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PASS Summit: Already Setting Records

June 24, 2014  Congratulations to all the community speakers selected for PASS Summit 2014, and thanks to everyone who submitted abstracts in a record-breaking year! We had the most Summit submissions ever, with 943 abstracts submitted for the 144 community session slots in this year's program.

On behalf of the Program Team, I want to share how much we appreciate the SQL Server community’s ever-growing support in helping build the biggest and best educational program for SQL Server and BI professionals.

Thank You, Program Committee Volunteers
I would like to thank all of this year’s 88 Summit Program Committee volunteers for their dedication and hard work in the session review, scoring, rating, and selection process. The team reviewed all the 943 abstracts submitted by 335 speakers from around the world.

I also want to give a special thank you to this year's Program Managers, Lance Harra and Melissa Coates, who led the Program Committee through all phases of the selection process and spent countless hours analyzing and constructing a well-balanced conference program. Finally, a huge thanks to Marcella McKeown and Emilija Dufresne at PASS HQ – invaluable members of the Program Team who support and help coordinate and execute all program-related functions.

Behind the Scenes: How Are Sessions Selected?
The program-selection process is constantly being fine-tuned and improved based on lessons learned and feedback from each event. We welcome and encourage feedback and look forward to continuing to enhance our processes for a fair and objective approach that ensures a well-balanced program. Here’s a high-level overview of how Summit sessions are selected:

    • Reviewing Abstracts, Speakers, PPTs: Program Committee volunteers are assigned to one of three teams:
      • Abstract Review – Abstract Review volunteers work in sub-teams that match the program’s educational tracks, with each team reviewing and ranking abstracts in its track. The abstract review teams do not know which speakers submitted which abstracts; this "blind rating" is done to remove any favoritism in the scoring process, creating an even playing field for both new and seasoned speakers.
      • Speaker Review – This team separately reviews speaker credentials, experience, and past attendee feedback to help select a slate of quality presenters.
      • PowerPoint Review – After sessions are selected for Summit, the PowerPoint Review teams take over, reviewing speakers’ presentations, including verifying completeness, ensuring that required slides are included, and doing final spelling/grammar checks.
    • Building the Program: When the Abstract and Speaker Review teams are finished, the program managers collect all the scores and ratings and analyze the top sessions from each track to fill the community session slots. Key factors in this analysis phase include:
      • Topic Balance – The goals are to ensure that sessions within each track are inclusive and representative of the track’s key topics and to avoid duplication.
      • Level Balance – We want to ensure a good mix of skill levels for beginners through experts.
      • Speaker Balance – We strive for a lineup that includes both established expert speakers and rising stars. To offer a good variety of speakers, we limit the number of general sessions to two per presenter.
    • Partnering with Microsoft: With the community sessions selected, our next step now is to open the Microsoft call for speakers, collaborating with Microsoft to make sure selected submissions complement the community sessions and create a cohesive overall Summit program. Watch for Microsoft sessions and the complete session schedule in early September.

New: Improved Filtering and Learning Paths

As part of our commitment to execute a robust and diverse educational program for Summit 2014, we are providing better attendee guidance through role- and skill-based learning tracks. This year, we are introducing Learning Paths, which are being rolled out as part of an improved session filtering and search feature.

Filter options include Track, Speaker, Level, Session Type, and the new Learning Paths, which let attendees further refine their search by leveraging nine cross-track topics:

    • Beginner
    • Big Data
    • Cloud
    • Hardware/Virtualization
    • High Availability/ Disaster Recover
    • Performance
    • Power BI
    • Security
    • SQL Server 2014

If an attendee is interested in sessions related to SQL Server running in a virtualized environment, for example, he/she can select the Hardware/Virtualization Learning Path. Additional Learning Path filters can be applied for an even more refined search.

Recognizing that Cloud/Azure-related topics cross various tracks and interests, this year we have incorporated Cloud sessions into the appropriate remaining tracks and have created new filtering and search options on the PASS Summit 2014 Sessions page. We hope the new filtering and search options will make it easier for all Summit attendees to locate sessions that are best suited to their interests and needs.

We have a phenomenal program this year, planned and presented by the SQL Server Community for the SQL Server Community. Help us spread the word, and don’t forget to register by June 27 to save $300 on your registration. See you in Seattle!
– Amy Lewis
PASS Director of Programs


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What's New with WIT

June 11, 2014 – Recently at SQLSaturday Silicon Valley, PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney shared what's new with Women in Technology (WIT), including the growing commitment of more organizations, academic institutions, and companies to engage women in technology roles, a topic PASS has been passionate about for over 10 years.

You can watch parts one, two, and three of the interview series with Denise.

Want to learn more? Log in to your myPASS account today and follow the prompts to join the PASS WIT Virtual Chapter.

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Announcing the 2014 PASS Nomination Committee

June 9, 2014 – A big thank you to everyone who made their voices heard in last week’s 2014 Nomination Committee (NomCom) elections. And congratulations to Erin Stellato, Andy Warren, and Allen Kinsel, the community representatives elected to join NomCom Chair Bill Graziano and Board-appointed representative Richard Bolesta on the committee to manage this year’s PASS Board of Directors election. 

A total of 539 voters cast 1,537 votes in the NomCom elections, featuring a slate of 11 incredible candidates. To be eligible to vote in this year’s NomCom and Board elections, PASS members needed to update their PASS profile by June 1. The IT and Marketing teams analyzed the voting list for any duplication before sending out the NomCom elections ballot link to 9,086 eligible PASS voters.

The NomCom elections also saw the successful debut of PASS’s new online voting system. The secure and easy-to-use web-services-based Simply Voting system doesn’t hold any PASS member email addresses or passwords.

The NomCom community seats reflect the three seats up for election on the PASS Board this year: one US/Canada seat and two open seats. The five-member NomCom will manage the Board elections process, qualifying, interviewing, and ranking potential candidates. A final slate will then be submitted to the Board for approval. In addition, this year’s NomCom is charged with streamlining the process for involving and evaluating candidates and with enhancing opportunities for community engagement in the elections. 

Applications will open August 6 for the three PASS Board seats up for election. To learn more about the 2014 NomCom election results and preview the upcoming Board of Directors elections, please see the Elections site. The discussion forums will be closed until the Board elections open, but if you have any questions or concerns, please contact PASS Governance

Congratulations again to Erin, Andy, and Allen. And a special thank you to all the candidates for their dedicated volunteer efforts on behalf of the PASS community and their enthusiastic and professional candidacies in this year’s NomCom elections.


SQL Server 2014: Hybrid Scenarios

June 9, 2014 – SQL Server 2014 makes it easier than ever to unlock new hybrid scenarios between your on-premises SQL Server instances and Microsoft Azure. Here are three key hybrid scenarios that you can easily deploy with SQL Server 2014 and Azure to help reduce operational costs while improving business continuity:

    • Quickly develop and test SQL Server applications. You can spin up a SQL Server 2014 image in minutes on Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) for your next SQL Server development and test project. And with full SQL Server compatibility and many VM sizes to choose from, you can easily deploy the application into production on Azure or back on-premises. The best part is that you pay only for what you use, so you can reduceyour capital-expenditure investment to set up a dev/test environment for SQL Server. You can also now easily connect to and manage your SQL Server VMs in Azure through SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).
    • Cost-effectively back up your on-premises SQL Server instances. SQL Server 2014 makes full SQL Server-level backup to Azure storage even easier with a new UI built directly into SSMS.  SQL Server 2014 also offers the ability to encrypt the backup, where you have the option to hold the encryption keys. In addition, a new complimentary backup tool lets you also back up previous versions of SQL Server to Azure.
    • Enable low RTO disaster recovery while improving BI reporting for your global offices. You can enable a low Recovery Time Objective (RTO) disaster recovery solution with SQL Server 2014 that not only improves business continuity but also gives you the ability to enhance business intelligence (BI) reporting for your global offices. The solution takes advantage of up to eight readable secondaries with the AlwaysOn feature in SQL Server 2014 and places them strategically across the many Azure global datacenters. You can use the readable secondaries to offload BI reporting or run backups, and they are much easier to deploy on-premises or on Azure with new the UI in SSMS.

These hybrid scenarios can benefit your on-premises SQL Server instances and help you innovate faster by providing flexible, cost-effective, and efficient ways of developing and testing new database applications. If you haven’t already, download the evaluation copy of SQL Server 2014 and try these new hybrid scenarios with Azure for yourself.  


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Global Representation in NomCom and Board Elections

June 4, 2014  Discussions around this year’s Nomination Committee (NomCom) elections have raised some questions about global representation on the NomCom. The three community seats on the five-member NomCom match the three seats up for election on the PASS Board of Directors. Here’s a quick summary of where we are in the process of increasing international representation and participation in PASS leadership via regional seats and how that relates to this year’s NomCom and Board elections.

Last year, the PASS Board approved bylaw changes that allowed the transition of its formerly all open seats to a mix of open seats and regionally-reserved seats, paving the way for more international perspectives and representation on the Board. The bylaw changes also set the NomCom to mirror the composition of Board seats up for election in any given year. The Board began this transition by adding two regional seats for the 2014/2015 term: one US/Canada seat (won by Tim Ford in the 2013 Board elections) and one EMEA seat (won by Jen Stirrup).

The bylaws call for a total of two regional seats representing the US/Canada, one each to be up for election annually, so this year defines that second US/Canada seat on the Board. Thus, for the 2014 NomCom and Board elections, community members are voting to fill one US/Canada regional seat and two open seats. Going forward, at least one US/Canada and one open seat will be up for election each year, with the EMEA regional seat up for election every other year. You can review the process for awarding PASS NomCom and Board seats here.

The Board has been diligently working on the next steps for adding other regional seats to promote greater global perspective and representation. We will be sharing this with the PASS community in the coming weeks. As the Board grows globally via regional seats so will the NomCom.

The transition to additional regional seats is an important process, but I want to remind dedicated volunteers and prospective candidates outside of US/Canada and EMEA that you don’t have to wait until a seat is added for your region. As always, candidates from any region are eligible to run for open seats on the PASS NomCom and Board of Directors, and we encourage you to do so.

Good luck to all our NomCom candidates during this week’s election and to all those thinking about running for the PASS Board later this year. Watch Friday afternoon for announcement of the full NomCom – including this year’s Board-appointed member – after the Board approves the final election results and appointee nomination. And please let us know if you have any questions.
– Bill Graziano
Immediate Past President/NomCom Chair



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