Category: PASS General
Sept. 30 – Many large technical conferences such as PASS Summit have a thorny problem: It’s hard for attendees to get into all the sessions they want to attend. The solution is to do a better job with session scheduling and room allocation, assigning sessions with larger expected attendance to bigger rooms.
This year, Data Scientist and active PASS member Dev Nambi volunteered to help the PASS Program Team put predictive analytics to work to help predict which PASS Summit 2014 sessions would be most attended so we could schedule them in larger rooms. I encourage you to read Dev’s detailed explanation of the project, “Let Me In! The Attendance Challenge,” on his blog.
After this year’s Summit, we will review each session’s actual attendance and other factors and continue to work with Dev on adding other possible inputs and improving the prediction model. We’re excited about leveraging predictive analytics for future Summits and other PASS events.
Dev and the Program Team will be hosting Office Hours at Summit (stay tuned for details) to review this effort with the PASS community. The Program Team will also be available during these times to talk about how the Program Committee works and other PASS Program-related topics. As always, please feel free to email me or the PASS Program team at firstname.lastname@example.org with any feedback.
See you at PASS Summit 2014!
– Amy Lewis
Director of PASS Programs
Cross-posted from Brent Ozar’s blog.
By Brent Ozar
Sept. 30 – Want to learn more about what it takes to run a PASS Virtual Chapter? Want to volunteer to get one up and running? Or maybe you want to up the game for your local user group and start doing webcasts of local speakers?
Jen Stirrup is running a free Wednesday webcast series to get you started. She’s the Director of PASS Virtual Chapters, and she’s on the PASS Board of Directors. Click on the titles you’d like to register for:
Oct 8 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Padawan, covering:
- What is the difference between an organizer, panellist and a presenter? What can they do?
- What’s the difference between Q&A and chat?
- What do I do if attendees say that can’t hear or see?
- What is the value of a tech check before we hold a VC, and what’s the best way to do it?
- How do we record sessions and post them up to youTube? what is Go to Converter, anyway?
- What’s the difference between GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting?
- How can I tell if attendees are bored?
- How can we use multiple screens?
- And an open Q&A
Oct 15 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Jedi, covering:
- How do we do polls?
- How do we do surveys?
- Plan your webinar like a pro!
- Can you include video in your presentations?
- What about a blended event, where you have more than one presenter?
- How can you help a nervous, first time presenter?
- And an open Q&A
Oct 22 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Management, covering:
- Chapter Management console
- Emailing your chapter
- Updating the site
- How do you get your sessions to appear on the PASS home page?
- Using Time and Date announcer so attendees can check the timezone
- Finalizing your session
- And an open Q&A
Oct 29 (Wed) – Virtual Chapter Soft Skills, covering:
- Marketing your Virtual Chapter (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, reddit)
- Recruiting and retaining speakers
- Blogger help
- And an open Q&A
For more information, check out Jen’s blog and follow @JenStirrup on Twitter.
Sept. 27, 2014 – As many of you know, to help manage this year’s Nomination Committee (NomCom) and Board of Directors elections, PASS implemented a web-based online voting system called Simply Voting, one of the largest and most respected online voting solutions.
In response to questions about the security of member passwords in the voting process, we wanted to share how member passwords were communicated and authenticated between PASS and Simply Voting in June’s NomCom elections, as well as the steps taken to add SSO integration for Simply Votes and to add SSL certificates to all PASS websites to better secure member login information for this year’s Board elections and beyond.
To the best of our knowledge, no PASS member information has ever been compromised or misused by any party. However, protecting the integrity and security of PASS members’ information is paramount. With the steps we’ve taken to tighten security, explained below, we ask that all members take the opportunity this weekend while this information is fresh in your mind to update your password. With these changes, you can make your updates with confidence that your profile information is secure.
SSO Integration for Voting
In our initial implementation of Simply Voting for the NomCom election, we used the system’s standard security option, which prompted the voter for his/her PASS username and password. Simply Voting then passed those credentials via SSL to PASS for validation and at no time stored the voters’ login information.
Simply Voting is certified with TRUSTe, the same certification used by websites such as eBay, Apple, and those of other retail giants. And while the standard Simply Voting implementation is faster and easier for organizations to deploy and the single link to the ballot is more straightforward for voters, there is still risk – however small – associated with giving a third party access to login data.
During the NomCom elections, several community members contacted PASS about the process and expressed concerns about that risk. The PASS Board agreed with the community’s concerns and implemented the stricter single sign-on (SSO) security protocol with Simply Voting for this and future PASS elections.
In the updated SSO solution for the PASS Board elections, voters log in to sqlpass.org to access a personalized voting URL that redirects them to the ballot on Simply Voting. No external log-in is required.
IT updated the API with Simply Voting and made the necessary UI changes under myPASS to set up and display the voting URL to eligible voters. The extra effort was well worth it to ensure the security of member information. While we appreciate that Simply Voting is a TRUSTe certified vendor, the security of our members’ information is our utmost concern.
SSL Certificates for PASS Websites
However, we weren’t quite finished. Community members noted this week that we still had a security vulnerability because PASS’s website didn’t have SSL certificates installed. In the case with Simply Voting, a query string containing the username and salted hash (composed of the username and a system security passphrase) is passed from the PASS website to Simply Voting, which validates the information and allows the member access to his/her ballot. Without an SSL certificate to validate our website's identity and encrypt all information sent to and from it, that string is still viewable and potentially vulnerable.
Over the past 36 hours, the PASS IT team applied SSL certificates to the main sqlpass.org site, our event sites and VC/Chapter sites, as well as SQLSaturday.com (public and admin sites). This effort resolves both the Simply Voting query string issue and the issues our members have raised about overall login security on our sites themselves.
For the peace of mind and security of all PASS members, and especially those who voted in the NomCom elections, we ask that you please take a moment to update your password if you haven’t already. Note that all member passwords are encrypted in the database.
We apologize for the oversight in not having SSL certificates implemented earlier and for the inconvenience this has caused.
Thanks to everyone who provided feedback on better securing PASS’s environment and member information, and please let me know if you have other questions or concerns.
– Adam Jorgensen,
PASS Executive VP, Finance and Governance
Sept. 26, 2014 – I would like to address the questions around voting issues for the current PASS Board of Directors election.
Before I get started I want to make something very clear: I accept full responsibility for all issues with the current election process. Together we had, and still have, the very best of intentions. On behalf of myself and the entire PASS Board, I offer the sincerest of apologies for all of the frustration caused.
A quick recap: During previous Board elections some members received multiple ballots because they had multiple PASS member profiles. Responding to community requests to fix this issue, we decided to update our voting eligibility requirements so that PASS members needed to have a completed member profile by June 1, 2014, to receive a ballot for the 2014 Board elections. By updating their profiles, members would be identifying their primary profile and email address for all PASS emails, including ballot emails. We also encouraged members to take advantage of the process to delete old profiles.
We then proceeded to communicate the voting eligibility change through every channel we had available. These efforts included:
- Launching a registration drive in an article in the January 8 Connector newsletter and publishing details in six more Connectors until the deadline.
- Sending emails to our entire membership.
- Leveraging all of our social media accounts.
- Including reminder slides in the monthly Chapter deck.
- Posting our message and a banner ad on the PASS homepage as well as notices on the Governance and Elections pages.
- Sending direct emails to everyone who had voted in the past four years in an effort to get people to update their profile so they could continue to vote.
Unfortunately, despite these measures, we were unsuccessful at ensuring that all members received the message.
As a result, we are therefore extending the deadline to update your profile and vote in this year’s Board elections.
The impact of this change on you will depend on your specific situation:
- If you have received a ballot previously, or if you have already voted, you don’t need to do anything. All votes currently cast will remain valid, there will be no need to recast any votes; if you received a ballot and haven’t voted yet, your access to do so will not be interrupted. All voting will end on October 14 at noon PDT.
- All PASS members who have not yet received a ballot and who had an existing profile as of June 1, 2014, will be given the opportunity to receive a ballot by updating their profiles before October 5, 2014, at midnight PDT. On October 6, we will pull an updated list of registered voters, filter for duplicates, and then on October 7, we will send all newly registered voters a ballot. All voting will end on October 14 at noon PDT.
- PASS members who established their profile after June 1, 2014, do not need to take any action, but will be eligible to vote in next year’s election.
The voting process also highlighted some concerns around the security of member passwords. In response, we have added SSO integration for Simply Voting as well as SSL certificates. We want to assure you that the voting process and your login details and profile activity are secure. We are continuing testing and validation of the security of all PASS sites – stay tuned to the PASS blog for details and updated information as soon as that is completed in the coming days.
Based on your initial feedback, I will be working with the Marketing team and PASS HQ to improve our communication efforts for voter registration. Going forward we will include reminder slides in every Chapter, VC, and SQLSaturday deck that is distributed, and ask that leaders for these events make a point to mention the details in these slides. I will also ask that we include details on all our key web pages, including the SQLSaturday website.
I recognize that these increased communication efforts may still not be enough. If you do not receive an email on October 7 and believe you should be eligible to vote, please email email@example.com and help us understand all the details around your particular situation. We can’t make things better without your help. I will task our Marketing team to review our communication channels throughout the year in order to improve our effectiveness.
I will also work with the IT team to find ways to help our members verify if their profiles have been updated correctly and that they are indeed registered to vote. I want to make certain we give all our members every possible chance to verify their voting status prior to the deadline.
Our annual Summit is just over 5 weeks away. I expect elections and voter eligibility will be among the many topics of discussion. I and the entire Board of Directors will make ourselves available throughout the week for anyone who has additional questions, comments, and concerns about elections, or anything else.
Thanks for your time, your service, and your PASSion.
– Thomas LaRock
Sept. 24, 2014 – Hi, I’m Tom, and I’ve been busy trying to build a bigger umbrella for Mike.
Let me explain a bit.
Over the past week, I’ve seen a lot of dialogue regarding the decisions and direction the PASS Board has been providing as of late. I hope to clear the air a bit today.
I’ve been a member of PASS since 2004, on the Board of Directors since being appointed in 2009, and currently serve as your President. During that time, I’ve seen the PASS umbrella expand. We’ve grown from 39 chapters in 2004 to 279 chapters in 2014. I’ve seen the transformation of our five Special Interest Groups (SIGs) into Virtual Chapters (currently 27 VCs and growing). We now have global events such as SQLSaturday, SQLRally, and even 24 Hours of PASS. We even have events in different languages now, too! Just an amazing amount of growth, and we continue to attract new members to our events at a very high rate.
All of those events exist because a group of people came together 16 years ago to found the Professional Association for SQL Server. I know they are amazed to see the stats above and how big the PASS umbrella has become. I also know that if those same people would have had a crystal ball to glimpse 16 years into the future, they would be amazed at the depth and breadth of data technology options available today.
But when they founded PASS, they didn’t know Mike.
See, Mike isn’t a DBA. He doesn’t have any desire to be a DBA, either. Mike is part of an audience that has been named “Business and Data Analytics.” It’s a broad group, and one that is difficult to define. We know Mike works with data daily and wants to know more about all the options available to him today. He wants to connect, share, and learn with others.
Think back to a time when you worked alone (as many data professionals often do) and needed help. For many of us, we looked around and we found PASS. We attended events, made some friends, and built up a network of trusted resources that we would go to with questions or when we just needed some career advice.
That’s Mike, right now. He’s curious. He’s looking for help. If you recognized Mike and saw him standing in the pouring rain, needing help, and you had room under your umbrella…what would you do?
I know what I would do.
I want to help Mike. I want to build a bigger PASS umbrella. I want to bring Mike into our discussions, and I want to be a part of his discussions. Mike is exactly the type of natural partner for anyone in the business of storing and organizing data.
I want PASS to help facilitate the conversations that bring different groups closer together. I want PASS to break down the walls of those silos we always complain about in IT. By sharing our umbrella with Mike we will ultimately improve our own skills, and so will Mike. Everyone benefits from this arrangement.
I’ve seen this in action already at the Business Analytics Conference and the Microsoft MVP Summit. Roughly 50% of all Microsoft SQL Server MVPs are not traditional DBAs. They don’t spend their days with backups, restores, or racking servers. They are in the BA and BI space. We can learn a lot from them, and from each other. We have before, and we will again.
We can do this. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but we can make it happen if we work together.
That’s the direction the Board has been taking for the past 3 years.
I cannot stress this next point enough. We are not stopping our efforts with regards to SQL Server. We updated our branding to reflect the wider audience we want to help. Many people already call us “PASS” anyway, so changing the branding to reflect that made sense as the right thing to do. We are still legally known as the Professional Association for SQL Server, and that will not change.
I can see that there have been a lot of changes over the past few years. And when I look at the sum total of those changes, I can understand it might seem scary. But it doesn’t have to be scary if we think of the changes in a different way.
We are building a bigger umbrella, so Mike and his friends can get out of the rain.
I’m hopeful you will let him stand next to us.
That’s what we do here.
– Thomas LaRock
Sept. 16, 2014 – With registration for PASS Business Analytics Conference 2015 opening early next week, I wanted to share some of the exciting new things we have in store for business and data analysts in April and throughout the coming year.
Who’s the BA Conference For?
The BA Conference is for those who work in business and data analytics using Excel and PowerBI, as well as other technologies such as SQL, Hive, and R.
Unlike other BA-related conferences, our BA Conference – true to PASS tradition – is focused on real-world training and connections designed to have an immediate and direct impact on attendees and their organizations.
As both our new BA and core SQL Server/BI communities continue to grow, we’re seeing a greater demand for training and support specific to each group. While SQL Server and BI pros are typically architects, builders, and facilitators of data and analytics systems, business and data analysts extract data from these systems to gain insights and drive the decision making process. They are the data consumers – the customers, clients, and colleagues of PASS’s DBA, developer, and BI community members.
This year, through the BA Conference (as well as upcoming webinars and analytics-focused content), we’re answering the call to meet the unique needs of business and data analysts, who are asked to do more with data every day. Every BA Conference learning and networking experience will be concentrated on the BA perspective and focused on the skills, technologies, and methods they need to investigate business performance and influence business planning.
PASS launched the BA Conference in 2013 to support our data colleagues on the business side, and since then we’ve been fine-tuning our session content, formats, and networking offerings. Next year’s event takes that a step further with a program laser-focused to deliver practical, best-practices information, hands-on training, and visionary thought leadership.
Experienced business and data analytics professionals are in high demand and short supply. Leading organizations are looking for people with a unique combination of data technology skills, business knowledge, and analytical expertise – paired with strong professional skills – to drive decision making and core profitability.
Our BA Planning Committee has done an excellent job mirroring these requirements with an outline of classroom sessions, hands-on workshops, and expert panels organized into five real-world tracks. We’ll be covering everything those in business and data analytics need to know about Excel, Power BI, SQL, R, Hive, Machine Learning, and more.
As PASS works to grow and support our young BA community, we’re also working to grow our pool of business and data analytics experts and speakers.
PASS is about community, and we believe that to serve and grow the BA community as part of PASS’s expanding membership, we need to provide the best possible program and experience for our BA Conference attendees and future PASS members. We are fortunate to have seen such amazing growth and maturity in our speaker pool from PASS’s traditional SQL Server/BI Pro membership, and we want the same level of excellence for our growing BA audience.
As we’ve refined our program approach and reviewed the feedback from previous years, it’s become clear that we need to target the right mix of BA topics and expertise. So this year’s conference speaker lineup will be comprised of a group of handpicked experts – an approach used by many conferences – to bring the highest quality experience to attendees; we will not be having an open call for speakers. Our goal is to accelerate our BA community-building efforts through this process. Identifying and growing knowledgeable and talented community contributors will allow us to integrate a community speaker component in next year’s event while maintaining the level of excellence and real-world value that we are committed to for all our members and attendees.
I can’t wait to share our program and speakers list for BA Conference 2015! Watch for the initial lineup in early November.
Following a Great Lead
Founded in the database space, PASS was brought to life by passionate SQL Server pros with a vision to connect, share, and learn.
PASS is all about meeting the needs of data professionals, providing world-class training and thought leadership, and supporting and promoting a community of like-minded people. It’s a great model to follow and a firm foundation for a growing conference and community that supports our Business Analytics brothers and sisters.
To all the SQL Server and BI community members who’ve paved the way, we ask for your help in reaching out to your business and data analytics colleagues, letting them know how important the PASS community has been in your own career, and encouraging them to check out the PASS BA Conference and our other BA offerings. We couldn’t ask for better community evangelists!
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing
Plus, Black Girls Code founder Kimberly Bryant taking center stage at Women in Technology luncheon
Sept. 2, 2014 — Polybase and SQL Server query optimization guru Dr. Rimma Nehme, senior research engineer at the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, will kick off Day 2 at PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle, WA, Nov. 6, with Black Girls CODE founder Kimberly Bryant headlining the conference’s popular Women in Technology (WIT) luncheon.
Rimma, who has helped prepare Dr. David DeWitt’s celebrated PASS Summit keynotes since 2010, is known for her work on PolyBase, which integrates SQL Server Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) with Hadoop, as well as the SQL Server PDW query optimizer, a partial results framework for database systems, an automated partitioning advisor for parallel database systems, and more. With her keynote, “Cloud Databases 101,” Rimma will be taking Summit’s 5,000+ SQL Server and BI professionals deep into the what, why and how of data processing in the cloud.
“It’s an honor to help carry on PASS Summit’s rich tradition of helping SQL Server and BI professionals get the most out of their database environments, and I’m thrilled to be sharing some of the exciting work done in the field around working with data in the cloud.” Rimma says. “When talking about cloud databases, people often mean different things. Some may be referring to a pay-per-use service; others may be speaking about a speciﬁc piece of software. In this keynote, we will look under the covers of cloud databases and try to dispel some of the myths.”
WIT luncheon speaker Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer working in biotech, was inspired by her daughter in 2011 to launch the non-profit Black Girls CODE (BGC), with the mission of supporting and promoting the underrepresented female and African demographic (25% and 3%, respectively, in 2012) within the technology industry. BGC has grown to 3,000 students across 7 US states as well as in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has received support from many companies both within and outside of the technology industry. Kimberly will be taking questions from the onsite audience and from Twitter during the Nov. 6 live-stream event, hosted by PASS’s WIT Chapter and sponsored by SQL Sentry.
“The motto of Black Girls CODE is ‘Imagine. Build. Create,’” Kimberly notes. “I can’t wait to share with the PASS WIT and data communities how we can all imagine a world where everyone is given the tools to succeed, and get even more data professionals involved in building ways for everyone to access information and create a new age of women and women of color in technology.”
PASS Summit, organized by and for the SQL Server community, is the largest SQL Server event in the world, delivering 200+ technical sessions, 18 full-day pre-conference sessions, and nonstop networking opportunities with the industry’s top SQL Server and BI experts.
For full details and to register at the discounted rate by Sept. 24, visit http://www.sqlpass.org/summit/2014.
Sept. 2, 2014 – The wait is almost over! With just 2 weeks until the announcement of the official candidate slate for the PASS Board of Directors 2014 elections, here’s a quick reminder about this year’s campaigning and voting timeline.
The Nomination Committee is currently interviewing and ranking applicants in preparation for the committee’s slate recommendation to the Board for approval. The official slate of candidates for the three seats up for election – one US/Canada regional seat and two open seats – will be announced in the Sept. 17 Connector along with the opening of campaigning.
In addition to their own campaigning activities, each candidate will have his/her own campaign page on the PASS Elections site and will be participating in at least one of two Live Speech/Q&A campaign events Sept. 18 and 19, before voting opens on Sept. 24.
Emails with the voting link will go out at noon PT Wednesday, Sept. 24, to all eligible voters, consisting of PASS members who updated their profile by June 1, 2014. Voting will be open for 5 days, with all completed ballots due by noon PT Monday, Sept. 29. Election results will be announced in the Oct. 1 Connector.
Good luck, again, to all applicants, and we encourage all PASS members to take every opportunity to get to know the candidates before voting. Here’s to a lively and engaging campaign season!
August 19, 2014 – As PASS moves into a new year, I'm excited to announce that the Board of Directors has approved the Fiscal Year 2015 budget and positioned our organization for another great year of growth and service to the data community.
This year's budget process highlighted – perhaps more than ever before – the incredible community expansion that PASS continues to experience. We saw an array of innovative ideas from Board members, community volunteers, and HQ department heads that build on those successes, and I'm excited that many of those are in the budget and underway.
Budget planning and approval can be a long and tedious process, but this year’s tasks were accomplished well within our timeline, thanks to engaged Directors and portfolio owners and the strong relationships they have with their HQ counterparts. In addition, our Finance team worked long hours to assemble research and make the numerous changes that occur during the process, all while keeping our many stakeholders informed. They deserve our huge thanks!
To increase accountability and transparency, we focused this year on budgeting for our current initiatives and goals while committing to revisit further investments through our open budget-exception process for new ideas and future projects. Some key areas of focus in the FY2015 budget include:
- Continuing support for SQLSaturday, Chapter, and Virtual Chapter growth around the world, capitalizing on amazing year-over-year performance in those portfolios
- Exciting growth of our major events, PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics Conference
- Strategic planning and activities for growing and engaging our business analytics community
- Increasing focus on our Global Alliance Program to continue its early success in aligning with key partners from the data community
- Continuing IT investments to modernize our platforms and take advantage of technology to enable a stronger, more connected community
As you know, PASS generates a significant portion of its revenue from our event platforms. We are back in Seattle November 4-7 for PASS Summit 2014 and expecting our biggest and best gathering of SQL Server and BI professionals ever. Don't miss our all-star lineup of amazing sessions, non-stop opportunities for community engagement and networking, and perhaps even your first SQL Karaoke experience. We hope to see you there – if you haven’t already signed up, I encourage you to register today.
In addition, the PASS Business Analytics Conference is returning to Silicon Valley in 2015, and we expect this event’s growth to match the increasing community interest and enthusiasm in the analytics space. We have a strong group of influencers helping drive this event, and we're excited about its potential for PASS.
From the governance side of the house, just a reminder that the PASS Board of Directors election is coming up next month. Thanks to our Nomination Committee members for all the time and effort they’ve dedicated to helping streamline the application process for candidates and the work they’ll be doing over the next weeks to help you get to know the candidates. PASS supports the greatest community of technical professionals in the world – it's hard not to want to be a bigger part of that. Thanks and good luck to everyone who applied to run for the Board this year. I’m looking forward to a lively campaign season as the candidates and community discuss how to make PASS even better.
It’s thrilling to see everything happening right now in PASS, our industry, and the data world at large. We're excited to share these experiences with you and help community members continue to connect, share, and learn. I can't wait to see you out there!
– Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance
August 19, 2014 – What’s in a name? For PASS, it’s a proud heritage of 15 years as one of the world’s largest and most vibrant technical communities.
Synonymous with premier technical training and networking, PASS was founded in 1999 by Microsoft, CA/Platinum Technologies, and passionate DBAs and database developers as an independent, not-for-profit professional association dedicated to promoting and educating SQL Server users around the world. Since then, our community has grown in both size and breadth, with over 100,000 members who work with the integrated Microsoft Data Platform in a variety of roles – from DBAs, data and application developers, and IT Managers to data warehousing specialists, business intelligence architects, and business analytics pros.
In the past 2 years, our organization has embraced the increased interest in and growing educational and networking needs of the analytics community through the PASS Business Analytics Conference and PASS-supported BA-related virtual chapters and BA-focused local chapters. Last year at about this time, PASS updated its mission statement to officially welcome and support the broader data community, including those who may not work directly with SQL Server. Over the next few weeks, we’ll also be updating our websites and other communications, replacing most instances of the association’s spelled out name with simply “PASS.”
Run by and for the community, PASS remains dedicated to networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning, with serving data professionals at the core of everything we do. Our legal name will remain Professional Association for SQL Server, meaning we will continue to use the full, spelled out version on legal and corporate documents. But to our members, we will be PASS – representing all the history and excellence of our community as well as the promise of amazing things to come as we set our sights firmly on our mission of empowering data professionals.
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing