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Suggestions for PASS


Suggestions for PASS

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Andy Warren
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Suggestions for PASS

Andy
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Grant Fritchey
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What the hell, I'm just a volunteer at PASS, so the pay cut when I get fired isn't going to be too bad.

I think a lot of these are very good suggestions. Andy knows, but anyone who wasn't there doesn't, the volunteers at PASS who attended the conference had a meeting on Tuesday, prior to the conference. We had panel discussions about an internal survey that asked exactly the kinds of questions that Andy has put forward here, and, in the comments, a lot of similar suggestions were made (Although I'm seeing some new ones here). We had a good discussion about it.

I belong to several non-professional organizations, Scouts, Masons, North American Hunters & American Legion. There are several things each of these organizations offer, but for most of them you can boil it down to two things, training & a magazine. That training falls into two categories, free and cost based.

PASS has a magazine, SQL Server Standard. Being a volunteer on the editorial committee (and more than a little bit hungry to expand my own writing career), I know that group is trying to expand both the worth of the magazine to the PASS members, and it's ability to communicate what is going on within PASS. I think some of Andy's suggestions for the PASS web site could also be applied to the mag.

PASS does offer training through the Summit and a couple of other large scale events overseas & here in the US. But, that's only the cost based side of the training. The free part of the training can easily be defined as the Chapters. But, and here I'm speaking as the Program Director of a new local chapter, we're getting little to no recognition or support from PASS. As anyone who has tried knows, starting a user group is difficult. Presumably our association with PASS should hook us in to an existing network of speakers and sponsors and all kinds of great resources. The reality is, some of that is there, but it's difficult to find or hard to get, or it's just no there at all.

I like the suggestion for more communication mechanisms for the Chapters that Andy has suggested. Both to get the word out about the local Chapter and to the Chapter about other stuff going on. I think the idea of a SQL Saturday would be great, but I know that I'd have a heck of a time getting speakers on my own (I need speakers for December, January, February... you get the idea). Some kind of "SQLSaturday in a Box" would be a good idea (see Andy Warren for ideas, I've heard he put one on before).

I like most of the ideas for PASS members, but the PASS certification idea has already been kicked around. It'll be expensive to set up & maintain. More, it'll directly compete with Microsoft certification.

I also agree with the idea of not trying to compete with SSC, Simple-Talk & the others in content. On the other hand, there's got to be a way to get the idea of PASS out to people better than has been done in the past, and a web site with good content is one way. Partnerships might be a good idea and could run both ways, especially since PASS does have a content generator in the SQL Server Standard.

Hopefully, none of what I've said is going to get me kicked out of being a volunteer at PASS (I promise guys, next round of Jager is on me). I think the potential for the organization is really great, but I can't disagree with Andy, we're coming up a bit short.

Thanks for the forum.

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K. Brian Kelley
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Grant Fritchey (10/18/2007)
PASS does offer training through the Summit and a couple of other large scale events overseas & here in the US. But, that's only the cost based side of the training. The free part of the training can easily be defined as the Chapters. But, and here I'm speaking as the Program Director of a new local chapter, we're getting little to no recognition or support from PASS. As anyone who has tried knows, starting a user group is difficult. Presumably our association with PASS should hook us in to an existing network of speakers and sponsors and all kinds of great resources. The reality is, some of that is there, but it's difficult to find or hard to get, or it's just no there at all.


I'll second this. We started up the Midlands PASS Chapter at the beginning of this year and thus far all of our speakers have been bourne due to contacts from within the user group. Getting outside sponsorship of our meetings has been along the same lines. Every so often we get a box of SWAG, often unannounced, but other than that, no real support. And though it's been raised to PASS HQ, we still don't appear on the official chapters page.

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Andy Warren
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One correction to the article, the full price for membership is $150 and not $250. Thanks to Bill Graziano for pointing it out to me. Steve has made the change to the article.

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Andy Warren
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Thanks for the comments so far!

Grant, I disagree with you on the certification part. I think it would cost money, but it would be self supporting. Picture a process like this:

- You achieve MCDBA status (satisfying our MS friends)
- You submit proof of MCDBA plus five years work experience as a DBA to PASS (and both are verified) along with your check for say $100 to cover the expense
- You take a 1 day hands on exam administered at a few sites around the country that are certified PASS test sites and that would require candidates to build a cluster, do restores, etc. Verify core level competencies on a real server - cost $500 per attempt, plus travel
- You PASS (sorry) the exam and get your PASS Pro 2007 polo, certificate, and wallet card - another $50.
- To get your PASS Pro 2008 shirt & card you have to complete x hours of continuing education (based on PASS assessments of value for various courses, events, article writing even) and maintain your MCDBA

I'm borrowing the Cisco model. To a large degree they have maintained value of their high end certs by requiring an hands on exam. Yes, it's expensive, but I suspect DBA's with the PASS cert might command an additional $5-15k per year.

Im open to tweaking the model, show me some ideas!

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Stephanie J Brown
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In response to Andy noting that SSC has so many more members than PASS does (and that's despite Steve's constant plugs BigGrin ), I'd like to note that there may be many like me who are developers, not DBAs. Why should a developer join PASS, especially since Andy's article suggests PASS is a DBA-oriented organization? Doesn't look like I'd get much benefit from belonging, nationally or locally - pizza and pop notwithstanding.

The other item that really caught my eye was related to board meetings. I belong to a number of non-profit and for-profit organizations, and I've never known one that doesn't publish meeting minutes! If that's not in the charter or by-laws, it should be. And aren't all the board meetings open to any member? Why should Andy need to request that chapter leaders be allowed to attend? If a board claims to be representing it's members (and these ARE elected board members), how can they bar the membership from meetings? If I was a PASS member, I'd be asking for and reviewing the by-laws right now to see what's in there regarding how board meetings and communication thereof are to be handled.

I think a lot of Andy's ideas sound real good on paper, and if the PASS members think they're important, I'm sure those members will step up and volunteer to get the ball rolling. So I wish you luck on improving the organization, which obviously you folks really care about (that's a wonderfully detailed and organized article, Andy, and I know how much time it can take to put one of those together!)


Here there be dragons...,

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K. Brian Kelley
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Stephanie J Brown (10/18/2007)
In response to Andy noting that SSC has so many more members than PASS does (and that's despite Steve's constant plugs BigGrin ), I'd like to note that there may be many like me who are developers, not DBAs. Why should a developer join PASS, especially since Andy's article suggests PASS is a DBA-oriented organization? Doesn't look like I'd get much benefit from belonging, nationally or locally - pizza and pop notwithstanding.


It's not intended to be DBA-oriented. It's supposed to be SQL Server professional-oriented. That includes developers. For instance, Midlands PASS is about half DBA / half developer.

If you look at the mission of PASS, there is no distinction that PASS is a DBA-focused organization:

About PASS

K. Brian Kelley
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Grant Fritchey
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Sounds reasonable. I guess I'm going to have to get off my dead behind & get my MCDBA.

Seriously though, it doesn't sound unreasonable. You just need to get the infrastructure set up to support it, which basically means getting the board behind the idea and then getting the volunteers to step (actually, probably the easiest part of the process).

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Steve Jones
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With Grant and Andy pushing this, we going to have a shooting component to the certification? Maybe a nice paper target with RBAR and cursor rings near the center?Tongue

PASS has tended to lean towards DBAs, but maybe they can push a little more in the development area as well. There are certainly a lot of developers that could benefit from education and other services from PASS.

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John Magnabosco
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Andy makes some great suggestions. I too have advocated some of these in the past within my own circle of influence.

There is alot that our chapters can do outside of the PASS umbrella. IndyPASS has been working at trying to get contact information of regional PASS Chapter leaders as well as yet-to-be PASS Chapters to form some dialogue among them. This dialogue would provide a level of peer support to increase the strength of these groups as well as help the start-ups to get things rolling... not to mention getting SQL Server user groups started in cities that have none.

Once this dialogue is well established, it will be mind-blowing what the PASS Chapters can do regardless of what is offered at the National level. In fact, it may be even more effective at the chapter level.
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