Inside the PASS Board’s January Meeting

February 3, 2015 – The PASS Board of Directors kicked off 2015 with a 2-day in-person meeting in Seattle focusing on goal-setting, global growth and SQLRally initiatives, volunteers, the PASS Business Analytics Conference, and a recommitment to communicating regularly with the community.

Part of communicating better and more often involves letting our members know what Board members are working on and talking about, as well as getting input and feedback all along the way. Going forward, we will be posting meeting agendas ahead of time, summarizing discussions and decisions in recaps like this one (watch for January’s official minutes to be posted next week), and holding regular Town Hall Q&A webcasts for you to share your feedback and ask questions.

Our first Town Hall Q&A will be next week – Feb. 11 at 10:00am PT/18:00 UTC – and we look forward to discussing any topics from January’s Board meeting and hearing what your top priorities are for the coming year.

With that, let’s dive into our jam-packed January meeting.

Global Growth Committee
Last year, we began transitioning the PASS Global Growth portfolio into global growth initiatives for each of our community portfolio areas. Special Projects Director James Rowland-Jones (JRJ), who led the former Global Growth portfolio, highlighted the primary global growth goals for each portfolio, as set by the Executive Committee: reaching the community and beyond, growing leadership, enabling engagement by evolving the operational framework for PASS, using activity-based goals to gauge performance of regions, and being passionate, relevant, and influencing others to connect throughout the PASS organization overall.

To provide greater global representation, in 2013 the PASS Board converted one at-large seat to a Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) regional seat, currently held by Jen Stirrup. In preparation for converting another at-large seat into a Latin America (LATAM) regional seat for the 2016 Board elections, we are taking steps to add Board advisors from LATAM and have set eligibility benchmarks for the LATAM Board seat.

VP of Finance & Governance Adam Jorgensen will be chairing a global growth committee focusing on LATAM and filling that Board seat in 2016, calling on individual portfolio owners to participate as required. We are also starting to work on the strategy for targeting the next region.

SQLRally Model
Continuing the Global Growth theme, JRJ reviewed recent PASS SQLRally events and led the Board in a discussion about the pros and cons of this event model. A task force led by JRJ will review feedback and options and present proposals for a new, more flexible model for regional events. Further information on contacting the task force will be made available through the Connector soon.

Volunteer Leadership Policy
With each Board portfolio now having its own volunteers component – instead of having a separate PASS Volunteers portfolio – Board members spent some time talking about the wide range of volunteer leadership roles within PASS and the commitment it takes to be successful.

Acknowledging how important volunteers are to PASS as well as the many obligations people have inside and outside the organization, Virtual Chapters Director Wendy Pastrick reviewed the first draft of a PASS Leadership policy that provides guidance around volunteers in PASS leadership roles. The policy‘s guidelines are designed to help develop leadership skills, transition volunteers into new leadership roles, and support new leaders. We’ll be reviewing the policy draft, providing feedback, and sharing the next version with the community for feedback.

Business Analytics Update
Jen Stirrup, Director of the new Business Analytics portfolio, shared an update on the restructuring of the PASS Business Analytics Conference for 2015, including market research on redefining the target audience, new approaches to attract more attendees, updating the program, and a focus on community building.

Programs Director Amy Lewis gave an overview of the conference’s sessions, targeted at business and data analytics professionals, and the speaker lineup, which features some of the top experts in the industry.

VP of Marketing Denise McInerney updated us on marketing goals and successes, attendance forecasts and actuals, and demand-generation plans, stressing the importance of differentiating this conference from other data analytics events. Denise reminded us all to spread the word through our companies, social media channels, and various data communities we’re involved in – and I encourage everyone in PASS to do the same.

JRJ presented the projected versus actual sponsor sales and updated the Board on the BA Conference sales team focus and approach for lead generation and partner incentives.

With a clear picture of where and how additional resources could help the BA Conference teams hit the targets for registration and sponsors in this new market, the Board approved a $35,000 budget exception to support increased sales and marketing activities and resources for the conference.

The Board also discussed possibilities for local PASS-sponsored BA initiatives. We agreed to continue exploring options and speaking to members of the community and come back with a plan by June 30.

Improving Communications
A common theme throughout our discussions was how to improve communications and interactions with community members about all of these topics. From providing better and easier access to Board members and facilitating feedback to providing proactive communications and doing a better job of explaining what we’re doing and why, we know we can do more.

Denise reviewed some of steps we took at PASS Summit in November to enable better communications between the Board and community members, including the progress report on goals during the annual Board Q&A session and Board “office hours” in the Community Zone. Then Denise gave us an overview of the comprehensive plan the Marketing team is working on to get community input on and improve communications and interaction with all our members.

We’re already working to add a variety of ways to contact Board members directly from the Board of Directors webpage, as well as ways you can easily provide feedback or ask questions. And the Marketing team is reviewing how to better use all our communications channels and identifying new ones.

This Board meeting recap (and those to follow) is also part of our commitment to better communications, along with providing advance notice of Board meeting agendas – maybe even with a possibility of having time set aside to discuss community-requested topics – and hosting regular live web-based Q&A Town Hall meetings.

Board and Portfolio Goals
Each Director-at-Large also presented a draft of their portfolio goals for Fiscal Year 2016, beginning July 1, 2015, for discussion and feedback. You can read about each Director’s portfolio assignment here, and stay tuned for blog posts coming soon from each portfolio owner – as well as Board-level goals from the Executive Committee (made up of me, Adam, Denise, and Immediate Past President Bill Graziano).

Until then, please feel free to reach out to any of us with your questions, comments, and ideas and remember to join us Feb. 11 for our first Town Hall Q&A.
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Related posts:
My First Board Meeting - Grant Fritchey
PASS January Board Meeting – My Thoughts - Adam Jorgensen

Kroll Ontrack Joins as PASS Global Alliance Partner

February 3, 2015 – PASS is excited to welcome Kroll Ontrack to the Global Alliance Program as a Silver Level Partner, extending the company’s PASS Summit sponsorship into a year-round relationship that supports the worldwide PASS community.

Providing data recovery services since 1985, Kroll Ontrack debuted Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® at PASS Summit 2014, giving DBAs a time-saving tool for restoring just the SQL Server tables they need without having to restore the entire database. Ontrack PowerControls, which supports snapshots or native SQL backups, lets you preview table content before restoration and drag and drop copied tables directly to your desired environment. Kroll Ontrack also offers industry-leading data recovery solutions and supports data professionals with learning events and a rich resources library.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PASS as a Silver Global Alliance Partner,” said Greg Olson, senior vice president, Data & Storage Technologies, Kroll Ontrack. “Ontrack® PowerControls™ for SQL Server® would not have been possible without the direct input from PASS members. As a result of this teamwork, we can offer a tool that can drastically cut the time spent restoring SQL tables from hours to minutes. We look forward to being even more involved with the PASS organization and the SQL Server community through the PASS Global Alliance Partner Program.”

As a Silver Level Global Alliance Partner, Kroll Ontrack will participate as a Silver sponsor at PASS Summit and will be supporting PASS SQLSaturday events and the entire PASS community through Connector sponsorships, sponsored emails, web advertising, and more.

PASS sponsors are a vital part of the community, supporting the organization’s many training and networking opportunities, including free learning events. Through the Global Alliance Program, PASS looks forward to bringing many new opportunities and added value to our community and to our partners. For information about becoming a PASS Global Alliance Partner, please contact Craig Ellis.

Preparing for the Year Ahead

January 6, 2015 – Happy New Year! It’s the season when everything feels in transition. Out with the old, in with the new. A wonderful and warm summer gave way to a crisp autumn, which has now turned to winter.

It’s also the time of year when we pause and reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months. We track our progress against the goals we set this time last year and think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year.

As I look back on 2014, one of the things I think about is Rimma Nehme’s PASS Summit keynote about making the transition from “DBA” to “Cloud DBA.” It’s a subtle shift in our industry, from “Earthed” systems to Cloud, but one that affects – or will affect – how we think about and do our jobs in the year ahead.

Many data professionals, including us traditional DBAs, are also finding additional career opportunities in 2015. Business and data analytics in particular is a growing field – as Stephen Levitt noted at the 2013 PASS Business Analytics Conference, there’s a dearth of people on the planet who can analyze data – and one that we’re excited about supporting.

Much of what we as an organization have done these past few years is take the necessary steps to help prepare PASS members for the transitions that lie ahead. From the latest SQL Server 2014 and Power BI features to Cloud, Big Data, and business analytics, we’re looking forward to continuing to serve the educational and networking needs of data professionals through our growing local and virtual chapters and events around the world.

For the PASS Board of Directors, it’s also the time of year for transitions. When we gather in Seattle later this month for our first Board meeting of 2015, we will welcome two new members: Grant Fritchey and Sanjay Mishra. I’m looking forward to working with them both in 2015 and beyond.

We will also say goodbye to Sri Sridharan and Olivier Matrat. Both will be missed, and we expect to see great things from them as they continue their contributions to the Community.

While in Seattle, we will also review the progress we’ve made on our fiscal year 2015 Board goals and portfolio goals, as well as set new goals for FY2016. Each Director will be asked to present their goals at this meeting. You can expect to hear more about our new goals in the coming months.

It’s a great time to be a data professional. And a wonderful time to be a member of PASS as we constantly look for more ways for our members to Connect, Share, and Learn. Best wishes for whatever transitions you’re preparing for in this New Year – we’re looking forward to helping you meet all your data goals!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President

Refreshing the Regional Mentor Program

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
– 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

Working on Strategy for Local BA Events

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

PASS Programs Team Leverages Data Science for Attendance Predictions and Feedback Rating

December 17, 2014 – This year, Data Scientist and PASS volunteer Dev Nambi joined the Programs team to help with PASS Summit 2014 sessions scheduling and predictive analytics. Over the past month, Dev and the team have been digging into the data from both session attendance and session feedback, and we wanted to share the findings with the community.

In this first year of doing prediction for attendance, we saw a variety of results, including the reduction of overcrowded sessions. Dev details the results and provides a link to the raw dataset in his blog post PASS Summit Attendance and Predictions. With the lessons learned from our debut effort, we will continue to improve on and incorporate prediction models into our Summit scheduling process.

Dev and the team also examined Summit 2014 session evaluations. This year, we saw a 14.8 % return rate of evaluations from attendees, and we’re looking at ways to increase that number. Despite an increased possible margin of error based on the decrease in responses, we appreciate all the session evaluation feedback we received from attendees and are taking key findings into account as we start planning next year’s Summit. To view the correlations and rankings, please see Dev’s analysis in Say Anything! PASS Summit Feedback and Ratings.

A big thank you to Dev for the time and effort he spent analyzing and compiling the attendance prediction and session evaluations data. Thank you also to Summit attendees for using the Schedule Builder to help with attendance predictions and to the entire PASS community for your feedback. Moving forward, PASS Programs will continue assembling, sharing, and using this information and data analysis to help make the Summit experience the best it can be. If you have any comments or input, please don’t hesitate to email
– Amy Lewis
Director, PASS Programs

15 #SQLFamily Wishes for 2015

December 9, 2014 – For our last Connector newsletter of the year, we asked 15 PASS community members what they wished for their fellow data professionals in 2015. What did Thomas LaRock, Mark Souza, Rimma Nehme, Kalen Delaney, Kimberly Tripp, and other passionate PASS volunteers from around the world have to say? Read on to find out – then add your own message for the New Year in our comments section.

“Before I make a wish, I must first be thankful. I am thankful for a caring, passionate SQL Server community that doesn’t hesitate to go out of their way to help others be successful. My biggest wish for 2015 is that this special #SQLFamily continues to prioritize others over themselves and that the passion and caring is contagious worldwide. The future of the data industry for all of us is exciting – with lots more to learn and share – so keep an open mind and be ready to embrace and conquer whatever the data industry throws at us. Whether it be Big Data (real-time analytics), Cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), etc., our SQL Server foundation has put us in a great position to succeed.”
– Mark Souza, GM – Microsoft Data Platform Group

“I wish our #SQLFamily love, luck and inspiration. May the New Year bring all your objectives and plans to life! And special wishes for my fellow SQL Server professionals in Central/Eastern Europe – may you have the biggest and best SQLSaturdays and chapter meetings ever.”
– Andrey Korshikov, BI developer, Russia
2014 PASSion Award winner, leader of the PASS Global Russian Virtual Chapter & Regional Mentor for Central Eastern Europe

Я желаю нашей #SQLFamily любви, удачи и вдохновения. Пусть Новый Год принесет задач и планов воплощение! И специальное пожелание для моих коллег-профессионалов SQL Server в Центральной / Восточной Европе - пусть у вас будет самый большой и лучший SQLSaturdays и встречи групп чем когда-либо ранее.

“I wish for SQL Server professionals to learn what kinds of workloads and applications will benefit from In-Memory OLTP and use the new technology to get up to a 30X performance improvement. Then I hope they learn what kinds of workloads and applications won’t benefit from In-Memory OLTP, so they don’t complain about In-Memory OLTP not working! :) I also wish that all SQL Server professionals would have a chance to experience the wonders of the SQL Community first-hand, whether at a major conference, a SQLSaturday, or even a Virtual Conference. Happy New Year!”
– Kalen Delaney, SQLearning, Washington
SQL Server MVP, speaker & author of “SQL Server Internals: In-Memory OLTP”

“On behalf of the Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter, our wish for 2015 is to connect and bring valuable learning opportunities to even more data professionals who speak the Portuguese language, with these goals in mind: Connect, Share, and Learn SQL Server and make our chapter an essential resource for professional career development. Wishing everyone a wonderful new year, full of achievements!”
– Marcos Freccia, Sr. SQL Server DBA - Dell, Brazil
SQL Server MVP & PASS Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter Leader

Em nome do Global Portuguese Virtual Chapter, nosso desejo para 2015 é conectar e trazer as melhores oportunidades de aprendizado e ainda mais profissionais de dados que falam a língua Portuguesa com estes objetivos em mente: Conectar, Compartilhar e Aprender SQL Server, e que possamos tornar o nosso chapter um recurso essencial para o desenvolvimento de uma carreira. Espero que todos tenham um ótimo ano novo, repleto de conquistas.

“My wish for 2015 is that everyone in the PASS community develops a passion for learning. Learn something new every single day – whether it’s cloud, parallel databases, NoSQL, Hadoop, etc. – then start thinking of common-sense ways to put these new technologies to work for you and your organization. And in the middle of all this learning and doing, don’t forget that the ultimate goal of data technologies and the businesses we work for is to improve lives – remember to enjoy your family and friends and live life to its fullest!”
– Rimma Nehma, Senior Research Engineer, Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, Madison, WI

“For the LATAM community, I wish success to all PASS Chapter leaders as they organize their local meetings and SQLSaturday events, and I look forward to continuing the exciting PASS growth in Latin America and helping establish new chapters in many countries in 2015. For the worldwide PASS community, I wish that all SQL Server professionals would take the opportunity to get involved in PASS activities and their local chapters through volunteering and knowledge sharing.”
– Eduardo Castro, Data Architect, Grupo Asesor en Informatica, Costa Rica
PASS Regional Mentor – Latin America

Para la comunidad de LATAM , deseo éxito a todos los líderes PASS Capítulo como organizan sus reuniones y eventos locales SQLSaturday , y espero con interés la continuación del crecimiento emocionante PASS en América Latina y ayudar a establecer nuevos capítulos en muchos países en el año 2015. Para el mundial comunidad PASS , deseo que todos los profesionales de SQL Server tomarían la oportunidad de involucrarse en actividades PASS y sus capítulos locales a través del voluntariado y el intercambio de conocimientos.

"My wish is inspired by one of my all-time favorite quotes: If you want to master something, teach it (Yogi Bhajan). My wish is for you to pick something that you really want to learn, learn it, and then deliver it to your office colleagues, a local user group, or even a SQLSaturday. Our community is so strong – members are always paying it forward – and this is a great way to keep that spirit going. Happy Holidays!”
– Kimberly Tripp,, Redmond, WA
SQL Server MVP, speaker & author

“I wish everyone working with SQL Server, from accidental DBAs and casual coders to data warehouse developers and performance-tuning superheroes, the chance to supercharge your skills and social network by going to a really inspiring conference. You deserve it, because the world is depending on your databases.”
– Johan Åhlén, Nordic CTO of SolidQ, Sweden
President of the Swedish SQL Server User Group & co-founder of PASS SQLRally Nordic

“I have three wishes for 2015: First, that all database professionals are able to attend at least one SQLSaturday, even if they have to travel a bit to get there; second, that my co-leader, Rob Hatton, and I are able to increase our BI user group meetings to 20 people each month; and third, that I am able to present one of my sessions at an international venue.”
– Mickey Stuewe, Data Architect, Costa Mesa, CA
Founder & Co-Leader of BIG PASS Community user group & 2013 Tribal Awards' best new community voice

“My desire for 2015 is that SQL Server would enter the world of massive parallel processing and would be able to handle truly large amounts of data across many commodity servers, providing high availability with no single point of failure. I don’t want to switch to PDW, Cassandra, or MariaDB (although I love the name :). I want my favorite RDBMS to be able to scale out and send this wish out to those who can make it happen. And for the PASS Global Hebrew Virtual Chapter, I hope that more and more people learn about it, and that with the community’s help, we’re able to continue providing even more valuable learning opportunities for Hebrew-speaking data professionals around the world.”
– Maria Zakourdaev, Data Architect, Perion Networks, Israel
Global Hebrew Virtual Chapter Leader

“My wish is that everyone will review their backup and disaster recovery (DR) plans in 2015. Everyone needs to have a backup and restore plan in place and tested regularly, as well as a DR plan that is tested at least yearly. If you are not familiar with how to implement these technologies, then 2015 is the year to do it!”
– Ryan Adams, DBA at Verizon, Texas
PASS Performance Virtual Chapter Leader, Regional Mentor – South Central US & SQL Server MVP

“Wishing the #SQLFamily a happy and prosperous Connect, Share, and Learn year in 2015! I encourage everyone to continue their data and BI learning globally through our regular PASS DW/BI Virtual Chapter webinars and YouTube Channel – and tell a friend. For my Australian #SQLFamily, let's rock SQLSaturday Melbourne on 7 Feb 2015! Have a safe and fun holiday season.”
– Julie Koesmarno, SQL Server/BI Consultant, LobsterPot Solutions, Australia
PASS DW/BI VC Chapter Leader & SQLSaturday Melbourne Committee Member

“To my MEA #SQLFamily, thanks for all your efforts this year, and I am looking forward to working with you to grow our region and reach even more fellow data professionals next year with great learning and networking opportunities. My wish for the worldwide #SQLFamily is for everyone to enjoy the festive season. Be safe, have a Happy New Year, and return refreshed and ready for even bigger things in 2015!”
– Jody Roberts, DBA, Cape Town, South Africa
SQL Server MVP & PASS Regional Mentor - Middle East and Africa

“One of my biggest wishes for 2015 is for communities to stop competing and instead help one another so that we can all grow stronger together. Whether the communities are for different database technologies, software vendors, or even from different countries with different languages and backgrounds or from different associations and affiliations, ultimately we are all trying to do the same thing in sharing, learning and growing. Together, we can be not only stronger but more effective. Let's all try to do more to embrace and connect with diverse communities and make 2015 a truly special year to remember!”
– Mark Broadbent, DBA, Cambridgeshire, UK
PASS Regional Mentor - UK, leader of the PASS Oracle Virtual Chapter and the Cambridgeshire SQL Server User Group & organizer of SQLSaturday Cambridge

“My wish for 2015 is for all members of our #SQLFamily to have the best possible disaster recovery plans that they never have to use.”
– Thomas LaRock, PASS President & Head Geek at SolarWinds

Announcing PASS Board Portfolios for 2015

Oct. 31, 2014  With the PASS Board of Directors elections completed and thousands of community members and volunteers gathering at PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle next week, I wanted to share the details around your portfolio leaders for 2015.

It’s always exciting to match up Directors with the project portfolios where they can put their skills, experience, passions, and energy to best use for our members. Next year will see a few changes to our Board portfolios, including the continuing integration of the Global Growth and Volunteers focus areas into everything we do at PASS as well as the addition of a Business Analytics portfolio.

Without further ado, here are the portfolio assignments for 2015:

    • James Rowland-Jones, who led our Global Growth portfolio and was re-elected to the Board for the 2015/2016 term, will be spearheading our Special Projects portfolio going forward, as our ongoing efforts to better support the global community become an essential part of all of our portfolios. James’ project for 2015 will be to grow PASS’s sponsorship sales activities across the organization.
    • Wendy Pastrick, also re-elected to the Board for 2015/2016, will bring her experience in supporting and growing Global Chapters this year to her new mission with Virtual Chapters, leading our efforts to provide unparalleled online learning opportunities for the global data community through an ever-increasing lineup of language- and topic-focused VCs. 
    • Tim Ford has translated his passion and experience as a SQLSaturday organizer into guiding the SQLSaturday portfolio to even greater growth. We witnessed a record 86 free SQLSaturday events in FY2014 – 34 international SQLSaturdays and 52 US events – and will be rolling out a new SQLSaturday website, enhanced for attendees and organizers. With Tim’s continued leadership in 2015, we are focused on meeting the needs of even more data professionals around the globe through these popular free, 1-day training events.
    • Amy Lewis will take the momentum from a busy first year heading up the PASS Programs portfolio into 2015, continuing to improve processes, support community speakers, and lead PASS’s largest volunteer committees as they select sessions for PASS Summit – this year’s conference features a record 200+ sessions – and the PASS Business Analytics Conference.
    • Jen Stirrup, who led the Virtual Chapters portfolio this year, will be taking on a different role in 2015 as she heads up our new Business Analytics portfolio, helping steer the strategy around the growth of this young and growing community.
    • Grant Fritchey, who will begin serving on the Board in January, will take over the Global Chapters portfolio, working to grow and support local user groups with a great team of Community Evangelists and Chapter Leaders and Regional Mentors throughout the world.

The 2015 PASS Board also includes the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Adam Jorgensen; VP, Marketing, Denise McInerney; and Past President Bill Graziano – as well as Founding Partner Board representatives from Microsoft.

Looking over the portfolio assignments above, you can’t help but see how essential community volunteers are to everything we do. Each portfolio leader works with valued volunteers in their area. In 2015, each Director will be focusing on how to better engage more volunteers as a vital part of every project.

As Sri Sridharan transitions off the Board, his work on the important tasks of growing PASS’s volunteer pool, better organizing volunteer efforts, and recognizing volunteers’ valuable contributions will continue through the focus and efforts of each Director and their PASS HQ counterparts. This is a similar method to how we approached the Global Growth portfolio, and we expect to see similar success.

The transition to new assignments is underway, and new and returning portfolio leaders will be meeting with community leaders and volunteers at Summit to get a jump-start on their projects. Make sure you say “Hi” at Summit – you can find us in the Community Zone throughout the week and at the Board Q&A on Friday, Nov. 7 – and volunteer to pitch in on your favorite projects. We can’t wait to get down to business!
– Thomas LaRock
PASS President


SQL Server and BA: Growing in Depth and Breadth

Oct. 31, 2014  Two years ago, PASS began to expand our educational offerings to include a conference targeted to the business analytics community. This year, we’ve had more discussion within our community about what our business analytics strategy means for PASS.

Next week at Summit, we’ll be holding a special PASS Business Analytics Direction and Q&A session. Throughout the week, members of the Board will also be available to listen to your feedback and answer your questions about our plans for BA. If you will be at Summit, I hope you will take some time to talk to me or other Board members about our BA initiatives.

One of the concerns I’ve heard expressed is that our expansion to serve the business analytics community could negatively affect how we serve our core SQL Server and BI members. I’d like to share with you how we are allocating resources to ensure that does not happen.

Business analytics is a natural extension of our core, data-centric SQL Server and business intelligence communities. We  the DBAs, database developers, data architects, and BI professionals – work with business and data analysts, data scientists, line-of-business managers, and others on the business side whose lives revolve around data every day. The business and data analysts are our colleagues, our clients, our customers.

PASS Summit has long been the main source of fundraising for PASS, funding the many other learning opportunities and programs we offer throughout the year. As PASS leaders saw the expanding attention to business analytics in the data industry, developing a focused conference and other learning opportunities for those working in the business analytics space made sense. This would both introduce an additional revenue stream to help secure the organization’s future capability to better serve all our members and bring us in closer touch with a growing community of data professionals.

PASS’s BA-related activities and budget were structured from the beginning to be fully self-funding, with no cross-funding or subsidization from PASS’s SQL Server-related revenues. When PASS announced in July 2012 that it would be hosting the new PASS Business Analytics Conference in Spring 2013, the conference was projected to break even – we made a modest profit. To date, the net profit we’ve realized from our two BA Conference events has covered the cost of all of our other BA-related initiatives, including staff time to support new BA-related Virtual Chapters, 24 Hours of PASS: Business Analytics Edition, and other activities.

At the same time, our fiscal year 2015 budget supports continuing growth for our core SQLSaturday events and SQL Server and BI Chapters and Virtual Chapters around the world, an ever-growing PASS Summit, and continuing IT investments to modernize our platforms and take advantage of technology to enable a stronger, more connected PASS community.

The BA Conference and other BA offerings may not be taking funding from PASS’s SQL Server activities, but do these expanded initiatives affect the energy and focus that PASS leaders, volunteers, and staff can bring to serving SQL Server and BI professionals?

Even before launching our BA activities, PASS has been mindful of making investments to support the growth we’ve seen in our local PASS Chapters, Virtual Chapters, SQLSaturday events, and overall SQL Server and BI membership rolls. We have expanded our Community, Project Management, Marketing, and IT teams and have a continued focus on growth – in terms of both quantity of chapters, services, and resources for the global SQL Server community as well as quality of training and networking opportunities. (See our FY2015 portfolio goals here.)

Judging from the energy, hard work, and creativity that’s gone into next week’s PASS Summit – which will feature the biggest program and the largest gathering of SQL Server and BI pros ever – our HQ and community teams are committed to serving the needs of our core members.

One of the strengths of PASS is that our membership is so diverse, made up of a variety of roles, interests, and talents. The PASS community is already the hub and connector for many different data communities – from 275+ local Chapters around the world to 27 language- and topic-focused Virtual Chapters to speaker and blogger communities and beyond. These communities serve different locales, different learning needs, different technology interests, and different career and professional growth goals – and each interacts with PASS in a different way. But they all come together under the PASS mission of empowering data professionals to connect, share, and learn.

The way that PASS invests in these different data communities shows that it can be AND rather than OR. With the passion and dedication of our members and volunteers, we can continue growing not only in breadth, but also in depth in the communities we already serve.

In the coming months, we’ll publish more about our BA strategy and direction. And I hope you will bring your questions to the PASS Business Analytics Direction and Q&A session at Summit on Friday, Nov. 7, at 2:15pm in Room 307/308. I’ll see you there. 
– Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing


PASS Summit 2014 Pre-Con Preview: Brian & Devin Knight

Oct. 16, 2014 – Go inside PASS Summit 2014's full-day pre-conference sessions in this Q&A series with our presenters. We caught up with Brian and Devin Knight for a quick chat about their pre-con, SSIS: Problem, Design, Solution.

Q: If your pre-con had a theme song, what would it be and why?
I’d go with Kenny Loggins – “Danger Zone” because it’s an awesome song and so is our pre-con!

Q: What excites you most about working with SQL Server Integration Services?
I like the logic problems. Each package you build is like solving a puzzle that has a dozen ways of solving it. 

Q: What's the most surprising statement attendees might hear you say during the pre-con?
Devin: “Okay, now everyone line up for the ceremonial Knight brothers pre-con hug.“

Q: What’s your favorite SSIS transform and why?
The Swiss Army knife of any SSIS developer is the Script Transform. When you can’t do something in a native or third-party component, it’s time to whip out a script. We should cover about a dozen different patterns of how to use these in our pre-conference session. 

Q: What still trips you up in the real world when scrubbing duplicate data?
Using Regular Expressions to scrub data has always been something that has thrown me, because it feels very unnatural to write coming from a SQL Server background. Luckily, there are plenty of resources such as to help!

Q: If attendees could start putting into practice just one thing after this pre-con, what would you want that to be?
I find that the package restartability section of the pre-con has a lot of content that’s often overlooked but that can be extremely useful for recovering from failed package executions. I think people skip these steps because most people don’t plan for their packages to fail.

Check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2014 pre-con speakers.