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Category: PASS General

PASS Leadership Policy

At the October Board meeting held on site during PASS Summit 2015, the Board voted unanimously to approve the PASS Volunteer Leadership Policy. This policy is designed to develop and encourage new leaders within the PASS community. It aims to help community volunteers develop their leadership skills and transition into new leadership roles while opening up new leadership opportunities for emerging leaders. It also ensures that all leaders are adequately supported through the transition process.

We all know what can happen when we wear too many hats. As well as developing new leaders, the policy provides guidelines to ensure that current and future leaders are able to fully commit to the requirements of their roles. For example, the policy details that due to the extensive time commitment required, PASS Board Members must maintain that single leadership role for the duration of their terms. It also provides opportunities for natural transitions and ensures opportunities for all PASS community members.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of PASS, and this policy forms part of the Board’s recognition of this, providing guidance on all PASS leadership levels. The policy was reviewed by both community and Board members and comments were incorporated before Board approval. I encourage anybody in a leadership role, or anyone who is interested in taking up a leadership role with PASS to read the policy and reach out to any of our Board Members for information.

Wendy Pastrick
Director, PASS Virtual Chapters

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The Importance of Reporting Harassment Incidents

There are times in our lives when we are faced with decisions that we only really better understand after the fact.

An occurrence at one of the non-PASS sponsored evening parties during PASS Summit this year brought this into very clear focus for me. I arrived at a venue with some friends, and even though it was crowded, I saw some unknown, friendly, smiling faces and decided to go over and say a quick "hello". Within minutes, there was the first unwanted, uninvited groping. I thought to myself "ew, gross!" and moved away with a scowl in his direction. It was a crowded party and I remember thinking, maybe, just maybe, that didn't really just happen. It was when it happened again from a second guy in the same group a few moments later there was no denying that yes, it really WAS happening.

It's what transpired next, though that has come to upset me in the days afterward. Immediately after the incident, I sought out a trusted friend at the party and after telling him what had happened, he offered to do something. I declined, telling him I was fine.

What is it that keeps women from calling out unwarranted behaviors such as this? Embarrassment? Pride? Worry that somehow "I asked for it?" Here is the real kicker, though. Because I failed to react, to engage others, to call out this behavior – I missed an opportunity to have it addressed. That, my friends, is my biggest regret.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that sometimes women are subjected to inappropriate behaviors from others. My hope is that by speaking out now, if you or someone you know finds this situation happening, you recognize it and act immediately to bring it to somebody’s attention. Tell a friend. Point out the perpetrators. Tell the venue management, organizer, or vendor. Definitely don't ignore it.

PASS has an Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP) in place. I sometimes hear jokes about the AHP. While it might be amusing to poke fun at it and think its only purpose is to keep you from telling me a dirty joke, that's not actually why it's there. It's for situations like this. While I did not make a report at the time, I corrected that and have filed an official report. If you have any concerns or an incident within the guidelines of the AHP, I encourage you to contact

Wendy Pastrick
PASS Board of Directors, Virtual Chapter


PASS Anti-Harassment Policy Reminder

It is unfortunate that I have to write this letter, but it has become necessary.

An Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP) was implemented in 2012 to help provide a harassment-free conference experience. Everyone attending PASS Summit is expected to follow the AHP at all times, including at PASS-sponsored social events. This includes, but is not limited to, PASS staff, exhibitors, speakers, attendees, and anyone affiliated with the event.

This year at PASS Summit I served on the Anti-Harassment Review Committee. As such, it was my responsibility to help review complaints and incidents reported during Summit. The PASS Summit experience should be enjoyable, exciting, and safe for everyone at all times. However, I am disappointed to say that PASS Summit was a negative experience for a few members of our #SQLFamily this year.

I expect Summit attendees and PASS members to treat others with respect at all times, whether that is inside a session room, the conference hallway, a PASS sponsored event, or even at a local coffee shop.

On a positive note, there were people actively using the policy this year and supporting one another onsite as well. I am proud to see that our community has embraced having this policy. It is wonderful to know that our #SQLFamily will not put up with these types of incidents.

If you have concerns or want to report an incident within the guidelines of the AHP, I encourage you to contact

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

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PASS Summit 2015: Women in Technology Luncheon

November 3, 2015 — On Day Two of PASS Summit, we welcomed Angie Chang, VP of Strategic Partnerships at Hackbright Academy, as keynote speaker of the 13th annual PASS Summit Women in Technology (WiT) luncheon. PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney sat down with Angie in front of hundreds of luncheon attendees to discuss Hackbright and its role in training women and promoting gender diversity in technology.

Hackbright Academy is a Bay Area engineering school for women; its mission, to “increase female representation in tech through education, mentorship, and community.” With hundreds of its alumni successfully entering engineering jobs, Hackbright boasts more female graduates per year than Stanford and UC Berkeley. The school’s rate of job placement is impressive, as are the companies with which its students find employment—among them, Uber, Eventbrite, Pinterest, Facebook, Dropbox, and SurveyMonkey. Hackbright graduates are well trained not just to enter the engineering field, but to lead it—several have gone from nascent coders to managerial engineering positions within the span of just a few years.

Angie, whose first involvement with tech was making websites in high school, went on to engineering and technical positions with UC Berkeley, Hightail (formerly YouSendIt), Azureus, SquareTrade and more before co-founding Women 2.0, a media brand that aims to connect, inspire, and educate the next generation of technology leaders. Angie joined Hackbright after spending more than 7 years as Women 2.0’s Editor-in-Chief. She is also founder of the Bay Area incarnation of Girl Geek Dinners, which offers education and networking for women in technology fields.

Denise spoke with Angie about Hackbright’s purpose, the necessity of offering coding education to women of all ages, and the benefits for companies who hire women engineers who are coming to coding from past careers in a variety of other fields.

“Our students come from a wide array of backgrounds, running the gamut from former teachers to lawyers to cancer researchers,” said Angie. These women join the school for its full-time 12-week accelerated software engineering fellowship or its part-time courses, such as Intro to Programming.

Angie noted several important aspects that make Hackbright particularly successful:

· Mentoring of students by women in the industry

· Graduates who return to reinvest in the community

· An encouraging, energetic environment

· Training and career services that goes beyond coding to interviewing, management, and more

Graduating students create final projects, which range from visual, interactive reporting dashboards that help educators turn standardized test results into better instruction to an app that delivers safer walking routes to pedestrians, based on rasterized crime data sets.

Opening questions to the audience, the discussion covered many of the issues that face both women in tech as well as companies searching to diversify their workforces:

· The benefits of networking with fellow women in tech

· The best ways for parents to encourage their young daughters to get excited about coding and data

· How to create a workplace that welcomes gender diversity and inclusion

· The myth of the “pipeline problem”

“It’s important that we let younger women and girls know that it’s okay to fail, stub your knee, break things,” said Angie. “That’s how we learn and something that’s important in this field.”

She also noted that gender diversity offers benefits for hiring organizations as well as the women who work for them. Diverse teams have better results and provide a more realistic reflection of consumers and the way they think.

When asked about her thoughts on the “pipeline problem”—an oft-heard response of companies that claim their teams lack diversity because of a lack of qualified diverse candidates—Angie noted Laura Weidman’s theory that the problem with the pipeline isn’t that it’s narrow, but that it’s leaky, with too many women missing a successful transition from education to employment. For this reason, Hackbright focuses on this period, giving graduates the opportunity to participate in Career Day, which includes partner company introductions, speed interviews, lunch, and optional networking. And many graduates return to teach, mentor, or even recruit new classes of Hackbright students.

The full interview can be viewed on PASStv.

Wendy Pastrick,
VC Director

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Pass Summit 2015, Day Two Keynote: Data Professionals and the Internet of Things

November 3, 2015 - PASS Summit 2015 Day Two launched Thursday with a Keynote by Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab’s Technical Fellow, Dr. David DeWitt and Principal Software Engineer, Dr. Rimma Nehme.

The keynote opened with Executive Vice President Adam Jorgensen, providing a PASS financial update and sharing his excitement on our growth and where PASS is headed. Next, Vice President, Marketing Denise McInerney thanked the many PASS volunteers that make events like PASS Summit possible. Denise also recognized outgoing Immediate Past President, Bill Graziano, for his extensive service and support to our community and presented the PASSion Award to this year’s winner, Lance Harra.

Afterward, Dr. Nehme took the stage, immediately beginning to build on her previous PASS Summit keynotes. This year’s topic was Data Management for Internet of Things (IoT), and Dr. Nehme, along with co-presenter Dr. DeWitt, gave us a broad rundown of IoT basics, the state of today’s IoT, what the future will hold, and where and how SQL Server fits. With a leap from 500 million Internet-connected devices in 2003 to a projected 50 billion devices by 2020, IoT solutions offer a wealth of potential but also face issues surrounding bandwidth, connectivity, data deluge, and storage constraints.

“We’re in the ‘Terrible Twos’ of IoT development,” Dr. Nehme told our audience. “As any parent knows, it’s a pretty hard age!”

Dr. Nehme then handed the stage to Dr. DeWitt, who asked the audience “Why should DBAs care about the IoT?” Dr. DeWitt noted that as the amount of data is growing exponentially, DBAs will face the decision to “become part of the steamroller or part of the road.”

Drs. Nehme and DeWitt—while careful to reiterate that the discussion is still very much in the early and even theoretical phases—discussed the role of technologies such as Azure Machine Learning and SQL Server in the development of IoT. Noting that “IoT is a database issue, not just a networking issue”, the speakers explained that an understanding of, and ability to work with, data and data technologies will be vital as we move toward IoT on a broad scale. Dr. DeWitt also emphasized the importance of security by noting that Azure IoT solutions provide per-device identities that are used to authenticate all device-to-cloud events, and that having devices pull cloud-to-device commands reduces the potential attack surface.

In closing, Drs. DeWitt and Nehme noted that after many years of delivering the PASS Summit keynote, this year will be their final joint appearance at the event as they look ahead to different endeavors. Words would never express my gratitude for all their work and dedication they provided to the PASS community through the years.

Thomas LaRock
PASS President

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PASS Summit 2015, Day One Keynote: The Future of SQL Server

October 29, 2015 — Yesterday marked the first full day of community sessions at PASS Summit 2015 in Seattle. After opening remarks by PASS President Thomas LaRock, Joseph Sirosh (Corporate Vice President, Data Group) and Shawn Bice (General Manager, Database Systems Group) of Microsoft led the audience through an hour of insight into SQL Server 2016.

Joseph pointed us toward the future of the Microsoft data platform. Starting with more widely adopted Internet use in the 90s, we've seen a massive uptick in the amount of collected data in the cloud and through mobile device outlets; at the same time, analog data is all but gone. According to keynote projections, Microsoft expects that by 2025, cloud-based data will eclipse all other data sources by more than a 2:1 ratio, with almost all data residing on either mobile devices or cloud platform repositories. Microsoft continues to position itself to be the leading solution for this new data-driven culture.

After laying the groundwork for what the future holds, Shawn and Joseph took us on a tour of SQL Server 2016 and its built-in features:

    • Always Encrypted technologies will encrypt data at rest, on the fly, and in the buffer pool to help eliminate threats of intrusion at all levels, including the elusive man-in-the-middle threat of polling the buffer pool.
    • Inclusion of R language native to the SQL Server product will enable low- or no-impact analytics directly against OLTP environments in what Microsoft is calling "Real Time Operational Analytics." This feature enables you to make decisions rapidly, at your pace rather than waiting for scheduled ETL processes to load to a separate data warehouse—resulting in potential time and storage-cost savings. R is to data science what SQL is to data management, so it’s a natural match for data professions and a welcome addition to the Microsoft data platform.
    • A STRETCH DATABASE provides the ability—via a simple wizard—to stretch tables to the cloud, along with all DDL and security structures in place. This way, users can reach all data, regardless of whether it's "earthed" or hosted in Azure. This capability offers the potential for savings in all costs related to storage: hardware, utilities, and operational staffing, just to name a few.
    • SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is completely overhauled in SQL Server 2016. (This news elicited a great deal of applause from the crowd.) I'd expect Power BI-like features in the SSRS product suite to be part of this "overhaul."

The Microsoft data platform is leading the way in enhancements and providing a complete solution, as evidenced by the latest Gartner Magic Quadrant Ratings. Furthermore, SQL Server has been the leader in data security stability over the past six years.

2016 is going to be a great year for the Microsoft data platform—and a great time to be positioned as a Microsoft data professional. I am anticipating the continued roll-outs of SQL Server 2016 Community Technology Previews and can only imagine what we’ll have to look forward to in the Microsoft product keynote at next year’s PASS Summit.

Tim Ford
Director, PASS SQLSaturday | PASS Headquarters

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The PASS Summit Backpack

October 26, 2015 — I would like to address questions we’ve received at PASS Summit 2015 regarding the decision not to provide backpacks to attendees this year. Every year, when the Board looks at the annual fiscal budget, difficult choices are made in balancing portfolio budgets and priorities. This year, one of these difficult choices was to remove $160,000 for backpack purchases. By removing this expense from the PASS Summit budget, we were able to fully fund community portfolios.

The Board made this decision knowing that the feedback we’d received on the backpacks from past PASS Summit attendees indicated that many people didn’t want the backpack. As PASS looks to expand its community-centric growth, it was decided that this money was better invested back into the community. This year’s attendee gift is an eco-friendly bag that celebrates our community with photos of former PASS Summit attendees.

We understand this might be disappointing for some attendees and welcome your feedback, either directly with one of our team or in the conference survey.

Denise McInerney
PASS VP, Marketing


PASS Summit 2015: Board Portfolio Announcements

October 26, 2015 — PASS Summit 2015 kicked off Monday in Seattle, with Pre-Conference sessions and the PASS Board of Directors meeting. We have plenty of exciting news to share!

As part of the meeting, I announced the new portfolio appointments for the Directors at Large. In addition to appointments for existing portfolios, a new combined portfolio was announced: Membership, starting January 2016. The objective of this portfolio is to gain better understanding and insight into our membership, identify improvements for the community, and explore opportunities to introduce new technology platform services to our members.

Look for more information about this portfolio—and how you can help us make PASS membership even better—in the coming months.

The 2016 PASS Directors at Large for 2016 are as follows:
· Jen Stirrup—Business Analytics Community
· Tim Ford—Membership
· Ryan Adams—Programs
· Grant Fritchey—SQLSaturday
· Wendy Pastrick—Virtual Chapters

The Chapters portfolio leadership will be filled by the Board member who will be appointed to the upcoming vacant seat in January 2016. Until then, Grant Fritchey will continue to provide support for Chapters will oversee the portfolio’s transition to the newly appointed Director at Large in January.

We’ll have more news from PASS Summit 2015 throughout the week, so stay tuned to the blog and follow #Summit15 on Twitter.

Adam Jorgensen
PASS EVP, Finance and Governance


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PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Melody Zacharias

October 14, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Melody Zacharias takes us inside her session “Distributed Replay: Testing with Your Data, Your Way!”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Melody: My favorite super-hero is not a classic hero but the Disney character Goofy. Goofy is good natured and down to earth; he treats everyone the same and never takes himself too seriously. I would like people to have the super-power of seeing into the future after my session. Distributed Replay helps you determine how changes to hardware, software, or index can affect how things run in your system. It allows you to see what will happen in your future production system.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Melody: I discovered the SQL language in university and it was as obvious to me as breathing. I have had a passion for it ever since, and wanting to share it with others has lead me to presenting and teaching. I was once told that you don’t really know something until you can teach it. Teaching encourages me to be a better professional and allows me to grow that passion in others.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Melody: I have to say that Distributed Replay is a great super-power within SQL Server 2012. It allows you to predict the future and determine how changes will make your system react.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Melody: The nemesis of data professionals is often forgetting the customer, whether that is your boss, CEO, or client. I think we sometimes forget that our job is to solve a problem or create a solution, not just to play with cool technical tools.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Melody: Anything new excites me. When someone finds a new way to solve an old problem or finds a more efficient way to solve it. New ideas are exiting, particularly when they are shared!

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Melody: After my session, I hope people will try set up Distributed Replay in their test environment and try it out to see all that it can do for them. The best part of being a data professional is the toys we get to play with, and this is a really fun one.

Find Melody on her blog at SQLMelody.blogspot.caor on Twitter @SQLMelody, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

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PASS Summit 2015 Speaker Q&A: Denny Cherry

October 14, 2015 — Go inside PASS Summit 2015 session in this Q&A series with our presenters. In this interview, Denny Cherry takes us inside his session “SQL Server Database Administration for the Non-DBA”.

Q: Who is your favorite super-hero, and which SQL Server or BI super-power do you hope your session will give attendees?

Denny: I’m hoping that people will come away with a basic understanding of database management.

Q: What’s your origin story? How did you become interested in working with data, and how did you take that initial interest to the expert level?

Denny: I started working with data and databases back when I was working at Eartlhink, in the Tech Support department. I ended up working on a reporting team and started working with data a lot. We started working in Microsoft Access and quickly outgrew Access as a data platform. We then moved all our systems into Microsoft SQL Server and ended up having the largest systems in the company.

Q: What’s your favorite data solution’s secret power—the biggest strength that most people don’t really know about or use to full advantage?

Denny: Normal use of nonclustered indexes is the feature that people aren’t taking full advantage of.

Q: What about data’s biggest kryptonite or nemesis--the biggest mistake you see data professionals make?

Denny: The biggest mistake that I see people make is not properly indexing their databases.

Q: What still excites you or trips you up in the real world when working with SQL Server or BI?

Denny: The thing that really excites me when working in IT is being able to show people the real power of SQL Server and how it can really perform even under very large workloads.

Q: What do you see as the next step after attending your session?

Denny: The next step after leaving “SQL Server Database Administration for the Non-DBA” is to make sure that backups are set up correctly on the SQL Server. Everything else that I talk about in the session can wait if needed. The backups are the biggest deal.

Find Denny online at, and check out our other Q&As with PASS Summit 2015 speakers.

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