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Community Spotlight: Discussing PASS Linux Content with OVA Winner Tracy Boggiano

Recent Outstanding Volunteer Award winner and long time PASS community member, Tracy Boggiano, recognized the need to share Linux-based content with our community, as it becomes increasingly important in our evolving world of data. Tracy contacted the PASS HQ team to learn more about how she could help, and since then, she has collaborated with several PASS Virtual Groups to source speakers and was also the driving force behind last month’s highly successful PASS Marathon: Linux Edition. We asked Tracy to share some insight into her background, the importance of Linux, and how PASS members can learn more.

Tell us a little about your background and how you got involved with PASS.

I have been working as a SQL Server DBA for over fifteen years and for several years before that, I worked in software development on a stack with a SQL Server backend. My current role at ChannelAdvisor is that of “Database Superhero.” Although the role is challenging, both the company and my boss are enlightened enough to facilitate me giving back to the SQL community through presenting at PASS SQLSaturdays and through other avenues. I spoke at my first SQLSaturday in 2015 and in 2017 presented at 18 SQLSaturday events throughout the US. I recently co-launched a Special Interest Group for the Triangle SQL User Group specializing in Advanced DBA topics. We focus on having well-known community speakers delivering 300 level and above presentations of interest to DBAs. It meets monthly and has speakers booked for the majority of 2018 already. We maintain a commitment to having half of all the group's presenters be female, as our way of contributing to Women in Technology (WIT), which is something I am deeply passionate about. 

Why do you feel Linux content is important for the PASS Community?

It is important for database administrators to maintain competency outside of just basic SQL Server features for their skillsets to remain relevant, probably now more than ever. Most DBAs are expected to have knowledge outside of basic database administration and development. DBAs may be called upon to have knowledge of server administration, virtualization, storage administration, active directory, Windows clustering and so forth. I believe basic Linux administration skills and knowledge of the features and limitations of SQL Server on Linux product will rapidly become essential knowledge for senior and mid-level SQL Server DBAs. I attended the first ever SQLCAT customer engagement lab for SQL on Linux and have seen first hand how committed Microsoft is to making SQL Server on Linux a success. A lot of people were skeptical of Microsoft’s commitment to an “Azure first” development policy when it was first announced, but very few doubt that commitment now. I believe SQL on Linux will follow a similar arc. Interest in running SQL in containers is enormous in the community but running containerized SQL is only supported by Microsoft for SQL on Linux. If for nothing else, this reason alone justifies getting Linux content out to the PASS community. We might not be quite one hundred percent there yet but the day of production SQL Server in containers being a common stack is rapidly approaching. Many Systems Administrators prefer managing Linux servers to Windows servers for a variety of reasons (the number of Linux servers deployed globally vastly outranks that of Windows servers). I believe SQL on Linux will be a success and the number of high profile SQL Community members who are interested in this area such as Denny Cherry, Joey D’Antoni, Argenis Fernandez, Anthony Nocentino, Kellyn Pot-Vin Gorman, Allan Hirt, David Klee and far too many more to list attests greatly to this in my opinion. Many DBAs strongly resisted virtualization and shared storage, but expectations of knowledge in both areas are basically the norm for DBAs now. I feel SQL on Linux will go the same way, so as a DBA I feel it is always better to get ahead of trends and have the ability to shape them rather than chase them.

What type of content topics do you want to have covered in upcoming webinars?

As an advocate for bringing Linux content to various PASS Virtual Groups I concentrate on topics that will assist the life of DBAs on a day-to-day basis - such as monitoring, basic Linux system administration skills, SQL Server configuration settings (especially when they vary from best practices for SQL on Windows), Linux OS tuning, high availability (which will probably be one of the most challenging aspects for SQL Server DBAs), security (particularly active directory integration) and of course running SQL in containers!

Tell us more about how you became so involved with sharing Linux content through PASS, and how you became involved with the PASS Marathon: Linux Edition.

I mentioned earlier my involvement with the first ever SQL on Linux focused SQLCAT customer engagement lab and my employer has been involved with SQL on Linux through the Microsoft Early Adopter Program (EAP) basically since its inception. I had an interest in spreading this knowledge to the wider community and popular as the Triangle PASS SQL User Group is, nothing matches the reach of the PASS Virtual Groups. I started working with PASS on getting more Linux focused content into various Virtual Groups in August. I have always enjoyed the 24 hours of PASS virtual event and felt it would be exciting to do something similar for a Linux focused event. We decided to target such an event in December. With the topic being so new, the concern was finding the right speakers. I want to give a special shout-out to Microsoft, particularly Mike Weiner, Denzil Ribeiro and Mihaela Blendea who were very supportive of the project and provided assistance in either speaking or finding speakers. The fact I had spoken at so many recenet PASS SQLSaturdays was of great assistance also. I had many opportunities to talk to interested speakers face-to-face, which was super helpful. It’s very easy to become cynical, probably more now than ever, but it constantly blows my mind just how far people within the SQL community will go to help each other out. This event could not have happened without the support of PASS and #SQLFamily.

Anything else you would like to add?

I truly hope everybody who attended the event enjoyed it and that it achieved its primary goal of getting SQL DBAs more interested in and hopefully excited about working with the Linux OS and the SQL on Linux product (big hint: patching is going to be a lot easier!). For anyone who either missed this event, you can view the session recordings through the PASS Learning Center, using the “Linux” tag, or any of the excellent SQL on Linux town hall series Microsoft has been running.

 
For upcoming Linux-based webinars, please visit the PASS Virtual Group page and try out the new tagging feature!

Questions? Reach out to the PASS Community Team at communityteam@pass.org.

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