Category: PASS Community Summit

Getting the Speaker Contract Right


As President of PASS, I would like to address the recent communications surrounding the PASS Summit speaker contract. While the contract is written for selected speakers, the intent is to ensure that every person attending Summit, whether a speaker, vendor/partner, or attendee, has the best possible experience at our event and is able to connect, share, and learn.

Every person that attends a PASS event is critical in ensuring that we deliver an excellent event and fulfill our educational delivery goals. This means we have to get the balance between our community and our partners right. The creation of paragraph 16 in this year’s speaker contract was designed to address and help balance this concern. However, in this instance, the Board is aware that we got it wrong.

In changing the speaker contract, our intent was to ensure that attendees receive an exclusive focus on quality training. I think we can all agree that sessions should not be marketing-driven. We want PASS Summit to continue delivering quality education and networking opportunities.

We have a unique presence in the industry, delivering events that are practical and training-focused. That is what the community wants. But to keep offering the conference, we need to also ensure that the conference and PASS as an organization remain financially stable.

We recognize that we didn’t quite get it right and many of you have had very strong opinions on this. The Board and I have all been monitoring our social media channels, listening to your feedback and comments. This blog is the beginning of our response to your concerns.

We are all trying to do what is best for our global PASS Community, which is why we are not going to rush a response to this issue. Instead, I am encouraging further open and professional dialogue to help us reach the goal of an effective speaker contract. We want to consider all of your feedback and comments before formulating any contract revisions. Please provide your feedback in the comments below, or email feedback@sqlpass.org.

I look forward to your hearing from you.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS President

Why We Revised the Anti-Harassment Policy and What that Means


The PASS Board of Directors recently approved a revised version of the Anti-Harassment Policy. This is a very important policy document for PASS, designed to ensure that everybody has an enjoyable experience at PASS events. I made developing this policy part of my campaign platform for my Board seat in 2011, recognizing that it was something we needed, and an essential element of other technical conferences and events, and have remained committed to its development and refinement since.

As has been outlined in a 2015 blog post by Immediate Past President Thomas LaRock, there was an increase in the number of incidents reported at last year’s PASS Summit. The policy is designed to reduce incidents, and to clearly outline the recourse/action to be taken when incidents do occur.

The policy has been in effect since it was first developed in 2012. Since then, the Board has been monitoring its effectiveness. Following PASS Summit 2015 we decided it was time to revisit the policy and I undertook the reporting and management of this on behalf of the Board with my PASS HQ counterparts and PASS Governance. This was a comprehensive process and I want to make clear that we took this very seriously: we researched other conferences to see what their policies were, we spoke to vendors, and we considered community feedback.

The actual policy purpose and definition of harassment remain exactly the same:

We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification…

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, offensive verbal comments related to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification directed toward an individual or group. Intimidation, threats, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome attention will also be considered harassment. Similarly, sexual, racist, derogatory, threatening, or other inappropriate language and imagery are not appropriate for any conference venue, including sessions.

So what has changed? Well, we have extended the range of coverage. The previous policy made it clear that it was onsite at PASS events, but now it also covers event attendees at all times and places during the duration of the conference/event, including offsite vendor activities. As I mentioned previously, we consulted with vendors and they are onboard with our changes. We have updated the PASS vendor agreement to include this requirement, moving forward. We also ask that any members of our community who may organize an offsite social activity or event also sign on to following these guidelines.

We have also made it easier and safer for people to make reports, including the ability to report anonymously, and will provide easier access to the form used for reporting an incident, both online and in hardcopy format. The policy also now includes new language defining physical danger, and making it clear that this is not an emergency service.

The process for handling reported incidents is unchanged. The Anti-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) will review all reports, investigate, and take action as it deems appropriate.

As part of the broader awareness campaign for the policy, we will ensure that it is more widely visible, publishing it in the conference program guides and clearly onsite, as well. While the revised version was not endorsed in time for the PASS Business Analytics Conference, it will be in place for Summit 2016 and future events.

I hope you recognize the importance of having this more robust Anti-Harassment Policy. As has been mentioned before, this is not about policing the community; it is about ensuring that all of us are able to have a safe and enjoyable experience at PASS events.

Thanks,

Denise McInerney
Vice President, Marketing

PASS Summit 2015, Day One Keynote: The Future of SQL Server

October 29, 2015 — Yesterday marked the first full day of community sessions at PASS Summit 2015 in Seattle. After opening remarks by PASS President Thomas LaRock, Joseph Sirosh (Corporate Vice President, Data Group) and Shawn Bice (General Manager, Database Systems Group) of Microsoft led the audience through an hour of insight into SQL Server 2016.

Joseph pointed us toward the future of the Microsoft data platform. Starting with more widely adopted Internet use in the 90s, we've seen a massive uptick in the amount of collected data in the cloud and through mobile device outlets; at the same time, analog data is all but gone. According to keynote projections, Microsoft expects that by 2025, cloud-based data will eclipse all other data sources by more than a 2:1 ratio, with almost all data residing on either mobile devices or cloud platform repositories. Microsoft continues to position itself to be the leading solution for this new data-driven culture.

After laying the groundwork for what the future holds, Shawn and Joseph took us on a tour of SQL Server 2016 and its built-in features:

    • Always Encrypted technologies will encrypt data at rest, on the fly, and in the buffer pool to help eliminate threats of intrusion at all levels, including the elusive man-in-the-middle threat of polling the buffer pool.
    • Inclusion of R language native to the SQL Server product will enable low- or no-impact analytics directly against OLTP environments in what Microsoft is calling "Real Time Operational Analytics." This feature enables you to make decisions rapidly, at your pace rather than waiting for scheduled ETL processes to load to a separate data warehouse—resulting in potential time and storage-cost savings. R is to data science what SQL is to data management, so it’s a natural match for data professions and a welcome addition to the Microsoft data platform.
    • A STRETCH DATABASE provides the ability—via a simple wizard—to stretch tables to the cloud, along with all DDL and security structures in place. This way, users can reach all data, regardless of whether it's "earthed" or hosted in Azure. This capability offers the potential for savings in all costs related to storage: hardware, utilities, and operational staffing, just to name a few.
    • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is completely overhauled in SQL Server 2016. (This news elicited a great deal of applause from the crowd.) I'd expect Power BI-like features in the SSRS product suite to be part of this "overhaul."

The Microsoft data platform is leading the way in enhancements and providing a complete solution, as evidenced by the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant Ratings. Furthermore, SQL Server has been the leader in data security stability over the past six years.

2016 is going to be a great year for the Microsoft data platform—and a great time to be positioned as a Microsoft data professional. I am anticipating the continued roll-outs of SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Previews and can only imagine what we’ll have to look forward to in the Microsoft product keynote at next year’s PASS Summit.

Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday | PASS Headquarters

The PASS Summit Backpack

October 26, 2015 — I would like to address questions we’ve received at PASS Summit 2015 regarding the decision not to provide backpacks to attendees this year. Every year, when the Board looks at the annual fiscal budget, difficult choices are made in balancing portfolio budgets and priorities. This year, one of these difficult choices was to remove $160,000 for backpack purchases. By removing this expense from the PASS Summit budget, we were able to fully fund community portfolios.

The Board made this decision knowing that the feedback we’d received on the backpacks from past PASS Summit attendees indicated that many people didn’t want the backpack. As PASS looks to expand its community-centric growth, it was decided that this money was better invested back into the community. This year’s attendee gift is an eco-friendly bag that celebrates our community with photos of former PASS Summit attendees.

We understand this might be disappointing for some attendees and welcome your feedback, either directly with one of our team or in the conference survey.

Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing

PASS Summit 2015: Board Portfolio Announcements

October 26, 2015 — PASS Summit 2015 kicked off Monday in Seattle, with Pre-Conference sessions and the PASS Board of Directors meeting. We have plenty of exciting news to share!

As part of the meeting, I announced the new portfolio appointments for the Directors at Large. In addition to appointments for existing portfolios, a new combined portfolio was announced: Membership, starting January 2016. The objective of this portfolio is to gain better understanding and insight into our membership, identify improvements for the community, and explore opportunities to introduce new technology platform services to our members.

Look for more information about this portfolio—and how you can help us make PASS membership even better—in the coming months.

The 2016 PASS Directors at Large for 2016 are as follows:
· Jen Stirrup—Business Analytics Community
· Tim Ford—Membership
· Ryan Adams—Programs
· Grant Fritchey—SQLSaturday
· Wendy Pastrick—Virtual Chapters

The Chapters portfolio leadership will be filled by the Board member who will be appointed to the upcoming vacant seat in January 2016. Until then, Grant Fritchey will continue to provide support for Chapters will oversee the portfolio’s transition to the newly appointed Director at Large in January.

We’ll have more news from PASS Summit 2015 throughout the week, so stay tuned to the blog and follow #Summit15 on Twitter.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance

@Wadamj

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Jes Borlund

September 2, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Jes Borlund takes us inside her session, “Minimize Data Loss with Advanced Restore Methods”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Jes: Those who know me won't be at all surprised: It's Wonder Woman. She embodies truth, justice, strength, and wisdom. She is always helping those who are in need—the same thing DBAs do day in and day out! After attending my session, "Minimize Data Loss with Advanced Restore Methods", DBAs will be even more prepared to help. I'll give them the "lasso of truth" for recovering data when there's been corruption!

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Jes: I took a Structured Query Language class in college. The DBA then handed me a stack of report requests, showed me how to open SSRS, and said, "Have fun." I loved making the data tell a story. After the DBA left, I became the "accidental" DBA, and realized I liked that, too—so much so that I became a purposeful DBA. I've spent years learning how SQL Server works, and how to work with it, so I can help businesses make the most of their data.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Jes: SQL Server is a powerhouse of features. One of the most under-utilized tools in it is the SQL Server Agent. Most DBAs will set up jobs to run backups, but beyond that they don't tap into the power of jobs that can have multiple steps or run PowerShell scripts, Alerts based on Performance Monitor counters, or have an Alert kick off a job. I suggest DBAs dig into it more!

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Jes: Not knowing how to restore data. The business's data is the business. Without proper backups, companies have gone out of business. But if the wrong type or schedule of backups is being taken, or no one knows how to restore the backups, or there's corruption within a backup, the business is still vulnerable. The best skill a database professional can have is a working knowledge of restoring data.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Jes: I really enjoy creating high-availability and disaster-recovery solutions for businesses. When I've built a system, and I hear that there was a problem over a weekend, but no data was lost and there was no business interruption because of what I built, I'm happy. It shows that SQL Server is an enterprise-level RDBMS, and the data is safe.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Jes: I have instructions and resources for all the attendees to create a VM, download a sample database, create corruption, and fix it. I want everyone that attends to spend an hour the following week practicing what they learned. It's much easier to learn to fix corruption when it's a test database than when the business data is really in trouble!

Find Jes at PASS Summit 2015, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Dmitri Korotkevitch

September 1, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Dmitri Korotkevitch takes us inside his general session “Thinking Outside the In-Memory Box” and full-day Pre-Conference Session “SQL Server Internals: The Practical Angle”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Dmitri: As you can guess by my name, I grew up in a culture that had very little knowledge of super-heroes, and I missed an opportunity to pick my favorite one. Nevertheless, I think that concept is overrated. Every one of us can obtain superpowers by motivating ourselves and working hard toward our goals. It is a long, challenging, and often painful process, but the results are well worth it.

In my Pre-Con, I will help soon-to-become SQL Server super-heroes to better understand their super-powers and use them in the most advantageous way. As a bonus, I will teach people how to knowledgeably answer, "It depends," to any SQL Server-related question.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Dmitri: I started my career in IT as an application developer, slowly migrating towards backend and database development. I quickly discovered that it was impossible to write efficient code without understanding how SQL Server executes it and decided to learn SQL Server Internals. Since then, my life has never been the same.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage? What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Dmitri: I will try to kill two birds with one stone and answer both these questions together. I think the biggest mistake people make is following the separation of duties in the industry. Database professionals limit themselves to either a DBA or DB Developer role and live within those artificial boundaries. I believe it is impossible to succeed in either of those roles unless you step up and look at the entire product. Strong database professionals need to know how SQL Server works, in order to properly design database schema, write and optimize queries and T-SQL code, create sound HA/DR strategies, and so on.

Obviously, I am not advocating a “jack of all trades, master of none” approach. Rather, I view successful database professionals as the “jack of all trades, master of many” type. People like that are the most successful professionals in the industry.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Dmitri: We are living in an interesting time. The amount of data and systems complexity are growing at an extremely fast pace. It is challenging but also exciting and makes you proud of your work. There are also plenty of new and promising technologies appearing on the market. In-Memory OLTP, Azure SQL Databases and PaaS stack, Power BI, Query Store and many others—they are changing how we design, implement, and manage the solutions and open the possibilities we were afraid to even consider before. It is a good time to be on the data side of the house!

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Dmitri: I do not want to promise that people will become SQL Server Internals experts just by attending the Pre-Con. It is a broad subject and impossible to learn in one day. My goal is to help lay a foundation upon which people can build their knowledge. I would encourage students to download and play with the demo scripts, read my and Kalen Delaney’s books, watch MCM Readiness Videos—do whatever it takes to continue learning. I will also answer any questions in person at PASS Summit or over email thereafter.

Find Dmitri on his blog at http://aboutsqlserver.com or on Twitter @aboutsqlserver, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Kathi Kellenberger

August 5, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Kathi Kellenberger takes us inside her General Session, “Writing Technical Books”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Kathi: I haven’t been interested in super-heroes much as an adult, but of the super-heroes I know about, I would have to say Batman. Batman’s powers were not from some mutation, immigration from another planet, or exposure to radiation. His powers are based on the ability to come up with great ideas and the resources to turn those ideas into reality.

My session is “Writing Technical Books”, which is a rare super-power indeed. I have been writing for ten years, and my words have reached thousands of people around the world. When I think about how many people I have helped, I know that I have used my powers for good, not evil. This super-power is like a key to the world, and I hope that my session will inspire a few future authors to take that first step.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Kathi: I have always loved logic and data. I remember being obsessed with math problems in grade school, usually working ahead until I completed my math textbook during Christmas break. I also spent hours looking at the library card catalog and encyclopedias. Luckily, I relate to people better now than I did back then!

Unfortunately, my interest in math and science led me to the wrong career. I spent 16 years in a field that I didn’t love before becoming a developer in 1997. I first touched SQL Server in 1998, but didn’t switch my focus until 2002, when a DBA job opened up at a law firm where I was working on a six-month programming project. I really wanted to work there, and thought that I would figure things out given a chance. That turned out to be a fantastic move for me. Not only was it a great place to work, but I finally found my niche.

I think that explaining what you know to someone else, be that writing, presenting, teaching, or blogging, really helps get anyone to the next level.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Kathi: For SQL Server, it is T-SQL window functions. I have been speaking and writing on this topic for at least three years at many SQL Server events. I am always surprised that most people in the audience haven’t heard about them before or at least aren’t using them outside of ROW_NUMBER. By the way, I wrote a book, Expert T-SQL Window Functions, and recorded a Pluralsight course on this topic. The biggest advantage is that they make problems that are difficult to solve outside of cursors easier to solve. In some cases, you will also get better performance over older solutions.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Kathi: I would say blindly following index suggestions from SQL Server. I’ve been doing quite a bit of index tuning for my Linchpin People customers, and I am seeing tons of duplicate and overlapping indexes. The index suggestions might come from the execution plan, Database Tuning Advisor, or even the missing index DMVs, but you have to think about what is in place, not just create the suggested indexes.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Kathi: Twenty years ago, I dreamed of having a computer-focused career. I am still amazed that I get to work in such a fun and exciting field. Sometimes I can’t believe how well things have turned out for me after such a big midlife career switch. I am so grateful to be where I am today.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Kathi: After attending my session, I hope that the participants just start writing!

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Mark Vaillancourt

August 5, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Mark Vaillancourt takes us inside his General Session, “A Bigger Boat: Data Visualization Lessons from the Movie Theater”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Mark: I would have to pick Professor Xavier of the X-Men: his ability to see the truth in people's minds and cut through the false picture they try to present. I am hoping my attendees will learn how to use powers of Data Visualization to help find and show the truth in their data rather than the fantasy that might be more convenient.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Mark: I was working at a regional Theater in IT and part of my job was pulling lists for the fundraising folks. I just kept pushing forward and ended up getting into consulting around SQL Server, mostly with Reporting Services, initially. That led me to BI.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Mark: My favorite is actually not much of a secret. I love how easy it is becoming to get work done in the BI space. The new Power BI is a great example of that. BI does not have to be hard. There are some situations and problems that are, but there are great applications for simplicity.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Mark: I see people get really caught up in how to build something, how to make it work, and sometimes forget to ask if that is the right thing to build. Building the wrong solution really, really well is still building the wrong solution.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Mark: I am excited by the fact that I will never stop learning. Things change so fast and opportunities come up that I never would have dreamed. For people interested in stretching themselves and learning new skills, this is an amazing time to be a data professional.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Mark: I would love to see people take the new Power BI for a spin and act on what they learned in my session. For me, there is huge satisfaction in helping to show someone how to do something themselves that makes their lives easier.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

FY2016: Investing in Community Growth

August 4, 2015 — As PASS moves into the next year, I'm happy to announce that the Board of Directors has voted to approve our Fiscal Year 2016 budget. We’re excited about the upcoming year and opportunities to continue building this amazing community.

Last year, our goals for FY2015 were to focus on support for SQLSaturday and chapter growth, as well as for our two major conferences: PASS Summit and PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC). We also prioritized strategic planning for the business analytics (BA) community and focus for our Global Alliance Program and global growth. We committed to investing in the necessary IT to modernize our platforms to enable a stronger community. Over the past year, PASS has made solid progress on many of these fronts:

· We announced our strides and strategies for building and supporting the BA community.

· PASS Summit 2014 saw our highest attendance to date, and we successfully established our venue through 2019, for significant savings.

· We reestablished the strategic focus and community for the PASS BAC 2015, resulting in positive responses from the community and renewed commitment from the industry.

· We added two regional Board advisors to support our Latin America (LATAM) community.

· We relaunched our SQLSaturday website with expanded support for speakers and leaders.

· We made the difficult but necessary decision to retire the SQLRally brand and reinvest those resources into other portfolios.

This year, our budget’s primary purposes are to continue to strengthen our PASS communities. Some key areas of focus in the FY2016 budget include:

· Add a specific BA portfolio, to maintain consistency in the budgeting for our BA efforts, with the aim of continuing growth in both our BA community and PASS BAC event.

· Refocus our SQLRally investments to our SQLSaturday portfolio.

· Increase our global growth through support for our Global Growth Program.

· Add a Sales portfolio, to diversify revenue streams to help ensure the continued success of the PASS community.

· Add resources and staff to support further technology improvements, including a redesign of the sqlpass.org website for better usability and functionality.

You can see this focus in action starting with PASS Summit 2015, October 27–30 in Seattle. With an all-star lineup of expert speakers and can’t-miss sessions, this event represents one of our primary revenue streams as well as offering a wealth of opportunities for community engagement and networking. If you haven’t already registered, contact one of our Local or Virtual Chapters for a discount code.

Next year, don’t miss PASS BAC 2016, May 2–4, 2016 in San Jose. Join influencers in this rapidly expanding industry, to share knowledge and take part in this incredible community.

As far as governance goes, keep an eye out for the PASS Board of Directors elections. Following a successful Nomination Committee (NomCom) election in July, Board applications open August 5. Take advantage of this opportunity to help shape the future of PASS.

As in former years, this year's budget process was successful in large part thanks to our many PASS community volunteers, Directors, HQ staff, portfolio owners, and Finance team. All worked long and hard to assemble the necessary research and crunch the numbers to help us in this important endeavor. Many thanks to you all!

This is a wonderful time to be a part of PASS. I hope that you’re as excited as I am for the future of this community. We often emphasize that “PASS is your organization”—and it’s true. We want to hear your ambitions for PASS; contact us with feedback any time. And thank you for another great year.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance
@Wadamj