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What the heck is going on? Industry news, shake-ups,depatures, old controversies and new beginnings

What the heck is going on?  Industry news, shake-ups and departures.

It's only two weeks into the New Year 2011, but there's a lot going on, and there's more to come.

In recent weeks, a lot of changes and industry shakeups have been taking place, and thought it was a newsworthy item to share with the SQL Server Community.  Top of the New Year, and we’re seeing many top-level changes at Microsoft, and just as I was writing this, we learned some news of more changes at PASS. 

Since we’re all part of the collective career professional lives that Microsoft has given us, and interested parties of what goes on with the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), I am bringing the latest updates from these two fine organizations.

Now, change is change, whether for good or bad.  Sometimes, there are calculated business decisions, strategies and motives, other times it is coincidence or personal issues that drive one to leave or pursue another path in life.  Sometimes you never know which is which.   I think you will see some good, some bad, but it is not for me to determine which is which.  Therefore, I will report the news, and let you, the readers and sql professionals decide.

So, here are the changes in a nutshell, and then I will expand:

Two top-level guys leave Microsoft, around the same time:

1.Donald Farmer;

2. Bob Muglia

Donald Farmer

As most of you have probably already heard, especially those in the BI field, know that Donald Farmer has decided to leave Microsoft to pursue interests for another Business Intelligence solutions provider called QlikTech.

As this blog, succinctly puts it, “Everybody who has worked with Microsoft Business Intelligence and hasn’t been living on a deserted island knows about Donald Farmer, who's personified Microsoft BI”

Indeed, Microsoft’s loss is QlikTech’s enormous gain.  What happened that such a tremendous talent, in fact the anchor and strategy of BI at Microsoft, decided to leave?  Hey, didn’t we just see him not too long ago on the front cover of SQL Server Magazine as Microsoft’s face of BI?

Donald Farmer was the principal program manager for SQL Server Analysis Services and BI at Microsoft, and was interviewed back in October of 2009, as the release of SQL Server 2008 R2 introduced managed self-service BI.  At the time of its release, Donald called it “the next generation of business intelligence technology."   R2 under his direction, formerly code-named Gemini, offered self-service BI, breaking down the walls between information workers and knowledge workers.


He discussed the benefits of the new feature, and talked about his background at Microsoft, and the road he travelled there.  Here was a more recent “twitter” interview or twitterview, where he took questions from the twitter community and answered on topics such as PowerPivot, StreamInsight, and SQL Server 2008 R2’s developer features.

Rather than speculate what happened and why, Donald himself talks about his decision, and what led him to his current opportunity, as well as reflecting on his cherished time at Microsoft.  He calls it a new beginning….

Bob Muglia

According to the Channel Partner Newswire, another public face of MS product initiatives, Bob Muglia, the Microsoft exec who helped build Microsoft’s Server & Tools business into a strong competitor in databases and server OS’s and most recently took command of the cloud computing effort, will leave the company this summer.

While many questioned Steve Balmer’s leadership at Microsoft, they did offer up his very public and official MS explanation of the decision and change in strategic direction that led to Muglia’s departure.  Here is the email that was sent out first to all of Microsoft’s employees:  Click to read Steven Balmer’s Email

So what does all this mean?  Well, when asking some of the SQL Server MVP folks, we got some similar opinion, as well as sentiment on some of these big personalities that they have worked with and communicated with for years.  Indeed, it certainly reflects a change in direction, or as SQL MVP Paul Turley at Hitachi Consulting, puts it, “no doubt there are a lot of big picture discussions going on among execs at Microsoft.  This kind of thing is usually a sign of redirection” His take on some of these departures are expressed on his recent SQL BI blog post “What’s going on at Microsoft?”.  

Steve Jones, editor-at-large of SQLServerCentral.com, chalks it up this way, and doesn’t see the need to read anything into it.  “People get tired of jobs and want new challenges.  It’s the same at the professional as well at the executive levels”

Even though we wish the best for these industry leaders in their new roles, we must be confident that Microsoft has no intention of letting competitors get ahead of them on two monumental technological innovations – Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence.  Such a significant investment will keep them moving forward on both these initiatives long into the future.

PASS – So what’s going on over here?

If you’ve been watching and reading the recent elections results of the PASS Board of Directors, and the controversy surrounding it, it was just announced today that two key directors have resigned. 

Here’s the announcement I received on behalf of PASS:

I am sad to announce that the PASS Board of Directors has officially accepted the resignations of Brian Moran and Jeremiah Peschka. Each is stepping down for personal reasons unrelated to his involvement with PASS. Both Brian and Jeremiah have been instrumental in the growth and success of PASS and will be missed on the Board. We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.

On a positive note, I am happy to formally introduce two fantastic replacements for the vacated positions. The Board of Directors has approved the appointments of Mark Ginnebaugh, President of DesignMind in San Francisco, and Geoff Hiten, Principal Consultant with Intellinet in Atlanta, each to serve a term of one year on the Board. Geoff and Mark were both on the electoral slate in 2010 – more information about the outstanding qualities they bring to the organization can be found on the 2010 PASS Election site.

Please join us in congratulating Geoff and Mark on their appointments and welcoming them to the PASS Board of Directors!

When I found out the news, I proceeded to send a note of congratulations to Geoff, via the SQL MVP forum.  Many MVP colleagues followed suit.  However, little did I know I would inadvertantly stir up some recent controversies as a result of the last PASS nominations and elections.  I will not go into them here in this blog, but there was quite a lot of discussion and write-ups about it this past summer.  You can read a lot about this at Andy Leonard’s blog, his thoughts that were echoed by many in the community.  I hope Andy doesn’t mind me using him as a reference, but he was publicly vocal and passionate about it at the time.  Let me say that in the spirit of the New Year, 2011, as we can see, many of us have moved on to other exciting adventures and challenges, including  Andy himself, as well as introducing a new spin on the lives, trial and travails of SQLPeople in the community.  Perhaps we will see the likes of Donald Farmer soon, as a SQL MVP, so he can continue to share his fountain of knowledge with us here...

As Donald said, a new beginning.........



Posted by Jason Brimhall on 12 January 2011

Quite the shake up indeed.

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