Category: PASS SQLSaturdays
The PASS community showed their commitment by engaging in an active debate on a recent blog – Making SQLSaturday Sustainable. As a
passionate and dedicated community, these discussions and debates are critical to our success and challenge the Board to look at the business decisions
that need to be made. As we look back from the discussions from last week, we recognize that there were things we should have done differently. We have
heard your feedback – which we are thankful for - and continued dialogue this week and are sharing with you the changes we are making based on the
We should have communicated earlier on the challenges many SQLSaturday organizers and sponsors were expressing to us. Some of these challenges were made
public via social media, others were done quietly and directly to Board members and our Community team.
As the new criteria was evaluated, we failed to share our findings with the organizers of SQLSaturday and in particular those that could be affected by the
changes. We’d like to explain why the radius was increased to 600 miles.
Currently, there is a 400-mile driving radius restriction that has been in place for the past four years. This means that no two
events within 400 miles of each other should be hosted on the same day. This parameter was implemented in FY2012 to help keep two locations from competing
for the same resources - speakers and sponsors.
By the end of FY2016, SQLSaturdays had doubled in size from FY2012. Since January of this year, feedback has been shared from sponsors (both local and GAP
partners) on the number of overlapping events in a region, as well as organizers reporting they are struggling with sponsorship. We recognized that to
prevent further sponsor exhaustion, and ensure the financial sustainability of SQLSaturday, we needed to look at finding an alternative that could provide
support for both organizers and sponsors.
It is important to recognize that these changes are intended to protect the smaller events. They are designed to guide planning, not to limit events. As
with the 400-mile driving radius currently in place, if an event requests a date that is already committed to by a neighboring city, we approach both
organizers to ensure support. We will continue to be flexible with individual organizers to support and ensure their events are a success, as we have
Hearing your feedback on the guideline, we will be piloting the 600-mile driving radius distance for events in North America beginning January 1, 2017. We
will not include the back-to-back weekend restriction during this pilot, and ask for ongoing feedback from organizers, our sponsors, and attendees. We’ll
share our findings with you once they are compiled and our recommendations for improving SQLSaturday events. Our commitment to you is to ensure the
sustainability of all SQLSaturday events.
To get a better idea of just what this change would look like, below is an example of how it would still be possible to have 5 SQLSaturdays on the same
date, all over 600 miles apart. With at least 20 non-holiday weekends in the calendar year, the growth of SQLSaturdays could continue here in the US; but
if these events are to sustain, it’s going to mean organizers looking to see how they can manage their budgets more effectively at the local level to help
across the entire community. Steve Jones brings up some very good suggestions in his post this past week, Slimmer SQL Saturdays, on ways of cutting costs, and more of these
“best practices” blogs will be showcased in an upcoming series in the PASS Connector newsletter.
In an effort to ensure better communications, we are creating a dedicated distribution list for all SQLSaturday organizers to foster discussions (such as
the introduction of the new radius) with you, so that we receive your feedback before final decisions are made. We realize this is long overdue – and we
hope you will engage with us as we work together toward making our community (and surrounding events) successful.
While we begin to analyze some of the other suggestions around the larger events, these initial changes will be monitored closely to see if they need
revisiting. We will continue the dialogue in the days and months ahead to ensure support and sustainability for our SQLSaturday events around the world. We
want you to be a part of the conversation. Please reach out to us directly, reply to this blog, or send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance
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 email@example.com.
PASS Board of Directors
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.
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
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.
Director, PASS SQLSaturday
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...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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
January 6, 2015 – The PASS Regional Mentor program is all about providing trusted counsel, sharing ideas, and encouraging and supporting local Chapter Leaders and event organizers. From facilitating new Chapter launches and sharing ideas on how to market and grow local user groups to helping chapters find speakers, sponsors, and host a SQLSaturday event in their city, these dedicated volunteer “coaches” are charged with helping build a stronger data community around the world.
Over the past three years, we’ve been making minor adjustments to the RM program to fine-tune processes and provide RMs useful resources, help with consistency across regions, and provide better support to local leaders. Last month, we sent a survey to Chapter Leaders, asking for their feedback on how their RMs, and the program overall, were working for them.
With 18 of PASS’s 19 regions providing input, we were pleased to find that over 75% of respondents say their RMs have been very to somewhat helpful. According to the survey results, 42% of the Chapter Leaders are hearing from their RMs either monthly or bi-monthly, with another 23% hearing from their RMs at least quarterly. But there’s still room for improvement, with a little over 10% of Chapter Leaders feeling that their RMs are not very helpful and some saying they don’t hear from their RMs.
With the Chapter Leaders’ feedback, as well as input from RMs during their annual meeting at PASS Summit 2014 in November, we’ve identified some changes we think will not only help make this program even more valuable to Chapters and local events but will also enhance the volunteer RM role as a key stepping stone to other potential PASS leadership opportunities, including running for the PASS Board of Directors.
Here are the changes we’re making to the RM program for 2015:
- All RMs will now live in the region they represent. We believe we have a large enough volunteer pool now to meet this requirement.
- When assigning RMs for a region, we will make sure to choose representatives from various parts of the region to provide better geographic coverage. Again, with the growing number of PASS volunteers, this should be easy to achieve.
- RM candidates who have prior Chapter leadership experience, have served on a Chapter Board, or have worked to organize a SQLSaturday event will be preferred over candidates without this experience.
- We will prefer RMs willing to serve in this volunteer leadership role exclusively for the duration of the assignment, although in some areas we understand that this might not be possible due to limited volunteer resources.
- We will be doing an annual renewal for each RM, based on reports from Chapter Leaders, fellow RMs, and HQ.
- In the US, we received some feedback about the alignment of states within regions. Based on that input, we are shifting some states to create a new Mountain region and moving some other states around within existing regions*. We’ve also increased or reduced the number of RMs in certain areas, based on local needs.
- As part of our commitment to helping RMs succeed, we will be meeting with them bi-monthly and providing a monthly summary of PASS initiatives and other resources and tools to help RMs provide better support for Chapter and SQLSaturday leaders in their region.
PASS is built on the shoulders of its strong volunteer community, devoted to helping fellow data professionals around the world Connect, Share, and Learn. And we want to say a special Thank You to all of our hardworking, dedicated RMs for the time, effort, and passion they share with Chapter Leaders and event organizers in their area.
We are excited about the improved service and support as well as the additional opportunities these changes will bring to the PASS community, and we look forward to hearing from RMs and local leaders throughout the year about how the refreshed RM program is working for them. Please send your feedback and ideas to email@example.com.
– Wendy Pastrick
PASS Director, Global Chapters
* US Regions Realignment
US-NorthEast – CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT
US-MidAtlantic – DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA, WV
US-SouthEast – AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN
US-NorthCentral – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI
US-SouthCentral – AR, LA, NM, OK, TX
US-MidWest – IA, KS, MO, NE
US-Mountain (new) – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY
US-SouthWest – AZ, CA, HI, NV
US-NorthWest – AK, ID, OR, WA
December 22, 2014 – With a growing interest in and questions among community members about expanding into business analytics-related chapters and adding more local events such as BA SQLSaturdays, the PASS Board of Directors took up the discussion at our last meeting of 2014.
PASS is pursuing a variety of online offerings to serve business and data analytics professionals and is working with the Virtual Chapters that cover BA-related topics. We are also excited about the possibilities in growing our BA-related local activities and creating more in-person training and networking opportunities. But to make sure that we are serving the community in the best way, the Board agreed on our Thursday conference call to suspend such further expansion until we can develop and agree upon a plan for structuring and growing these new BA community groups and events. (Look for the official minutes of this meeting to be posted on the Governance page in January.)
While we work with community members on a strategy that will successfully move us forward in supporting business and data analytics professionals around the world, we ask that you hold off on any new local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We’ll be looking for your ideas and feedback in the New Year – feel free to contact me any time if you have questions or comments – and please watch the PASS Blog and Community Connector for the latest updates.
Wishing all the #sqlfamily a safe and happy holiday season,
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing
Oct. 14, 2014 – Hello, PASS Community! It seems like it was just a couple months ago that we were meeting up for PASS Summit 2013 – I can’t believe it was actually a year ago. I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in person in Seattle next month.
As part of our Summit agenda, we always dedicate time to meet with our community organizers, including Chapter and Virtual Chapter Leaders, Regional Mentors, and SQLSaturday organizers. As Director of the SQLSaturday portfolio, I wanted to share some of what we’ll be discussing around SQLSaturday on Community Day at Summit, which is Tuesday, Nov. 4, as well as in the Community Zone throughout the week.
Kicking off the annual SQLSaturday Round Table will be a Q&A with the SQLSaturday leadership team, consisting of myself and our passionate Community Evangelists, Karla Landrum and Carmen Buchman. You can review the agenda here, and please bring all your questions and suggestions. We’re following up this year with some activities that go even further in supporting PASS’s mission statement:
Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn
through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning.
We'll be hosting a new panel featuring some of our most experienced SQLSaturday organizers from around the world sharing their knowledge and tips and tricks for putting on successful events.
We’ll also be reviewing exciting updates to the SQLSaturday website, coming your way by the end of 2014. Working from your SQLSaturday website wish list – which we’ve cultivated over the past few years – as well as with a Community Focus Group, we’ve taken your feedback and ideas and put a great amount of time and consideration into building a more functional and modern web experience for SQLSaturday organizers and attendees alike. We can’t wait to show off the current version at Summit. You can find a list of all the wish list items that we’re integrating into the next SQLSaturday website here. We’ll also be emailing it along with a full Round Table meeting agenda to all SQLSaturday organizers for review in advance.
In addition, PASS Community Evangelists and SQLSaturday organizers from around the world will be available in the Community Zone Wednesday-Friday to answer all your questions – whether you’re looking for a SQLSaturday to attend or want to learn how to host one yourself. Check out the Community Zone Spotlight schedule to see when to stop by and meet with organizers from your area.
Our team is working hard to make these meetings as informational, transparent, and successful as possible, so we can quickly answer your questions, respond to any issues or concerns, and spend more time discussing how we can improve our future events. As owner of the SQLSaturday portfolio as well as a PASS Director-at-Large, I can’t wait to connect with all our passionate SQLSaturday organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees, share what we’re doing today to enhance everyone’s experience, and learn how we can better support SQLSaturday efforts around the world.
Don’t forget to wear your favorite SQLSaturday shirt Wednesday at Summit, and I’ll see you in Seattle!
– Tim Ford
PASS Director of SQLSaturday
March 7, 2014 – I wanted to thank everyone for all the great feedback we received on the PASS SQLSaturday goals. I know many of you are excited about the undertaking of the new SQLSaturday website.
There have been a few questions around open-sourcing the site that I’d like to address. Rebuilding the site – accessed by tens of thousands of SQL Server professionals a year – is a major IT project and needs to be undertaken in a controlled and concentrated environment. In concept, open-sourcing the site is an interesting idea, but in terms of execution, we’re simply not in a position to make that happen. The site will be created in the DNN environment in order to facilitate content management functionality for the 80+ volunteer organizers who put on events on a yearly basis.
We started the community feedback process back in the fall with roundtable discussions at PASS Summit and an open meeting with those who expressed interest in providing feedback. We are currently building out wireframes for the site and will share a prerecorded webinar in the next week or so for anyone interested in reviewing. In an effort to keep the feedback process as manageable as possible, we will set up a feedback site for a select group of representative SQLSaturday community individuals from around the world to help us shape this new and improved SQLSaturday website. If you are interested in putting your name forward to be part of this feedback group, please contact us via email with “SQLSat website feedback” in the subject line.
– Tim Ford
SQLSaturday Director, PASS Board