Category: Virtual Chapters
March 18, 2014 – Participating in PASS Virtual Chapters (VCs) – which deliver free online training from leading data experts – is one of the easiest ways you can keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date and get involved in the community.
Serving close to 25,000 data professionals from around the world, our interest-based VCs provide technical content and networking year-round through live and recorded webinars. Whether you are a DBA, developer, BI or BA professional or looking to learn in your local language, there is a VC for you. We also have VCs focused on professional development and Women in Technology topics.
As co-leader of the BI VC, I know firsthand how much work goes into setting up virtual learning sessions – our VC leaders spend countless hours bringing great training directly to your computer.
Keeping both our leaders and our community of active participants in mind, we’ve put together the following VC goals for fiscal year 2015 (FY2015) and are working out the associated budget to support them:
- Increase overall VC meeting attendance by 20%
- Increase VC meeting attendance by 25% for the LATAM region
- Deliver 16,000 technical training hours to the PASS community
- Establish satisfaction benchmark metrics for VCs and solicit feedback for improvement and growth
- Increase VC sponsorships to provide additional learning opportunities for VC participants
As I dig into my first term on the PASS Board of Directors, I’m delighted to represent and help grow our VCs serving the expanding data community. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas on growing and supporting these valuable online user groups.
– Jen Strirrup
Virtual Chapter Director, PASS Board
January 15, 2014 – As a data engineer at her “day job,” PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney has a special affection for business analytics. We caught up with her ahead of Feb. 5’s 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition to see what she’s looking forward to at the free day of online business analytics learning.
Podcast: Listen to Denise talk more about business analytics, business intelligence, and PASS’s upcoming training opportunities in this podcast interview with SearchSQLServer.com.
What is 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition?
24 Hours of PASS: BA Edition (24HOP: BA) is a day of free, live, back-to-back webcasts on how to get the most from your data, presented by some of the most knowledgeable and top-rated speakers from the world of business analytics and business intelligence. This edition features 12 live sessions – each with its own Q&A segment – followed by 12 hours of on-demand replay in case you miss a session or want to rewatch your favorites.
Thanks to our sponsors – Microsoft, Cisco, Confio, Dell Software, and SQL Sentry – we’re able to bring 24 Hours of PASS: BA edition to BA and BI professionals at no cost. In true PASS fashion, it’s a great community event that brings data professionals from around the world together to connect, share, and learn.
In the week since registration opened, each 24 Hours of PASS: BA session already has at least 700 registrations. So we’re looking forward to a blow-out event!
What will the sessions cover?
The sessions will cover best practices and the latest tips on everything from data analytics and visualization, predictive analytics, and data science to Big Data and information delivery, strategies, and architecture. We have sessions on Excel 2013, Power BI and Power Query, the Enterprise Data Warehouse, Parallel Data Warehouse, querying in DAX, data visualizations in SQL Server Reporting Services, and more.
And whether you’re a BA/BI novice or ready for advanced techniques, we have a session for you. I love it that we have “Predictive Analytics for Absolute Beginners” – our most popular session so far – as well as “Advanced Analytics in Excel 2013.”
Who should attend?
If you’re passionate about business analytics, this event is for you: data and business analysts, data scientists, data architects, BI professionals, IT pros… Whether you’re already working in analytics or looking to make a transition or just learn more about this fast-changing industry, you’re going to come away with practical information that you can use right away for managing, analyzing, and sharing business information and insights.
What’s your favorite part of 24 Hours of PASS?
For the past 2 years, I’ve been responsible for PASS’s online training opportunities as Director of Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. And although as PASS VP of Marketing I’m no longer directly in charge of 24 Hours of PASS, I still feel a special connection to the event.
Since 2009, 24 Hours of PASS has grown into a well-known and well-loved event in the SQL Server community. And what’s not to love? Excellent content from top experts in the field delivered directly to your computer – wherever you’re located in the world – for free.
I’m thrilled that we’ve expanded this valuable training opportunity to BA and BI professionals. At last year’s first 24HOP: BA event, we saw almost 30,000 registrations across 89 countries. It’s just a fantastic complement to the free online learning that our Business Analytics, BI, Big Data and other Virtual Chapters provide throughout the year, as well as a great preview event in the lead-up to the upcoming PASS Business Analytics Conference in May.
What is 24HOP: BA’s relationship to the PASS BA Conference?
All 24HOP: BA speakers will also be delivering in-person sessions at the PASS BA Conference May 7-9 in San Jose, CA. So it’s a nice sneak peek at the world-class business analytics sessions and speakers who will be on tap there. If you enjoy 24HOP: BA, you’re going to love the BA Conference.
When is 24HOP: BA again?
Please join us from the comfort of your office, home, or home office on Wednesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 8am PT (11am ET, 16:00 GMT) for a great day of business analytics learning. Tell your friends, and make sure you follow us on Twitter at @PASS24HOP / #pass24hop for all the latest updates.
How do you register?
Seating in the virtual meeting room is limited, so you’ll want to register now and make sure you’re in the session early the day of the event. From the website, just select the individual sessions you want to register for – or like some die-hard attendees who attend them all, click “Select All” – and then click Register. You’ll receive an email confirmation containing your meeting access links and can add the events to your calendar through the iCal links.
I’m looking forward to having as many business analytics professionals as possible join us for this great online event. Make sure you register today!
January 7, 2014 – 2013 was a wonderful year for PASS. We grew in service to data professionals around the world across many areas – adding 31 local PASS Chapters, six new Virtual Chapters, and the inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference – and welcomed over 16,000 new members. With 2013 now in our rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at what lies ahead for PASS.
Before we dive into the coming year, I want to thank Rushabh Mehta, Douglas McDowell, and Rob Farley for their many years of service to the PASS community as they leave the Board of Directors. Their hard work and dedication will be sorely missed.
Let’s also take a moment to welcome the new Directors joining the Board for 2014-2015: Amy Lewis, Jen Stirrup, and Tim Ford. Amy will be taking over PASS Programs, Jen will lead Virtual Chapters, and Tim will be responsible for the SQLSaturday portfolio. You can read about all the Board portfolio assignments on the PASS blog.
As PASS continues to grow, the Board understands the need for Directors to shift away from their historical role as “doers” and toward setting direction through strategic thinking. We have been taking measured steps as part of this transition. And after the 2013 elections, I shared the vision that myself, Adam Jorgensen, and Denise McInerney have for PASS as your Executive Committee (ExeCo).
Vision statements are good, but actions are better. So to start, every Board member is outlining their portfolio tasks so that we make certain they roll up to our higher-level goals and that we hold each other accountable. In my years on the Board, we have had a lot of great ideas but struggled with follow-through and accountability. We are aiming to change that in 2014.
I’ve asked all Board members to submit their goals for 2014 before Jan. 13. The ExeCo will then review the goals before the Board’s January in-person meeting and provide feedback about any tasks not aligned with the overall vision.
With your help – and the leadership of dedicated Board members – I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running this year.
Let’s make 2014 a year to remember, together.
Cross-posted from my blog
October 14, 2013 – As I type this, I’m on an airplane en route to my 12th PASS Summit. It’s been a very busy 3.5 months since my last post on my work as a Board member. Nearing the end of my 2-year term, I am struck by how much has happened, and yet how fast the time has gone.
But I’ll save the retrospective post for next time and today focus on what happened in Q3. In the last three months, we made progress on several fronts, thanks to the contributions of many volunteers and HQ staff members. They deserve our appreciation for their dedication to delivering for the membership week after week.
The Virtual Chapters continue to provide many PASS members with valuable free training. Between July and September of 2013, VCs hosted over 50 webinars with a total of 4300 attendees.
This quarter also saw the launch of the Security and Global Russian VCs. Both are off to a strong start, and I welcome these additions to the Virtual Chapter portfolio.
At the beginning of 2012, we had 14 Virtual Chapters. Today we have 22. This growth has been exciting to see. It has also created a need to have more volunteers help manage the work of the VCs year-round. We have renewed focus on having Virtual Chapter Mentors work with the VC Leaders and other volunteers. I am grateful to volunteers Julie Koesmarno, Thomas LeBlanc, and Marcus Bittencourt, who join original VC Mentor Steve Simon on this team.Thank you for stepping up to help.
Many improvements to the VC websites have been rolling out over the past few weeks. Our marketing and IT teams have been busy working a new look and feel, features, and a logo for each VC. They have given the VCs a fresh, professional look consistent with the rest of the PASS branding, and all VCs now have a logo that connects to PASS and the particular focus of the chapter.
24 Hours of PASS
The Summit Preview edition of 24HOP was held on July 31 and by all accounts was a success. Our first use of the GoToWebinar platform for this event went extremely well. Thanks to our speakers, moderators, and sponsors for making this event possible. Special thanks to HQ staffers Vicki Van Damme and Jane Duffy for a smoothly run event.
Coming up: The 24HOP Portuguese Edition will be held November 13-14, followed December 12-13 by the Spanish Edition. Thanks to the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking community volunteers who are organizing these events.
July Board Meeting
The Board met July 18-19 in Kansas City. The first order of business was the election of the Executive Committee who will take office January 1. I was elected Vice President of Marketing and will join incoming President Thomas LaRock, incoming Executive Vice President of Finance Adam Jorgensen ,and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano on the ExeCo. I am honored that my fellow Board members elected me to this position and look forward to serving the organization in this role.
Visit to PASS HQ
In late September, I traveled to Vancouver for my first visit to PASS HQ, where I joined Tom LaRock and Adam Jorgensen to make plans for 2014. Our visit was just a few weeks before PASS Summit and coincided with the Board election, and the office was humming with activity. I saw first-hand the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone there. In each interaction I observed a focus on what is best for PASS and our members. Our partners at HQ are key to the organization’s success. This week at PASS Summit is a great opportunity for all of us to remember that, and say “thanks.”
PASS Summit—of course! I’ll be around all week and look forward to connecting with many of our members over meals, at the Community Zone, and between sessions.
In the evenings, you can find me at the Welcome Reception, Exhibitor’s Reception, and Community Appreciation Party. And I will be at the Board Q&A session Friday at 12:45pm.
The newly elected ExeCo and Board members take office January 1, and the Virtual Chapter portfolio is transitioning to a new director. I’m thrilled that Jen Stirrup will be taking over. Jen has experience as a volunteer and co-leader of the Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter and was a key contributor to the BI VC's expansion to serving our members in the EMEA region. I’ll be working closely with Jen over the next couple of months to ensure a smooth transition.
October 11, 2013 – With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte next week, it’s time to meet your Board portfolio leaders for the coming year. It’s been a pleasure, as one of my first tasks as incoming PASS President, to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use.
Here are the portfolios for 2014:
- James Rowland-Jones led our Global Growth portfolio over the past year, helping us gather feedback and lay the groundwork for better supporting the global community, including converting two seats on the PASS Board to regional seats. JRJ will remain with Global Growth and also lead Special Projects.
- Sri Sridharan began his term on the Board last year with the reinstated Volunteers portfolio and will continue the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions.
- Wendy Pastrick will continue leading our Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.
- Amy Lewis, newly elected to the Board, will begin her term heading up the Programs portfolio. Working with Director Adam Jorgensen, Amy has served as co-manager of PASS Programs for 2 years, helping improve processes and lead the team that selects sessions for PASS Summit and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
- Jen Stirrup, elected to the new EMEA regional seat on the Board, will put her experience as PASS BI Virtual Chapter co-leader to valuable use in guiding the Virtual Chapters portfolio.
- Tim Ford, elected to the new US/Canada regional seat, will take over the SQLSaturday portfolio. A passionate SQLSaturday supporter, Tim organized Kalamazoo, MI’s first SQLSaturday. Over 80 SQLSaturdays were held throughout the world in FY2013, and we’re expecting continued growth of these popular free, 1-day training events as we focus on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe.
The 2014 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – and Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft.
The transition to new assignments is underway, and new portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit, join us at the Board Q&A on Friday, Oct. 18, and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock
May 13, 2013 – You’ve probably tapped into the gold mine of session recordings available to PASS members from events such as PASS Summit, PASS SQLRally, and 24 Hours of PASS. But did you know you also have access to hundreds of hours of free SQL Server training via PASS Virtual Chapter archives?
From the PASS Virtual Chapters page, simply click on the Virtual Chapter you’re interested in, and check out the group’s Archived Presentations page. If you miss a session or want to review a favorite, most VCs have recordings available for on-demand replay within a week of the live presentation.
To receive notifications of upcoming webcasts from the VCs of your choice, just click “Register to Join” for the VCs you want to hear from. You’ll be in good company, with more than 27,000 VC members from across 100+ countries taking advantage of the free training right at their fingertips.
April 16, 2013 – Scott Shaw, co-leader of PASS’s Virtualization Virtual Chapter, shares the group’s mission, upcoming speaker lineup, and a message for the community: Don’t be afraid to run SQL Server on a virtual machine.
Q. What’s the mission of the Virtualization Virtual Chapter?
A. The primary mission of the Virtualization VC is to educate and inform database administrators and other IT professionals about the risks and benefits of virtualization. We focus mainly on promoting running SQL Server on virtual platforms such as Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere and the techniques and methodologies for managing the environment.
Q. If you had one message about virtualization you’d like to share with the SQL Server world today, what would it be?
A. Don’t be afraid to run SQL Server on a virtual machine. Almost every implementation of SQL Server has the potential to run in a virtual environment, and the benefits far outweigh the risks. Take the time to understand the technology, and use it to your advantage.
Q. What can you tell us about the meetings you've had so far this year, and what can we expect the rest of the year?
A. We’ve had some very successful meetings this year. Attendance has been wonderful, typically ranging between 40 and 80 but sometimes shooting up to 120 or higher depending on who’s speaking. Interest is definitely strong for understanding virtual environments, and we thank the community for both speaking and attending. Looking forward, we have some great speakers coming up, including Brent Ozar (May 8), Grant Fritchey, Jes Borland, and Kendal Van Dyke.
Q. When are your meetings, and how can people keep up with VC news and sessions schedule?
A. Our meetings are on the second Wednesday of every month. We had some initial glitches with recording our sessions, but we currently have three presentations in the archive for on-demand viewing and will be making all future meetings available there soon after the live presentations. To keep up with the Virtualization VC, just sign up with us on the PASS Virtual Chapters page.
Q. How did you and co-leader Tom Norman get involved in the VC?
A. When previous VC leader Mark Swofford asked for volunteers to take over for him, Tom and I both answered the call, and I give thanks every day that Tom is there to help. Tom is unbelievable at getting great speakers to take the time to present. He sends out presentation notifications and does a lot of the hard work behind the scenes.
Q. How can people interested in speaking or with suggestions/questions contact you? Are you looking for sessions on any particular topics in the virtualization world?
A. If you are interested in speaking, please send an abstract to either me or Tom, and we'll be happy to schedule you. The presentations don’t have to revolve around SQL Server – we will accept almost any virtualization topic, including those that focus just on virtualization technologies and where they’re headed.
April 15, 2013 – Cross-posted from my blog
With each of these quarterly posts, I want to be able to report progress in the areas I'm responsible for. I'm pleased to share some key milestones from the past three months.
New Webinar Platform
Last year it became clear that we needed a more stable, scalable webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters and 24 Hours of PASS. Both the VCs and 24HOP continue to grow and attract larger audiences, and the technology we were using was not meeting our needs.
We discussed requirements with VC leaders and HQ staffers who work on 24HOP. We got proposals from seven or eight vendors and had live demonstrations from those that would meet our needs. In the end, we chose GoToWebinar from Citrix. Several VC leaders have been trained on the new platform, and a couple have started to use it. And we will be using GoToWebinar for the next 24HOP event.
Projects like these require organization and attention to detail. I want to recognize the work of HQ staffer Vicki Van Damme, who has been instrumental in getting us to the finish line.
Our first 24HOP of the year was held at the end of January. It was also our first Business Analytics Edition and featured a number of speakers who [also presented] at the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Focusing a 24HOP on business analytics reflects PASS's outreach to data professionals in this growing sector of our industry. Check out the session recordings to learn more about the work being done in this space.
Virtual events are a key part of PASS global growth. 24HOP Russian Edition was held in March. Thanks to the volunteers who worked hard to put on this event.
We launched two new VCs this quarter. The Business Analytics VC has already hosted four meetings and is playing an important part in PASS's growth into the BA world. The Book Readers VC is a virtual book club, where members get together online to discuss a book. They are starting with Itzik Ben-Gan's "T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012." There is still time to read the first few chapters and join the discussion on April 17.
Virtual Chapters provide valuable technical training every month. Sign up for the VCs that interest you to get notified of upcoming events.
The Board met in January and discussed many items, including goals for the year, by-law changes, election process, and Summit. See the meeting minutes for details. In February, we adopted changes to the by-laws. And last week, I was in Chicago for a Board meeting and the BA Conference.
Budget planning is in full swing, and I've been working on the budgets for 24HOP and VCs.
In May, I'll be attending SQLBits, where I'm looking forward to meeting more members of the SQL community in the UK.
Planning for the next 24HOP will get underway soon, work on the budget will continue, and we'll finish rolling out the new webinar platform for the Virtual Chapters.
Cross-posted from the BA Conference blog
March 6, 2013 – As the new PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter prepares for its third meeting – a gentle, business-focused introduction to Big Data – you can catch up on February’s presentations and plan to make this free training part of your monthly schedule.
Stacia Misner will take the VC’s webcast stage March 14 for “A Big Data Primer” (noon ET/16:00 GMT) to demystify Big Data, look at its implications for traditional data warehousing and reporting, and explore the technology and skill sets you need to successfully implement a Big Data strategy.
“This is going to be a great real-world session,” notes VC leader Melissa Demsak. “You’ll definitely leave with some inspiration and practical steps for tackling your first Big Data project.”
With a mission to provide quality virtual training to business analysts, BA/BI practitioners and architects, and data scientists, the VC’s focus is on creating a community for shared learning and enabling the creation of world-class business analytics solutions based on the Microsoft platform, Melissa explains.
“Our topics will naturally intersect with those presented by several of our sister VCs – Business Intelligence, Big Data, Data Architecture, and Master Data/Data Quality – but we’ll be covering them from an analytics perspective,” she adds. “We’ll also include non-Microsoft solutions and topics outside the traditional SQL Server and BI community, such as data visualization, analytics, and data science.”
The BA VC meetings, scheduled for the second and/or fourth Thursday of every month, will all be recorded and archived for on-demand viewing. Recordings of the group’s first two meetings – Mark Tabladillo’s “A Case for Business Analytics Learning” and Chris Webb’s “What’s New for BI in Excel 2013” – will be available soon.
You can become a member of the BA VC by simply clicking Join next to Business Analytics in the list of VCs on the PASS Virtual Chapters page. “We'll keep you posted of all upcoming meetings, learning opportunities, and the latest and greatest information from Microsoft,” Melissa says. “We also have a special $200 discount code for the PASS Business Analytics Conference coming up in April – if you haven't signed up yet, just use the code BAC941VC when you register for some nice savings."
Interested in speaking at an upcoming BA VC webinar? Email your ideas to email@example.com, and make sure you follow the VC on Twitter at @passbavc.
February 18, 2013 – Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a good read with PASS’s new book club. In this Q&A, Ike Ellis, co-leader of the Book Readers Virtual Chapter, shares the group’s first selection, how meetings will work, and how to make time for this important learning activity.
Q: What’s the purpose of the Book Readers Virtual Chapter?
A: Reading a book by yourself is an excellent way to learn. The only problem is, the book can't answer your questions if it isn't explaining something well. Sometimes books don't give you real-world options or tell you actual stories about how a technology or technique has been used in the field. Other times, a book will say something really important, but it's helpful for an expert to point it out and say, "Listen up, this is really important." Book authors also need to be politically correct, so sometimes they may not say, "Yeah, no one really does it this way in the real world." All of these problems are solved with a little book-club mentoring. A mentor can make the book come alive.
Q: The VC’s first book has been selected – Itzik Ben-Gan's T-SQL Fundamentals for SQL Server 2012. Tell us a little about it.
A: The SQL Server community is chock-full of experts, and we could have chosen so many fantastic books. But we had to start somewhere, and who better to kick us off than Itzik?
T-SQL Fundamentals is an excellent way for readers to get a 10,000-foot view of what T-SQL has to offer in SQL Server 2012. We all have blind spots. Maybe some of us aren't using CTEs when appropriate. Perhaps some of us don't know the difference between a table variable and a temporary table or aren’t using the MERGE statement to full effect. This book is a great way to uncover some blind spots and improve our core T-SQL skills.
Q: So how will the book club work, how fast will you be going through a book, and what should people come prepared to talk about at the meetings?
A: Our first meeting, March 20, is an introductory meeting where we’ll frame the importance of the topic, discuss the rules of the group, practice using the remote software, and open the discussion to see what everyone hopes to get out of the group. There might be some kinks to work out since we're brand-new at this and still learning. We'll start reading the book after the first meeting.
We’ll then meet the third Wednesday of every month at 12pm Pacific Time (19:00 GMT). I think we'll end up reading 100-150 pages a month. That's about 4-8 hours of reading, which I think is reasonable. We’ll try not to get too aggressive because we know people have busy lives with too much to do already.
Once we begin reading, everyone should make sure they bring their questions and comments to the meetings. The interaction is why we have this group. I'll be there to answer questions and to verify technical accuracy, but I might not know the answer to every question. I believe that real learning happens when you try to explain what you know to someone else. That's why it's very helpful for readers to help each other – so that both readers benefit from the explanation.
Q: Back to your comment about busy lives – any tips on finding time to read?
A: I read all the time. I read everything I can get my hands on. I think we need to remember that our technical skills all have an expiration date. If we don't sharpen the saw, the blade gets dull – and who needs a dull blade? We have to keep learning, keep growing, keep expanding, or we will atrophy. I love learning and consider it a core skill that every technologist needs to have. Good leaders will allow for time to study and learn during the work day. I would consider approaching management with the need so they can allocate time toward staying sharp.
Q: How can people join the Book Reading VC and send any questions, suggestions, or ideas for future books to read?
A: Joining the VC and getting on our DL is easy: Just go to the PASS Virtual Chapters page and click on the Join button beside the Book Readers VC. We have contact information on the website for any questions. And if we need a separate interface for asking questions throughout the month, we'll start a Google group for our members.
Q: Brad Cunningham is joining you as co-leader of the VC. What can we expect from your co-host?
A: Brad has been a C# MVP since 2008. He's always on the cutting edge of software development, writing new web, mobile, and enterprise solutions. His code has been featured all over the Internet, on numerous podcasts, and at user groups. Brad and I have known each other for years, have co-presented on numerous topics, and have worked on software projects together. We’re good friends and look forward to having a great time sharing our love of technology and books with the community.