Category: PASS General

Preparing for the Year Ahead

January 6, 2015 – Happy New Year! It’s the season when everything feels in transition. Out with the old, in with the new. A wonderful and warm summer gave way to a crisp autumn, which has now turned to winter.

It’s also the time of year when we pause and reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months. We track our progress against the goals we set this time last year and think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year.

As I look back on 2014, one of the things I think about is Rimma Nehme’s PASS Summit keynote about making the transition from “DBA” to “Cloud DBA.” It’s a subtle shift in our industry, from “Earthed” systems to Cloud, but one that affects – or will affect – how we think about and do our jobs in the year ahead.

Many data professionals, including us traditional DBAs, are also finding additional career opportunities in 2015. Business and data analytics in particular is a growing field – as Stephen Levitt noted at the 2013 PASS Business Analytics Conference, there’s a dearth of people on the planet who can analyze data – and one that we’re excited about supporting.

Much of what we as an organization have done these past few years is take the necessary steps to help prepare PASS members for the transitions that lie ahead. From the latest SQL Server 2014 and Power BI features to Cloud, Big Data, and business analytics, we’re looking forward to continuing to serve the educational and networking needs of data professionals through our growing local and virtual chapters and events around the world.

For the PASS Board of Directors, it’s also the time of year for transitions. When we gather in Seattle later this month for our first Board meeting of 2015, we will welcome two new members: Grant Fritchey and Sanjay Mishra. I’m looking forward to working with them both in 2015 and beyond.

We will also say goodbye to Sri Sridharan and Olivier Matrat. Both will be missed, and we expect to see great things from them as they continue their contributions to the Community.

While in Seattle, we will also review the progress we’ve made on our fiscal year 2015 Board goals and portfolio goals, as well as set new goals for FY2016. Each Director will be asked to present their goals at this meeting. You can expect to hear more about our new goals in the coming months.

It’s a great time to be a data professional. And a wonderful time to be a member of PASS as we constantly look for more ways for our members to Connect, Share, and Learn. Best wishes for whatever transitions you’re preparing for in this New Year – we’re looking forward to helping you meet all your data goals!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Kroll Ontrack Joins as PASS Global Alliance Partner

February 3, 2015 – PASS is excited to welcome Kroll Ontrack to the Global Alliance Program as a Silver Level Partner, extending the company’s PASS Summit sponsorship into a year-round relationship that supports the worldwide PASS community.

Providing data recovery services since 1985, Kroll Ontrack debuted Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® at PASS Summit 2014, giving DBAs a time-saving tool for restoring just the SQL Server tables they need without having to restore the entire database. Ontrack PowerControls, which supports snapshots or native SQL backups, lets you preview table content before restoration and drag and drop copied tables directly to your desired environment. Kroll Ontrack also offers industry-leading data recovery solutions and supports data professionals with learning events and a rich resources library.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PASS as a Silver Global Alliance Partner,” said Greg Olson, senior vice president, Data & Storage Technologies, Kroll Ontrack. “Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® would not have been possible without the direct input from PASS members. As a result of this teamwork, we can offer a tool that can drastically cut the time spent restoring SQL tables from hours to minutes. We look forward to being even more involved with the PASS organization and the SQL Server community through the PASS Global Alliance Partner Program.”

As a Silver Level Global Alliance Partner, Kroll Ontrack will participate as a Silver sponsor at PASS Summit and will be supporting PASS SQLSaturday events and the entire PASS community through Connector sponsorships, sponsored emails, web advertising, and more.

PASS sponsors are a vital part of the community, supporting the organization’s many training and networking opportunities, including free learning events. Through the Global Alliance Program, PASS looks forward to bringing many new opportunities and added value to our community and to our partners. For information about becoming a PASS Global Alliance Partner, please contact Craig Ellis.

Inside the PASS Board’s January Meeting

February 3, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors kicked off 2015 with a 2-day in-person meeting in Seattle focusing on goal-setting, global growth and SQLRally initiatives, volunteers, the PASS Business Analytics Conference, and a recommitment to communicating regularly with the community.

Part of communicating better and more often involves letting our members know what Board members are working on and talking about, as well as getting input and feedback all along the way. Going forward, we will be posting meeting agendas ahead of time, summarizing discussions and decisions in recaps like this one (watch for January’s official minutes to be posted next week), and holding regular Town Hall Q&A webcasts for you to share your feedback and ask questions.

Our first Town Hall Q&A will be next week – Feb. 11 at 10:00am PT/18:00 UTC – and we look forward to discussing any topics from January’s Board meeting and hearing what your top priorities are for the coming year.

With that, let’s dive into our jam-packed January meeting.

Global Growth Committee
Last year, we began transitioning the PASS Global Growth portfolio into global growth initiatives for each of our community portfolio areas. Special Projects Director James Rowland-Jones (JRJ), who led the former Global Growth portfolio, highlighted the primary global growth goals for each portfolio, as set by the Executive Committee: reaching the community and beyond, growing leadership, enabling engagement by evolving the operational framework for PASS, using activity-based goals to gauge performance of regions, and being passionate, relevant, and influencing others to connect throughout the PASS organization overall.

To provide greater global representation, in 2013 the PASS Board converted one at-large seat to a Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regional seat, currently held by Jen Stirrup. In preparation for converting another at-large seat into a Latin America (LATAM) regional seat for the 2016 Board elections, we are taking steps to add Board advisors from LATAM and have set eligibility benchmarks for the LATAM Board seat.

VP of Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen will be chairing a global growth committee focusing on LATAM and filling that Board seat in 2016, calling on individual portfolio owners to participate as required. We are also starting to work on the strategy for targeting the next region.

SQLRally Model
Continuing the Global Growth theme, JRJ reviewed recent PASS SQLRally events and led the Board in a discussion about the pros and cons of this event model. A task force led by JRJ will review feedback and options and present proposals for a new, more flexible model for regional events. Further information on contacting the task force will be made available through the Connector soon.

Volunteer Leadership Policy
With each Board portfolio now having its own volunteers component – instead of having a separate PASS Volunteers portfolio – Board members spent some time talking about the wide range of volunteer leadership roles within PASS and the commitment it takes to be successful.

Acknowledging how important volunteers are to PASS as well as the many obligations people have inside and outside the organization, Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick reviewed the first draft of a PASS Leadership policy that provides guidance around volunteers in PASS leadership roles. The policy‘s guidelines are designed to help develop leadership skills, transition volunteers into new leadership roles, and support new leaders. We’ll be reviewing the policy draft, providing feedback, and sharing the next version with the community for feedback.

Business Analytics Update
Jen Stirrup, Director of the new Business Analytics portfolio, shared an update on the restructuring of the PASS Business Analytics Conference for 2015, including market research on redefining the target audience, new approaches to attract more attendees, updating the program, and a focus on community building.

Programs Director Amy Lewis gave an overview of the conference’s sessions, targeted at business and data analytics professionals, and the speaker lineup, which features some of the top experts in the industry.

VP of Marketing Denise McInerney updated us on marketing goals and successes, attendance forecasts and actuals, and demand-generation plans, stressing the importance of differentiating this conference from other data analytics events. Denise reminded us all to spread the word through our companies, social media channels, and various data communities we’re involved in – and I encourage everyone in PASS to do the same.

JRJ presented the projected versus actual sponsor sales and updated the Board on the BA Conference sales team focus and approach for lead generation and partner incentives.

With a clear picture of where and how additional resources could help the BA Conference teams hit the targets for registration and sponsors in this new market, the Board approved a $35,000 budget exception to support increased sales and marketing activities and resources for the conference.

The Board also discussed possibilities for local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We agreed to continue exploring options and speaking to members of the community and come back with a plan by June 30.

Improving Communications
A common theme throughout our discussions was how to improve communications and interactions with community members about all of these topics. From providing better and easier access to Board members and facilitating feedback to providing proactive communications and doing a better job of explaining what we’re doing and why, we know we can do more.

Denise reviewed some of steps we took at PASS Summit in November to enable better communications between the Board and community members, including the progress report on goals during the annual Board Q&A session and Board “office hours” in the Community Zone. Then Denise gave us an overview of the comprehensive plan the Marketing team is working on to get community input on and improve communications and interaction with all our members.

We’re already working to add a variety of ways to contact Board members directly from the Board of Directors webpage, as well as ways you can easily provide feedback or ask questions. And the Marketing team is reviewing how to better use all our communications channels and identifying new ones.

This Board meeting recap (and those to follow) is also part of our commitment to better communications, along with providing advance notice of Board meeting agendas – maybe even with a possibility of having time set aside to discuss community-requested topics – and hosting regular live web-based Q&A Town Hall meetings.

Board and Portfolio Goals
Each Director-at-Large also presented a draft of their portfolio goals for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning July 1, 2015, for discussion and feedback. You can read about each Director’s portfolio assignment here, and stay tuned for blog posts coming soon from each portfolio owner – as well as Board-level goals from the Executive Committee (made up of me, Adam, Denise, and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano).

Until then, please feel free to reach out to any of us with your questions, comments, and ideas and remember to join us Feb. 11 for our first Town Hall Q&A.
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Related posts:
My First Board Meeting - Grant Fritchey
PASS January Board Meeting – My Thoughts - Adam Jorgensen


Inside the PASS Board's February Meeting

February 26, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors gathered this month, with discussions focusing on this year’s upcoming conferences, the first Town Hall Q&A webcast, and the PASS Volunteer Leadership policy. Here’s a recap of the February meeting:

PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015

We kicked off the meeting with an update on various programs from Marketing for the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference, being held in Santa Clara, CA, April 20-22. We were excited to receive confirmation that noted blogger and BI Brainz founder Mico Yuk will be appearing as the conference’s Day Two keynote speaker. Keep an eye out for upcoming news on the Day One keynote speaker.

We also discussed conference sponsorship and new Expo Hall initiatives, which will include the Excel-eration Lounge (with plenty of Excel-driven sponsors and content).

Town Hall Q&A Webcast

The first quarterly Town Hall Q&A webcast took place on February 11, and we were pleased to report that the feedback was positive for the first run of this. The recording for anyone who missed it is available here; written summaries for future Q&As will also be provided. The 15 attendees had plenty of questions for the Board around educational programs, this year’s elections, volunteers, budgeting processes and more. We’re looking forward to the potential that these Town Halls offer to open up communications between the Board and community members. I want to thank those who attended, and I hope to hear from even more participants at future Town Halls. Look for more information on upcoming Q&As on the Board Contact Us page and Connector as we head into the next quarter.

Volunteer Leadership Policy Update

Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick confirmed that the recommendations made by the Board at last month’s Board meeting were implemented into the PASS Volunteer Leadership policy. This policy sets parameters and guidance for volunteers in leadership roles within the PASS community. Wendy is now in the process of gathering and considering feedback on the most recent draft of the policy.

PASS Summit 2015 Call for Speakers

Programs Director Amy Lewis informed the Board that the Call for Speakers for this year’s PASS Summit, to be held in Seattle on October 27-30, would open on February 18 and remain open for one month. Information about submitting session abstracts appeared in the February 17 issue of the Connector, and I encourage those who haven’t spoken at PASS Summit before to submit an abstract – we even have an Abstract Evaluation service run by volunteers this year to help you fine-tine your abstract before submission.

We’ll continue to keep you up-to-date on what the Board is working on. In the meantime, I hope that you’ll reach out to any Director with your questions, comments, or ideas.

– Thomas LaRock

PASS President

Feedback Requested on SQLSaturday Numbering System

March 3, 2015 – Hello fellow SQL Community Members! It's been a great year for PASS and a banner year for SQLSaturday in particular! By the time you read this post, we will have announced our 100th SQLSaturday event for this fiscal year. By comparison, it took us 1,480 days to complete our first 100 events.  Event 200 came 510 days later, followed by event 300 after another 572 days. Thanks to the global growth of PASS and SQLSaturday and the determination and passion of our community and our organizers, we hit this last benchmark in record time.

Take some time right now to give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. I'll wait...

Done?

Good.

Now that we've reached this milestone and as we look to the future of SQLSaturday, I think it's time to make a small change. This adjustment will help to provide a more environmentally sustainable program while enabling our individual organizers to buy promotional items that won't expire at the end of each year. Here's the plan: We're doing away with the numbering scheme that we've traditionally used for individual events. Instead, we're going to identify individual SQLSaturdays by the name of the city or region in which they are hosted.  For example, the next time we produce a SQLSaturday in Kalamazoo, we'll call it just that – SQLSaturday Kalamazoo – rather than SQLSaturday Kalamazoo #501. Behind the scenes, we'll still use the same URL constructs and numbering (for internal purposes), but we'll market each event sans numbers. This means that we can re-use undistributed materials from year-to-year, and we can order in larger quantities for lower per-unit prices. This change allows for one of the things I love to preach about when I speak at SQLSaturdays: consistency.

I'm sure that some of you might have different ideas on the matter… perhaps ideas that lay somewhere between what I'm proposing and the status quo. The PASS Board of Directors really wants your input in the matter. We're planning on making this change mid-year, so if you want to make your voice heard, whether to let us know that you agree with the plan or to propose an alternative, reach out to the SQLSaturday Team at webmaster@sqlsaturday.com, using the Subject line "SQLSaturday Renaming Plan."

I think the time has come for this minor marketing change, and I want to offer up full transparency. I have the privilege to help guide the program, but it's our amazing local organizers who continue to push us forward with such a successful program day in and day out! Please let us know here at the Board and PASS HQ what you think – and help shape the future of PASS and SQLSaturday.

Tim Ford

PASS Director, SQLSaturday

SQLSaturday Site Redesign: Better than Ever

April 6, 2015--Over the past few weeks, we’ve been alerting people to something exciting: our new SQLSaturday website redesign. It’s now faster and easier than ever to manage, speak at, sponsor, or attend a SQLSaturday event!  After a great deal of effort by our staff and community volunteers for months (years, actually) the update is finally here—we hope you’ll stop by and take a look! The redesign will significantly improve the SQLSaturday experience for attendees, speakers, and event and chapter leaders. 

For starters, the new site makes it easier than ever to manage your SQLSaturday event or your Speaker Profile. One of the changes we’ve made is to tie in PASS accounts, so that leaders and speakers don’t need to juggle multiple account logins. 

Speakers now have a universal Speaker Profile that is associated with their PASS accounts and can be applied across events. This change and others make it easier for speakers to manage and track abstract submissions, upload presentations, and get feedback about their sessions. 

If you’re an event leader, you can now use your PASS account to access the Admin site—which has also received a facelift. The site features a cleaner, easier-to-use dashboard that will help to simplify the process of managing an event, including allowing you to associate an event with a chapter.

We’ve also improved the Session Management UI, which now supports a wider variety of session lengths as well as color-coding of tracks and rooms. Plus, you can add keynotes, rest breaks, and raffle draws as non-session items.

SQLSaturday attendees will benefit from the mobile-friendly redesign as well. Use your PASS account to manage your registrations, download SpeedPASS, pay for lunches, and deliver event feedback.

Sponsorship is an even more winning proposition, with a new slider and improved sign-up form that saves sponsors time and effort. (Sponsors will need to complete a one-time upload of new logo graphics to meet our improved display requirements, but beyond that, improvements will be effortless.)

We’re excited to hear what you think about the changes. If you have feedback or questions, we hope you’ll reach out to us at ITSupport@sqlsaturday.com.

--Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday

Inside the PASS Board’s March Meeting

April 8, 2015 – At this month’s PASS Board of Directors meeting, held March 12, the discussions revolved primarily around PASS Summit 2015 and the PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015, which will be held in Santa Clara, CA in just a few weeks. We also discussed budgets and initiatives for our chapters, including Virtual Chapters. Read on for the basics of the March meeting. 

Business Analytics and the PASS Community Vision
The Board heard about and discussed various logistics of the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference, which happens April 20–22. As you might expect, hosting a major event entails a multitude of tasks and details, from speaker and abstract evaluation, scheduling, lodging and venue choices, sales, feedback, and so on. As such events draw closer, the Board and other PASS personnel focus even more closely on ensuring that everything is in place to deliver a stellar experience for attendees and speakers alike.

In addition, Denise McInerney, PASS Vice President of Marketing and SQL Server MVP, emphasized that this conference is a pivotal piece in PASS’s vision to support the entire data community, including data analysts and Excel users, as it navigates new developments and constant changes in technology, tools, and strategies. Denise gave the Board an overview of her recent interview with Excel TV, in which she discussed the role of Excel in the conference as well as her own journey as a data professional. We all acknowledged the importance of communicating PASS’s vision and the opportunities that it presents to the data community via all the means at our disposal, be it through conferences, chapter or online events, or social media.

Chapters and Virtual Chapters
Next, Director of PASS Global Chapters Grant Fritchey gave the Board an update on PASS’s chapters and virtual chapters. A pre-approval for the FY2016 budget funds earmarked for the chapter and virtual chapter referral program and complimentary registrations was voted on, and approved. Referral program details and complimentary codes have now been sent to Chapters and will be sent to Virtual Chapter leaders within the week. If you haven’t received yours by EOD Friday April 10, please reach out to Carmen.Buchmann@sqlpass.org or Elizabeth.Jeffs@sqlpass.org

Summit Abstract Evaluation Review
Lastly, Amy Lewis, Director of PASS Programs, gave us an overview of the new abstract-evaluation service that PASS made available for Summit 2015 submissions. We looked at feedback from the committee regarding how many abstracts were reviewed, the average time spent on each, and the strengths and challenges of the process. We discussed the possibilities of offering the service again for Summit 2016. We also applauded the efforts and commitment of the review committee as we head into speaker and session selection.

We’ll check in again next month with a recap of our April meeting. In the meantime, remember, the Board is always interested in hearing your questions, comments, and ideas

– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

SQLSaturday Website Update

As many of you may be aware, this week PASS launched the new SQLSaturday website. 

Shortly after launching the site we were notified of a security vulnerability which meant that sponsor’s contact details (company or individual name, twitter handle, address, and zip/postal code) were all visible. The intention of this information being available was to streamline the process for sponsors to sign up for an event without having to re-enter their details each time. However, given some of our Sponsors use their home address as contact information there were concerns at having this information publicly available on the site. This information was immediately taken down and out of an abundance of caution we also made the decision to conduct a full assessment to ensure no other issues existed. 

During testing an additional security vulnerability was discovered – it was found that parts of the SQLSaturday website were exposed to HTML injection, which in this case, could allow a hacker to execute HTML and/or Javascript from the session abstract page. With the structure of the SQLSaturday website, abstract submissions will be continuously open, increasing the risks associated with this vulnerability. Further application of fixes to this issue and re-testing caused a further delay in the anticipated turnaround time for the re-launch. 

This afternoon after rigorous testing by PASS IT and volunteers from the community we are pleased to announce the site is live again. 

Further detail on the actions and decisions surrounding this event will be made available in the coming days. 

We thank you for your continued patience and understanding throughout this time and look forward to providing an enhanced experience for event organizers, attendees, speakers and sponsors of SQLSaturdays with the new site going forward. Again we would like to thank everyone who was involved in the vision, planning, feedback and testing of the site.  

- Tim Ford
PASS Director, SQLSaturdays 


 

SQLSaturday Website Update Timeline

As per my blog post on April 9 regarding the SQLSaturday website, the good news is that we’re back online. So far, feedback on the site has been overwhelmingly positive. 

I first want to thank everyone for their patience last week: the organizers and sponsors who couldn’t access the site during the downtime, as well as the community members who have been waiting to hear what happened. As with any issue like this, our main priority was to rectify the situation. Therefore, we felt it best to wait until the site relaunched and all security vulnerabilities were fixed before sharing more specific details. 

But of course, full transparency is important to us and to you. Now that we’re up and running again, here is the timeline of events that occurred over the past week: 

  • • On Monday, April 6, we were alerted to a potential security vulnerability that exposed the contact information (address, city, region, and twitter handle) of some sponsors. We immediately removed this information and decided to take down the entire sponsor page for further testing. The security of information regarding our community and sponsors is of the utmost importance to us, so we wanted to conduct a thorough review of the entire website, not just that specific issue.

  • • By Monday night, we had decided to take the entire SQLSaturday site offline. We chose this option, rather than a rollback, because at the time, we estimated a rollback effort to be more time-consuming than simply taking the site offline and implementing the fix. In addition, we didn’t want to risk losing any new or changed data. We were able to minimize impact as best we could for the upcoming SQLSaturday events over the weekend of the 11th and 12th by providing access to the admin sites for the Huntington Beach and Madison SQLSaturday events. 

  • • The morning of Tuesday, April 7, we decided to ask community members for testing support. Our community comprises some of the best and brightest minds in the industry and it made sense to involve the users of the site in further testing. 

  • • The patch was completed by Tuesday night, making the site ready for testing by volunteers on Wednesday.

  • • During the testing on Wednesday, April 8, a second potential vulnerability—an HTML injection vulnerability—was identified. Because of the seriousness of this potential issue, we decided Wednesday afternoon to keep the site offline for another day so that we could thoroughly research and correct the issue and complete final testing. As we began delving into the issue, we discovered that it also existed in the old site. So again, a rollback was not an option.

  • • The problem was fixed late Wednesday night.

  • • On Thursday, April 9, PASS IT and community-member testing was complete.

  • • Satisfied with the security and usability of the site, we relaunched Thursday at 9:30pm EST.

 

PASS apologizes for this outage and for the difficulties it created for the SQLSaturday organizers, sponsors, speakers, and attendees. We thank those who provided feedback on the issues and the volunteers who stepped in to help test the solutions, particularly K. Brian Kelley (blog | @kbriankelley), Denny Cherry (blog | @mrdenny), and Argenis Fernandez (blog | @DBArgenis). To help prevent a similar issue in the future, we are looking at more extensive QA processes with a specific focus on ensuring site security. Although I believe we made the best possible decisions along this timeline, we will certainly take a different approach to future site revisions, including but not limited to earlier and wider security-based and functional testing by our volunteer experts and progressive change schedules. 

Again, thank you for your patience. If you have any further feedback or questions, please email us at sqlsaturday@sqlpass.org.

Tim Ford 
PASS Board of Directors 
SQLSaturday 

PASS Voting Eligibility and Upcoming Elections

May 7, 2015 – During the 2014 election cycle, the PASS Board established specific eligibility requirements for voting in the PASS elections. These requirements are designed to help de-duplicate member data for eligible voters before ballot notifications are sent. Specific mandatory fields have been added to the myProfile section of sqlpass.org to help us better serve the community.

To cast a ballot, members must complete all mandatory fields in their myPASS profile. PASS members who have not completed their profile will receive a reminder to update their myPASS profile to be eligible to vote. Your profile must be completed by 11:59 pm PDT June 1, 2015 to guarantee eligibility to cast ballots in the 2015 PASS elections.   

Don’t miss your chance to vote in the PASS elections! To confirm your eligibility, please log into your myPASS account to look for the follow eligibility stamp:


PASS is your organization. Thank you for helping to shape its future by participating in the elections process. 

–Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President