Thursday, December 18, 2014

PASS – Connect, Share and Learn

The Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) has a slogan for what they do – CONNECT, SHARE and LEARN. So, what does this mean to me and the SQL Server professionals I have meet in this community (#SQLFamily)?



First, I connected. Where did that start? SQLServerCentral.Com (SSC). I started reading articles on this site over a decade ago, and made it the main SQL Server resource for me beginning a DBA career. Back then a DBA was someone who either did one of 3 task types (or any combination).

  • DBA Administrator – worked to keep a system up and running including Windows Admin(Clustering), SAN usage, Security and Permissions (ActiveDirectory) and Performance Tuning (Monitor System resources).
  • DBA Developer – wrote T-SQL for stored procedures, triggers and jobs as well as create databases, tables and indexes usually because you were also a developer of software
  • DBA Business Intelligence – ETL with DTS (now SSIS), cubes in SSAS (multidimensional) and reports in SSRS (it was Crystal Report writer for me because SSRS was not released and packaged with Visual Basic) in addition to creating databases, tables and indexes.

Reading articles helped me develop a talent in the administrator position I was in along with getting a MCDBA in SQL Server 2000 (now I have MCITP in 2005 & 2008). The CONNECT part came when I ask my boss if I could go to the PASS Summit in Denver (2007). He had the funds in our department’s budget and included himself in the trip. There, I watched sessions based on the titles and abstracts. I did not know many speaker names except those I saw write articles on SSC. Those main ones I recognized were the ones who answered lots of questions posted on SSC forums as well as Microsoft message boards.

The next year, I was able to attend the Summit in Seattle and this is where I really started to CONNECT. Before that year’s Summit, I watched Patrick LeBlanc start the Baton Rouge SQL Server User Group. Patrick was able to use the resources from PASS to get it started and the networking with local IT professionals started this CONNECT for me. The group was created after the .Net User Group was started in Baton Rouge.

The second Summit I attended got me started wondering about the SHARE aspect. 2 or 3 sessions I attended got me thinking “I can do that”. Now, it was not magic and I was presenting. The first presentations I start doing were every other week Lunch and Learns at work regarding upgrading SQL Server from 2000 to 2005. The first presentation outside of work was for the local SQL Server User Group about SQL Server monitoring with Performance Dashboards. It went well, and I received very candid feedback from employees I worked with. I have learned today that feedback (good and bad) helps me improve the presentations over time.

Getting involved with PASS, I have helped the local user group with presentations, volunteering for 4 SQLSaturday events and promoting locally. The Data Architecture Virtual Chapter needed help and I became the Chairperson for 2 years and have been able to encourage another DBA to assume the role after I retired which led into a VC mentor role.

The last item is LEARN. Well, if you have read this far, you should already know that all of the things above have helped me LEARN SQL Server - connecting to get the right people to go to with questions and sharing which enhances my skills. They are all learning opportunities which help advance my career and skill set.