Board Portfolios for the New Year

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.

Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.

Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.

Rob Farley
 will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.

James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.

Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do.

Sri Sridharan
, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.

In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.
 

Welcome, Beijing and Taiwan Chapters

A warm welcome to PASS’s two newest local Chapters: the PASS Beijing Chapter and the PASS Taiwan Chapter. The Beijing Chapter – founded by Sun Wei, Song YunJian, and Zhang Quan – will hold its first meeting December 11 on “SQL Performance Tuning.” The Taiwan Chapter, led by Po Chen and Byron Hul, will host its debut meeting December 1. Check out the photos of the new Chapter leadership teams taken PASS Summit 2012 and a video from the Beijing group.

 

Fresh Start for Azure Virtual Chapter

The sky’s the limit for the refreshed PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, focused on Windows Azure and cloud computing, with a steady breeze of SQL Database flowing through its free training and networking for the PASS community.

“Azure and cloud computing are part of the new wave of technology advancement,” says Nigel Sammy, the Virtual Chapter’s leader. “We’re here to help spread knowledge about the technology and provide information that empowers IT professionals to make decisions about whether and when to adopt this technology and how best to apply it to their needs.”

Nigel volunteered earlier this year to help reboot the PASS SQL Azure Virtual Chapter. While the VC was in reboot phase, Microsoft renamed SQL Azure to SQL Database, causing the VC’s leadership team to consider renaming the group as well as changing its focus. The result is the PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, launched in September, under the leadership of Nigel, co-leader Paras Doshi, and webmaster Jose Rivera.

Microsoft Principal Cloud Evangelist Brian Prince presented the VC’s debut session, “Getting Started with Windows Azure.” And Herve Roggero, SQL Azure MVP and co-author of Pro SQL Azure, spoke on "In-Depth Azure’s No-SQL with Azure Tables" in November, with the VC currently making arrangements with Scott Klein for its December meeting. All sessions are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing.

The VC covers topics on Azure and cloud computing, with the PASS community sure to appreciate sessions on SQL Database (SQL Azure) or those that include information about it. If you are interested in speaking at one of the VC meetings, you can contact Nigel.

With the VC's mission to enable Azure knowledge sharing and create a network of Azure and cloud computing professionals, “the goal for next year is to have at least one meeting every month,” Nigel notes, “and to also have some sessions done in various countries and languages so that the Azure community we’re helping build is truly a global community.”

The VC is still working on its meeting schedule to accommodate the most attendees and is also looking at how to serve members in different time zones. You can find information about future meetings on the Azure VC website, the PASS Events page, and via email notifications to VC members and Twitter.

In addition to meeting information, the VC website also has a resources page, which includes links to related blogs and articles. Anyone interested in joining the Azure VC can do so via the PASS Virtual Chapters page. And the VC is always looking for extra assistance – if you’d like to volunteer with the Azure VC, please contact any of the team members.


 

PASS Summit 2012: What an Adventure

What a whirlwind week of conversation, learning, and laughter. Attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers hit the ground running last week at a record-breaking PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle, where they came and conquered all things SQL Server. From kick-off keynote presentations and deep-dive technical sessions to interactive lunches, creative networking opportunities, and a sold-out Expo Hall, PASS Summit 2012 offered something for absolutely everyone. The sense of community was felt at every turn and knew no linguistic or geographic boundaries - old friends became reacquainted and new friendships were forged.  As evidenced by the community blogs and Flickr photo streams, the SQL Server Community took advantage of every opportunity to connect, share, and learn.

Connect.
Throughout PASS Summit 2012, attendees had to go out of their way not to connect with each other. The PASS Community Zone (a new addition this year) provided a one-stop shop where attendees met user group leaders, SQLSaturday organizers, PASS Community Evangelists, and other SQL Server community groups. First-time attendees participated in a professional networking session and PASS Summit orientation and were connected with an alumni mentor to learn the ropes and get the most out of their PASS Summit experience. Chapter, Women in Technology, and Birds of a Feather luncheons and fun evening events rounded out the experience. It was impossible to leave PASS Summit without making a new connection and sharing in the #SQLFamily love.

Share.
There was no shortage of knowledge at this year’s PASS Summit. Beyond the 150+ speakers sharing their expertise in technical sessions, Microsoft developers talked about the functionalities and features they actually wrote in the  new hit “I Made That!” Developer Chalk Talks, with CSS and SQLCAT experts sharing their troubleshooting and architecture insights in the packed SQL Server Clinic. You can’t get that kind of SQL Server knowledge and one-on-one guidance and support under one roof anywhere else in the world. Everyone was open to sharing their knowledge and skills – in the hallways, at dinner, over coffee - it was a sight to see!

Learn.
Learning trumped all at PASS Summit 2012. Microsoft keynote presenters Ted Kummert and Quentin Clark updated the crowd with the latest news, including the in-memory solution code-named Project “Hekaton” and the next version of SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse. Whether attendees were soaking it all in at their favorite of 190+ technical training sessions, talking about their implementations over lunch, trying out a Hands-On Lab, or visiting the Expo Hall – they were learning. And community members around the world joined in the experience via PASS TV’s live streaming.  The learning doesn’t need to end there. All PASS Summit Conference session recordings are now available for purchase on USB flash drive (attendees can also choose a download option and will have the opportunity to stream the 2012 sessions for free).

Next Steps: What Did You Think?
For those of you who were able to join us at PASS Summit 2012, thank you. The community is the driving force behind everything that PASS does, and your feedback is very important to us. Today attendees will receive an email with a link to our evaluation questionnaire. Completed evaluations will be entered for a chance to win a complimentary PASS Summit 2013 conference pass, so watch your Inbox for the link.

See You at PASS Summit 2013
Next year, PASS Summit’s incredible training and networking will head east to Charlotte, NC, October 15-18, to keep your SQL Server juices flowing. A discounted registration rate of $1,095 is available until January 4, and alumni can use the special ALUMNI3D code to get an additional $100 off that registration rate. Register now, enjoy the savings, and we’ll see you in Charlotte!

Join in “SQL Around the World” at the Community Zone!

Attending PASS Summit 2012? Want a chance to win a Microsoft Surface? Make sure you come by the Community Zone Wednesday and pick up your official “SQL Around the World” game card. If you’re wondering what the Community Zone is, you can read a couple of blog posts: one here by PASS Community Evangelist Niko Neugebauer and the other here by Jason Brimhall.

In a nutshell, the Community Zone is a place for Summit attendees who want to stay involved in the SQL Server community year-round. Come talk with PASS Community Evangelists, user group leaders, SQLSaturday organizers, and other SQL Server community groups about how you can participate.

During Summit, a variety of daily activities will be going on at the Community Zone, but the one you won’t want to miss is the “SQL Around the World” networking game. We hear about a first-time attendee to Summit who didn’t talk with anyone, or that those who know each other all just hang out in the same groups, making it tough for someone new to feel like they can join in. To help break through some of those barriers, we’ve come up with “SQL Around the World.”

Here’s how to play: 

  1. First, come by the Community Zone and get your official game card. You’ll want to do this early Wednesday so that you have as much time as possible to get your card filled out before the drawing on Friday. 
  2. Then, start finding other attendees who do not live in your home country. You must meet with at least 10 to fill in the 10 spots available on the card. Each person you list must be from a different country than the others on your card, so no two attendees from the same country can be listed on your card. There are 57 countries and over 4,000 attendees represented at Summit this year, so finding people from 10 different countries should be easy. 
  3. But not so fast. Because this is about networking, we want to be sure you are engaging in a conversation with the people you meet. So you must also list on your card an interesting fact about that person or their country. 
  4. By Friday at 11:00am, drop off your “SQL Around the World” game card at the Community Zone. Everyone who meets 10 individuals and fills up their game card will be in the drawing for a chance to win either a Microsoft Surface tablet or a $250 American Express gift card. The drawing will be held in the Exhibitor’s Hall at approximately 11:15am, and you must be present to win.
  5. As part of a spin-off of the above, we have another contest that involves pictures. Those who snap the most photos of themselves with the 10 attendees they’ve met will be entered in a second drawing, and will win whatever the first winner doesn’t select (the Surface or the Amex Gift Card). 

Sound hard? Or feel you can’t possibly randomly walk up to someone you don’t know and talk to them? We can help with that, too. On the back of the game card, we’ve provided some talking points and tips on what you can say to start a conversation with a fellow attendee. No matter where we’re from, everyone here at Summit shares a common language: SQL Server! That alone should make it easier for you to start chatting with someone. So be sure to stop by the Community Zone, get your card, and start networking. Even if you don’t win a grand prize, you’ll be a winner because of the connections you make this week!

SQLSaturdays #171 and #174: North by Southeast

October featured seven SQLSaturdays, all US-based and three of which were first time cities: Pittsburgh, Lincoln, and Nashua (which was also the first SQLSaturday for New Hampshire). A big treat for those of us in the Southeast were the long- awaited returns of Nashville and Charlotte, which hadn’t seen a SQLSaturday in over 2 years.

For my travel this month, I decided to go one of the first-time cities, Pittsburgh, and one of the Southeast options, Charlotte. I chose Pittsburgh because I haven’t been able to make any of the other Northeastern events this year, and it was led by first-time event organizers Gina Walters and Madhu Kudaravalli. Nashua, even though a first-time host city, was being led by Mike Walsh and Jack Corbett, two seasoned SQLSaturday organizers.

I’m a huge fan of Nashville, but again, that event was being organized by a team with lots of SQLSaturday experience: Joe Webb, Kevin Kline, Lou Davidson, and Christina Leo. That brings us to Charlotte, and its new BI Edition SQLSaturday led by another team of first-time organizers. Rafael Salas, Melissa Coates, Javier Guillen, and Jason Thomas all had been working on this SQLSaturday since the beginning of July. The idea for the Charlotte BI-only SQLSaturday came in May when Rafael began investigating starting a new PASS BI Chapter in Charlotte. After discussing the potential, we decided that first hosting a BI SQLSaturday would let the team see if there was enough interest in the area to spin off a BI-specific user group from the current strong Charlotte SQL Server User Group, led by Peter Shire.

First up: Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh SQLSaturday had a unique venue for its speaker dinner: a restaurant inside a casino. What really made this casino stand out was the tribute to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month - the entire building was surrounded by intricately woven bras of all shapes, colors, and sizes. It was a work of art indeed! Another bonus was the beautiful evening lights over the Ohio River right outside the restaurant’s patio. 

For the event itself, LaRoche College provided a nice, clean venue with a large area for the opening keynote and comments. All the sponsors were along the sides of this large space, and the team did a good job of making sure attendees funneled directly to the sponsors after they checked in. As much as these spaces are great for gathering the entire audience in one place, it’s often challenging to keep attendees coming back, except during longer breaks such as lunch, because sessions are typically outside of these areas. Overall, everything went smoothly for this new event team - which even had a record of just four attendees out of their first 100 check-ins to not pre-print their SpeedPASS. Nice!

On to Charlotte. With registrations growing rapidly throughout the summer for this event, it became obvious that BI has huge interest in Charlotte. In late August, we decided to move forward with creating the new BI PASS Chapter, fondly name CBIG, and announce the official January 2013 kick-off meeting during the SQLSaturday.

As I worked with the Charlotte BI team leading up to their event, I was impressed with their organization, the great questions they asked along the way, and the creative ideas they had on making their SQLSaturday extra special. The CBIG team added a Microsoft SQLClinic at the event and did a good job of keeping attendees informed, especially the week before the event. The venue, Central Piedmont Community College, was very nice and ideal for this type of event. Sponsors were set up in the main hallway, where everyone had to constantly walk through them. My only recommendation for next time would be to either have a microphone during the opening announcements or stand on the second floor and talk down to the attendees, which has worked well for carrying voices over the crowd at several other SQLSaturdays.

I collected around 30 names of people interested in Peter’s chapter, and CBIG incorporated a few questions in their event survey to ask what topics people would like to see at their meetings. The survey offered an option for attendees to opt in for the new user group’s mailing list, and the team used the surveys for the SQLSaturday’s raffle giveaway.

As I shared details about the two Charlotte user groups throughout the day with attendees, it was clear that the area’s technical community is as thriving as it has ever been. And, boy, you should have seen their faces when I told them that next year’s PASS Summit was going to be in their own city!