Free Training at Your Fingertips

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.

 

Chapter Referral Program

May 13, 2013 – After receiving positive feedback on the PASS Business Analytics Conference (BAC) Chapter referral program – 14 local PASS Chapters received monetary rewards by participating! – a similar program for PASS Summit has been created. For PASS Summit 2013, any local PASS Chapter (by local, we mean that your Chapter meets in-person) is eligible to participate.

All Chapter leaders should have received a unique discount code to share with their members. When the discount code is used to register for PASS Summit 2013, the Chapter receives $50 USD, with a maximum of $1,000 to be paid out at the completion of the event. Please note that use of the Chapter discount code is not retroactive and cannot be applied to an existing PASS Summit registration.

The following PASS Chapters benefited from the BAC referral program:

St. Louis SQL Server User Group

$100

Capital Area and Central Texas Users of SQL Server (CACTUSS)

$50

Chicago SQL Server User Group

$200

I380 Corridor PASS Chapter (East Iowa)

$50

Southwest Missouri SQL Server Users Group

$50

Madison Professional Association for SQL Server (MADPASS)

$150

Orlando SQL Server Users Group

$100

Rochester PASS

$50

Chicago SQL BI User Group

$50

Sweden - SQLUG

$150

West Michigan SQL Server User Group

$200

Cincinnati PASS (CincyPASS)

$100

SQL Server User Group Norway

$150

MN Microsoft BI User Group

$250

 

PASS SQLSaturday – Get in the Game!

April 29, 2013 – Most PASS members are familiar with SQLSaturday events, but many of you may not have attended one yet or know exactly what they are all about. To refresh, SQLSaturday events are free, one-day SQL Server training events that bring together local speakers and attendees while providing high quality technical training sessions. In the true sense of community engagement, they are organized entirely through the efforts of volunteers.

I could go on about the value of SQLSaturday, but members of the PASS community have already done so through many social media and blog posts. Take Kathi Kellenberger, for example. She loves her SQLSaturday events and recently posted about her top 10 reasons why you should attend a SQLSaturday  – it’s worth a read. I’d also like to point out Hope Foley’s post from a wowed community member who attended their first SQLSaturday last July. Both posts underscore the magic of SQLSaturday events and how important they are to the SQL Server community at large.

Whether you're attending a SQLSaturday or thinking about hosting your own, we think you'll find it's a great way to spend a Saturday – or any day (that’s right, some SQLSaturday events are held on other days of the week!). Here are the upcoming SQLSaturday events around the world in May; hopefully there is one near you:

May 11  SQLSaturday #209 – Rochester
May 18  SQLSaturday #212 – Redmond
May 18 SQLSaturday #216 - Krasnodar, Russia
May 18 SQLSaturday #220 – Atlanta
May 18 SQLSaturday #225 – Kosovo
May 23 SQLSaturday #208 – Riyadh
May 25 SQLSaturday #219 – Kiev
May 25 SQLSaturday #224 – Sydney

New events are added all the time, so be sure to bookmark the PASS SQLSaturday website and follow @sqlsat on Twitter.
 

PASS BA Conference: Another First

April 16, 2013 – The inaugural PASS Business Analytics Conference made its mark on Chicago and the world of business intelligence and analytics last week, featuring 1,150+ registrations and almost 900 attendees from across 26 countries. Thanks to all our attendees, speakers, volunteers, sponsors, and organizers for making the event such a success!

From amazing keynotes by Microsoft’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz and Freakonomics author Dr. Steven Levitt, to over 60 sessions by 85 of the BI/BA industry’s top experts and a Community Appreciation Party at Lucky Strike, the event delivered world-class training and nonstop networking opportunities. Many attendees also spent a day in one of the BA Conference’s five pre-conference sessions or took advantage of the co-located BigDataCamp meet-up before the Welcome Reception.

Check out all the highlights – including Microsoft’s public preview announcement of 3D mapping tool Project codename “GeoFlow” for Excel - in our community blog post roundups and on our Facebook photostream.

If you missed the conference or just didn’t get to all the sessions you wanted to, you can own the full set of PASS BA Conference session recordings on USB flash drive, including 60+ conference sessions and the Microsoft keynote. Order yours today!

More Business Analytics
Join Microsoft’s Roger Barga, who wasn’t able to make the PASS BA Conference due to weather, for a webinar presentation of “The Unrealized Power of Data,” Thursday, April 25, at noon ET – hosted by the PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter.
 

EMEA Regional Seat Created for 2013 Elections

April 16, 2013 – Last week was important for PASS. Not only did we hold our first Business Analytics Conference, but the PASS Board of Directors also unanimously passed two motions that enable PASS to take the next steps in growing the organization’s international reach and influence.

Our focus was to increase the international makeup and perspective of the PASS Board, by voting to:

  • Convert a Director-at-Large seat to a regional seat for EMEA
  • Ensure the elected community representatives to the Nomination Committee (NomCom) reflect the regional seat composition of the 2013 Board elections

With the EMEA slot, the 2013 elections will have two seats reserved for specific regional representation: one for the US/Canada and one for EMEA. The recent PASS by-law changes already convert one Director-at-Large seat to a regional seat specifically designated for the US/Canada region every other year. However, the Board had to vote separately to convert another Director-at-Large seat to an EMEA seat.

By aligning the three elected NomCom community seats to match the Board seats that will be up for election this year, we help encourage balance, international influence, and local investment in both the NomCom and the Board elections.

Thank you to everyone who shared feedback and suggestions about streamlining and improving our elections process for candidates and members alike.

As we focus on engaging more qualified candidates and a more invested, involved electorate, we will also create a PASS election ethics and process guidelines document. It will address and clarify existing processes so that community members and candidates know what is expected of them and what to expect during the elections.

With these important steps toward gaining more international perspective on the PASS Board and improving and refreshing our elections processes, I think we can all expect great things.

Thank you for your time,
JRJ
 

Getting Real with Virtualization

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.

Making Progress: PASS Board Year 2, Q1

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.

24HOP
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.

Virtual Chapters
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.

Other Business
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.

Next Up
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.
 

Reviewing the Election Process

April 2, 2013 – Serving on the PASS Board of Directors is a rich and rewarding experience. It’s also a responsibility that should not be entered into lightly. As we prepare for this year’s elections season, we have the opportunity to review the process for involving and evaluating candidates and for taking full advantage of this chance for the community to come together and share in the vision for PASS.

As part of a lean, not-for-profit, community organization, we must also evaluate the time invested in the election process to protect the return on community investment. With this in mind, a subset of the PASS Board is leading a review of the election process, and we are seeking your feedback on these objectives and their direction.

The objectives set out by the committee are threefold:

  • Inspire more well-qualified candidates to run for the board
  • Streamline the election process
  • Improve opportunities for community engagement during the process

These objectives may expand or contract based on your feedback. Please share your thoughts with the team by emailing ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org or by posting on the Elections Feedback site.

Achieving Success
The team has also given serious consideration as to how these objectives may be achieved. We would like to get your input on these proposals too as we will discuss them at the next board meeting, which will take place in Chicago on the 8th-9th of April. We are continuing to shape our plans and ideas, and commit to open communication as we move forward in the coming weeks and months with changes to the election process.

Inspiring Candidates
Of the goals identified, this is the most important one to me. We do need to inspire more well-qualified community members to apply and share their experience at the board level. We are also keen to ensure that we attract an international audience. It is important to remember that as part of the Global Growth program, we will have at least one regional seat in 2013 (for the US and Canada). I will also be asking the board to vote in the April Board Meeting to create the EMEA regional seat.

Our focus at this time is to:

  1. Proactively encourage candidates to apply
  2. Reduce the burden on candidates applying to run
  3. Make it easier for candidates to campaign for votes


As part of his work with the new Volunteers portfolio, Sri Sridharan has taken up the challenge to identify ways to encourage members to apply for the board. We realise we cannot simply wait for people to apply nor rely on our own networks. We must make it clear what the benefits of being part of the board are and also outline the commitments involved.

We can make two significant improvements to the application process that will make it less onerous for candidates:

  1. One form. Currently the candidate needs to fill out an application form and then provide separate campaign materials. We should make this simpler and more coherent.
  2. Max two references. In my application during the 2012 election, I provided eight separate references. That’s more than I’ve provided for any job ever!


Finally, by providing a more structured program of events and activities during the campaigning process, we can make it easier for candidates to be heard. It also helps to level the playing field.

Streamlining the Election Process
There are a number of changes we are thinking about to streamline the overall process. By shrinking the timescales, we aim to inject greater interest and enthusiasm into the election process. It is difficult to sustain interest when a process is drawn out. We believe we can optimise the schedule to really help drive interest with these changes:

  1. Reduce Nomination Committee (NomCom) workload
  2. Create a single time period for campaigning and voting
  3. Significantly reduce the time period for campaigning and voting from 23 days to around 7 days


Part of the NomCom’s workload is driven by the data they are provided by the candidates. We need to ensure that simplifying the application process for the candidate doesn’t dramatically increase the workload of the NomCom. In an ideal world, the workload would be reduced for both parties – so that is the goal.

Improving Opportunities for Community Engagement
To date, the opportunities for the community to engage with candidates have been limited to the PASS election forums. We are looking to improve this area significantly and hope to share more with you in due course. Wendy Pastrick will be spearheading this area of the initiative. Items under consideration are as follows:

  1. Increased use of social media
  2. Enhanced layout of candidates web page
  3. Improved reach by making election content accessible to the widest audience we can


By improving the accessibility of campaign materials and providing greater public interaction with candidates, we aim to significantly increase the engagement level between candidate and community during the election process.

We are in the process of defining what this is all going to look like. However, you should expect much greater use of social media, such as hosted Twitter Q&As with candidates, to really drive a deeper, more personal and impactful campaigning period in this election.

INSERT <Your Idea> HERE
Being on the PASS Board is a fantastic experience, but it does not give anyone sole rights to good ideas! Please share yours with us. Feel free to post them to the Elections Feedback site or in private via the ElectionProcessReview@sqlpass.org email alias.

Thank you for your time,
JRJ

Announcing the 2013 Program Committee

April 1, 2013 – Congratulations and welcome to all the members of this year’s PASS Program Committee! Guided by Program Director Adam Jorgensen and co-Program Managers Amy Lewis and Lance Harra, the Program Committee is responsible for organizing a world-class PASS Summit educational program that equips SQL Server and Business Intelligence professionals for today’s fast-changing world of data.

The 58-member group – PASS’s largest volunteer committee – reviews and selects speakers and sessions for PASS Summit, builds guidelines and resources for creating top presentations, ensures all PowerPoint slide decks meet the highest standards, and works to improve processes for developing and evaluating speakers and encouraging participation in all PASS speaking opportunities, from local and Virtual Chapters to SQLSaturday and 24 Hours of PASS to the Business Intelligence Conference and Summit.

As the PASS Summit 2013 Call for Speakers draws to a close this week, Program Committee members stand ready to begin their work and deliver an exceptional lineup of sessions and speakers. Without further ado, here is your 2013 Program Committee:

Application & Database Development
PowerPoint Review
Angela Henry, Lead Craig Purnell, Co-Lead
Jack Corbett Colin Stasiuk, Co-Lead
Louis Davidson John Allman
Thomas LeBlanc Michael Donnelly
Sanil Mhatre Andy Eggers
  Markus Ehrenmuller-Jensen
BI Platform Architecture, Development & Administration Michael Essen
Scott Murray, Lead Roberto Finger Fonseca
Mark Chisholm Patrick Keisler
Venkata Krishna Chintapalli David MacLean
David Peter Hansen Jeremy Marx
Reza Rad Tom Norman
  Dale Reece
BI Information Delivery Kimberly St. Jacques
Christopher Price, Lead Chris Wilson
Melissa Coates  
Argenis Fernandez Speaker Review
Brent Greenwood Ben Debow, Co-Lead
Jason Horner Pat Wright, Co-Lead
Scott Tyree Hakim Ali
  Ted Krueger
Cloud Application Development & Deployment Andy Nakamura
Mindy Curnutt, Lead Bob Pusateri
Mark Broadbent Steve Wake
Neil Hambly  
Ed Watson Special Projects
  Jose Guay, Co-Lead
Enterprise Database Administration & Deployment Yani Robel, Co-Lead
Nicholas Cain, Lead Jacinto Alvarez
Brian Bentley Keith Buck
Roy Ernest Dexter Jones
Robert Miller Mala Mahadevan
Ronald Yenko Jenny Richardson
Maria Zakourdaev  
   
Professional Development  
Doug Lane, Lead  
Bonnie Allard  
Andrea Allred  

Roll on, 2013: PASS SQLSaturday Continues to Grow!

March 26, 2013 – It’s hard to believe we’re just one week away from the end of Q1 2013, and the PASS SQLSaturday “firsts” just keep coming all over the world.

At this point last year, we had 12 SQLSaturdays, compared to 13 this year. And even though there’s only one more in comparison, several of last year’s hosting cities have moved to later months in 2013, opening up space for some new locations to join in. This year, Q1 has seen two new countries (Mexico and the Philippines), two new North American states (New Mexico and Connecticut), and two new cities (Detroit in the US and Exeter in the UK). It’s so exciting to see these events continue to grow and provide free, quality SQL Server training - in many cases, in communities that rarely if ever get such an opportunity.

In addition to new events, we’ve welcomed several new sponsors to the SQLSaturday arena already this year. It’s rewarding as a mentor to see organizers get better each year at marketing and getting support for their events, especially at the local level. The skills it takes to show that a SQLSaturday is a good investment will cross over into other areas for these organizers, such as being better able to negotiate a higher salary or convince their employers to provide more training opportunities as part of their annual increase.

Of course, “selling” a SQLSaturday isn’t easy for everyone, especially first-timers, which brings me to something I’ve seen less of these past several months: SQLSaturday blog recaps by organizers, speakers, and attendees. And that’s too bad, because the lessons learned by others have been invaluable to SQLSaturday newcomers for years now.

I encourage the community to get back to blogging their experiences at these events. Organizers recapping the lessons they’ve learned in hosting a SQLSaturday help every volunteer team and event coming up, particularly those considering hosting one for the very first time. Speakers can provide some great feedback and tips to organizers, especially since they often participate in so many of these and other training events. And each attendee has his/her own unique experience at a SQLSaturday.

Everyone can provide some insight as to what worked, what could have been better, and ideas for the next time. For SQLSaturdays in particular, the sharing of these experiences has been key to the growth of one of the most recognizable “grassroots” events in our community. Let’s not stop now!