the PASS Virtual Chapters page, simply click on the Virtual Chapter you’re interested in, and check out the group’s Archived Presentations page. If you miss a session or want to review a favorite, most VCs have recordings available for on-demand replay within a week of the live presentation.
To receive notifications of upcoming webcasts from the VCs of your choice, just click “Register to Join” for the VCs you want to hear from. You’ll be in good company, with more than 27,000 VC members from across 100+ countries taking advantage of the free training right at their fingertips.
Scott Shaw, co-leader of PASS’s Virtualization Virtual Chapter, shares the group’s mission, upcoming speaker lineup, and a message for the community: Don’t be afraid to run SQL Server on a virtual machine.
Q. What’s the mission of the Virtualization Virtual Chapter?
A. The primary mission of the Virtualization VC is to educate and inform database administrators and other IT professionals about the risks and benefits of virtualization. We focus mainly on promoting running SQL Server on virtual platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere and the techniques and methodologies for managing the environment.
Q. If you had one message about virtualization you’d like to share with the SQL Server world today, what would it be?
A. Don’t be afraid to run SQL Server on a virtual machine. Almost every implementation of SQL Server has the potential to run in a virtual environment, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Take the time to understand the technology, and use it to your advantage.
Q. What can you tell us about the meetings you've had so far this year, and what can we expect the rest of the year?
A. We’ve had some very successful meetings this year. Attendance has been wonderful, typically ranging between 40 and 80 but sometimes shooting up to 120 or higher depending on who’s speaking. Interest is definitely strong for understanding virtual environments, and we thank the community for both speaking and attending. Looking forward, we have some great speakers coming up, including Brent Ozar (May 8), Grant Fritchey, Jes Borland, and Kendal Van Dyke.
Q. When are your meetings, and how can people keep up with VC news and sessions schedule?
A. Our meetings are on the second Wednesday of every month. We had some initial glitches with recording our sessions, but we currently have three presentations in the archive for on-demand viewing and will be making all future meetings available there soon after the live presentations. To keep up with the Virtualization VC, just sign up with us on the PASS Virtual Chapters page.
Q. How did you and co-leader Tom Norman get involved in the VC?
A. When previous VC leader Mark Swofford asked for volunteers to take over for him, Tom and I both answered the call, and I give thanks every day that Tom is there to help. Tom is unbelievable at getting great speakers to take the time to present. He sends out presentation notifications and does a lot of the hard work behind the scenes.
Q. How can people interested in speaking or with suggestions/questions contact you? Are you looking for sessions on any particular topics in the virtualization world?
A. If you are interested in speaking, please send an abstract to either me or Tom, and we'll be happy to schedule you. The presentations don’t have to revolve around SQL Server – we will accept almost any virtualization topic, including those that focus just on virtualization technologies and where they’re headed.
Cross-posted from my blog
With each of these quarterly posts, I want to be able to report progress in the areas I'm responsible for. I'm pleased to share some key milestones from the past three months.
New Webinar Platform
Last year it became clear that we needed a more stable, scalable webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. Both the VCs and 24HOP continue to grow and attract larger audiences, and the technology we were using was not meeting our needs.
We discussed requirements with VC leaders and HQ staffers who work on 24HOP. We got proposals from seven or eight vendors and had live demonstrations from those that would meet our needs. In the end, we chose GoToWebinar from Citrix. Several VC leaders have been trained on the new platform, and a couple have started to use it. And we will be using GoToWebinar for the next 24HOP event.
Projects like these require organization and attention to detail. I want to recognize the work of HQ staffer Vicki Van Damme, who has been instrumental in getting us to the finish line.
Our first 24HOP of the year was held at the end of January. It was also our first Business Analytics Edition and featured a number of speakers who [also presented] at the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Focusing a 24HOP on business analytics reflects PASS's outreach to data professionals in this growing sector of our industry. Check out the session recordings to learn more about the work being done in this space.
Virtual events are a key part of PASS global growth. 24HOP Russian Edition was held in March. Thanks to the volunteers who worked hard to put on this event.
We launched two new VCs this quarter. The Business Analytics VC has already hosted four meetings and is playing an important part in PASS's growth into the BA world. The Book Readers VC is a virtual book club, where members get together online to discuss a book. They are starting with Itzik Ben-Gan's "T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012." There is still time to read the first few chapters and join the discussion on April 17.
Virtual Chapters provide valuable technical training every month. Sign up for the VCs that interest you to get notified of upcoming events.
The Board met in January and discussed many items, including goals for the year, by-law changes, election process, and Summit. See the meeting minutes for details. In February, we adopted changes to the by-laws. And last week, I was in Chicago for a Board meeting and the BA Conference.
Budget planning is in full swing, and I've been working on the budgets for 24HOP and VCs.
In May, I'll be attending SQLBits, where I'm looking forward to meeting more members of the SQL community in the UK.
Planning for the next 24HOP will get underway soon, work on the budget will continue, and we'll finish rolling out the new webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters.
Cross-posted from the BA Conference blog
As the new PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter prepares for its third meeting – a gentle, business-focused introduction to Big Data – you can catch up on February’s presentations and plan to make this free training part of your monthly schedule.
Stacia Misner will take the VC’s webcast stage March 14 for “A Big Data Primer” (noon ET/16:00 GMT) to demystify Big Data, look at its implications for traditional data warehousing and reporting, and explore the technology and skill sets you need to successfully implement a Big Data strategy.
“This is going to be a great real-world session,” notes VC leader Melissa Demsak. “You’ll definitely leave with some inspiration and practical steps for tackling your first Big Data project.”
With a mission to provide quality virtual training to business analysts, BA/BI practitioners and architects, and data scientists, the VC’s focus is on creating a community for shared learning and enabling the creation of world-class business analytics solutions based on the Microsoft platform, Melissa explains.
“Our topics will naturally intersect with those presented by several of our sister VCs – Business Intelligence, Big Data, Data Architecture, and Master Data/Data Quality – but we’ll be covering them from an analytics perspective,” she adds. “We’ll also include non-Microsoft solutions and topics outside the traditional SQL Server and BI community, such as data visualization, analytics, and data science.”
The BA VC meetings, scheduled for the second and/or fourth Thursday of every month, will all be recorded and archived for on-demand viewing. Recordings of the group’s first two meetings – Mark Tabladillo’s “A Case for Business Analytics Learning” and Chris Webb’s “What’s New for BI in Excel 2013” – will be available soon.
You can become a member of the BA VC by simply clicking Join next to Business Analytics in the list of VCs on the PASS Virtual Chapters page. “We'll keep you posted of all upcoming meetings, learning opportunities, and the latest and greatest information from Microsoft,” Melissa says. “We also have a special $200 discount code for the PASS Business Analytics Conference coming up in April – if you haven't signed up yet, just use the code BAC941VC when you register for some nice savings."
Interested in speaking at an upcoming BA VC webinar? Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure you follow the VC on Twitter at @passbavc.
Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a good read with PASS’s new book club. In this Q&A, Ike Ellis, co-leader of the Book Readers Virtual Chapter, shares the group’s first selection, how meetings will work, and how to make time for this important learning activity.
Q: What’s the purpose of the Book Readers Virtual Chapter?
A: Reading a book by yourself is an excellent way to learn. The only problem is, the book can't answer your questions if it isn't explaining something well. Sometimes books don't give you real-world options or tell you actual stories about how a technology or technique has been used in the field. Other times, a book will say something really important, but it's helpful for an expert to point it out and say, "Listen up, this is really important." Book authors also need to be politically correct, so sometimes they may not say, "Yeah, no one really does it this way in the real world." All of these problems are solved with a little book-club mentoring. A mentor can make the book come alive.
Q: The VC’s first book has been selected – Itzik Ben-Gan's T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012. Tell us a little about it.
A: The SQL Server community is chock-full of experts, and we could have chosen so many fantastic books. But we had to start somewhere, and who better to kick us off than Itzik?
T-SQL Fundamentals is an excellent way for readers to get a 10,000-foot view of what T-SQL has to offer in SQL Server 2012. We all have blind spots. Maybe some of us aren't using CTEs when appropriate. Perhaps some of us don't know the difference between a table variable and a temporary table or aren’t using the MERGE statement to full effect. This book is a great way to uncover some blind spots and improve our core T-SQL skills.
Q: So how will the book club work, how fast will you be going through a book, and what should people come prepared to talk about at the meetings?
A: Our first meeting, March 20, is an introductory meeting where we’ll frame the importance of the topic, discuss the rules of the group, practice using the remote software, and open the discussion to see what everyone hopes to get out of the group. There might be some kinks to work out since we're brand-new at this and still learning. We'll start reading the book after the first meeting.
We’ll then meet the third Wednesday of every month at 12pm Pacific Time (19:00 GMT). I think we'll end up reading 100-150 pages a month. That's about 4-8 hours of reading, which I think is reasonable. We’ll try not to get too aggressive because we know people have busy lives with too much to do already.
Once we begin reading, everyone should make sure they bring their questions and comments to the meetings. The interaction is why we have this group. I'll be there to answer questions and to verify technical accuracy, but I might not know the answer to every question. I believe that real learning happens when you try to explain what you know to someone else. That's why it's very helpful for readers to help each other – so that both readers benefit from the explanation.
Q: Back to your comment about busy lives – any tips on finding time to read?
A: I read all the time. I read everything I can get my hands on. I think we need to remember that our technical skills all have an expiration date. If we don't sharpen the saw, the blade gets dull – and who needs a dull blade? We have to keep learning, keep growing, keep expanding, or we will atrophy. I love learning and consider it a core skill that every technologist needs to have. Good leaders will allow for time to study and learn during the work day. I would consider approaching management with the need so they can allocate time toward staying sharp.
Q: How can people join the Book Reading VC and send any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future books to read?
A: Joining the VC and getting on our DL is easy: Just go to the PASS Virtual Chapters page and click on the Join button beside the Book Readers VC. We have contact information on the website for any questions. And if we need a separate interface for asking questions throughout the month, we'll start a Google group for our members.
Q: Brad Cunningham is joining you as co-leader of the VC. What can we expect from your co-host?
A: Brad has been a C# MVP since 2008. He's always on the cutting edge of software development, writing new web, mobile, and enterprise solutions. His code has been featured all over the Internet, on numerous podcasts, and at user groups. Brad and I have known each other for years, have co-presented on numerous topics, and have worked on software projects together. We’re good friends and look forward to having a great time sharing our love of technology and books with the community.
There is a lot changing in the data professional’s world these days. More data is being produced and stored. More enterprises are trying to use that data to improve their products and services and understand their customers better. More data platforms and tools seem to be crowding the market. For a traditional DBA, this can be a confusing and even unsettling time. It’s also a time that offers great opportunity for career growth. I speak from personal experience.
We sometimes talk about the “accidental DBA” – the person who finds herself suddenly responsible for managing the database because she has some other technical skills. Although it was not accidental, six months ago I was unexpectedly offered a chance to transition out of my DBA role and become a data analyst. I have since come to view this offer as a gift, though at the time I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it.
Throughout my DBA career, I’ve received tremendous support from my PASS friends and colleagues, and they were the first ones I turned to for counsel about this new situation. Everyone was encouraging, and I received two pieces of valuable advice: First, leverage what I already know about data, and second, work to understand the business’ needs.
Harnessing the power of data to solve business problems is really the heart of the job. The challenge is figuring out how to do that. PASS had been the source of much of my technical training as a DBA, so I naturally started there to begin my business intelligence education. Once again, Virtual Chapter webinars, local chapter meetings, and SQLSaturdays have been invaluable.
I work in a large company where we are fortunate to have some very talented data scientists and analysts. These colleagues have been generous with their time and advice. I also took a statistics class through Coursera, where I got a refresher in statistics and an introduction to the R programming language.
And that’s not the end of the free resources available to someone wanting to acquire new skills. There are many knowledgeable business intelligence and analytics professionals who teach through their blogs. Every day, I can learn something new from one of these experts.
Sometimes we plan our next career move, and sometimes it just happens. Either way, a database professional who follows industry developments and acquires new skills will be better prepared when change comes. Take the opportunity to learn something about the changing data landscape by attending an upcoming Business Intelligence, Business Analytics, or Big Data Virtual Chapter meeting. And if you are moving into this new world of data, consider attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference in April where you can meet and learn from those who are already on that road.
It’s been said that “the only thing constant is change.” That’s never been truer for the data professional than it is today. But if you are someone who loves data and grasps its potential, you are in the right place at the right time.
As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.
Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.
Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.
Rob Farley will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.
James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.
Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do.
Sri Sridharan, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.
In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.
The sky’s the limit for the refreshed PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, focused on Windows Azure and cloud computing, with a steady breeze of SQL Database flowing through its free training and networking for the PASS community.
“Azure and cloud computing are part of the new wave of technology advancement,” says Nigel Sammy, the Virtual Chapter’s leader. “We’re here to help spread knowledge about the technology and provide information that empowers IT professionals to make decisions about whether and when to adopt this technology and how best to apply it to their needs.”
Nigel volunteered earlier this year to help reboot the PASS SQL Azure Virtual Chapter. While the VC was in reboot phase, Microsoft renamed SQL Azure to SQL Database, causing the VC’s leadership team to consider renaming the group as well as changing its focus. The result is the PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, launched in September, under the leadership of Nigel, co-leader Paras Doshi, and webmaster Jose Rivera.
Microsoft Principal Cloud Evangelist Brian Prince presented the VC’s debut session, “Getting Started with Windows Azure.” And Herve Roggero, SQL Azure MVP and co-author of Pro SQL Azure, spoke on "In-Depth Azure’s No-SQL with Azure Tables" in November, with the VC currently making arrangements with Scott Klein for its December meeting. All sessions are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing.
The VC covers topics on Azure and cloud computing, with the PASS community sure to appreciate sessions on SQL Database (SQL Azure) or those that include information about it. If you are interested in speaking at one of the VC meetings, you can contact Nigel.
With the VC's mission to enable Azure knowledge sharing and create a network of Azure and cloud computing professionals, “the goal for next year is to have at least one meeting every month,” Nigel notes, “and to also have some sessions done in various countries and languages so that the Azure community we’re helping build is truly a global community.”
The VC is still working on its meeting schedule to accommodate the most attendees and is also looking at how to serve members in different time zones. You can find information about future meetings on the Azure VC website, the PASS Events page, and via email notifications to VC members and Twitter.
In addition to meeting information, the VC website also has a resources page, which includes links to related blogs and articles. Anyone interested in joining the Azure VC can do so via the PASS Virtual Chapters page. And the VC is always looking for extra assistance – if you’d like to volunteer with the Azure VC, please contact any of the team members.
There is no doubt that PASS Summit is all about SQL Server and the SQL Server community. While you might know the conference as the best place to learn anything SQL Server-related, it’s also the best possible place to get connected with SQL Server professionals all across the globe.
PASS community volunteers from around the world work hard every year to deliver the best technical training and information to meet the needs of all attendees, no matter what their skill level or technology interest. And this year, we’re extending that mission to provide more knowledge about and connections with the SQL Server community by creating a special Community Zone.
What is a Community Zone? It’s both a location for community sharing at Summit and a state of mind that encourages more community involvement through a variety of organizations and events. You’ll find the PASS Summit Community Zone between the Lunch Hall and the Exhibit Hall. And we are looking forward to showcasing both PASS-related and non-PASS-affiliated community groups and events.
If you represent a not-for-profit SQL Server organization, please join us in the Community Zone. And even if you aren’t able to attend Summit, if you send us information about your group or event, we’ll help spread the word. How much more community can you get?! :)
Talking about community means reaching out to more than just English-speaking attendees, and we have invited volunteers who speak other languages so we can welcome everyone and try to help all members reach their respective community goals. We’re also interested in hearing your suggestions – if you have a great idea for a user group or a not-for-profit event, drop us an email at email@example.com.
The Community Zone will be open Wednesday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Nov. 9, with your faithful PASS Community Evangelists – Karla Landrum and me – and many generous volunteers looking to make your visit as fun and valuable as possible. (Hint: We’ll have some great networking games and other activities to help attendees learn about different communities all around the world and connect with each other.)
I am so excited about the new Community Zone and helping PASS members get more involved in and improve their local communities and the SQL Server community at large. So if you’re attending PASS Summit, please drop by the Community Zone to say “Hello,” ask questions, discuss exciting plans for the SQL Server community, or just hang out – who knows, you could also win some amazing prizes!
– Niko Neugebauer
Supporting women in technology is more than just talk in the SQL Server community, thanks to the PASS Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and its popular luncheons and panel discussions at PASS Summit, SQLSaturdays, and other events.
“Our mission is to provide a forum to discuss issues that touch women working in technology and to provide opportunities for women in PASS to network,” explains VC Chairperson Meredith Ryan. “We do this primarily through the Summit Luncheon and our SQLSaturday events. And we use our monthly conference calls to plan the logistics of the annual luncheon and to provide support for SQLSaturday planners and organizers for their WIT sessions.”
With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the PASS Summit WIT luncheon, VC leaders and volunteers are gearing up for a special panel discussion on “Women in Technology: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” with panelists Stefanie Higgins, Kevin Kline, Kendra Little, Denise McInerney, and Jen Stirrup.
What’s happened in the PASS WIT VC since that first luncheon and panel discussion in 2003? Well, attendance at the event has grown from 65 people to over 400 in 2011, Meredith says, and the VC is planning for 560 attendees at this year's luncheon, sponsored by SQLSentry. Attendees at that launch event wanted to continue the networking and formed the PASS WIT Special Interest Group (SIG), which is now a Virtual Chapter with well over 1000 members on its distribution list.
You can also find a WIT session at just about any PASS SQLSaturday in the US. “And thanks to Jen Stirrup, we are making great progress at SQLSaturdays and other PASS events internationally,” Meredith adds. Some WIT sessions at these events have pre-set topics, and others are driven by attendees’ questions. Topics have ranged from dealing with work-life balance and ways to negotiate at work to mentoring the next generation and how to get children excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs.
The VC encourages men as well as women to attend WIT events, volunteer with the group, and join in the discussion as coworkers, managers, mentors, fathers, husbands, and all-around advocates of women in technology. “We’re open to everyone and welcome all perspectives,” Meredith notes. “We are also always looking for new volunteers. Right now, we need someone to help us get periodic webinars going. The chapter has been discussing hosting quarterly web sessions for some time now, but we haven't had the right person to champion the effort. Even if hosting and managing webinars aren't your thing, we can always use more hands and minds!”
In addition to Meredith, the VC’s leadership team includes: Donna Shaver, Secretary; Yanni Robel, Marketing/Social Media Manager; Wendy Pastrick and Kathi Kellenberger, Regional Activity Coordinators; Denise McInerney, Chapter Advisor; and Christina E. Leo, Webmaster.
The WIT VC’s monthly planning conference call is the fourth Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm Pacific Time/4:00 pm Eastern Time, and all volunteers are welcome. To join the VC and help with the work it does, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow @PASS_WIT on Twitter for updates and items of interest.