Category: Virtual Chapters
In IT, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. And whether you’re seeking a career change or to strengthen your current position and value, the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter is there to help you take that next step.
“Our mission is to provide tools, advice, encouragement, and insight for technology professionals at all levels to ‘take the next step’ in their career,” explains VC leader Mark Caldwell. “We provide free LiveMeeting presentations each month on topics related to our mission. We also have an active blog that features great interviews with SQL professionals, book reviews, and other related commentary – much of it provided by Kathi Kellenberger.”
The VC, initially formed in the Fall of 2009, got rolling with regular webcasts in 2010. Live attendance at the webcasts has grown from seven in the early days to 49 as recently as last week. However, with nearly 4,000 PASS members having registered an interest in the VC’s happenings, many more may be watching the session recordings on-demand, Mark notes.
As a resource for information and conversation on professional development for people in the technology industry, the VC has covered everything from professional networking, effective meetings, and managing teams to consulting tips, communication skills, career advice for turbulent times, and much more. In June, a panel of PASS Board members talked about thinking strategically and shared lessons they’ve learned from serving on the organization’s leadership team. “We also recently expanded our scope to include topics on technology management with the help of Kevin Kline,” Mark adds.
If you missed the VC’s September meeting with Brian Moran on “The Art of Questions – How Can IT Pros Be More Successful?” you can listen to the recording and read Mark’s blog post inspired by the session. Next up is Joe Webb presenting on “Effective Delegation Techniques” Oct. 10.
To make sure you receive meeting reminders from the VC, simply include the Professional Development VC on your My Chapters list on the PASS website. If you’re interested in speaking or volunteering, the VC would love to hear from you – contact Mark today.
Twice a month, PASS’s DBA Virtual Chapter feeds an average 220 webinar attendees the essential information they need to grow into happy, healthy, productive SQL Server caretakers. On the menu next: “What on earth is a contained database?” with VC leader Sharon Dooley, today (August 22) at noon ET/16:00 GMT.
“Our mission has always been to provide an online PASS community for the database administrator,” Sharon says. “We provide a forum for open discussion and good information on issues that face SQL Server DBAs in their day-to-day jobs. Even if people cannot attend the regular meeting times, we make sure the recordings are available.”
The DBA VC began as what was then known as a PASS Special Interest Group (SIG) and was the first SIG to present an online event, using a Live Meeting site provided by one of its members. Its first Live Meeting event was in March 2007. Today, the VC hosts two events each month, on the second Wednesday at noon MT/18:00 GMT and the fourth Wednesday at noon ET/16:00 GMT. And it’s looking at scheduling additional meetings in other time zones as well to accommodate more international members' schedules.
The VC’s mailing list has over 13,000 names on it, with the last five meetings averaging 220 attendees. The secret to the group’s success? “The dedication of our volunteers, no doubt,” Sharon says.
The DBA VC leadership team consists of Julie Bloomquist, who makes sure the recordings are posted; Alex Buttery, who posts meeting announcements on the LinkedIn group; and Mike Clark, who facilitates most of the meetings (Julie fills in when Mike's not available). Sharon schedules the speakers, manages the website, and handles mailings.
Meeting presentations include slides, demos, and a time for questions and answers, with topics driven by the speakers, representing some of the most experienced DBAs in the world. The meetings are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing, usually within a week after the live meeting. Sharon says the group hopes to soon make the recordings available in downloadable format in addition to online viewing.
“We have also been fortunate to have sponsors that make it possible for us to have door prizes at our meetings,” Sharon notes. “This year, our sponsor is Quest, and we are grateful for their support.”
The VC is always looking for good speakers. “We pride ourselves on growing new speakers, too,” Sharon adds. “If you would like to speak, just send a brief abstract of your proposed topic to me at email@example.com.”
Can’t get enough business intelligence and data warehouse training? PASS has a Virtual Chapter for that.
With over 11,000 members on its distribution list and growing – and featuring three to four free webinars a month on various topics and in different time zones – the BI/DW VC has something for every taste.
“The arena for data warehousing and BI is red hot – people can’t seem to get enough,” says VC Leader Amy Lewis. “The Microsoft BI stack is wide and far-reaching, which gives us a great opportunity to cover multiple topics. There are so many wonderful speakers in this space worldwide who love to share their knowledge, and our goal was to give them an environment where they could do so.”
The BI/DW VC, formed in 2007, is one of PASS’s oldest and most active, averaging 70-100 attendees per web session. Session topics range from dimensional modeling, data warehouse architecture, and ETL best practices to Analysis Services, MDX, and Reporting Services. The VC also hosts popular webcasts on PowerPivot, Power View, SharePoint, PerformancePoint, Mobile BI, and more. You can watch session recordings going back to 2010.
The BI/DW VC team decided to make it easier to schedule speakers by having its calendar “wide open.” “That is, we don’t set a specific time or date for our sessions each month,” Amy explains. “Rather, we try to have at least three to four sessions a month that are scheduled to best fit the speakers’ busy calendars.”
The VC’s mission this year is to have more internationally hosted sessions with local speakers in UK, European, and Australian time zones, she adds. The VC’s August schedule features sessions by speakers from New Zealand (August 10), Australia (August 17), the UK (August 15), and the US (August 21) – all scheduled in their respective time zones.
In addition to a consistent lineup of top-notch presenters, Amy credits her team of volunteers from around the globe for the BI/DW VC’s success, including Alberto Ferrari, Tim Mitchell, Sandra Mueller, Scott Murray, Roger Noble, Marco Russo, Jen Stirrup, and Chris Webb.
The VC is always looking for more volunteer and speakers. Interested in getting involved? Email PASSDWBIVC@sqlpass.org, and follow @PASSBIVC for the latest updates on Twitter.
Who better to tune PASS’s Performance Virtual Chapter for success than a community of volunteers dedicated to helping database pros optimize SQL Server, database design, attached storage area networks, and more?
This month marks 2 years of the revived Performance VC, which just celebrated 180 attendees at its latest session, Performance Tuning for Pirates with John Sterrett. It and other presentations over the past year from some of the top experts in the SQL Server community are available in the VC’s archives for free replay.
“Our mission is to host sessions for PASS members and the greater SQL Server community that relate to SQL Server performance in some way,” says Chapter Leader Erin Stellato. “Whether it's related to finding and trouble-shooting performance problems, designing for performance, optimizing performance in SSIS, query tuning, … every session includes a performance aspect.”
Although the VC was formed before 2010, it had grown sluggish before being revived by Tim Edwards, who did a call for volunteers and received great response. The refreshed group held its first LiveMeeting session in July 2010 with Jason Strate.
Today, the VC owes its success to “a village” of volunteers, Erin stresses, including Speaker Wrangler (gotta love that title!) Carlos Bossy, LiveMeeting Hosts Wil Sisney and Neeraj Jandwani, Web Masters Paul Hiles and Yulia Fuller, and Marketing guru Ryan Adams, assisted by Phil Franz.
The Performance VC meets the fourth Thursday of every month at 18:00 GMT/14:00 EDT/11:00 PDT, and each meeting features a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by Confio. To be eligible, you just need to attend the monthly webcast; winners are randomly chosen from all those in attendance for the whole webcast who provide their email address.
The group’s next meeting, July 26, will feature Microsoft SQLCAT’s Kevin Cox speaking on Using the New XEvents in SQL 2012.
You can join the Performance VC Google Group Distribution List and follow @SQLPASS_PVC on Twitter to receive the latest updates and meeting announcements. And if you’re interested in speaking or have any questions about the group, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PASS’s newest Virtual Chapter aims to answer two primary questions for those new to the DBA world or considering a career as a SQL Server administrator: How do I become a successful DBA? And what do I need to learn first?
The idea for the DBA Fundamentals VC came from questions VC co-leader Mark Swofford received from DBAs he’s managed and college students he’s talked to. “Students are confused about the path to become a DBA, and new DBAs many times have basic conceptual ideology, but have yet to see it firsthand,” he notes. “Neither of these groups needs a deep dive into transactional replication, but they do need to understand what an index is.”
Mark, who led the PASS Virtualization VC for a few years, contacted PASS HQ with a proposal for a VC that addresses the needs of people in their first year or so of employment as database administrators, as well as those who aspire to be DBAs. Then he recruited DBAs Michael Brumley and Steve Cantrell to help lead the group.
“To be a successful DBA, it takes a solid foundation of general concepts, career development, training, fearlessness, confidence, and mentorship from more experienced professionals,” Mark adds. “This Virtual Chapter will host regular novice-level presentations on a wide variety of topics: the basics, skills for sure, concepts, career development, and the importance of getting involved in the community early on.”
The DBA Fundamentals VC kicks off its lineup of free webcasts July 10 with David Smithey’s “DBA 101”, and has already launched a forum for DBA basics questions and answers. The team is also busy scheduling future speakers – including Scott Shaw, Adam Belebczuk, and Jes Schultz Borland – and coordinating some special events, such as an upcoming day-long online DBA Boot Camp.
The VC is looking for professionals who’d like to give 100-level presentations on a wide variety of DBA topics – if you’re interested in speaking, just email email@example.com. And to make sure you get the latest meeting details, join the VC and follow @DBAFundVC on Twitter.
Inspired by its namesake technologies, PASS’s new Master Data/Data Quality Virtual Chapter seeks to provide a central, trustworthy source of information that can help data stewards ensure reliable, consistent data.
The VC, getting ready for its third online meeting next week, focuses on Master Data Services (MDS), new in SQL Server 2008 R2, and Data Quality Services (DQS), introduced in SQL Server 2012.
“MDS and DQS are still new products in the data platform stack,” notes Patrick Gallucci, who co-chairs the VC with Tom Marek. “In talking to people in the SQL Server community, I get a lot of questions around master data - what is it, how to use it, what scenarios to use it in... So our initial sessions will really show people what MDS/DQS means to them – the value of master data.”
The VC’s first two meetings are available for online replay. And the group will welcome Gene Web of The Profisee Group on Monday, June 18, for Master Data Maestro for Microsoft Master Data Services.
“In addition to having guest speakers at our free monthly online sessions, we are also trying out open, community-driven chalk-talks,” Patrick adds. “We received feedback that people really like the format, and we want to encourage that type of collaborative problem-solving.”
If you want to submit a chalk-talk topic, just send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the topic title, user story, problem statement, and why the problem is hard to solve. The VC also invites community members to take a quick survey of MDS/DQS topics they’re most interested in.
The VC website features links to top MDS/DQS resources, and as the group grows, watch for a newsletter. If you are interested in volunteering your time and talents to help manage and grow the VC, Patrick and Tom would love to hear from you - simply email email@example.com. For the latest on Master Data/Data Quality VC meetings and resources, make sure you register for the VC today.
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.
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.
Living in two database worlds? Join fellow SQL Server and Oracle enthusiasts in a unique and re-energized PASS Virtual Chapter where members can collaborate, learn, and grow their careers.
Created last year to support DBAs and developers who work with both SQL Server and Oracle database systems, the SQL Server/Oracle VC’s mission is to provide a forum to help resolve issues, encourage knowledge sharing, and build a stronger “bilingual” community.
“Our goal is to create a rich environment of free webcasts – from both the SQL Server and Oracle camps – web-based articles, and a cross product/cross pollination of concepts and ideas to help our members succeed in both spaces,” says VC leader Steve Simon.
Steve is speaking on "Data Access Layers: A road map to smarter, efficient and effective queries” to kick off the refreshed VC’s first meeting April 11 at 11am ET. And from there, the VC will be meeting via Live Meeting the second Wednesday of every month, with its webinars being recorded for replay in case you can’t attend live.
In between meetings, the VC is looking to foster discussions, provide resources and troubleshooting help, and promote idea sharing and suggestions about future meetings on its new LinkedIn group.
“Everyone is welcome, and we would love to hear what topics you’re interested in,” Steve notes. “We’re also looking for presenters and volunteers who want to help grow and support the chapter - if you’re interested, just contact me.”
(Reposted from my blog; read the original post here.)
When I got elected to the PASS Board of Directors, I decided I would plan my goals for the job in 3-month intervals. I also plan on blogging about the experience of being on the Board at the end of each quarter, at least.
Prior to being elected, all of my time and energy was focused on the election process. Because the election ended so close to the start of the new Board term, there was not much time to transition from being a candidate to being a director. I set a rather modest goal for Q1: learn my new role. This really broke down into two major areas:
learning what it means to be a member of the body responsible for the overall running of PASS and learning about my portfolio of Virtual Chapters.
In January we had our first in-person board meeting after the election. We covered a lot of topics, from Summit floor plans to global growth strategies to the SQLRally selection process and much more. (See the meeting minutes for more detail.) I was struck by the thoughtfulness with which the entire body took up each question and discussion. I thought it was particularly productive for the first meeting of a board that had not worked together as a group before.
The challenge to being a director is that you need to transition from the more tactical, execution-focused role of a volunteer to a role that requires you to think about the longer term strategic goals of the organization. I knew this going in, but the board meeting helped me get a better understanding of what that shift looks like.
Each director is responsible for at least one portfolio; in my case, it's the Virtual Chapters (VCs.) I believe VCs provide a lot of value to our members as a source of both technical education and networking, and I'm excited about the possibilities for growing and expanding them. I think of myself as an enabler and evangelist for the VCs. The VC leaders and committees do a great job organizing speakers and events. I can help by removing obstacles, securing resources, and promoting the VCs and their work.
To that end, I've made some progress in the areas of marketing and finance. The PASS marketing team has some great ideas for ways to support the VCs. We've already seen a couple of articles in the Connector, and more are planned. We've clarified the process for getting and managing sponsorships and also discussed VCs' budget needs for the coming fiscal year. One of my goals is to communicate relevant information with the VC leaders in a timely way and to seek their input. I think I've been pretty good at that so far, but in the end, it will be the VC leaders themselves who will grade my performance.
We've also launched three new VCs since January: Global Chinese Language, Big Data, and Master Data/Data Quality. I think each of these is a great addition to the portfolio, and I look forward to seeing how they develop.
The next 3 months will include an in-person board meeting in May, the end of the budget planning cycle, as well as some work-in-progress with the VCs.