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The official PASS Blog is where you’ll find the latest blog posts from PASS community members and the PASS Board. Contributors share their thoughts and discuss a wide variety of topics spanning PASS and the data community.

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From category archives: PASS Blog

Board Portfolios for the New Year

As 2012 draws to a close, I’m growing increasingly excited about the start of another year full of opportunities for PASS. With the Board of Directors elections completed and a new Board starting in 2013, it’s time to assign portfolios for the upcoming year. Next year sees the return of an old portfolio and the combining of some existing portfolios. It also brings us both returning Board members and new leaders.

Adam Jorgensen headed up the Summit Program portfolio this year and will return to that position next year, leading the team that selects the amazing educational sessions for the largest SQL Server and BI training and networking event in the world. The Program Committee just completed its work for Seattle and is gearing up for PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte.

Denise McInerney will return to the Virtual Chapters portfolio next year and will also handle 24 Hours of PASS. There are many similarities between these portfolios as well as cross-portfolio opportunities, so it makes sense to assign them to a single director.

Rob Farley
 will guide the SQLSaturday portfolio. These events are seeing tremendous growth throughout the world. With our continued focus on serving members around the globe, we expect these free events to reach and positively impact even more members in 2013.

James Rowland-Jones, elected to the Board after serving a 1-year appointment, will continue leading the Global Growth portfolio. We’ve made great strides in the past year getting feedback and laying the groundwork for better supporting the global community. Now it’s time to build on that work and put the next steps into action.

Wendy Pastrick will begin her term on the Board by leading our Chapters portfolio. PASS’s support of local Chapters through Regional Mentors, Community Evangelists, tools, best practices, and more has grown tremendously over the last few years, but there’s still much to do.

Sri Sridharan
, also newly elected to the Board, will guide the returning Volunteers portfolio. As we continue to grow PASS’s volunteer pool, it’s important to have a dedicated a team to coordinate volunteer activities across the organization. Although this portfolio has existed in the budget, it hasn’t had anyone assigned to it for several years. We are still defining exactly how the Volunteers portfolio will align with our other portfolios, but by the end of 2013, we expect to see more volunteers, better organized, and with greater recognition for their valuable contributions.

In addition to the PASS Executive Committee – consisting of myself; Executive VP, Finance, Douglas McDowell; VP, Marketing, Thomas LaRock; and Past President Rushabh Mehta – as well as Founding Partner Board members from CA and Microsoft, this is the team that will lead PASS for the upcoming year. Please congratulate them on their portfolio assignments and offer them all the support you can. We’re expecting great things from them.


Fresh Start for Azure Virtual Chapter

The sky’s the limit for the refreshed PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, focused on Windows Azure and cloud computing, with a steady breeze of SQL Database flowing through its free training and networking for the PASS community.

“Azure and cloud computing are part of the new wave of technology advancement,” says Nigel Sammy, the Virtual Chapter’s leader. “We’re here to help spread knowledge about the technology and provide information that empowers IT professionals to make decisions about whether and when to adopt this technology and how best to apply it to their needs.”

Nigel volunteered earlier this year to help reboot the PASS SQL Azure Virtual Chapter. While the VC was in reboot phase, Microsoft renamed SQL Azure to SQL Database, causing the VC’s leadership team to consider renaming the group as well as changing its focus. The result is the PASS Azure Virtual Chapter, launched in September, under the leadership of Nigel, co-leader Paras Doshi, and webmaster Jose Rivera.

Microsoft Principal Cloud Evangelist Brian Prince presented the VC’s debut session, “Getting Started with Windows Azure.” And Herve Roggero, SQL Azure MVP and co-author of Pro SQL Azure, spoke on "In-Depth Azure’s No-SQL with Azure Tables" in November, with the VC currently making arrangements with Scott Klein for its December meeting. All sessions are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing.

The VC covers topics on Azure and cloud computing, with the PASS community sure to appreciate sessions on SQL Database (SQL Azure) or those that include information about it. If you are interested in speaking at one of the VC meetings, you can contact Nigel.

With the VC's mission to enable Azure knowledge sharing and create a network of Azure and cloud computing professionals, “the goal for next year is to have at least one meeting every month,” Nigel notes, “and to also have some sessions done in various countries and languages so that the Azure community we’re helping build is truly a global community.”

The VC is still working on its meeting schedule to accommodate the most attendees and is also looking at how to serve members in different time zones. You can find information about future meetings on the Azure VC website, the PASS Events page, and via email notifications to VC members and Twitter.

In addition to meeting information, the VC website also has a resources page, which includes links to related blogs and articles. Anyone interested in joining the Azure VC can do so via the PASS Virtual Chapters page. And the VC is always looking for extra assistance – if you’d like to volunteer with the Azure VC, please contact any of the team members.



PASS Summit: Get in the Community Zone

There is no doubt that PASS Summit is all about SQL Server and the SQL Server community. While you might know the conference as the best place to learn anything SQL Server-related, it’s also the best possible place to get connected with SQL Server professionals all across the globe.

PASS community volunteers from around the world work hard every year to deliver the best technical training and information to meet the needs of all attendees, no matter what their skill level or technology interest. And this year, we’re extending that mission to provide more knowledge about and connections with the SQL Server community by creating a special Community Zone.

What is a Community Zone? It’s both a location for community sharing at Summit and a state of mind that encourages more community involvement through a variety of organizations and events. You’ll find the PASS Summit Community Zone between the Lunch Hall and the Exhibit Hall. And we are looking forward to showcasing both PASS-related and non-PASS-affiliated community groups and events.

If you represent a not-for-profit SQL Server organization, please join us in the Community Zone. And even if you aren’t able to attend Summit, if you send us information about your group or event, we’ll help spread the word. How much more community can you get?! :)

Talking about community means reaching out to more than just English-speaking attendees, and we have invited volunteers who speak other languages so we can welcome everyone and try to help all members reach their respective community goals. We’re also interested in hearing your suggestions – if you have a great idea for a user group or a not-for-profit event, drop us an email at

The Community Zone will be open Wednesday, Nov. 7, through Friday, Nov. 9, with your faithful PASS Community Evangelists – Karla Landrum and me – and many generous volunteers looking to make your visit as fun and valuable as possible. (Hint: We’ll have some great networking games and other activities to help attendees learn about different communities all around the world and connect with each other.)

I am so excited about the new Community Zone and helping PASS members get more involved in and improve their local communities and the SQL Server community at large. So if you’re attending PASS Summit, please drop by the Community Zone to say “Hello,” ask questions, discuss exciting plans for the SQL Server community, or just hang out – who knows, you could also win some amazing prizes! 
– Niko Neugebauer



WIT: Something to Talk About

Supporting women in technology is more than just talk in the SQL Server community, thanks to the PASS Women in Technology (WIT) Virtual Chapter and its popular luncheons and panel discussions at PASS Summit, SQLSaturdays, and other events.

“Our mission is to provide a forum to discuss issues that touch women working in technology and to provide opportunities for women in PASS to network,” explains VC Chairperson Meredith Ryan. “We do this primarily through the Summit Luncheon and our SQLSaturday events. And we use our monthly conference calls to plan the logistics of the annual luncheon and to provide support for SQLSaturday planners and organizers for their WIT sessions.”

With this year marking the 10th anniversary of the PASS Summit WIT luncheon, VC leaders and volunteers are gearing up for a special panel discussion on “Women in Technology: Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going?” with panelists Stefanie Higgins, Kevin Kline, Kendra Little, Denise McInerney, and Jen Stirrup.

What’s happened in the PASS WIT VC since that first luncheon and panel discussion in 2003? Well, attendance at the event has grown from 65 people to over 400 in 2011, Meredith says, and the VC is planning for 560 attendees at this year's luncheon, sponsored by SQLSentry. Attendees at that launch event wanted to continue the networking and formed the PASS WIT Special Interest Group (SIG), which is now a Virtual Chapter with well over 1000 members on its distribution list.

You can also find a WIT session at just about any PASS SQLSaturday in the US. “And thanks to Jen Stirrup, we are making great progress at SQLSaturdays and other PASS events internationally,” Meredith adds. Some WIT sessions at these events have pre-set topics, and others are driven by attendees’ questions. Topics have ranged from dealing with work-life balance and ways to negotiate at work to mentoring the next generation and how to get children excited about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs.

The VC encourages men as well as women to attend WIT events, volunteer with the group, and join in the discussion as coworkers, managers, mentors, fathers, husbands, and all-around advocates of women in technology. “We’re open to everyone and welcome all perspectives,” Meredith notes. “We are also always looking for new volunteers. Right now, we need someone to help us get periodic webinars going. The chapter has been discussing hosting quarterly web sessions for some time now, but we haven't had the right person to champion the effort. Even if hosting and managing webinars aren't your thing, we can always use more hands and minds!”

In addition to Meredith, the VC’s leadership team includes:  Donna Shaver, Secretary;  Yanni Robel, Marketing/Social Media Manager; Wendy Pastrick and Kathi Kellenberger, Regional Activity Coordinators; Denise McInerney, Chapter Advisor; and Christina E. Leo, Webmaster.

The WIT VC’s monthly planning conference call is the fourth Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm Pacific Time/4:00 pm Eastern Time, and all volunteers are welcome. To join the VC and help with the work it does, just send an email to And follow @PASS_WIT on Twitter for updates and items of interest.


Taking That Next Step

In IT, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. And whether you’re seeking a career change or to strengthen your current position and value, the PASS Professional Development Virtual Chapter is there to help you take that next step.

“Our mission is to provide tools, advice, encouragement, and insight for technology professionals at all levels to ‘take the next step’ in their career,” explains VC leader Mark Caldwell. “We provide free LiveMeeting presentations each month on topics related to our mission. We also have an active blog that features great interviews with SQL professionals, book reviews, and other related commentary – much of it provided by Kathi Kellenberger.”

The VC, initially formed in the Fall of 2009, got rolling with regular webcasts in 2010. Live attendance at the webcasts has grown from seven in the early days to 49 as recently as last week. However, with nearly 4,000 PASS members having registered an interest in the VC’s happenings, many more may be watching the session recordings on-demand, Mark notes.

As a resource for information and conversation on professional development for people in the technology industry, the VC has covered everything from professional networking, effective meetings, and managing teams to consulting tips, communication skills, career advice for turbulent times, and much more. In June, a panel of PASS Board members talked about thinking strategically and shared lessons they’ve learned from serving on the organization’s leadership team. “We also recently expanded our scope to include topics on technology management with the help of Kevin Kline,” Mark adds.

If you missed the VC’s September meeting with Brian Moran on “The Art of Questions – How Can IT Pros Be More Successful?” you can listen to the recording and read Mark’s blog post inspired by the session. Next up is Joe Webb presenting on “Effective Delegation Techniques” Oct. 10.

To make sure you receive meeting reminders from the VC, simply include the Professional Development VC on your My Chapters list on the PASS website. If you’re interested in speaking or volunteering, the VC would love to hear from you – contact Mark today.


Proper Care and Feeding of a DBA

Twice a month, PASS’s DBA Virtual Chapter feeds an average 220 webinar attendees the essential information they need to grow into happy, healthy, productive SQL Server caretakers. On the menu next: “What on earth is a contained database?” with VC leader Sharon Dooley, today (August 22) at noon ET/16:00 GMT.

“Our mission has always been to provide an online PASS community for the database administrator,” Sharon says. “We provide a forum for open discussion and good information on issues that face SQL Server DBAs in their day-to-day jobs. Even if people cannot attend the regular meeting times, we make sure the recordings are available.”

The DBA VC began as what was then known as a PASS Special Interest Group (SIG) and was the first SIG to present an online event, using a Live Meeting site provided by one of its members. Its first Live Meeting event was in March 2007. Today, the VC hosts two events each month, on the second Wednesday at noon MT/18:00 GMT and the fourth Wednesday at noon ET/16:00 GMT. And it’s looking at scheduling additional meetings in other time zones as well to accommodate more international members' schedules.

The VC’s mailing list has over 13,000 names on it, with the last five meetings averaging 220 attendees. The secret to the group’s success? “The dedication of our volunteers, no doubt,” Sharon says.

The DBA VC leadership team consists of Julie Bloomquist, who makes sure the recordings are posted; Alex Buttery, who posts meeting announcements on the LinkedIn group; and Mike Clark, who facilitates most of the meetings (Julie fills in when Mike's not available). Sharon schedules the speakers, manages the website, and handles mailings.

Meeting presentations include slides, demos, and a time for questions and answers, with topics driven by the speakers, representing some of the most experienced DBAs in the world. The meetings are recorded and archived for on-demand viewing, usually within a week after the live meeting. Sharon says the group hopes to soon make the recordings available in downloadable format in addition to online viewing.

“We have also been fortunate to have sponsors that make it possible for us to have door prizes at our meetings,” Sharon notes. “This year, our sponsor is Quest, and we are grateful for their support.”

The VC is always looking for good speakers. “We pride ourselves on growing new speakers, too,” Sharon adds. “If you would like to speak, just send a brief abstract of your proposed topic to me at”


Virtual Chapter Feeds BI Hunger

Can’t get enough business intelligence and data warehouse training? PASS has a Virtual Chapter for that.

With over 11,000 members on its distribution list and growing – and featuring three to four free webinars a month on various topics and in different time zones – the BI/DW VC has something for every taste.

“The arena for data warehousing and BI is red hot – people can’t seem to get enough,” says VC Leader Amy Lewis. “The Microsoft BI stack is wide and far-reaching, which gives us a great opportunity to cover multiple topics. There are so many wonderful speakers in this space worldwide who love to share their knowledge, and our goal was to give them an environment where they could do so.”

The BI/DW VC, formed in 2007, is one of PASS’s oldest and most active, averaging 70-100 attendees per web session. Session topics range from dimensional modeling, data warehouse architecture, and ETL best practices to Analysis Services, MDX, and Reporting Services. The VC also hosts popular webcasts on PowerPivot, Power View, SharePoint, PerformancePoint, Mobile BI, and more. You can watch session recordings going back to 2010.

The BI/DW VC team decided to make it easier to schedule speakers by having its calendar “wide open.” “That is, we don’t set a specific time or date for our sessions each month,” Amy explains. “Rather, we try to have at least three to four sessions a month that are scheduled to best fit the speakers’ busy calendars.”

The VC’s mission this year is to have more internationally hosted sessions with local speakers in UK, European, and Australian time zones, she adds. The VC’s August schedule features sessions by speakers from New Zealand (August 10), Australia (August 17), the UK (August 15), and the US (August 21) – all scheduled in their respective time zones.

In addition to a consistent lineup of top-notch presenters, Amy credits her team of volunteers from around the globe for the BI/DW VC’s success, including Alberto Ferrari, Tim Mitchell, Sandra Mueller, Scott Murray, Roger Noble, Marco Russo, Jen Stirrup, and Chris Webb.

The VC is always looking for more volunteer and speakers. Interested in getting involved? Email, and follow @PASSBIVC for the latest updates on Twitter.



Performance VC Shifts into High Gear

Who better to tune PASS’s Performance Virtual Chapter for success than a community of volunteers dedicated to helping database pros optimize SQL Server, database design, attached storage area networks, and more?

This month marks 2 years of the revived Performance VC, which just celebrated 180 attendees at its latest session, Performance Tuning for Pirates with John Sterrett. It and other presentations over the past year from some of the top experts in the SQL Server community are available in the VC’s archives for free replay.

“Our mission is to host sessions for PASS members and the greater SQL Server community that relate to SQL Server performance in some way,” says Chapter Leader Erin Stellato. “Whether it's related to finding and trouble-shooting performance problems, designing for performance, optimizing performance in SSIS, query tuning, … every session includes a performance aspect.”

Although the VC was formed before 2010, it had grown sluggish before being revived by Tim Edwards, who did a call for volunteers and received great response. The refreshed group held its first LiveMeeting session in July 2010 with Jason Strate.

Today, the VC owes its success to “a village” of volunteers, Erin stresses, including Speaker Wrangler (gotta love that title!) Carlos Bossy, LiveMeeting Hosts Wil Sisney and Neeraj Jandwani, Web Masters Paul Hiles and Yulia Fuller, and Marketing guru Ryan Adams, assisted by Phil Franz.

The Performance VC meets the fourth Thursday of every month at 18:00 GMT/14:00 EDT/11:00 PDT, and each meeting features a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by Confio. To be eligible, you just need to attend the monthly webcast; winners are randomly chosen from all those in attendance for the whole webcast who provide their email address.

The group’s next meeting, July 26, will feature Microsoft SQLCAT’s Kevin Cox speaking on Using the New XEvents in SQL 2012.

You can join the Performance VC Google Group Distribution List and follow @SQLPASS_PVC on Twitter to receive the latest updates and meeting announcements. And if you’re interested in speaking or have any questions about the group, simply email


New DBA? This Virtual Chapter Is for You

PASS’s newest Virtual Chapter aims to answer two primary questions for those new to the DBA world or considering a career as a SQL Server administrator: How do I become a successful DBA? And what do I need to learn first?

The idea for the DBA Fundamentals VC came from questions VC co-leader Mark Swofford received from DBAs he’s managed and college students he’s talked to. “Students are confused about the path to become a DBA, and new DBAs many times have basic conceptual ideology, but have yet to see it firsthand,” he notes. “Neither of these groups needs a deep dive into transactional replication, but they do need to understand what an index is.”

Mark, who led the PASS Virtualization VC for a few years, contacted PASS HQ with a proposal for a VC that addresses the needs of people in their first year or so of employment as database administrators, as well as those who aspire to be DBAs. Then he recruited DBAs Michael Brumley and Steve Cantrell to help lead the group.

“To be a successful DBA, it takes a solid foundation of general concepts, career development, training, fearlessness, confidence, and mentorship from more experienced professionals,” Mark adds. “This Virtual Chapter will host regular novice-level presentations on a wide variety of topics: the basics, skills for sure, concepts, career development, and the importance of getting involved in the community early on.”

The DBA Fundamentals VC kicks off its lineup of free webcasts July 10 with David Smithey’s “DBA 101”, and has already launched a forum for DBA basics questions and answers. The team is also busy scheduling future speakers – including Scott Shaw, Adam Belebczuk, and Jes Schultz Borland – and coordinating some special events, such as an upcoming day-long online DBA Boot Camp.

The VC is looking for professionals who’d like to give 100-level presentations on a wide variety of DBA topics – if you’re interested in speaking, just email And to make sure you get the latest meeting details, join the VC and follow @DBAFundVC on Twitter.


Mastering Master Data

Inspired by its namesake technologies, PASS’s new Master Data/Data Quality Virtual Chapter seeks to provide a central, trustworthy source of information that can help data stewards ensure reliable, consistent data.

The VC, getting ready for its third online meeting next week, focuses on Master Data Services (MDS), new in SQL Server 2008 R2, and Data Quality Services (DQS), introduced in SQL Server 2012.

“MDS and DQS are still new products in the data platform stack,” notes Patrick Gallucci, who co-chairs the VC with Tom Marek. “In talking to people in the SQL Server community, I get a lot of questions around master data - what is it, how to use it, what scenarios to use it in... So our initial sessions will really show people what MDS/DQS means to them – the value of master data.”

The VC’s first two meetings are available for online replay. And the group will welcome Gene Web of The Profisee Group on Monday, June 18, for Master Data Maestro for Microsoft Master Data Services.

“In addition to having guest speakers at our free monthly online sessions, we are also trying out open, community-driven chalk-talks,” Patrick adds. “We received feedback that people really like the format, and we want to encourage that type of collaborative problem-solving.”

If you want to submit a chalk-talk topic, just send a brief email to with the topic title, user story, problem statement, and why the problem is hard to solve. The VC also invites community members to take a quick survey of MDS/DQS topics they’re most interested in.

The VC website features links to top MDS/DQS resources, and as the group grows, watch for a newsletter. If you are interested in volunteering your time and talents to help manage and grow the VC, Patrick and Tom would love to hear from you - simply email For the latest on Master Data/Data Quality VC meetings and resources, make sure you register for the VC today.


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