Brazil: Connecting a Vast Community

How do you connect a SQL Server community across the world’s fifth largest country? If you are the leaders of the PASS Brazil Virtual Chapter, you create an online spring of free information and interactivity that flows like the mighty Amazon.

The Brazil Virtual Chapter started from a quick talk at TechEd 2010 among the people who now serve as the VC’s Board of Directors. “We were all involved in local PASS Chapters, and we all faced the same situation,” explains VC leader Felipe Ferreira. “Brazil is so huge that we constantly have people from all over the country asking for content and events, but when we organize a local meeting, we usually get only 20 or 30 people in the room. So we wanted to bring people together through an online portal, where we could organize and store all session videos, webcasts, and event calendars. But more than that, we wanted to create a central repository of content in Portuguese, where we could aggregate all the articles that people write on their personal blogs.”

The group approached their PASS Regional Mentor, Alexandro Prado, who was excited about the idea and organized a meeting with all the PASS Chapters in the country. After some discussions and brainstorming about the model and more ideas for the project, the team created the BR Virtual Chapter. Almost all the local PASS Chapter leaders in the country sit on the VC’s Board of Directors, and in 2 years, it has more than 350 active members, 50 videos/webcasts on its portal, and of this writing, just posted its 1000th technical article.

The VC has over 40 authors writing content for its portal, with the latest posts also featured on the Brazilian SQL Server MSDN site. Authors simply write on their personal blogs and use a specific tag on articles they want pulled onto the VC site.

In addition, the VC hosts live webcasts the third Thursday of every month, covering SQL Server administration, development, and BI topics. All are recorded and uploaded immediately to the site. In May, featured speaker Thiago Iacopini, a Microsoft PFE, talked about SQL Server security. The next presentations are June 21 with Laerte Junior speaking on Troubleshooting SQL Server with PowerShell and July 19 with Microsoft PFE and Microsoft Certified Master Fabricio Catae. An average of 50 people attend the webcasts live, with typically 150 more watching the recorded versions, although the BI sessions are in even higher demand. One of the BI basics session recordings from Felipe is the most visited video so far with 795 views.

The VC’s leaders and volunteers are also active in their local user groups and in organizing other in-person events, such as SQLSaturday #100 - São Paulo 2011, the first SQLSaturday in Latin America.

“The SQL Server community here in Brazil is incredible,” Felipe notes. “People are very united and passionate about what they do, and they are always hungry for more information, which serves as a great motivator for us. We have a lot of people who are trying to start or improve their careers in the database world, and sometimes they feel a little lost and don’t know where to start, what to read, or what to learn. Thanks to the BR VC, they can find a lot of information, articles, and Microsoft certification exam preparation advice and keep in touch with their peers all over the country. We have people who joined the group as newcomers to SQL Server and today sit right beside the original members at the same level of knowledge – and both are now helping the new generation.”

In addition to Felipe and Regional Mentor Alexandro, other members of the BR VC Board are:

The VC is always looking for more volunteers, speakers, and ideas. If you are interested in writing for or helping with the VC portal or speaking to the group, see the contact information on the BR VC site.