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Last Chance to Save $600 on PASS Summit

A quick reminder that tomorrow is the last day to save $600 on PASS Summit 2011, the SQL Server event of the year, Oct. 11-14 in Seattle, WA. In the whirlwind of organizing all the conference details and getting the word out, it’s easy to forget exactly what PASS Summit is. Yes, it’s the largest SQL Server and BI conference in the world. But more than that, it’s your conference – planned and presented by the SQL Server community for the SQL Server community.

Volunteers (this year with the help of community session preference voting) select the sessions and speakers. Except for the pre-conference seminars, speakers share their knowledge and experience in exchange for a complimentary Summit registration. Community members are the driving force behind Summit’s special events, including the Welcome Reception Quiz Bowl, the annual Women in Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion, SQL Kilt Day, the Photowalk, SQL Karaoke, and much more.

PASS Summit continues to grow in attendance and quality thanks to community members like you, who are passionate about the PASS mission – Connect, Share, Learn. And your registration fee stays in the SQL Server community, supporting a myriad of local, regional, and international programs and events that bring database professionals together around the world.

Whether you’re a seasoned PASS Summit veteran or thinking about attending for the first time, we encourage you to take advantage of this low rate before the price goes up July 1. See you in Seattle!

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Growing Our Next Generation of Leaders

As I think about where we stand as a profession and as an organization I think we’re at a place where our various events are doing a great job of growing technical thought leaders. We’ve had an explosion in the number of active speakers in the last few years, and it’s having a real impact on our members. I believe that trend will continue and will have a tremendous impact on our profession over the next five to ten years.

As I think about growing leaders I don’t think we’re doing as good a job, and that is natural. We’ve been doing the nuts and bolts work of reaching our members and giving them reasons to meet and collaborate, the next step is to formalize and deepen our efforts to deliberately grow leaders. It’s not that we don’t have leaders, we do. More than 200 leaders head up PASS chapters, 30 or so leaders drive a SQLSaturday each year, and we have a dozen or so leaders on the Board of Directors. They all put in of effort and together make all the good stuff happen.

I don’t think that’s enough leaders for our profession or even for PASS, and I don’t think we’re doing nearly enough to train them, to find the next generation, or  to build a system that makes becoming a leader as cool as being a speaker.
So what do we need to do? I’ve got a few ideas:

•    Set term limits for chapter leaders, make sure that the next generation of leaders has a chance to get in the game
•    Move chapter leaders up to lead committees that report to the Board
•    Provide training for those that want to become leaders before they move up.

Leadership goes far beyond just positions with PASS. We can and should be growing our members to move up to lead roles within their organizations. Start thinking about what we can do to build an eco-system of leads as rich as the one we have for speakers and send us your ideas.


2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Adam Machanic

Today's post is from Adam Machanic who will be presenting "No More Guessing! An Enlightened Approach to Performance Troubleshooting" - you can find more about his session here:

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?

  Countless times I have seen people grinding away when faced with a performance problem, not making any real progress on fixing it. The first step is often rebuilding indexes ("it must be fragmentation!"). Next they'll try various query rewrites ("is it a bad plan?"). And maybe the process will continue as they restart the SQL Server instance ("is it a memory leak?"). In many cases the problem is still not solved after all of this effort. The DBA or developer has wasted the better part of a day, is frustrated, and is convinced that SQL Server just can't handle the workload.

   My session is designed to teach attendees that it doesn't have to be this way. SQL Server gives us plenty of access to all of the information we need to diagnose the actual root cause of most performance problems. You just need to know where to look. And the best part is that once you understand the problem, the solution is usually natural and obvious. I am of the opinion that there is no reason to struggle with performance, nor to end a tuning process feeling disappointed or annoyed. I look forward to helping attendees move beyond these pain points so that they can use their valuable time to do more interesting and satisfying work.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?

  My seminar teaches a methodology that leverages a number of tools within SQL Server to easily identify the cause of performance problems. Attendees will be able to go back to the office and immediately start looking at issues from a new and refreshed point of view. This translates into much quicker turnaround time when there is an issue and, in many cases, the ability to leverage proactive diagnosis to help stop problems before they fully manifest themselves. This seminar is not theoretical in nature; the entire day is focused on real-world techniques and the session materials include a number of scripts that attendees will be able to immediately use in their own environments.
What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?

  I will assume that attendees have at least some working experience as a SQL Server DBA or database developer. Performance monitoring is a topic that spans a huge part of the surface area of the product, and a number of components will be discussed over the course of the day. I won't have time to explain basics (e.g. the different types of indexes that can be created in SQL Server), and the ideal candidate should be comfortable with core topics. The more attendees know about the various components of SQL Server and how they interact, the easier it will be to understand and take advantage of the techniques that will be taught in the seminar.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?

  I have several years of experience working as a performance consultant, specializing in finding and fixing the some of the most difficult problems that my customers faced. My customers have ranged from startups with the server sitting on the floor under the CTO's desk to enterprises with hundreds of production SQL Server instances. I have learned how to deal with a large number of different performance problems in the various environments, and more importantly I have learned to understand the patterns of when and why problems arise. This session will teach attendees the best of the techniques that I have learned--and successfully used--over the course of my career.



2011 PASS Summit Pre-Con Preview - Itzik Ben-Gan

Today's post is from Itzik Ben Gan who will be presenting Advanced T-SQL for SQL Server 2008 and Denali - you can find more about his session here: .

Is there an audience that would benefit especially from this session?

SQL Server developers and DBAs.  Essentially anyone who needs to write or review T-SQL code and cares about its efficiency and performance.

After having attended your seminar, what are two or three things that an attendee will be able to take back to the office and put to use right away?

The will be able to improve their existing T-SQL solutions in SQL Server 2008 as well as learn what's new in SQL Server Denali.

What background should attendees ideally have to be fully prepared for your seminar?

At least one year of experience writing T-SQL code.

What experience are you, as a speaker, bringing to this session?

T-SQL is my native tongue; I live and breathe it all the time.  I have over a decade of experience training people with advanced T-SQL topics, and training is my passion.


PASS: Election Changes for 2011

Last year after the election, the PASS Board created an Election Review Committee.  This group was charged with reviewing our election procedures and making suggestions to improve the process.  You can read about the formation of the group and review some of the intermediate work on the site – especially in the forums.

I was one of the members of the group along with Joe Webb (Chair), Lori Edwards, Brian Kelley, Wendy Pastrick, Andy Warren and Allen White.  This group worked from October to April on our election process.  Along the way we:

  • Interviewed interested parties including former NomCom members, Board candidates and anyone else that came forward.
  • Held a session at the Summit to allow interested parties to discuss the issues
  • Had numerous conference calls and worked through the various topics

I can’t thank these people enough for the work they did.  They invested a tremendous number of hours thinking, talking and writing about our elections.  I’m proud to say I was a member of this group and thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone (even if I did finally get tired of all the calls.)

The ERC delivered their recommendations to the PASS Board prior to our May Board meeting.  We reviewed those and made a few modifications.  I took their recommendations and rewrote them as procedures while incorporating those changes.  Their original recommendations as well as our final document are posted at the ERC documents page.  Please take a second and read them BEFORE we start the elections.  If you have any questions please post them in the forums on the ERC site.

(My final document includes a change log at the end that I decided to leave in.  If you want to know which areas to pay special attention to that’s a good start.)

Many of those recommendations were already posted in the forums or in the blogs of individual ERC members.  Hopefully nothing in the ERC document is too surprising.

In this post I’m going to walk through some of the key changes and talk about what I remember from both ERC and Board discussions.  I’ll pay a little extra attention to things the Board changed from the ERC.  I’d also encourage any of the Board or ERC members to blog their thoughts on this.

  1. The Nominating Committee will continue to exist.  Personally, I was curious to see what the non-Board ERC members would think about the NomCom.  There was broad agreement that a group to vet candidates had value to the organization.
  2. The NomCom will be composed of five members.  Two will be Board members and three will be from the membership at large.  The only requirement for the three community members is that you’ve volunteered in some way (and volunteering is defined very broadly).  We expect potential at-large NomCom members to participate in a forum on the PASS site to answer questions from the other PASS members.
  3. We’re going to hold an election to determine the three community members.  It will be closer to voting for Summit sessions than voting for Board members.  That means there won’t be multiple dedicated emails.  If you’re at all paying attention it will be easy to participate.  Personally I wanted it easy for those that cared to participate but not overwhelm those that didn’t care.  I think this strikes a good balance.
  4. There’s also a clause that in order to be considered a winner in this NomCom election, you must receive 10 votes.  This is something I suggested.  I have no idea how popular the NomCom election is going to be.  I just wanted a fallback that if no one participated and some random person got in with one or two votes.  Any open slots will be filled by the NomCom chair (usually the PASS Immediate Past President).  My assumption is that they would probably take the next highest vote getters unless they were throwing flames in the forums or clearly unqualified.  As a final check, the Board still approves the final NomCom.
  5. The NomCom is going to rank candidates instead of rating them.  This has interesting implications.  This was championed by another ERC member and I’m hoping they write something about it.  This will really force the NomCom to make decisions between candidates.  You can’t just rate everyone a 3 and be done with it.  It may also make candidates appear further apart than they actually are.  I’m looking forward talking with the NomCom after this election and getting their feedback on this.
  6. The PASS Board added an option to remove a candidate with a unanimous vote of the NomCom.  This was primarily put in place to handle people that lied on their application or had a criminal background or some other unusual situation and we figured it out.
  7. We list an explicit goal of three candidate per open slot.
  8. We also wanted an easy way to find the NomCom candidate rankings from the ballot.  Hopefully this will satisfy those that want a broad candidate pool and those that want the NomCom to identify the most qualified candidates.
  9. The primary spokesperson for the NomCom is the committee chair.  After the issues around the election last year we didn’t have a good communication plan in place.  We should have and that was a failure on the part of the Board.  If there is criticism of the election this year I hope that falls squarely on the Board.  The community members of the NomCom shouldn’t be fielding complaints over the election process.  That said, the NomCom is ranking candidates and we are forcing them to rank some lower than others.  I’m sure you’ll each find someone that you think should have been ranked differently. 

I also want to highlight one other change to the process that we started last year and isn’t included in these documents.  I think the candidate forums on the PASS site were tremendously helpful last year in helping people to find out more about candidates.  That gives our members a way to ask hard questions of the candidates and publicly see their answers.

This year we have two important groups to fill.  The first is the NomCom.  We need three people from our membership to step up and fill this role.  It won’t be easy.  You will have to make subjective rankings of your fellow community members.  Your actions will be important in deciding who the future leaders of PASS will be.  There’s a 50/50 chance that one of the people you interview will be the President of PASS someday.  This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.

The second is the slate of candidates.  If you’ve ever thought about running for the Board this is the year.  We’ve never had nine candidates on the ballot before.  Your chance of making it through the NomCom are higher than in any previous year.  Unfortunately the more of you that run, the more of you that will lose in the election.  And hopefully that competition will mean more community involvement and better Board members for PASS.

Is this the end of changes to the election process?  It isn’t.  Every year that I’ve been on the Board the election process has changed.  Some years there have been small changes and some years there have been large changes.  After this election we’ll look at how the process worked and decide what steps to take – just like we do every year.

-Bill Graziano


PASS SQLSaturday Round-Up

(This is Round 21 of PASS's round-up of SQLSaturday recaps. PASS community bloggers love their SQLSaturdays, and they love to tell everyone about their experiences, so who are we not to share that love?)

PASS SQLSaturday recently headed to sunny Pensacola for another great day of free SQL training at PASS SQLSaturday #77! The atmosphere was fun as presenters donned some cool shirts and mixed work with play. Check out the photos and see for yourself.

PASS SQLSaturday then headed west to Columbus, Ohio to PASS SQLSaturday #75 for a full day of awesome content, including a WIT luncheon on “Energizing the Next Generation.” The luncheon featured WIT panellists Sarah Barela (blog | twitter), Jen Myers (blog | twitter), Erin Stellato (blog | twitter)  and Jes Borland (blog | twitter). 

Columbus, Ohio

Pensacola, Florida

For those of you on Twitter, follow @sqlpass and make sure to check out the #sqlsat and #sqlsaturday hashtags to stay up to date. Besides attendance at free learning events, there are many speaking and sponsorship opportunities available.


+ Eric Wisdahl presented at SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Steve Jones attended SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Karla Landrum organized SQLSaturday #77, Pensacola

+ Colleen Morrow attended SQLSaturday #75, Columbus

+ Jes Borland presented at SQLSaturday #75, Columbus


Summer is heating up with PASS SQLSaturdays in Indianapolis, IL, Wheeling WV, Birmingham, AL and many more! 

June 25: SQLSaturday #82, Indianapolis, IL
July 23: SQLSaturday #80, Wheeling, WV
July 30: SQLSaturday #81, Birmingham, AL

Stay tuned for more events this summer and remember that PASS SQLSaturdays are added all the time!

Want to attend or speak at a SQLSaturday? Check out the SQLSaturday website or "Upcoming In-Person Events" on the PASS Home page for upcoming dates near you.
Want to put on your own SQLSaturday? Click here to get started.

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Announcing PASS Summit Regular and Half-Day Sessions

The all-volunteer PASS Summit Program Committee has had one of its most challenging years ever, working tirelessly over the past 6 weeks to select the best educational sessions for this year’s conference from an exceptional pool of 650+ abstracts.

Today, we’re proud to announce the PASS Summit 2011 regular sessions and 4 new half-day sessions, designed to give attendees a deeper look at everything from performance tuning and indexing to hardware configurations and scaling SQL Server. The sessions are spread across 6 tracks, include the new SQL Azure track.

The Program Committee’s daunting task involves choosing the best collection of session topics, types, levels, and speakers to meet every need and interest. This year, for the first time, the committee received direct input from the PASS community via the Session Preferencing tool, which let community members mark their favorite sessions. Thanks to everyone who shared their preferred sessions – your involvement helped make many of the difficult choices easier.

Another exciting addition to the Program process this year was awarding Summit session slots to the top 3 speakers at the Spring 24 Hours of PASS event and at PASS SQLRally 2011 in Orlando. We previously announced the top 24 Hours of PASS speakers, and I’m pleased to announce the top 3 SQLRally speakers, who will be presenting similar topics at the 2011 Summit:

Zero to OLAP Cubes in 60 Minutes, Adam Jorgensen
Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server , Wesley Brown
DBA Disaster Recovery Techniques to Keep Handy, Edwin Sarmiento 

I’d like to thank every speaker who took the time to submit an abstract as well as the team of dedicated Program Committee volunteers (listed along the left side of the page) who put in the extra work to make this year’s Summit session lineup one of the best ever. Proof once again that without the community, PASS wouldn’t exist.

Watch for the Microsoft sessions to be added a little later this summer. And if you haven’t registered for PASS Summit yet, don’t wait – you don’t want to miss this one.

PS: Remember to register by June 30 to save $600 on a Full Summit registration.


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PASS Board Elects New Officers

The PASS Board of Directors held its 2012 Officer Elections last week, electing the following Officers to 2-year terms that begin on January 1, 2012:

President: Bill Graziano
Executive Vice President, Finance: Douglas McDowell
Vice President, Marketing: Thomas LaRock

Congratulations to all three new Officers.

The new PASS bylaws placed into effect last year helped guide this new election process, allowing any PASS Board member to stand for the Executive Vice President and Vice President, Marketing roles. The role of President must be filled by a Board member who has previously served one term as a PASS Board Officer.

Read on for more about the new PASS Board 2012 Officers:

President: Bill Graziano

Bill Graziano currently serves as the PASS Executive Vice President and previously held the Vice President, Marketing role. With 20 years of database experience under his belt, Bill co-founded and has upheld his SQL Server MVP designation since 2004. Based in Kansas, Bill is a partner in scaleSQL Consulting, which specializes in SQL Server database administration and application development.

Executive Vice President: Douglas McDowell
Douglas McDowell is CEO, North America, for SolidQ. He is a SQL Server MVP and currently serves on the PASS Board of Directors. He is an author and contributing editor for SQL Server Magazine. Douglas holds an MBA, a Masters of Information Technology, and a degree in Culinary Arts. Douglas is a passionate speaker about the value of Business Intelligence.

Director: Thomas LaRock
Thomas LaRock is currently a Senior DBA for Confio Software. He holds a Masters degree in Mathematics and is a member of the Usability Professional’s Association. A seasoned IT professional, Thomas currently serves on the PASS Board of Directors and is a SQL Server MVP. Thomas can also be found blogging at and is the author of DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA.


Dallas Hosting PASS SQLRally 2012

Congratulations to Dallas and the North Texas SQL Server User Group, which will be hosting PASS SQLRally 2012 next spring! PASS HQ and NTSSUG are currently working to nail down the event venue and dates – watch this blog, Twitter (hashtag #sqlrally), and the PASS Connector enewsletter for the latest updates.

The 2-day regional SQLRally event, filling the gap between SQLSaturdays and the weeklong Summit, debuted this year in Orlando to great reviews and lessons to share for future conferences. Good luck to NTSSUG – and other PASS chapters pitching in to help – as they strive to take SQLRally to the next level!

You can read more about PASS SQLRally 2012 and the site selection process at:

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