The Team at PASS recently sat down with Sharon Dooley, leader of the Database Administration Virtual Chapter, to discuss one of the oldest and most established chapters in the PASS community. Sharon tells the story of how the DBA VC developed over the years as well as where the chapter will go in the future.
Q1. Tell us a bit about yourself and the DBA VC.
Back in the day, PASS formed Technical Advisory Committees (TACs) and Special Interest Groups (SIGs). TACs were intended to provide “wish lists” for SQL Server development to Microsoft. These wish lists were to come from suggestions by members of the SIGs. Today, the TACs no longer exist and the SIGs have morphed into Virtual Chapters. When we were still a SIG, we started having Live Meeting presentations. The Live Meeting Call to Action document I wrote describing this initiative is dated March 15, 2007. I think we were the first SIG to reach out to our membership in this way. We started with one meeting each month. Now we have two meetings each month, except for November and December when the holidays limit us to one. I am grateful for the dedicated assistance of Julie Bloomquist and Mike Clark with the work of this VC. Both have been working with the VC for a very long time, and I know the VC wouldn’t be the same without their help.
Q2. What is the aim of the DBA VC?
Our mission, as stated on our web page (dba.sqlpass.org) is “… to provide a PASS community for the DBA. It provides a forum for open discussion and education on issues that face SQL Server database administrators”.
Q3. You have been a volunteer with PASS for a long time – what keeps you motivated and what would you suggest to your fellow community members looking to get involved?
I’ve been a member of PASS since its first conference in 1999. That’s a long time – 17 years! During that time, I have served in many volunteer capacities. I think PASS provides folks with a wealth of learning activities, from VCs to SQLSaturdays to Summit. I received a lot of help from an online community when I first started working with SQL Server (I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was!) and volunteering with PASS is a way for me to give back. Going to Summit is like going home for me – I have so many PASS friends! Julie echoes this, saying “I have been able to increase my PASS involvement and friendships through my work with the Virtual DBA chapter.” For folks who are on the fence about volunteering, I’d say “Try it, you’ll like it!”
Q3. DELL is one of your sponsors, can you tell us a bit about that relationship and how this benefits the VC audience?
Dell Software has sponsored the DBA VC for several years. We appreciate their support since it allows us to raffle a gift card to attendees at every meeting. When Dell first started sponsoring us, the sponsorship agreement required us to give them a 10-minute speaking spot each quarter. Since I don’t think you can present anything useful technically that time, I offered them full one-hour slots twice a year with the proviso that the talk not be of a marketing nature. More recent sponsorship contracts have followed my original lead. In addition, Dell, as our sponsor, has the opportunity to send targeted mailings to the Chapter membership. These mailings acquaint our membership with products they may find useful and also often offer discounts.
Q4. How does the DBA VC fill training gaps?
Being a DBA is not an easy task, and there seems to be a hunger for training. Today, when organizations often lack the resources to send DBAs for formal classroom training, our bi-monthly webinars (always scheduled at lunch time in the time zone they are targeted for) give DBAs a chance to learn at their own convenience and at no expense to their employers. And if someone can’t attend one of the webinars, we record the meetings for later viewing.
Q5. What have you got planned in the near future for the DBA VC?
We’d like to add a quarterly webinar in a European time zone. This would make it easier for Europeans to present (I’ve just scheduled a speaker in Amsterdam who’ll be doing our Noon Mountain Time session – it’ll be 8PM for him!) and it will make it easier for people in Europe to attend these webinars. We haven’t worked out when this is going to start, but probably during the second quarter.
As many of you may now be aware, on January 4, at approximately 11:15 PM PST the VM that runs the PASS Database, which is hosted in Azure Cloud, unexpectedly went down. The database was down until 11:45 PM. A default DNN installation error message screen revealed a single username of a PASS member. There was no security breach and no personal information or passwords were revealed or accessed.
This default DNN installation screen appeared for any user attempting to access all PASS websites. The confusion surrounding the potentially revealed personal information occurred as a result of the default DNN message. This error page has now been revised with more accurate messaging in the event that there is an outage in the future.
Once notified of the website outage, the IT team had to manually reconnect the database and PASS websites, as this had not occurred automatically, which is why website access was unavailable for a longer period of time than the half-hour Azure downtime window. As part of the existing PASS IT disaster recovery plan, two new mechanisms will be put in place: a more proactive monitoring system that will allow real-time database and application monitoring, ensuring we are instantly aware of website failures; and redundancy protection by provisioning PASS websites over multiple Azure data centers.
On behalf of the entire PASS Board, I want to stress that we take protecting your personal information very seriously and implement every reasonable measure to ensure it is kept safe.
I was delighted to see an unconventional abstract submission for the next SQLSaturday in Cleveland, OH recently. This entry came from Evelyn Maxwell, who submitted a session on PowerPoint skills for the event’s Professional Development track. You may wonder why I’d highlight this presentation from the thousands that have been submitted just this year alone. (After all, we have sessions covering non-SQL topics at our events.)
She represents what is special about the PASS community
Evelyn volunteered at SQLSaturday events as a non-speaker and attended many sessions before deciding to submit an abstract and commit to sharing her knowledge with others. That makes her special because, like so many others in our community, she is giving up her valuable free time on a weekend to connect, share, and learn with (and from) other like-minded community members.
She is a non-traditional PASS member
Evelyn is not your typical PASS volunteer and speaker. She is unemployed, she can’t drive, and she likely has a curfew under the laws of her city. You see, Evelyn Maxwell recently turned 13.
In her own words
After being made aware of Evelyn’s abstract I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to write a post that would highlight an example of what good news exists in our community. I also wanted to bridge the gap between my final days leading the PASS SQLSaturday portfolio and moving on to a new portfolio that will strive to enhance engagement with our members and deliver enriched community events. Evelyn’s story of volunteerism, passion for learning, and drive to share highlight the core of our mission and does so in a very unique way.
I reached out to Evelyn through her father, David Maxwell, to see if perhaps she would be willing to share advice with our PASS members who may be looking to become a community speaker or simply more involved in their local SQL Server communities.
TF: Hi Evelyn, thank you for taking time to speak with me and the PASS community at large. Can you tell us a bit about yourself as we begin?
EM: Well, I’m 13 years old, (I just had a birthday), I play percussion in the 7th grade concert band, I’m the second member in a trio of friends, and I help run a student-run club at my school. Other than that, I’m a pretty typical 7th grade girl.
TF: Your dad is very well known in the SQL Server community and just recently won the PASS Speaker Idol contest at the 2015 PASS Summit. What direction has he given you in speaking publicly?
EM: I’ve learned a lot about public speaking from my dad, mostly though watching him present at SQL Saturdays, and just watching him practice in the basement. Practice is, after all, very important in putting together a good presentation. I’ve also learned that when presenting, most people are going to be supportive and encouraging, which is nice, but also that not everyone is going to be positive, and that's something I’ll just have to accept.
TF: Can you speak to some of the things you've done at SQLSaturdays previously? In addition to speaking in 2016 at the Cleveland SQLSaturday, I've heard you've been a volunteer at events in the past.
EM: Generally at SQLSaturdays, I just like to go and attend sessions on a beginner level, and see if I can learn something. I try to take productive notes, and write down questions later to ask my dad. I also like to give feedback to the presenters. Last year I was a volunteer at SQLSaturday Columbus, and got to help register people, set up for lunch, and wipe down pretty much every flat surface there was. I even got to pull names for the raffle and throw T-shirts at people. Now how fun is that?
TF: Besides being a public speaker and PASS volunteer what are your other interests?
EM: I enjoy reading, percussion, and writing fan fiction. I also help my friend run Special FX club, which is a student-run club that helps teach kids about the art of movie makeup. We do a ton of different stuff, from mild bruises, to zombie skin. It’s a lot of fun. I also was in drama club last year. Unfortunately, there was no club this year, although I would have joined if given the chance.
TF: I know I tend to “nerd-out” about SQL around my house. Does your dad spend a lot of time talking about SQL?
EM: Dad doesn't really talk a lot about SQL at home. If my brother or I have a question, he’ll answer it, and sometimes he’ll give us a heavilysimplified explanation about something at work, but other than that, he saves the SQL talk for SQLSaturdays.
TF: Evelyn, what is your one piece of advice for any new speaker/community member looking to broaden their own experience?
EM: I would say that if you want to try speaking at an event, or do any kind of public speaking for that matter, don’t overthink things. You obviously want to know your topic, and be able to answer questions from the audience, but don't focus on your presentation so much it makes your head hurt. I had this problem when I was first writing my abstract. Instead of just thinking what would be in the presentation and why, I completely overthought it, and ended up having to start over. But once I let all of that go, I was able to come up with a successful abstract, which got my point across.
TF: Christmas is coming. Do you want to share some of your Christmas list with us? Maybe it will improve your chances with Santa Claus, you never know.
EM: To be perfectly honest, I don't have a Christmas list. I have a phone, and a snare drum, what more could I want? Plus, I think there's a lot more to the holidays than just receiving gifts.
My wish for you
Evelyn reminds us all that there is so much more this holiday season (regardless of the holidays your family celebrates) than material things. I want to take this opportunity to wish you, your families, and your communities a happy holiday season and end to 2015. We always have room for improvement though, so my hope is that you will experience greater success, contentment, fulfillment, and peace in the coming year.
Director, PASS SQLSaturday
Na reunião do conselho de hoje, foi votada a proposta para “converter um do Director-at-Large aberto assentos, o que é acima para a eleição em 2016 conselho eleitoral, a um assento regionais LATAM”. Isso foi feito para apoiar o foco que temos no crescimento da comunidade global e em reconhecimento do enorme crescimento que acontece na região LATAM.
Em 2013 o estatuto do PASS foi alterado para permitir estas cadeiras regionais. Benchmarks foram estabelecidos com intuito de fornecer ao conselho uma medida de quanto a região LATAM está pronta para ter uma cadeira no comitê – medidas de saúde e estabilidade das atividades da comunidade na região. A primeira cadeira regional criada foi para Europa, Oriente Médio e África (EMEA), que foi convertida em 2013 para um mandato a partir de 1/Jan/2014. Esta cadeira atualmente é ocupada por Jen Stirrup.
Estou muito feliz em anunciar que os benchmarks de crescimento da comunidade LATAM excederam as referências e o comitê determinou que a região é robusta o suficiente para justificar uma cadeira no conselho do PASS. Isso significa que nas eleições de 2016 haverá uma cadeira para LATAM, e outra para Estados Unidos e Canadá, além de uma cadeira vaga de célula. Os eleitos começarão suas atividades a partir de 01/Jan/2017. Os nossos conselheiros para região LATAM, Diego Nogare do Brasil e Eduardo Castro da Costa Rica continuarão conosco até 02/Jun/2016.
A posição para LATAM vai suportar nosso contínuo esforço de desenvolvimento da comunidade na região, garantindo uma perspectiva global do conselho do PASS. O ocupante da cadeira vai trabalhar junto com todo o comitê para atingir as estratégias e prioridades a longo prazo definida para a comunidade do PASS, reconhecer e abraçar nossas oportunidades únicas de aprendizagem para a região. Já que esta cadeira trás uma perspectiva importante para aumentar nossa abordagem global, esse representante não estará sozinho nessa demanda. Assim como o titular da cadeira EMEA, ele possuirá um programa (portfolio) do PASS como todos os outros membros do conselho (por exemplo Global Chapters ou SQLSaturdays) e irá trabalhar com o resto do conselho para endereçar a saúde da organização ao redor do mundo.
Isso é uma incrível mudança para o PASS e abre uma oportunidade de ajuda para melhor servir nosso crescrimento da comunidade global.
Vice-Presidente Executivo, Finanças e Governança
En la reunión del PASS Board de diciembre del día de hoy, la Junta Directiva votó la moción, " Para convertir una de la Directora-at-Large abierta asientos, que es para la elección de la Junta Electoral de 2016, a un asiento regional LATAM". Esta acción apoya nuestro enfoque de crecimiento de la comunidad mundial y es un reconocimiento al enorme crecimiento que se ha llevado a cabo en la Región de LATAM.
En el año 2013, los estatutos de PASS fueron modificados para permitir la inclusión de puestos regionales. Se establecieron metas de cumplimiento para proporcionar a la Junta Directiva con un instrumento que pudiese medir cuando la región LATAM estaría lista para que la Junta considerase agregar un puesto para la región - la medición incluye estado de la salud y la estabilidad de las actividades de la comunidad en toda la región. El primer puesto regional se estableció en el año 2013 y fue para Europa, Oriente Medio y África (EMEA), el puesto surgió de la conversión de puesto abierto que existía en la Junta Directiva y se estableció por un periodo a partir 01 de enero del 2014. El puesto regional de EMEA está actualmente en manos de Jen Stirrup.
Estoy muy feliz de anunciar que se han superado los parámetros de crecimiento establecidos para la comunidad de LATAM y la Junta Directiva ha determinado que la comunidad de LATAM es lo suficientemente robusta como para justificar un puesto específico en el PASS Board. Esto significa que en las elecciones del 2016, habrá un puesto para LATAM, así como lo hay para Estados Unidos / Canadá y habrá un puerto abierto en la boleta electoral. Los elegidos comenzarán su periodo el 1 de enero del 2017. Nuestros LATAM Board Advisors, Diego Nogare de Brasil y Eduardo Castro de Costa Rica continuarán en su puesto hasta 02 de junio del 2016.
El puesto de LATAM apoyará nuestros actuales esfuerzos de desarrollo comunitario a través de la región, garantizando una perspectiva global en el PASS Board. El puesto trabajará con todo el PASS Board para lograr las prioridades estratégicas a largo plazo fijadas para la comunidad PASS, de forma que se reconozca y abracen nuestras oportunidades de aprendizaje únicas e individuales para la región. El establecimiento de este puesto trae consigo un aumento importante a nuestra perspectiva global, sin embargo, la persona que ocupe dicho puesto no estará únicamente dedicado a la región de LATAM, sino que de la misma forma que el actual titular del puesto de EMEA, será responsable de un portafolio de proyectos igual que todos los demás miembros de la Junta (por ejemplo, los Capítulos Globales o SQLSaturday) y trabajará con el resto de la Junta Directiva para impulsar el crecimiento y la salud de la organización en todo el mundo.
Este es un cambio emocionante para PASS y ofrecerá oportunidades para ayudar a servir mejor a nuestra creciente comunidad global.
Vicepresidente Ejecutivo, Finanzas y Gobierno
Following the recent resignation and departure of James Rowland-Jones (JRJ) from the PASS Board, the Board met during the scheduled December Board meeting and voted on the appointment of Grant Fritchey to the position of Executive Vice President, Finance and Governance, starting 1 January 2016.
Grant’s appointment came by way of a unanimous vote by the Board during today’s Board meeting. Grant will be working closely with the current PASS Executive to get up to speed for his appointment starting at the beginning of the calendar year.
In addition to Grant’s appointment, JRJ’s Director at Large seat becomes vacant effective today (December 10, 2015). In this instance, the PASS Bylaws allow the vacancy to be filled by appointment through a majority vote of the Board for the unexpired term. Following the vote earlier today, I can now announce that the Board appointed Argenis Fernandez, who participated in the Board elections earlier in the fall. Argenis will assume the Director-at-Large seat effective today, December 10, 2015.
Please join me in congratulating Grant and Argenis on their appointments. I know they will work hard to deliver on the many great things the Board has planned.
In the New Year, the Board will seek to appoint a candidate to Grant’s Director-at-Large position and details will be provided on this as soon as they are available. These details will also include who will be leading the SQLSaturday and Chapter portfolio. In the meantime Tim Ford and Grant Fritchey will continue to support the strategic direction of these portfolio, respectively.
Executive Vice-President, Finance and Governance
At the December Board meeting earlier today, the Board voted on the motion, “To convert one of the open Director-at-Large seats, which is up for election in the 2016 Board Election, to a LATAM regional seat”. This was done to support our focus on growing the global community and in recognition of the tremendous growth that has occurred in the LATAM region.
In 2013, the PASS Bylaws were amended to allow for inclusion of regional seats. Regional seat benchmarks were established to provide the Board with a measure of when the LATAM region would be ready for the Board to consider adding a seat – measuring the health and stability of community activities across the region. The first regional seat was the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) seat, which was converted from an open seat in 2013 for a term starting Jan 1st, 2014. The EMEA seat is currently held by Jen Stirrup.
I’m very pleased to announce that the community growth benchmarks set for LATAM have been exceeded and the Board has determined the LATAM community is robust enough to warrant a dedicated seat on the PASS Board. This means that in the 2016 election, there will be a LATAM seat as well as a US/Canada and an Open seat on the ballot. Those elected will begin their terms January 1, 2017. Our existing LATAM Regional Advisors, Diego Nogare from Brazil and Eduardo Castro from Costa Rica will continue until June 2, 2016.
The LATAM seat will support our ongoing community development efforts through the region by ensuring a global perspective on the PASS Board. The seat will work with the entire Board to satisfy the long-term strategic priorities set for the PASS community, recognizing and embracing our unique and individualistic learning opportunities for the region. While this seat brings an important perspective to augment our current global perspective, the successful incumbent will not be charged with representing that region alone. Much like the current incumbent of our EMEA seat, they will own a PASS portfolio like all other Board members (i.e. global chapters, or SQLSaturday) and will work with the rest of the Board to drive the growth and health of the organization worldwide.
This is an exciting change for PASS and will deliver opportunities to help us better serve our growing global community.
Executive Vice-President, Finance and Governance
At our October Board meeting, the PASS Board of Directors had the opportunity to discuss the long-term vision of PASS and its ongoing financial well-being. My PASS Summit 2015 Keynote allowed me to share the great financial performance for FY2015, and to look ahead to our priorities for 2016 and beyond. One very important financial activity that came out of our October Board Meeting is our efforts to convert PASS from a not-for-profit organization to a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. While this is currently under consideration with our auditors, we are actively pursuing it to support our ongoing growth and revenue diversification.
In addition to pursuing this, PASS continues to operate in a strong financial position. I am pleased to announce that 78 cents of every dollar of PASS revenue is reinvested back into the community. This places us in the upper-range for community reinvestment/returns in similarly structured non-profit organizations.
Looking forward, we are going to continue to set goals and make investments to support growth. We increased our reserves by a total of 12% to $1.14M, which represents 14% of our FY2015 gross annual revenue of $8.6 million. This puts us in a very good position for the future.
This is all good news, and I am pleased to share the details of our financial journey with you. I will continue to keep you updated of our efforts to become a 501 (c) (3) organization, as well as our financial performance throughout the year. Thank you for your support of this great organization!
Executive Vice President, Finance & Governance
It is with a mixture of great excitement and some personal trepidation that I am writing to let you know that I have accepted an offer to join the Data Platform Program Management Team at Microsoft. Sadly, that decision isn’t without its consequences. I will therefore be standing down from my position as Director-at Large of PASS and also resigning my position at SQLBits, effective December 10, 2015. I will also therefore not be taking up the Executive Vice President position next year as planned. Adam and the executive have this in hand. It is the subject of another post so I won’t dwell on it here.
The opportunity to help drive new massively parallel processing innovation at hyper scale is a career opportunity I simply cannot ignore. I hope that you, my peers in the community, will understand my decision and not think too badly of me. Serving the community has been an incredibly important part of my personal journey and has helped me to shape my career. Simply put, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it and am truly thankful for the opportunities it has provided me with.
I couldn’t part without mentioning two areas that have I have been most involved with:
In the global growth portfolio, we have set the tone for international community engagement through strategic long term goals and have enshrined international representation at every level of the organisation. I’d like to thank the entire board, both past and present, for their continued commitment to this effort. I have every confidence that PASS will continue to be globally relevant; embracing the vision to support the worldwide community of data professionals that leverage the Microsoft Data Platform.
Partnerships Special Project
With the partnerships special project, we have overhauled how PASS engages with its commercial partners as we recognise their unique position and value within the community ecosystem. Through the tireless efforts of an outstanding team at PASS HQ the new Global Alliance Partners program is off the ground and is going from strength to strength. I’d like to thank in particular Microsoft and our Alliance Partners namely Dell Software, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, SQL Sentry, Hortonworks, Idera, Kroll Ontrack and Pyramid Analytics for their strategic support and investment in PASS. I look forward to seeing the Alliance program continue to evolve and prosper. PASS has an opportunity to set the gold standard amongst community organisations for partner engagement – that is truly exciting.
Serving the community, especially the PASS board, presents a myriad of wonderful opportunities. I’d like to thank the PASS membership for entrusting them to me. I would encourage anyone wanting to stretch themselves personally and professionally to step up and find out what PASS has to offer. You are unlikely to experience driving an international, multi-million dollar, not-for-profit organisation elsewhere in your professional career. I’ve developed new skills, tackled complex challenges and collaborated with a passionate, diverse group of community oriented people – all looking to make a difference. That last part may sound simple but, trust me, it is not. Building the relationships to work effectively as part of a team is integral to the PASS experience. However, this investment has also been immensely rewarding; many of the people I’ve worked closely with I can also happily call friends. That isn’t something I say lightly. I would therefore like to close by expressing my sincere thanks to the fantastic board members and the entire PASS HQ team with whom I have served for their unwavering support and, of course, friendship.
PASS Board, Director at Large
I wanted to share some upcoming changes to our Board composition. James Rowland-Jones (JRJ) will be resigning from his role as Director-at Large for the PASS Board and joining the Data Platform Program Management Team at Microsoft. JRJ’s resignation from the Board will be effective December 10, 2015.
With JRJ’s resignation from his current Board position, we will now look to fill three positions. The first being the remainder of the term of the Director-at Large seat which JRJ currently holds and the second will be the upcoming two-year Executive Vice President, Finance and Governance seat, which JRJ was elected to fill starting on January 1, 2016.
When a Director-at Large seat becomes vacant outside of a standard election cycle, the PASS Bylaws indicate that the Board of Directors may appoint a candidate, by a majority vote, to fill the remainder of the term, until it may be added to a general election.
The EVP role will be filled by appointment of one of the existing Directors-at-Large. Interviews with interested candidates have been held and the Board will vote on the appointment for this position at the December Board meeting. The appointment of the EVP will leave another Director-at Large seat vacant. The Board will fill this vacancy for up to one year through an appointment by a majority vote. The appointment for this seat will be completed as soon as possible and announced at that time.
On behalf of the PASS Board, I want to take this opportunity to personally thank JRJ, for his dedication and passion, particularly in his efforts in support of the Global Growth strategy and the Global Alliance Partner program, both of which have expanded and grown dramatically under his leadership and guidance. We wish him tremendous success in his new role.
Executive Vice President, Finance and Governance