Category Archives: Community

Four SQL MVPs at LobsterPot – including three in Australia

Today LobsterPot Solutions sets a new first. We are the only company to ever employ three current Australian SQL MVPs, giving us four awardees in total. Congratulations to Martin Cairney who joins Julie Koesmarno (AUS), Ted Krueger (USA) and me (AUS) as recipients of this prestigious award. This demonstrates LobsterPot’s ongoing commitment to the SQL Server community, that show that our consultants are truly influential in the SQL world.MVP_FullColor_ForScreen

From Microsoft’s website about MVPs:
Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs are exceptional community leaders who actively share their high-quality, real-world deep technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft. They are committed to helping others get the most out of their experience with Microsoft products and technologies.
Technical communities play a vital role in the adoption and advancement of technology—and in helping our customers do great things with our products. The MVP Award provides us with an opportunity to say thank you and to bring the voice of community into our technology roadmap.

This fits very closely with LobsterPot’s desire to help people with their data story. We help with the adoption and advancement of SQL Server, and help customers do great things with data. It’s no surprise that we see a high proportion of LobsterPot consultants are MVP awardees.

Will 2015 be a big year for the SQL community?

In Australia, almost certainly yes.

Australia recently saw two Azure data centres open, meaning that customers can now consider hosting data in Azure without worrying about it going overseas. Whether you’re considering SQL Database or having an Azure VM with SQL on it, the story has vastly improved here in Australia, and conversations will go further.

The impact of this will definitely reach the community…

…a community which is moving from strength to strength in itself.

I say that because in 2014 we have seen new PASS Chapters pop up in Melbourne and Sydney (user groups that have existed for some time but have now been aligned with PASS); many of the prominent Australian partner organisations have MVPs on staff now, which was mentioned a few times at the Australian Partner Conference in September; and SQL Saturdays have come along way since the first ones were run around the country in 2012. February will see SQL Saturday 365 in Melbourne host around 30 sessions, and build on its 2013 effort of becoming one of the largest ten SQL Saturday events in the world. Microsoft Australia seems more receptive than ever to the SQL Server community, and I’m seeing individuals pushing into the community as well.

From a personal perspective, I think 2015 will be an interesting year. As well as being a chapter leader and regional mentor, I know that I need to develop some new talks, after getting rejected to speak at the PASS Summit, but I also want to take the time to develop other speakers, as I have done in recent years.

TSQL2sDay150x150I also want to write more – both blogs and white papers. I’ve blogged every month for at least five years, but many months that’s just the T-SQL Tuesday post. (Oh yeah – this post is for one of those two, hosted by Wayne Sheffield (@DBAWayne) on the topic of ‘Giving Back’.) So I want to be able to write a lot more than 12 posts in the year, and take the opportunity to get deeper in the content. I know I have a lot to talk about, whether it be in the BI space, or about query plans, or PDW, or security – there really are a lot of topics I could cover – I just need to reserve the time to get my content out there.

So challenge me. If you want help with an abstract, or a talk outline (which I know is very different to an abstract), or you want me to blog on a particular topic, then let me know and I’ll see what I can do. I want to give even more to the community, and if you’re in the community, that should include you!

@rob_farley

Some Thoughts on Event Speaker Selection

I write this from the perspective of experience. I’ve helped organize dozens of events over the past ten years. Feel free to take the parts of this advice that help and discard the parts that don’t. Enjoy! Planning an event is hard work. If you’ve never volunteered to help your local User Group or SQL Saturday, I encourage you to get involved. You will work hard and put a lot into it. But I promise you will get more out of it than you put in. Every organizer is free to organize their event in whatever…(read more)

Learning through others

This PASS Summit was a different experience for me – I wasn’t speaking. I’ve presented at three of the five PASS Summits I’ve been to, where the previous one I’d not spoken at was 2012, while I was a PASS Director (and had been told I shouldn’t submit talks – advice that I’d ignored in 2013). I have to admit that I really missed presenting, both in 2012 and this year, and I will need to improve my session abstracts to make sure I get selected in future years.

I’m not a very good ‘session attendee’ on the whole – it’s not my preferred style of learning – but I still wanted to go, because of the learning involved. Sometimes I will learn a lot from the various things that are mentioned in the few sessions I go to, but more significantly, I learn a lot from discussions with other people. I hear what they are doing with technology, and that encourages me to explore those technologies further. It’s not quite at the point of learning by osmosis simply by being in the presence of people who know stuff, but by developing relationships with people, and hearing them speak about the things they’re doing, I definitely learn a lot.

Of course, I don’t get to know people for the sake of learning. I get to know people because I like getting to know people. But of course, one of the things I have in common with these people is SQL, and conversations often come around to that. And I know that I learn a lot from those conversations. I don’t have the luxury of living near many (any?) of my friends in the data community, and spending time with them in person definitely helps me.TSQL2sDay150x150

And it’s not just SQL stuff that I learn. This month’s T-SQL Tuesday (for which this is a post) is hosted by Chris Yates (@YatesSQL), who I got to run alongside on one of the mornings. Even that was a learning experience for me, as we chatted about all kinds of things, and I listened to my feet hitting the ground – another technique I learned from a community – and made sure I stuck to my running form to minimise the pain I’d be feeling later in the day. Talking to Chris while I ran helped immensely, and I was far less sore than I thought I might be.

On the SQL side, I got to learn about how excited people are about scale-out, with technologies like Stretched Tables coming very soon. As someone involved in the Parallel Data Warehouse space (and seriously – how thrilled was I to be able to chat with Dr Rimma Nehme, who was involved in the PDW Query Optimizer), scale-out is very much in my thoughts, and seeing what Microsoft is doing in this space is great – but learning what other people in the community are thinking about it is even more significant for me.

@rob_farley 

PS: This is the 60th T-SQL Tuesday. Huge thanks to Adam Machanic (@adammachanic) for starting this, and giving me something to write about each month these last five years.

Attending the PASS Summit

The PASS Summit is an annual gathering of SQL Server professionals and others interested in learning more about SQL Server. Folks come from all over. Here’s a few suggestions for getting more out of your PASS Summit experience. “What if I’m Not There?” Not everyone can attend the PASS Summit. You can still enjoy a taste of the activities via PASSTV, which will be streamed from the PASS Summit 2014 home page . Meet New People If this is your first (or one of your first) PASS Summit(s), don’t be shy….(read more)

Less than a month away…

The PASS Summit for 2014 is nearly upon us, and the MVP Summit is immediately prior, in the same week and the same city. This is my first MVP Summit since early 2008. I’ve been invited every year, but I simply haven’t prioritised it. I’ve been awarded MVP status every year since 2006 (just received my ninth award), but in 2009 and 2010 I attended SQLBits in the UK, and have been to every PASS Summit since then. This year, it’s great that I get to do both Summits in the same trip, but if I get to choose just one, then it’s an easy decision.

So let me tell you why the PASS Summit is the bigger priority for me.

Number of people

Actually, the PASS Summit isn’t that much larger than the MVP Summit, but the MVP Summit has thousands of non-SQL MVPs, and only a few hundred in the SQL space. Because of this, the ‘average conversation with a stranger’ is very different. While it can be fascinating to meet someone who is an MVP for File System Storage, the PASS Summit has me surrounded by people who do what I do, and it makes for more better conversations as I learn about who people are and what they do.

Access to Microsoft

The NDA content that MVPs learn at the MVP Summit is good, but the PASS Summit will have content about every-SQL-thing you ever want. The same Microsoft people who present at the MVP Summit are also at the PASS Summit, and dedicate time to the SQL Clinic, which means that you can spend even more time working through ideas and problems with them. You don’t get this at the MVP Summit.

Non-exclusivity

Obviously not everyone can go to the MVP Summit, as it’s a privilege that comes as part of the MVP award each year (although it’s hardly ‘free’ when you have to fly there from Australia). While it may seem like an exclusive event is going to be, well, exclusive, most MVPs are all about the wider community, and thrive on being around non-MVPs. There are less than 400 SQL MVPs around the world, and ten times that number of SQL experts at the Summit. While some of the top experts might be MVPs, a lot of them are not, and the PASS Summit is a chance to meet those people each year.

Content from the best

The MVP Summit has presentations from people who work on the product. At my first MVP Summit, this was a huge deal. And it’s still good to hear what these guys are thinking, under NDA, when they can actually go into detail that they know won’t leave the room. But you don’t get to hear from Paul White at the MVP Summit, or Erin Stellato, or Julie Koesmarno, or any of the other non-Microsoft presenters. The PASS Summit gives the best of both worlds.

I’m really looking forward to the MVP Summit. I’ve missed the last six, and it’s been too long. MVP Summits were when I met some of my oldest SQL friends, such as Kalen Delaney, Adam Machanic, Simon Sabin, Paul & Kimberly, and Jamie Thomson. The opportunities are excellent. But the PASS Summit is what the community is about.

MVPs are MVPs because of the community – and that’s what the PASS Summit is about. That’s the one I’m looking forward to the most.

@rob_farley

Well Done, PASS Leadership

I am impressed with the response of PASS leadership to the controversy surrounding the 2014 Board of Directors election. Others have covered the topic much better than I will here, but a short version is PASS responded to the PASS Board 2013 election controversy (members with multiple email accounts receiving multiple ballots) by requiring members to identify a primary account / email address. The issue? Not everyone got the message. The initial response from PASS leadership was in line with previous…(read more)

24 Hours of PASS (September 2014): Recordings Now Available!

Sessions of the event 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview Edition (which was held on last September 9th) were recorded and now they are available for online streaming!

If you have missed one session in particular or the entire event, you can view it or review your preferred sessions; you can find all details here.

What could you aspect from the next PASS Summit? Find it out on recorded sessions of this edition of 24 Hours of PASS.

PASS Summit 2014: Inside the World’s Largest Gathering of SQL Server and BI Professionals

PASS VP of Marketing Denise McInerney – a SQL Server MVP and Data Engineer at Intuit – began her career as a SQL Server DBA in 1998 and attended her first PASS Summit in 2002. The SQL Server Team caught up with her ahead of this year’s event, returning to Seattle, WA, Nov. 4-7, to see what she’s looking forward to at the world’s largest conference for SQL Server and BI professionals.

For those who’ve never attended or who’ve been away for a while, what is PASS Summit?
PASS Summit is the world’s largest gathering of Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals. Organized by and for the community, PASS Summit delivers the most technical sessions, the largest number of attendees, the best networking, and the highest-rated sessions and speakers of any SQL Server event.

We like to think of PASS Summit as the annual reunion for the #sqlfamily. With over 200 technical sessions and 70+ hours of networking opportunities with MVPs, experts and peers, it’s 3 focused days of SQL Server. You can take hands-on workshops, attend Chalk Talks with the experts, and get the answers you need right away at the SQL Server Clinic, staffed by the Microsoft CSS and SQLCAT experts who build and support the features you use every day. Plus, you can join us early for 2 days of pre-conference sessions with top industry experts and explore the whole range of SQL Server solutions and services under one roof in the PASS Summit Exhibit Hall.

Nowhere else will you find over 5,000 passionate SQL Server and BI professionals from 50+ countries and 2,000 different companies connecting, sharing, and learning how to take their SQL Server skills to the next level.

What’s on tap this year as far as sessions?
We’ve announced a record 160+ incredible community sessions across 5 topic tracks: Application and Database Development, BI Information Delivery, BI Platform Architecture, Development and Administration; Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment, and Professional Development. And watch for over 60 sessions from Microsoft’s top experts to be added to the lineup in early September.

You can search by speaker, track, session skill level, or session type – from 10-minute Lightning Talks, to 75-minute General Sessions, to 3-hour Half-Day Sessions and our full-day pre-conference workshops.

And with this year’s new Learning Paths, we’ve made it even easier to find the sessions you’re most interested in. Just use our 9 Learning Path filters to slice and dice the lineup by everything from Beginner sessions to Big Data, Cloud, Hardware Virtualization, and Power BI sessions to SQL Server 2014, High Availability/Disaster Recovery, Performance, and Security sessions.

Networking is at the heart of PASS Summit – what opportunities do you have for attendees to connect with each other?
PASS Summit is all about meeting and talking with people, sharing issues and solutions, and gaining knowledge that will make you a better SQL Server professional. Breakfasts, lunches, and evening receptions are all included and are designed to offer dedicated networking opportunities. And don't underestimate the value of hallway chats and the ability to talk to speakers after their sessions, during lunches and breaks, and at the networking events.

We have special networking activities for first-time attendees, for people interested in the same technical topics at our Birds of a Feather luncheon, and at our popular annual Women in Technology luncheon, which connects 600+ attendees interested in advancing role of women in STEM fields. Plus, our Community Zone is THE place to hang out with fellow attendees and community leaders and learn how to stay involved year-round.

You mentioned the networking events for first-time attendees. With everything going on at Summit, how can new attendees get the most out of their experience?
Our First-Timers Program takes the hard work out of conference prep and is designed specifically to help new attendees make the most of their time at Summit. We connect first-timers with conference alumni, take them inside the week with community webinars, help them sharpen their networking skills through fun onsite workshops, and share inside advice during our First Timers orientation meeting.

In addition, in our “Get to Know Your Community Sessions,” longtime PASS members share how to get involved with PASS and the worldwide #sqlfamily, including encouraging those new to PASS to connect with their local SQL Server communities through PASS Chapters and continue their learning through Virtual Chapters, SQLSaturdays, and other free channels.

How can you learn more about sessions and the overall PASS Summit experience?
A great way to get a taste of Summit is by watching PASS Summit 2013 sessions, interviews, and more on PASStv. You can also check out the best of last year’s Community blogs.

Plus, stay tuned for 24 Hours of PASS: Summit Preview Edition on September 9 to get a free sneak peek at some of the top sessions and speakers coming to PASS Summit this year. Make sure you follow us on Twitter at @PASS24HOP / #pass24hop for the latest updates on these 24 back-to-back webinars.

Where can you register for PASS Summit?
To register, just go to Register Now – and remember to take advantage of the $150 discount code from your local or Virtual PASS Chapter. We also have a great group discount for companies sending 5 or more employees. And don’t forget to purchase the session recordings for year-round learning on all aspects of SQL Server.

Once you get a taste for the learning and networking waiting for you at PASS Summit, we invite you to join the conversation by following us on Twitter (watch the #sqlpass #summit 14 hashtags) and joining our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. We’re looking forward to an amazing, record-breaking event, and can’t wait to see everyone there!

Please stay tuned for regular updates and highlights on Microsoft and PASS activities planned for this year’s conference.