Blog Post

Another One Bites the Dust - PASS is Gone, so...What Now?


There has been a lot of noise over the last few weeks since it was announced that due to financial constraints related to canceling the in-person Summit due to COVID-19, PASS would cease to exist as of January 15, 2021. 

After reading the release and a few tweets, I paused and considered.

As I read through the various materials, I was struck by several distinct emotions...

My initial response was Sadness; I knew when the decision was made (and basically had to be made) to move Summit from in-person to all-virtual that there would be repercussions, especially financial ones.  I have never been on the Board or anything like that, but I have always paid enough attention to be aware that a majority of the funding that kept our no-membership-fee organization going came from Summit registrations, and you can't charge in-person experience fees for a virtual conference.  I have been to a half dozen Summits over the years, presenting twice, presented at numerous SQL Saturdays, and been a part of I-don't-know-how-many in-person and virtual user groups.  The first thing through my mind was that all of that was...gone.

The more I read, the more I felt Anger and Disgust; over the years there has been an ongoing conflict within the SQL Server community regarding the operations of PASS and its management company Christianson & Company (C&C).  There have been numerous snipes back and forth on whether C&C did a good job, did they cost too much money, did they care about the community, etc. etc. etc.  I have always stayed out of these discussions, but also always been annoyed how some people couldn't make the distinction between the workings of the organization and the volunteers that make things work.  At times I have seen people on the PASS Executive Board and other volunteers attacked because of one decision or another, and it just isn't right.  Even if a certain person participated in a decision (or made it individually themselves) there is no reason to attack someone who is giving personally of their time.  I have met many of the people who have served as PASS leadership over the years, and while they have varying personalities they have all been dedicated to supporting the organization for little personal gain, not back-room power-playing, and I salute them.
Finally I arrived at a wistful sense of Joy.  I have learned so much from the various functions of PASS over the years, but even more importantly I have met and interacted with so many amazing people along the way - people I never would have met without PASS.  I blog because I saw a presentation talking about how blogging can help you learn and share your knowledge. I became a speaker as the next step down that learn and share path, and becoming a speaker is what really opened up networking to me.  For everything I have learned in a session at a SQLSaturday or User Group session, I have learned even more from someone I met at a Speaker Dinner or in the hallway between sessions.  This is true of both Community members and Microsoft employees as well - on multiple occasions I have met and had long discussions with Microsoft Product Team members who design, build, and fix the SQL Server product and I would not have done so without PASS.

So now what?  What should we feel now?

Fear? NO!!!

There are lots of options for content post-PASS, and I have compiled a list I want to share with you!
The biggest single source of content I have found is  Many of the larger user groups have turned to Meetup during COVID while they couldn't meet in-person, and even more are springing up there now since PASS made its announcement.  All of the groups I list here are "Public" so regardless of what geographic area they are affiliated with, anyone should be able to join!
First are a couple of groups that have arisen from the ashes of large PASS Virtual Chapters:

Database Professionals Virtual Meetup Group - 1,453 members - Meets Biweekly 

DBA Fundamentals Group - 877 members - Meets Weekly

There are many regional/local groups on Meetup as well; I gathered this list by spending some time searching Meetup for SQL and Azure content and then checking the groups to see if they have regular meetings.  All of the groups listed here meet at least monthly and have regular meetings scheduled.  I found many groups that had hundreds of people listed as members but if they didn't have anything scheduled I didn't include them.
Here they are sorted by member count - an omission from this list does not mean anything in particular other than a group didn't show up on my search or didn't have regular meetings scheduled at the time I ran the search:
New England SQL Server User Group - 2,767 members - Meets Monthly
Azure in the ATL - 2,409 members - Meets Monthly
Northern Virginia SQL Server Users Group - 1,553 members - Meets Monthly
Triangle SQL Server User Group (NC) - 1,541 members - Meets Monthly
Arizona SQL Server User Group - 1,136 members - Meets Monthly
Sacramento SQL Server User Group - 994 members - Meets Monthly
North Boston Azure Cloud User Group - 899 members - Meets Monthly
Utah SQL Server Group - 848 members - Meets Monthly
Rhode Island SQL Server User Group - 610 members - Meets Monthly
PASSMN (Minnesota SQL Server User Group) - 596 Members - Meets Monthly
Atlanta Azure Data User Group - 589 members - Meets Monthly
CincyPASS - Cincinnati SQL Server Users Group - 476 members - Meets Monthly
Albuquerque SQL Server User Group - 354 members - Meets Monthly
Data Platform Downunder Meetup Group (Australia Time Zone) - 90 members - Meets Weekly


A couple of more non-Meetup links:
Data Saturdays - a potential replacement for SQLSaturdays - there are a few upcoming events scheduled already:
SQLUGs - a site to host local user group webpages being provided for *free* by Denny Cherry and Associates (website/@DCACco) as a service to the SQL Community:


Let me know if you find other treasure troves of information to share, and hope this helps!

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