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.

We've moved!

Looking for the latest blog posts? We've recently moved the PASS Blog to its new home at https://www.pass.org/PASSBlog.aspx. You can still view older blog posts here but please update your bookmarks so you can continue getting the latest posts from the PASS Blog.

Summit Celebration Event: The Details Are In!

It's with great excitement that the PASS team, along with Microsoft, have been planning the a celebration event in appreciation of PASS members, partners, and the SQL Server community-at-large at PASS Community Summit 2008 on Thursday, November 20.

Officially branded as our SQL Server Heroes Unite event, we're transforming a section of the convention center in Seattle into a Rock Party Hall where you can show off your Guitar Hero and Rock Band skills, and maybe even end up in the final SQL Server Hero showdown! Microsoft’s very own Flock of SQLs band will play classic rock sets to keep the party going and lucky members of the crowd can join the band on stage for a truly interactive jam session. You also have an opportunity to tap into your ‘inner rocker’ as you visit the tattoo parlor stations and take your picture with a Harley Davidson. 

Rounding out the celebration, try your hand at our casino tables where there will be no shortage of action and prizes to be won.

It's our way of saying thanks for being such an important part of the SQL Server community.

 

  • When: Thursday, November 20, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
  • Where: Hall 6ABC, Washington State Convention and Trade Center
  • Who: The SQL Server Heroes Unite Event is free to registered full-conference attendees

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DBA SIG is looking for volunteers!

Hello everyone

We here at PASS want to make sure that everyone in the SQL Server community has the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and get involved. The DBA SIG is looking for volunteers to do a variety of tasks. This is a great introduction to volunteering with PASS. The opportunities are as follows:

Short-term commitments

   1. Write an article on a DBA-related topic for our web site

   2. Give a live meeting presentation

Long-term commitments

   1. Recruit presenters and content generators

   2. Manage content review and posting to the web site

   3. General web-site maintenance (Dot-Net-Nuke)

   4. Facilitate live meeting event logistics

Please contact Sharon Dooley at DBAvolunteer@sqlpass.org if you’re interested in any of these volunteer opportunities.

Thanks and happy volunteering!

Blythe Morrow

Community Coordinator - PASS HQ

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The Board of Directors: A Great Volunteer Opportunity with PASS

Hi Folks

With the advent of the new and improved PASS website, those of us who work in the Community department here at PASS HQ have noticed a huge increase in the amount of people who want to volunteer. This is just fantastic! I would like to let the entire PASS community know about the Call for Nominations for the PASS Board of Directors that closes on the 24th of October. If you want to get involved with the SQL Server community, network professionally, and have a lot of fun, think about taking a leadership role in PASS.

The Board of Directors is responsible for setting the day-to-day activities of the organization, as well as setting the course for the organization on short- and long-term decisions. There is a large time commitment, but you will be rewarded with travel and networking opportunities.

We have posted all the information you will need at http://www.sqlpass.org/CallforNominations.aspx or you can email me at blythe.morrow@sqlpass.org with any specific questions.

Happy volunteering!

Blythe Morrow
PASS Community Programs Coordinator

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When will users upgrade to SQL Server 2008?

I'm endlessly asked about when I think users will make the upgrade to SQL Server 2008. In conjunction with PASS, I've recently written an article for Database Trends and Applications that answers that. You can read it here: http://www.dbta.com/e-edition/Sept08/3-contributed_article_low.html

I hope you find it useful.

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The value of good education during tough economic times

As companies look at the events of the past 3 weeks on Wall Street and in Washington, they have to be reasonably concerned about the future, but more importantly about how to ride out the current economic challenges. Innovation and a strong vision are the key factors to survival in these tough times. South West Airline is a company that has over the past few years done better that most of its competitors in customer satisfaction and growth mainly due to a culture of innovation and good foresight.
 
It got me thinking about how most companies, in touch economic times, cut back on probably the most vital need in IT - and that is quality training / education. I say that this is vital because technology changes rapidly, both software and hardware and more and more organizations rely on IT to provide them the competitive business edge, one that is even more critical in tough economic times. Good training is one where you learn the skills far beyond the basics. You learn not just the different ways to implement a technology, but you learn the best way to implement it. You are able to draw from the experiences of people who have spent years finding the best way to implement a technology and also learnt of ways not to do it. The risk of not learning these best practices and techniques is that developers often learn by trial and error over long periods of time. This impacts IT productivity and can also often lead to solutions that fail to meet business needs. To give an example, SQL Server Integration Services is a relatively new technology that has been widely adopted by a large number of organizations. Most organizations that have implemented it have used it in the most basic form. This means that there is no good framework that has been implemented to centrally manage and monitor these packages and the underlying configurations. As a result, when something fails, it often takes up a good percent of someone's time to troubleshoot and manage. A good framework can mitigate that. Unfortunately, a good ETL framework is something that takes significant amount of experience and knowledge to design and implement correctly. Wouldn't it be great if you could go to a session where you learnt about how to implement that framework? Done right, you would end up freeing up support resources and simplify development of packages - all leading to lower IT cost. Also, equally important in this era of compliance, companies cannot afford to have lax processes and security that can compromise their systems and data. For consulting organizations, the upside to a well educated team that can understand and implement best practices is that it leads to better customer satisfaction and a competitive edge with new customers.
 
This is where a conference like the upcoming PASS Summit can play a vital role in providing that competitive edge. This is a once a year opportunity to learn from over 100 expert speakers who have an average of 8 - 10 years of experience in SQL Server product. The price you pay for this education is very small when compared to the price of hiring and managing additional resources to build and support IT. The other advantage of the PASS summit is the networking. Begin able to network with peers in the industry means that you have someone to reach out to outside your organization to ask questions rather than spending countless hours trying to figure out the answer. At PASS, you also have the opportunity to discuss specific problems with top industry experts and get solutions. I am sure that a number of you have had to call into your premier support to identify and fix some problems. At PASS, the same team (CSS Team) will be onsite not only teaching how to troubleshoot, but will also for the first time, host a CSS First Aid area where you can bring in your specific problems and get them solved at no extra cost!
 
When you consider the cost of the summit, the travel and expenses and the lost opportunity costs, I truly believe that it would pale in comparison to the value and the longer-term savings that your organization would derive from the summit. Also, the learning and education does not stop when the convention center lights turn off. Most of the regular conference sessions are recorded and made available to attendees - that's access to over 150 hours of deep technical training. So, attendees can revisit sessions they attended, or look at the sessions that they could not attend. Don't miss the opportunity to participate in this unique conference and gain a competitive edge.

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Winds of Change

Welcome to the new site! The site is part of a large transformation that PASS undertook just over 2 years back to change the way in which we facilitate sharing of thoughts, ideas and support among the community. Since the first conference in 1998, the PASS summit has been the largest global summit put together by the community to facilitate high quality education and networking. Many many members of the SQL Server community have contributed to our successes and ultimately, you, the community are the benefactors of the efforts of your peers. PASS now has a robust and a rapidly growing network of chapters around the world and is now poised to support a lot more educational events in your local communities.

Our new website now allows PASS to be a true year-round community to connect people from different parts of the globe to benefit from each others knowledge, ideas and experience. This is our first major release and we are looking forward to putting more tools at your disposal that will allow you to get information and share knowledge.

So, check out everything that we have already posted on the site including many of the articles that were published in SQL Server Standard managazine, read and contribute to our Wiki White Papers and also check out PASSTips. There are also over 200 hours of recorded summit sessions posted on this site under Summit On Demand that you can access.

One of the biggest changes we have made at PASS with the launch of the new site, is suspending paid membership so that we can allow the entire community to participate in sharing knowledge. I encourage you to start participating in the site, write articles and submit recorded PASSTips, check out the different events happening across our community as well as provide us feedback on new features and changes you would like to see on this site to better support you in using Microsoft SQL Server. Keep returning back to the site to see new information and functionality that will continue to be released and also please encourage your collegues to sign up for their free membership to your organization.

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Test-driving SQL Server 2008 features

Over the past few months, in partnership with MaximumASP and DELL, PASS has provided a public beta environment that has allowed thousands of people from the community to try out features of the latest SQL Server 2008 CTP's in a secure online environment without the overhead of creating personal environments to test drive these features. This beta site also has the advantage of staying updated with the latest versions of the product and is currently using the RTM build of SQL Server.

If you have not already tried SQL Server 2008 features, I encourage you to visit http://www.sqlserverbeta.com and try out SQL Server 2008 features for free. On the site, you will also find valuable resources that allow you to learn how to use some of those new features.

SQL Server Beta is one of the many free resources that PASS is committed to providing to the SQL Server community.

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Something to Look Forward to: A Unique SQL Server Conference

A short while back Mosha wrote an interesting blog entry putting together a comparison between the upcoming MS BI conference and the 2008 PASS Summit. This comparison was based on the information that was publicly available at the time.  It got me thinking about the upcoming 2008 PASS Summit and the attendee experience planned. I realize that there is a lot of the summit experience that is still under planning or not fully confirmed and so, not communicated out. So, I am going to try in this blog.

When I look at my own reasons for attending conferences in the past, 3 things come to mind - Networking, experience and education, in that order, although, I can see why most companies tend to decide on which conference to send employees to based on mainly the education aspect of a conference. So, I will talk about that aspect of the PASS summit first.

The Education

The PASS summit has over 150 deep technical session (including 14 deep dive pre-conference seminars) dedicated to SQL Server. There is something (or a lot) for everyone to learn. You will have a chance to learn from the experience of your peers in the community based on real facts and implementations – not the marketing spin. You will learn what works and what doesn’t work in a real-life implementation and you will learn best-practices. No other conference can claim to offer that depth of technical training. The summit also features a complete track (12 sessions) dedicated to best practices and implementation that is being delivered by the SQL CAT team. The PASS summit is also quite unique from any other conference that you may attend, in the diversity of speakers. Most other conferences generally have just a few expert speakers delivering multiple sessions. PASS has, at last count, 104 speakers delivering over 150 sessions! These speakers are not only industry experts and Microsoft product group members, but also our peers who have learnt in the trenches and are willing to share their experiences. This is one summit where you can come in and not only learn from others, but share your own experiences.

Speaking of education, the PASS summit also features a Lounge which will contain a theater where experts will conduct chalk-talks in an interactive environment. Additionally, there will be hands-on labs where you will be able to learn how to use new features in SQL Server 2008, including Business Intelligence.

All this great educational opportunity at the PASS summit certainly begs the question for Business Intelligence professionals about which conference to attend. If Mosha’s full day pre-conference session on Deep dive into MDX is not enough of a reason to attend the PASS summit, you should make PASS your summit choice if you are a BI professional that interacts with the SQL Server product stack or manages and administers Business Intelligence components in your organization. Some of the sessions we have include “Building a 100TB+ Scientific Data Warehouse” by Michael Thomassy, “Collecting Analysis Services Performance Data by using Management Data Warehouse, SQL Profiler, and AS DMVs in SSAS 2008” by Carl Rabeler, “Integrating Predictive Analysis throughout the Data Lifecycle” by Donald Farmer and “High Performance Data Warehouses in SQL Server 2008” by Erin Welker. I have in the past 2 weeks spoken to a number of Business Intelligence professionals and colleagues and a large number of them are planning on attending the PASS summit and many have also indicated interest in Mosha’s pre conference seminar! So, register before space fills up.

The Experience

This is the official Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Re-Launch Event! A target attendance of over 3000 professionals makes the upcoming PASS summit the largest global gathering of SQL Server professionals under one roof and a high-energy event you wouldn’t want to miss. Attendees will include a few hundred members of the SQL Server product development team from Microsoft who will not only be interacting and speaking with attendees, but also attending the sessions and in some cases providing perspective on the design aspects of certain features. More importantly they will be listening to your experiences and pain points so that they can enhance the product.

Also attending will be top experts from the community including SQL Server MVP’s who will be delighted to spend time answering your technical questions and helping solve those problems that have been plaguing you, at our Ask the Experts lounge. In fact, I am sure that many of your favorite bloggers will be at the summit looking forward to meeting you in person. One of the frequent feedbacks we have received from attendees in the past is that a few minutes of face-to-face time with one of the experts helping them solve their persistent problems have paid for the summit costs many times over. How’s that for value! We are also expecting over 200 Microsoft employees who design, build and manage SQL Server solutions and databases within Microsoft. So, this is an opportunity to find out how they “eat their own dog food”!

Speaking of designing, building and managing solutions and databases, the summit will also feature the largest gathering of vendors dedicated to making products and solutions that allow you to extend your investments in the SQL Server product. You can learn about all these different (and some new) offerings and also compare them under one roof! One of our Platinum Sponsor this year is DELL and I am certain that you will hear about some of their Database solutions for SQL Server. This year, PASS will also (potentially) feature a new and exciting Lounge experience which I cannot talk about yet as details are not finalized – but you can expect to hear about it soon. You surely don’t want to miss finding out all about them!

Part of the summit experience also includes discounted onsite certification exams where you can get certified in SQL Server 2008 product, participate in Microsoft focus groups and buy books at a discount from the book store.

There will also be some very exciting announcements from Microsoft during keynotes featuring top Microsoft SQL Server Management executives, Ted Kummert, Tom Casey and David DeWitt. Ted will provide a sneak peek at the future of SQL Server and Microsoft’s data platform and discuss the latest release of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and new technologies debuting in the short-term, as well as reveal plans for long-term technology developments that will change the data platform landscape. Tom will discuss the overall strategy, design, development and delivery of the Microsoft business intelligence platform with SQL Server 2008 and beyond, while David is expected to discuss his vision for the evolution of the database and Microsoft’s role in changing the face of data management.

For many of us, who are managing mission critical systems back at work, being disconnected from the office is not an option, the venue features a number of internet stations and free wireless connectivity throughout the summit venue so that you can check on your emails and the health of your servers while on-site.

This PASS summit also provides you some opportunity for relaxation and fun. Starting from our Heroes Unite theme, which will enhance your onsite experience, to the parties that we have planned for you (the Welcome reception on Tuesday, Expo Hall reception on Wednesday and a “signature” evening event on Thursday that you don’t want to miss), you are sure to have a blast! We are also hosting the SQL Heroes contest that you have an opportunity to participate in. Additionally, there might be opportunities to attend other vendor sponsored parties. Be sure to walk through the Expo hall and talk to vendors to find out more.

The Networking

Now, this is why I attend the PASS summit. This is my opportunity to get to meet and know my peers and make friends, getting to know people who I can reach out to long after the summit. PASS is where I first met Kevin Kline, Wayne Snyder, Peter DeBetta, Fernando Guerrero, Kirk Haselden and a host of other community leaders who I now consider good friends. These networking opportunities are everywhere at the PASS summit starting from the welcome reception and stretching all throughout the summit, whether at the Lounge, trade-show floor, at one of the various parties or just out in the halls. I encourage all of you to take maximum advantage of this great opportunity to get to know your peers.

It all adds up to real Value!

The education and experience I described above is just a small part of the overall summit experience. The value that this summit provides you reaches far beyond the on-site experience. For example, many of the break-out sessions are recorded and available to all attendees online after the summit. This allows you to review those sessions that you could not personally attend because of the sheer amount of session choices in each time slot. You also have the opportunity to purchase a DVD of the sessions so that you can watch it at your leisure. Many of our speakers are also readily accessible to you. So, you can contact them with specific questions on their sessions even after the summit.

You should register now to reserve your seat at the summit before it potentially sells out due to on-site capacity constraints this year. To make your registration even more valuable, you should be able to find discount codes on some of the community sites that you regularly visit, like SQLBlog.com or SQLTeam.com. Check this link to find even more valuable discount offers from Solid Quality Mentors that you can take advantage of. They will certainly extend the value of your registration $’s.

I would love to hear from you, if you are planning to attend. If you are a speaker or an MVP, please consider writing a short blog about what you are planning on speaking about at PASS or what you are most looking forward to at the PASS Summit.

Consider this your call to action to register now! And oh – be sure to make on-site plans ahead of time using our online scheduler (going live in a couple of weeks) to make the most of your summit experience. See you in Seattle this November!

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Welcome to the New PASS website

The new PASS website is finally here, albeit in BETA format for now. We’re really proud of this initial effort and would love your feedback on what you see so far. I absolutely recommend you look through our wiki white paper section – it’s a great knowledge sharing medium that showcases white papers authored by many members of the SQL Server community and even allows you to create your own wiki white paper.

The PASSTips section is also highly worthy a perusal even if you’ve just got a few minutes. Here we’re highlighting recordings of great SQL Server tips and tricks that can be used to enhance your everyday work life. You can also be the star of your own show and submit your own PASSTip if the mood strikes.

The goal of this new site is to foster an even greater sense of community for PASS members. This is the true difference between PASS and other user groups – allowing you to connect, share and learn from your peers in either a virtual or face-to-face environment. Do you think we’re succeeding on this front? Please let us through all the various feedback forms peppered throughout the site.

Keep in mind, this is only the start. The website is only going to get better and better as we add more functionality like PASSPorts which will allow members to share information about themselves and connect with other members; forums for live discussions on various topics; and so much more. Stay tuned!

PASS Marketing Team

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