After a much needed 6-week break in travel, my FY2013 adventures began at Sacramento’s very first SQLSaturday. Having lived there long ago, I was a little leary of Sacramento in the middle of summer, but was pleasantly surprised to arrive at record low temperatures in the 70s. It made for a beautiful weekend at what was a superbly run event!
Let’s start with the speaker dinner. More and more organizers are hosting the dinner at a home versus a restaurant. It makes for such a nice environment for conversation and for being able to move around and talk to everyone without being confined to a table. For SQLSaturday #144, one of the organizers, Will Meier [t], hosted the dinner and prepared all the good eats, featuring North Carolina-style BBQ right down to the slaw. Dinner entertainment was provided by another organizer, Angel Abundez [b|t], who sang and performed an amazing array of upbeat music via, of all things, a harp. Don’t believe me? Check out the unique treat here.
Onto event day and a quick look at what worked well and lessons learned. The event had to be moved from a local university to a hotel late in the game, which always makes me nervous because of costs involved with hotels. SQLSaturday budgets typically can’t afford such a venue, but the Courtyard Marriott gave the team a really good deal because they were in a crunch. The hotel provided the back lobby area for registration, which was one of the smoothest registrations I’ve seen for a first-time event.
Sacramento used SpeedPASS and never had a line waiting at check-in. The team did a great job the week before the event reminding registrants to pre-print and cut their SpeedPASS. In the first hour registration was open; only eight attendees hadn’t pre-printed their SpeedPASS. Lead organizers Eric Freeman [b|t] and Dan Hess [b|t] were pleasantly surprised, but the team was prepared for the worst case, having pre-printed and organized all the SpeedPASSes in advance. Now, they know they won’t have to go to the extra effort and cost at their next event.
The hotel provided four meeting rooms and the hallway in front of those rooms for the sponsors. It also catered a nice variety of box lunches, which included some of the best wraps I’ve ever eaten. However, although the event’s final head count was around 200, it did have an unexpected high dropout rate, so a lot of pre-ordered lunches based on registration numbers had to be donated.
The Sacramento event had a few factors working against it. Two other events were going on in town the same day, one of which was the State Fair in its final weekend. Why would anyone go to a State Fair when they can be going to a SQLSaturday? :) While the DBA in the family might have preferred the SQLSaturday, their family likely had other desires. The lesson here would be for event organizers to do more messaging the week before the event to make sure those who have made other plans opt out. A lot of people fear they are spamming the week before the event, but we’ve seen that the SQLSaturdays with lower percentages of no-shows are typically those that have done a lot of messaging those last few days. It really does help organizers get a more accurate headcount and keep costs down.
Something else to mention on the topic of competing activities in your area, especially since it has affected two recent events, is to be sure you check with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) before locking in your date. The BBB should know in advance if any major events are happening in your city the same day you are looking to host your event.
Those who didn’t attend SQLSaturday #144 missed a great lineup of speakers, including a fantastic Women in Technology (WIT) lunch panel including PASS Board member Denise McInerney [b|t], PASS WIT Virtual Chapter leader Meredith Ryan of The Bell Group [b|t], Microsoft SQL Server MVP and author Kalen Delaney [b|t], Confio’s Janis Griffin, and Cal State’s Helen Norris. The event sponsors filled the entire hallway and then some, with Southwest PASS Regional Mentor Phil Robinson [b|l] helping me at the PASS table. Team organizer Mitch Bottel [b|t] scored SQLSaturday temporary tattoos at a great price for all the attendees - you know I had to sport one of those! The end-of-day raffle was in the back lobby area with plenty of room to spare, and the After Party was on the back deck at Chevy’s overlooking the Sacramento River, a perfect setting for an evening of networking.
The Sacramento team made its mark on the SQLSaturday map, hosting a very successful event. This makes two Northern California events in just 4 months and the attendance at both SQLSaturdays shows that this region is definitely hungering for more dedicated SQL Server training.
Several years ago, someone gave me some advice that changed my life. Now, I’d like to pass it on: “You should run for the Board.”
The year was 2006. I was at PASS Summit in Seattle, talking with someone about PASS when they made that comment. Until then, I had been involved with the PASS Special Interest Groups (SIGs, now called Virtual Chapters), but I wasn’t well known in the PASS community as a whole. I looked over the requirements for serving on the Board of Directors, talked a bit about it with then PASS President Kevin Kline, and in the summer of 2007, I submitted my first application for the PASS Board. (I wasn’t elected that year, but ran again and joined the Board in 2009.)
I can say with all sincerity that applying for (and ultimately serving on) the PASS Board has been one of the most rewarding things I have done as a database professional. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much by serving the PASS community as a Board member, including leadership and presentation skills, budgets and finance, and communication and marketing strategies. Serving on the Board has made me a better person, and I hope along the way I’ve been able to help others improve their skills, careers, and overall well-being.
I believe SQL Server professionals have tremendous opportunities to grow themselves simply by being members of or volunteers with PASS. They can grow technically (such as learning more about SQL Server Reporting Services) and non-technically (by leading a Virtual Chapter, for example). It is important that we continue to offer such opportunities to develop leaders within the PASS community. Serving on the Board of Directors is one of those non-technical ways you can grow, and for some reason most folks are uncertain if they are right for the Board.
Today is the deadline for applying for 3 seats up for election on the Board. (You can see the complete 2012 elections timeline here.) If you are on the fence about applying, or are interested but aren’t sure if you are good enough, let me help you decide:
You should run for the Board.
Can’t get enough business intelligence and data warehouse training? PASS has a Virtual Chapter for that.
With over 11,000 members on its distribution list and growing – and featuring three to four free webinars a month on various topics and in different time zones – the BI/DW VC has something for every taste.
“The arena for data warehousing and BI is red hot – people can’t seem to get enough,” says VC Leader Amy Lewis. “The Microsoft BI stack is wide and far-reaching, which gives us a great opportunity to cover multiple topics. There are so many wonderful speakers in this space worldwide who love to share their knowledge, and our goal was to give them an environment where they could do so.”
The BI/DW VC, formed in 2007, is one of PASS’s oldest and most active, averaging 70-100 attendees per web session. Session topics range from dimensional modeling, data warehouse architecture, and ETL best practices to Analysis Services, MDX, and Reporting Services. The VC also hosts popular webcasts on PowerPivot, Power View, SharePoint, PerformancePoint, Mobile BI, and more. You can watch session recordings going back to 2010.
The BI/DW VC team decided to make it easier to schedule speakers by having its calendar “wide open.” “That is, we don’t set a specific time or date for our sessions each month,” Amy explains. “Rather, we try to have at least three to four sessions a month that are scheduled to best fit the speakers’ busy calendars.”
The VC’s mission this year is to have more internationally hosted sessions with local speakers in UK, European, and Australian time zones, she adds. The VC’s August schedule features sessions by speakers from New Zealand (August 10), Australia (August 17), the UK (August 15), and the US (August 21) – all scheduled in their respective time zones.
In addition to a consistent lineup of top-notch presenters, Amy credits her team of volunteers from around the globe for the BI/DW VC’s success, including Alberto Ferrari, Tim Mitchell, Sandra Mueller, Scott Murray, Roger Noble, Marco Russo, Jen Stirrup, and Chris Webb.
The VC is always looking for more volunteer and speakers. Interested in getting involved? Email PASSDWBIVC@sqlpass.org, and follow @PASSBIVC for the latest updates on Twitter.
With the new fiscal year upon us, the PASS Board recently approved the latest budget effective July 1, 2012. Much thoughtful discussion has taken place over the last few months on how to allocate the budget to improve our support of the SQL Server community. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Hire an additional full-time Community Evangelist to work with the PASS HQ team
- Secure IT support for much needed Chapter online tool improvements
- Reinforce our Global Growth efforts to better support members around the world
- Expand our Business Intelligence community by hosting a Business Analytics Conference
A New Event
Let’s address that last point first. The PASS Summit has long been our main source of revenue for the PASS organization and we’ve been looking for ways to introduce additional revenue streams in order to diversify our risk. We have an opportunity to develop a focused conference with Microsoft's support, for a Business Analytics audience (an expanded Business Intelligence audience consisting of analysts, data scientists, technical decision makers, architects, DBAs and ITPros using Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint and Office technologies). We’re looking to host the PASS Business Analytics Conference in Spring 2013 in the US. Tune into the next few Connectors for more details as they become available. (Please note: PASS Summit will continue to offer a robust Business Intelligence educational offering around the SQL Server technologies!)
From a budgeting perspective, this initial BA Conference is projected to break-even. We’re considering this first event as an investment year with the hope of creating a more substantial revenue stream as the conference picks up momentum in ensuing years.
A New Hire
In 2011 our first Community Evangelist joined PASS to support the community by engaging with chapter leaders, event organizers, speakers, sponsors, and members on a daily basis. The community’s response has been tremendously positive – and we’re ready to add another Evangelist to the team. We’ve posted the job description and are actively seeking to fill the role.
Chapter Tool Improvements
With the help of a usability expert, Our DNN web developer, Benny Su, is working diligently to improve the online Chapter tools hosted on www.sqlpass.org. Improvements in member management, email functionality and better promotion of Chapter events are just some of the tasks already underway to help out both our members and hard working Chapter Leaders.
We’ve set aside budget to help fuel our global growth efforts – notably the new community evangelist hire along with other PASS HQ resourcing support – but also legal fees to help PASS address issues of incorporation as well as legal, taxation, transaction and financial management, and IP rights.
Overall Budget Changes from FY2012
We’re estimating a 59% increase in both revenue and expenses for fiscal year 2013 – $8 million and $7.9 million dollars respectively. Both these increases can be largely attributed to PASS Summit – we’re expecting more of the community to join us this year, which increases our overall costs of the event. PASS’ overall profit is expected to increase 39% over last year for a total just shy of $100K which we will flow into our reserves.
A more detailed version of the budget will be published in the days ahead to the PASS Governance Page.
Is the SQL Community your life? Ready to take the next step and put your PASSion to work? PASS is looking for a new Community Evangelist to join Karla Landrum and the PASS HQ Team. Applications are open now. Read on to learn what it takes to be a stellar community evangelist.
With a global membership of more than 100,000 and growing, the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) is the world’s largest SQL Server community. Our goal is to help educate and connect SQL Server users around the world through local and virtual chapters; free online events; and local and regional events including PASS SQLSaturday and the annual PASS Summit.
In 2011 our first Community Evangelist joined PASS to support the community by engaging with chapter leaders, event organizers, speakers, sponsors, and members on a daily basis. The community’s response has been tremendously positive – and we’re ready to add another Evangelist to the team.
What a Community Evangelist Does for PASS
Acting as ambassadors for the organization and advocates for the community, our Evangelists play a key role in helping PASS do great things. Working as a fulltime consultant/contractor under the direction of the PASS HQ management team, here’s an idea of what you can expect to do:
- Mentor chapter leaders to help build and sustain their user groups
- Coach chapter leaders to host a PASS SQLSaturday in their city
- Look for opportunities to establish new chapters and recruit new chapter leaders
- Represent PASS in person at one chapter meeting or SQLSaturday per month (including international events)
- Build and enhance an active network of regional mentors, encouraging them to be active PASS ambassadors at events and user group meetings
- As part of the PASS HQ team, help execute successful community programs at events like PASS Summit
- Work with the larger PASS team (HQ and the Board) to execute the organization’s strategic vision
- Blog and tweet regularly about community experiences
What PASS Does for a Community Evangelist
Being an evangelist is incredibly fulfilling both personally and professionally. What can you expect as a PASS Community Evangelist?
- Grow your network while meeting SQL Server professionals from all walks of life
- Visit new places around the world while travelling on behalf of PASS
- Keep your finger on the pulse of Microsoft technologies while attending events as a representative of PASS
- Connect with community members from across the world while working from the comfort of your own home
Who You Are
We’re looking for someone who is passionate and enthusiastic about the Microsoft SQL Server technologies and can help us grow the PASS global community. Our ideal person is friendly, outgoing, self-motivated and an active volunteer in the SQL Server community. You don’t mind talking with people (sometimes for many hours a day!) and you enjoy sharing your community experiences through blogging and social media. You don’t need technical expertise in SQL Server but you do need to be familiar with the technologies at a high level.
You can be sitting anywhere in the world, but you will need to be available during a portion of the North American workday. As a global organization that needs to communicate with people around the world, PASS wishes to accommodate 24 hour availability in the near future – filling this position is a first step in accomplishing this goal. Since the position is located remotely, we are looking for someone who exhibits strong self-management traits, has good administrative skills and is well organized. Fluency in a language other than English is also a bonus.
Travel is part of the job so expect to fly, and because many of our events take place on weekends you’ll be required to work on Saturdays from time to time.
If you’re excited at the thought of being a Community Evangelist for PASS we’d like to hear from you!
To apply, please send:
- Your resume and cover letter.
- Include links to your blog, Twitter, etc.
Send all materials to: email@example.com by 5pm EDT on Friday Aug 3
Who better to tune PASS’s Performance Virtual Chapter for success than a community of volunteers dedicated to helping database pros optimize SQL Server, database design, attached storage area networks, and more?
This month marks 2 years of the revived Performance VC, which just celebrated 180 attendees at its latest session, Performance Tuning for Pirates with John Sterrett. It and other presentations over the past year from some of the top experts in the SQL Server community are available in the VC’s archives for free replay.
“Our mission is to host sessions for PASS members and the greater SQL Server community that relate to SQL Server performance in some way,” says Chapter Leader Erin Stellato. “Whether it's related to finding and trouble-shooting performance problems, designing for performance, optimizing performance in SSIS, query tuning, … every session includes a performance aspect.”
Although the VC was formed before 2010, it had grown sluggish before being revived by Tim Edwards, who did a call for volunteers and received great response. The refreshed group held its first LiveMeeting session in July 2010 with Jason Strate.
Today, the VC owes its success to “a village” of volunteers, Erin stresses, including Speaker Wrangler (gotta love that title!) Carlos Bossy, LiveMeeting Hosts Wil Sisney and Neeraj Jandwani, Web Masters Paul Hiles and Yulia Fuller, and Marketing guru Ryan Adams, assisted by Phil Franz.
The Performance VC meets the fourth Thursday of every month at 18:00 GMT/14:00 EDT/11:00 PDT, and each meeting features a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by Confio. To be eligible, you just need to attend the monthly webcast; winners are randomly chosen from all those in attendance for the whole webcast who provide their email address.
The group’s next meeting, July 26, will feature Microsoft SQLCAT’s Kevin Cox speaking on Using the New XEvents in SQL 2012.
You can join the Performance VC Google Group Distribution List and follow @SQLPASS_PVC on Twitter to receive the latest updates and meeting announcements. And if you’re interested in speaking or have any questions about the group, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big thanks to the nearly 1,400 PASS members from 57 countries who made their voices heard in the 2012 Nomination Committee (NomCom) election. And congratulations to Stefanie Higgins, Angela Henry, and Jason Strate, who are joining NomCom Chair Rushabh Mehta and Board of Directors representative Thomas LaRock on the committee to manage this year’s PASS Board of Directors general election.
A total of 1,339 voters cast 3,603 votes in this year’s active NomCom election, featuring a slate of 12 incredible candidates. For comparison, 1,951 PASS members voted in the 2011 Board of Directors election.
The NomCom’s role includes finalizing the Board of Directors election application, interviewing and ranking candidates, and putting forward the final slate for Board approval and community vote. Applications for the three open PASS Board Director-at-Large seats will open July 25.
To learn more about the 2012 NomCom election results and preview the upcoming Board of Directors general election, see the PASS Elections page. The discussion forums will be closed until the Board elections open, but if you have any questions or concerns, please contact PASS HQ.
Congratulations again to Stephanie, Angela, and Jason. And a special thank you to Louis Davidson, Mark Ginnebaugh, Ryan Adams, Mark Broadbent, Dave Schutz, Neil Hambly, John Morehouse, Nicholas Cain, and Rick Heiges for their enthusiastic candidacies in this year’s NomCom election.
PASS’s newest Virtual Chapter aims to answer two primary questions for those new to the DBA world or considering a career as a SQL Server administrator: How do I become a successful DBA? And what do I need to learn first?
The idea for the DBA Fundamentals VC came from questions VC co-leader Mark Swofford received from DBAs he’s managed and college students he’s talked to. “Students are confused about the path to become a DBA, and new DBAs many times have basic conceptual ideology, but have yet to see it firsthand,” he notes. “Neither of these groups needs a deep dive into transactional replication, but they do need to understand what an index is.”
Mark, who led the PASS Virtualization VC for a few years, contacted PASS HQ with a proposal for a VC that addresses the needs of people in their first year or so of employment as database administrators, as well as those who aspire to be DBAs. Then he recruited DBAs Michael Brumley and Steve Cantrell to help lead the group.
“To be a successful DBA, it takes a solid foundation of general concepts, career development, training, fearlessness, confidence, and mentorship from more experienced professionals,” Mark adds. “This Virtual Chapter will host regular novice-level presentations on a wide variety of topics: the basics, skills for sure, concepts, career development, and the importance of getting involved in the community early on.”
The DBA Fundamentals VC kicks off its lineup of free webcasts July 10 with David Smithey’s “DBA 101”, and has already launched a forum for DBA basics questions and answers. The team is also busy scheduling future speakers – including Scott Shaw, Adam Belebczuk, and Jes Schultz Borland – and coordinating some special events, such as an upcoming day-long online DBA Boot Camp.
The VC is looking for professionals who’d like to give 100-level presentations on a wide variety of DBA topics – if you’re interested in speaking, just email email@example.com. And to make sure you get the latest meeting details, join the VC and follow @DBAFundVC on Twitter.
Inspired by its namesake technologies, PASS’s new Master Data/Data Quality Virtual Chapter seeks to provide a central, trustworthy source of information that can help data stewards ensure reliable, consistent data.
The VC, getting ready for its third online meeting next week, focuses on Master Data Services (MDS), new in SQL Server 2008 R2, and Data Quality Services (DQS), introduced in SQL Server 2012.
“MDS and DQS are still new products in the data platform stack,” notes Patrick Gallucci, who co-chairs the VC with Tom Marek. “In talking to people in the SQL Server community, I get a lot of questions around master data - what is it, how to use it, what scenarios to use it in... So our initial sessions will really show people what MDS/DQS means to them – the value of master data.”
The VC’s first two meetings are available for online replay. And the group will welcome Gene Web of The Profisee Group on Monday, June 18, for Master Data Maestro for Microsoft Master Data Services.
“In addition to having guest speakers at our free monthly online sessions, we are also trying out open, community-driven chalk-talks,” Patrick adds. “We received feedback that people really like the format, and we want to encourage that type of collaborative problem-solving.”
If you want to submit a chalk-talk topic, just send a brief email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the topic title, user story, problem statement, and why the problem is hard to solve. The VC also invites community members to take a quick survey of MDS/DQS topics they’re most interested in.
The VC website features links to top MDS/DQS resources, and as the group grows, watch for a newsletter. If you are interested in volunteering your time and talents to help manage and grow the VC, Patrick and Tom would love to hear from you - simply email email@example.com. For the latest on Master Data/Data Quality VC meetings and resources, make sure you register for the VC today.
The PASS Global Growth team has spent considerable time in the last few months thinking through how to evolve PASS into an organisation that is both more relevant to and supportive of the worldwide SQL Server community. We’ve launched our new micro-site containing information that relates to our thinking around internationalising the PASS organisation. More documents and events will be announced in the next few weeks.
On the site you will see documented thoughts and proposals that detail what we have compiled to date. We will also be announcing various opportunities for you to engage with the Global Growth Committee in a variety of interactive sessions, including live Twitter chats, online town hall meetings, a feedback site and more.
The content on the site is not set in stone, it simply reflects how we would approach certain changes based on our current thinking. We are advocating changes that impact the community and PASS in quite a profound way. We therefore need your help and guidance to ensure we make the right changes for the community as a whole.
Your feedback is incredibly important. We want to know what you like, what you don’t, how you think it could be improved, and most importantly of all whether you think the changes we are proposing to make will help PASS support the worldwide SQL Server community more effectively.
Last but by no means least I’d like to welcome Karen Lopez onto the Global Growth Committee. Karen has worked with and represented several other not-for-profit organisations over many years including those attempting similar transformations to the global growth objectives. We are delighted to have her expertise to call on and so are grateful that she has agreed to give up some of her time to supporting the SQL Server community in this endeavour.
I look forward to reading and hearing your thoughts in the weeks and months ahead. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts or use one of our many feedback mechanisms we’ve set up.
Together I am convinced we will build an even better PASS organisation that truly reflects, represents and supports the worldwide SQL Server community. That can only be a good thing and I am genuinely excited to be part of it.