Category: PASS Chapters
I love talking about SQL Server and PASS. Spreading the message of incredible value that they both bring to the lives of database pros has taken me around the globe several times in the past 2 years. (You can trace my PASS-related travels at the end of this post.)
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Kathmandu, Nepal, for the first time at the invitation of my friend Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Manager of Microsoft MDP in Nepal. I had heard a lot about Allen's work in the Nepal community and was eager to see it firsthand.
Allen had organized three get-togethers for us: a breakfast with CEOs from local businesses and financial and government organizations, a discussion with area college students, and a session with the local PASS Chapter in Kathmandu. But my visit began with an inspirational tour of Kathmandu and surrounding areas, courtesy of Rumi from Allen's office. We drove to the ancient city of Bhaktapur, a former capital of Nepal with beautiful temples and breathtaking wood, metal, and stonework. I then took Pinal Dave’s advice and visited the Pashupatinath Temple, one of the oldest and holiest Hindu shrines in the world, located on the banks of the Bagmati river in eastern Kathmandu. The heritage and culture at both locations were amazing, and I was even more excited to meet with business leaders and fellow SQL Server enthusiasts from this wonderful area.
The next day, Allen kicked off the CEO breakfast talking about the Top 10 wishes that people have. Interestingly, time travel made the list—I, for one, would love to be able to teleport given my life on airplanes (175k+ miles last year). I then discussed the value that business intelligence could bring to businesses, industry trends, and the value of the Microsoft BI Platform, including SQL Server and Office. I also walked through some high-level demos to illustrate the continuum from managed to self-service BI.
From talking with leaders at the pinnacle of their careers, we then moved to our meeting with students just starting out. I talked to more than 100 enthusiastic technology students representing 5-6 colleges in and around Kathmandu about data, databases, career opportunities in the database profession, and why they should consider learning about the SQL Server platform while in school.
Allen and I highlighted various resources that students could easily take advantage of to learn about SQL Server. I encouraged them to get involved in a local PASS Chapter and get their hands on the platform for free by trying out the SQL Server 2008 R2 Hosted Trial labs at PreviewSQLServer.com, sponsored by Dell, MaximumASP, Microsoft, and PASS. Allen reminded the students that they have access to free software from Microsoft. He also proposed creating certification study groups to help students achieve certifications. In addition, we talked about the potential of finding mentors for the students from the local SQL Server user group. Allen’s amazing work with students across Nepal to evangelize Microsoft products and build the next generation of users gave me some great ideas for PASS and our local and virtual Chapters.
My last event of the day was a presentation at the Nepal SQL Server Users Group on new self-service reporting and BI features in SQL Server 2008 R2. After the presentation and an active Q&A session, we had a great time socializing and networking over tea and snacks.
My day ended perfectly with dinner at the Nepali Chulo, a traditional restaurant with colorful décor and traditional Nepalese music and dances. I left for Mumbai the next morning with wonderful memories of magical places and warm and friendly people excited about how SQL Server and PASS can improve their businesses and their careers.
The work Allen is doing in Nepal to evangelize SQL Server and other Microsoft products is fantastic, and I look forward to more interaction with the Nepal SQL Server community in the future. And whether you’re on the road for business or pleasure, I encourage you to make time to visit a local PASS Chapter and connect with fellow SQL Server community members. We have a lot to learn from—and share with—each other.
A quick look at the Chapters, SQLSaturdays, and other PASS events I’ve spoken at in the past 2 years:
Sri Lanka SQL Server User Group, Colombo (Feb ’10)
Burlington, Vermont UG (Mar ’10)
SQLSaturday #33, Charlotte, NC (Mar ’10)
Tampa SQL BI UG (Mar ’10)
PASS European Conference, Neuss, Germany (Apr ’10)
24 Hours of PASS (May ’10)
Nepal SQL Server UG (May ’10)
SQLSaturday #22 Pensacola, FL (Jun ’10)
SQLSaturday #10, Tampa (Jan ’09)
Sri Lanka CEO Forum (Jan ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ottawa, Canada (Mar ’09)
PASS European Conference, Dusseldorf (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Sarasota, FL (Apr ’09)
SQL Server UG, Ahmedabad, India (May ’09)
Sri Lanka Technology Forum (Jun ’09)
PASS BI SIG Live Meeting (Jul ’09)
SQL Server UG, Toronto, Canada (Oct ’09)
PASS Summit 2009 (Nov ’09)
I have difficult news to share with the PASS community: After careful consideration Blythe Morrow is leaving PASS HQ. Blythe's time with PASS officially ends on July 1 and she will be moving back to Edmonton, Alberta to be closer to her family.
Blythe has spent the last two years of her career as our Community Programs Coordinator working closely with Greg Low and myself as well as most of you reading this. During her tenure she has been instrumental in facilitating incredible growth, instituting new governance and support programs, and most importantly helping us all to realize how much fun PASS can be. While PASS will continue to thrive and succeed certainly our individual experiences will be a little different without Blythe.
While no transition is easy, we are being placed into very capable hands. Over the last three months Blythe and Nancy Nasso have been working together, Nancy has quickly become a strong contributor to numerous PASS community functions and projects and will be working to assume other duties and responsibilities prior to Blythe’s departure.
Thank you all for your support and appreciation of Blythe over the last two years, please make a point to reach out to her directly to thank her and wish her well. Also thank you for your flexibly and new appreciation for Nancy as she steps up during the next weeks and months.
PASS Director of Chapters
More than 18 months ago when many of us first heard about SQL Server 2008 R2 it sounded like it might be just a big service pack or just adding some bolt-ons so that some SharePoint/Office 2010 features could work with SQL Server – maybe not unlike SQL Server 2005 SP2 that let us first run Reporting Services in Integrated Mode with SharePoint 2007. But as we have crept closer to the release of R2, started to work with the Betas and CTPs we discovered it represents some significant new features (Application and Multi-server Management, StreamInsight, PowerPivot for Excel/SharePoint 2010, Report Builder 3.0, Reporting Services shared components and advanced data visualizations) as well as more-than-service-pack version maturity and stability… And now that R2 has released we can participate in Launch hoopla similar to full-version releases.
Microsoft has partnered with PASS to assemble an impressive R2 Launch Tour, you can find the full roster here: http://www.sqlpass.org/Events/R2.aspx
I personally had the opportunity to participate in the R2 Launch event collocated with TechDays 2010 in Lisbon April 20-22, I was part of the April 21 keynote where it was announced that SQL Server 2008 R2 had been released to manufacturing (RTM) and I announced the formation of the first Portuguese PASS Chapter: SQLPort. In a similar vein, on Tuesday May 4, I attended the first US R2 Launch Event hosted in the nation’s capital: Washington, DC!
The DC event had a noticeable air to it: a mixture of energy and the sense of arrival. Event excitement (attendees, speakers, event team) coupled with the sheer enjoyment of presenting a new product release. It was a bit of a reunion for those of us that have been on past launch circuits (i.e. Fever and Planes) as well as those of us working hard leading up to the R2 release… the halls were lined with the familiar faces of Microsoft and community stakeholders assuring they witness this kickoff event.
Each Launch event is hosted by a local PASS chapter, the Northern Virginia SQL Server Users Group (http://www.novasql.com/) hosted the DC event and Chapter Leader Jim Rotan welcomed the attendees and introduced the keynote speaker, Stefan Ropers. Stefan covered Microsoft’s Data Platform Vision along with an introduction to SQL Server 2008 R2. Herain Oberoi followed with deeper introductions to the three “pillars” of R2: Trusted & Scalable Platform, Managed Self-Service BI, and IT & Developer Efficiency. The rest of the day was made up of breakout session separated into tracks—each with three sessions—for DBA, BI and ITDM (IT Decision Maker); unique to the DC event, there was also a forth Federal Government-targeted track. The DBA track included sessions on Business Continuity (SQL2008R2, Win2008, Hyper-V Live Migration), R2 Multi-server Management, and SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse. The BI track covered PowerPivot for Excel/SharePoint 2010, Reporting Services and Report Builder 3.0, and Master Data Management. The ITDM sessions were: SQL Azure, Oracle to SQL Server 2008 R2 Migration, and BI Consolidation. Overall the event started and ended well, interest and feedback from the attendees was positive and as I ducked in and out of various sessions throughout the day I saw that most everyone stayed for the entire event.
If you can locate an event within striking distance (use schedule link above), I would recommend you make plans to attend an R2 Launch, there is enough high-quality varied content offered that you should be able to make a full day for yourself regardless of if you have only just learned of SQL Server 2008 R2 or if you have been working with it since beta cycles.
After revving up with Launch you can access ongoing R2 education through many PASS channels:
PASS Director of Chapters
In addition to all the physical chapter initiatives we’re working on, Douglas and I have been busy behind the scenes with the Virtual Chapter Portfolio.
We have some of PASS’s best volunteers working with us to make our virtual educational presence a success. These events are largely marketed by the volunteers themselves and illustrate how SQL Server Community volunteers really drive the PASS organization to success. Every month the Virtual Chapter Leaders log into a leadership conference call with Douglas and I, and we brainstorm how to make this portfolio better and more dynamic. There have been some truly amazing ideas this year, and we feel the need to give credit where it is due:
- Brent Ozar, our Virtualization Virtual Chapter Leader, started the year by encouraging PASS VCs to search out sponsorship from the Community’s many corporate participants. We have since signed on sponsors for 3 Virtual Chapters, created all of our process documents, and have a working model for the portfolio
- Aaron Nelson, PASS Application Development VC volunteer, pioneered the Virtual Chapter marketing checklist, and working with the PASS marketing team, pulled all the VCs together to standardize a process of letting our members know about the Virtual Chapter meetings
- David Taylor with the help of his Application Development VC had the first Virtual Chapter meeting with a physical Chapter, The Adelaide SQL Server User Group. With Speaker Aaron Nelson in Atlanta, the session took place in both virtual and physical space. We hope this will set the stage for future meetings and chapter support
- The Women in Technology VC has infiltrated SQLSaturday! lead by Wendy Pastrick and Denise McInerney and starting with SQLSaturday #41 in Atlanta, the WIT VC are supporting local WIT sessions in hopes of encouraging more women to enter IT professions
- We've also focused a lot of the year on mentoring and continuity within our volunteer resources. We have quite a few volunteers who started as a steering committee members, and through effective mentorship, have moved into leading their own groups. Amoung them include Jorge Segarra (Professional Development), Tim Mitchell and Jeff Rush (BI), and Tim Edwards (Performance). All in the past 3 months!
We have accomplished so much in the first quarter with the Virtual Chapter portfolio and hope to keep the momentum rolling. Want to start a virtual chapter or volunteer for an existing one? It’s hard work, but incredibly rewarding. Let me know via email if you’re interested.
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Douglas and I have both been hard at work, pulling in everyone we can to make the PASS Chapter Portfolio a more valuable place for User Groups. We realized we’ve been pretty quiet over the last couple months, so we thought we would give you an update on everything happening. It sure hasn’t felt quiet here at PASSHQ!
We are currently at 211 official PASS Chapters as of today, a growth of 11 full chapters since the November Summit. In addition to the increased growth, we met with all of PASS’s Regional Mentors to introduce them to the new Chapter Direction and to outline the new Regional Mentor resources we created. Both Douglas and I continue to meet with the Regional Mentor teams to help them reach out to their groups, listen to what their chapter leaders need from PASS, and work to make regional communities successful. We are so excited about the enthusiasm the Mentors are giving to this new direction. Interested in who they are? You can see their smiling faces on our chapter pages.
Also, here are some little projects we are working on to bring the chapter portfolio through the first quarter of 2010:
• We have outlined PASS’s value proposition to its user groups on the website.
• We are working with the Microsoft SQL Server Product group to deliver on the SQL Server 2008 R2 Community Led Events. If you have a local user group in your area, you can put on one of these PASS-Microsoft sponsored events.
• The European Conference is upon us, starting on April 21st and we are mobilizing the European community to connect, share and learn. We hope to help the European PASS Community be as strong and cohesive as their North American counterparts. More details to follow in a few short weeks.
• The first chapter leader survey has gone out to all PASS User Group leaders. Check out Douglas’ Connector article for our findings as we try to bridge the gap between the chapter leaders and the PASS organization.
And that’s just the first quarter! I will keep you updated as events unfold.
All the best
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It is March already, and I have been spending all my PASS time in 2010 talking to Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors about what we are doing in the Chapters portfolio in 2010. Now I’d like to get a broader update out to the community about what we are doing and the exciting things we have planned.
Chapters Vision for 2010: 3 Key Goals
Since my time as a leader of Atlanta.mdf (Atlanta, Georgia’s PASS Chapter) and as one of the first PASS Regional Mentors, I’ve had a passion for working with local chapters. So serving as the director of Chapters (virtual and physical) for PASS is an honor and a real treat for me.
Under the leadership of Greg Low, Blythe Morrow, and the Chapters Committee over the past 2 years, we’ve experienced phenomenal growth in the number of PASS Chapters around the world. We had 205 Chapters in 50+ countries as of January 2010, which is a 57% growth compared to the same time last year. And thanks to Thomas LaRock’s work in helping transition our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to Virtual Chapters last summer, we currently have seven Virtual Chapters and have witnessed a huge ramp-up in free virtual training from many of those groups.
While continuing to build on that momentum and growth in numbers for 2010, we also want to make sure that all our Chapters are healthy, active, and growing in value to meet the needs of their members. In that spirit, we have three over-arching goals this year: Sustainability, Infrastructure, and Increased Value Proposition.
Launching a Chapter and keeping it going—and going strong—is hard work. For new Chapters, we need to assure that they are set up properly and that they have the support and information they need to start off on the right foot and survive those crucial early months. Existing Chapters go through rough times, too—experiencing peaks and valleys. So we need to be there for them as well, whether they need resources to help grow programs even more or push past a membership plateau or whether they are facing serious problems.
Our sustainability strategy includes providing a rich set of resources, leveraging the wisdom of our experienced Chapter Leaders, Regional Mentors, other volunteers, and PASS headquarters (HQ) resources. How to successfully set up a Chapter, best practices for running and growing a Chapter, resources for finding speakers and sponsors, and other intellectual property will be readily available online. Plus, we are strengthening our Regional Mentors Program even more, working through those key PASS ambassadors to provide key communications and support to chapters in their area and feed the needs and ideas of their Chapters back to PASS.
A strong, effective infrastructure is essential for sustainability at the Chapter level. Both our people and our technology assets are critical infrastructure focus areas. We are evaluating how to support and align our Regional Mentors to provide a more robust and scalable program that meets Chapter Leader and membership needs.
PASS HQ is expanding the team responsible for community-related support, so Blythe will not be constantly treading water trying to stay on top of it all by herself. In the area of technology, we have a few projects in the queue: We are on the verge of rolling out a sub-site on sqlpass.org that will be dedicated to Chapter Leaders, housing announcements, content/IP, and other resources all in one place. In late 2010 or 2011, we want to make Chapter webhosting more robust with added event management and membership email capabilities (announcements/newsletters). Internally, we will add infrastructure to transition to a Chapter management database (so we can get away from current tools like Google Docs).
Increased Value Proposition
Communicating and expanding the value that PASS brings to Chapters is critical for attracting new Chapters and for improving the quality and strength of all Chapters. The first step here is creating a comprehensive inventory of all the benefits we provide Chapters. That list currently includes the free webhosting I mentioned earlier, a Live Meeting and TechNet subscription from Microsoft UGSS, event sponsorship and program support, a free Chapter Leader registration to one PASS conference per year, access to the Chapter Leader Listserver, PASS Regional Mentor support, and more.
Through the Regional Mentors and a full set of helpful Chapter Welcome Kits and Resource Kits, we’ll communicate everything that’s available to our Chapters and how they can access those benefits. Then we’ll loop back with Chapters around the world to explore how PASS can continue to expand its value proposition.
Thanks for what's ahead...
It’s going to be an exciting year. We are trying to move a lot forward at once, and we are starting to gain momentum. I look forward to working side-by-side with our dedicated volunteers and PASS staff to support our Chapters as they serve the SQL Server technical community. Thanks to each of you for your work!
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