My Thoughts on PASS Virtual Summit – An Editorial

Published On: 2020-06-11By:

On June 3rd PASS announced their annual Summit for Data Professional was moved to a virtual format. This is not surprising to those of us in the SQL Server community. Many events are moving to a virtual platform as well as being able to offer at no costs all attendees. PASS though, is a different kind of “company” for lack of a better word. We are a community of people that built this “company” from the ground up.

Due to normal day to day commitments, like jobs, most of us do not have time to run the day to day operations of the “company” and we rely on Christensen and Company (C&C), to help with those activities. It is their hard work that we PAY for that allows PASS and our community to continue to grow. The individuals at C&C do not work for free so naturally it takes funding to enable that.

Summit is our largest event each year. It brings in most of the “company’s” revenue through sponsorships and registration fees. This revenue is what allows for the next year’s community programs such as SQL Saturdays, Local Groups and free training to exist. These programs are what comprises the foundation the PASS SQL Server community thrives on and grows from. It is these events that bring us as a family together throughout the year and let us look forward to the big “family reunion” we call Summit each year. It is without saying, Summit can’t be FREE.

In the past week, I have read and heard many comments regarding the pricing and complaining that events like this should be free or that speakers should be compensated. It simply cannot be. PASS has worked hard over the last few weeks with help of many of us in the community through surveys,  focus groups, and  passionate discussions to devise the best possible offering that gives value not only to the community but allows the “company” to continue its existence. The pricing has been scrutinized, redone and then redone again to make it the best possible options for all of us. Trust that the amounts being charged are the lowest possible and are meant to keep the “company” afloat, not to turn a profit.

Yes, it is very easy to argue that without venue costs, lodging, food, etc the cost of summit for PASS is minimal, but that simply is not true. There is a lot more to it. A technical platform must be purchased or rented, C&C employees must be paid, promotions must be done, and countless other line items that need to be paid for. There are deposits and costs that have already been paid in preparation for the onsite Summit that may or may not be paid back to PASS. As someone who has had to cancel a SQL Saturday this year after already outlaying nonrefundable expenditures prior to the cancellations, I can sympathize. In my case, if one more sponsor requested a refund, at this point I would have had to give it from my own pocket. Imagine that on the scale of Summit.

For PASS to survive Summit cannot be free. There are costs and we should not expect compensation as speakers just because there is perceived lower costs of holding a virtual event. There is always more to it. I would encourage everyone to consider attending Summit if possible.  Attendees are what will help to ensure PASS stays afloat and our community can continue to exist and thrive for the coming year. We relay on PASS for so many things, for some of us it has made our careers, it is time for us to step up and support the organization in this unprecedented time.

You can register to this year’s PASS Virtual Summit here.

This event, like onsite, will be uniquely PASS. It will be immersive and promises many networking opportunities. This will not be your typical GO TO WEBINAR. Trust me when I say, everyone is working hard so ensure the #SQLFamily will not be let down. I hope to virtually see you there.

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Being a Woman in the SQL Community

Published On: 2020-02-26By:

In celebration of Women’s History Month starting next week, I was asked to write this blog about my experiences as a woman in the SQL Community, and it really got me thinking. At first, I thought I should be very politically correct and only talk about the great stuff and hype up all wonderful experiences I’ve had but then I thought that wouldn’t give a true picture. So, I am writing this as openly and honestly as I can. Here it goes.

The Ugly

I am going to start with the negatives to get those out of the way and draw attention to things that are still happening not only to me but to other women in this community. I don’t want this to be a gripe piece, since that’s not what I do. It is intended to be an honest accounting of my experience. Your experiences will vary, and I am not speaking for anyone else, but know I am not the only woman to have these experiences. I will address the bad and then move on to the fantastic things that this community has to offer for women and what I have been able to achieve because of the opportunities this community has afforded to me.

These are the things that suck about being a woman in the SQL Community that have had an effect on me. I am just going list them without detail, again I am just calling these out so others are aware these things happen.

Seeing Diversity and Inclusion Panels with no women

Having men assume I am there with my husband

Being hit on by random “community” guys in person, on twitter, on linked in, on my website

Being stalked by other male attendees

Being physically assaulted by male attendees (being touched without permission)

Someone assuming I was only selected to speak BECAUSE they needed women

Not being chosen for something BECAUSE I was a woman

Several Implying I was given Microsoft MVP award only BECAUSE I was a woman

Needing a male to repeat what I said so my ideas/solution etc. would be heard

Having a male think they need to speak for me

Having people not accept that men and women in the community can’t be good friends and nothing more

Some assuming I got my current job only because they needed a woman on staff, not because of merit

The Good

Thankfully, unlike other communities, the SQL Server community is very welcoming to women.  The benefits of being a member of it FAR outweighs the negatives. This community has helped me achieve so much. I am grateful for all the community as afford me and I give back as much as I can because of it.

Here are some of the opportunities and experiences I’ve gotten, not just because I am a woman but because of being an active part of the SQL community.

Building a network of smart, strong, technical women that you can rely on for questions, support and feedback. Knowing they’ve been there done that too.

Getting a chance to sit on WIT panels regularly with topics dealing with gender issues or career advice

Running a user group

Being a Regional Mentor

Running a SQL Saturday

Being a speaker at conferences and SQL Saturdays

Ability to mentor younger women

Being amplified as an expert in my field (this is HUGE as a woman)

Being a role model as a successful woman to my daughters by being part of this community and giving back

Being an advocate for other women

Writing and being published blogger

Seeing more and more men attend WIT panels and speak up

Seeing women on panels because they deserve to be there, not because they needed a woman

Being ask directly to speak somewhere because of your knowledge, not because of my gender

Seeing the community come together and speak up when issues with regards to diversity and inclusion come to light.

Having a Board of Directors that takes action when there is a violation to the Anti-Harassment policy

Being turned to for advice on policies

Becoming a Microsoft MVP because of the work I do in this community

The feeling you get after speaking when someone says they learned something

The unwavering support you get from the SQL Family when times are tough

The knowledge there are other women in this community that have been there, done that, and you are not alone.

The “you got this” push you get from the SQL Family that pushes you to venture out of your comfort zone

I could  all the great ways this community has shaped my life and my career. I even got approached for my last job in part just by my involvement in this community. There is so much to be gained by being a part of it regardless of your gender. We all know there are so many challenges with being a woman in tech. We talk about these all the time. What makes the SQL Community different for me is that we UNDERSTAND that, and we work to continually improve upon it. Having been part of this community for almost a decade, I’ve seen so much change in this for the better. As Rie and I always say, we are grateful for those who have run the gauntlet before us.  We are standing on the shoulders of those women who came before us and fought the good fight. We are blessed to continue to do it for the others that will follow. Thank you, SQL Community, for helping me achieve what I hope will help other women as they rise.

 

 

 

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Invest in Yourself Stop Making Excuses

Published On: 2019-10-22By:

Bob Pusateri (B|T) tweeted a quote image that really struck a chord with me and elicited a strong reaction from myself. It got me thinking I need to write a blog on this, so here we go.

Many times, over the years I’ve had conversations with people in which they have said things like below.

“I can’t learn anything new because my work won’t send me to training”

“I can’t learn about xyz because my boss or coworkers won’t sit down with me to show me how”

“I don’t have time to learn anything new”

“We’ll never go to the cloud, so I don’t need to know that”

“I’m too busy just putting out fires, I can’t leave the office to go to training”

“I can’t learn anything new because my work won’t pay for training”

“My free time is my own. When I’m not at work, I don’t want to think about databases”

“I’m too burned out, to learn anything new”

“It’s just not a priority for me right now”

If you can hear yourself saying any of these, I want you to stop right here and reread the image above several times. If you make excuses like these, you will get nowhere fast and likely become disgruntled which can lead to feeling trapped. If you wish to have a career and not just a 9-5 job it is critical you invest in your own training.

Now many of us don’t have the money to pay for things like week-long conferences or expensive hands-on training, I get that. There are other ways to get training, it’s not necessary to set your target on those. Start small. I challenge you to read one blog a day, that’s it. By doing that simple thing you vastly increase your knowledge. I’ll list a few of my favorites at the end of the blog.

Next, be sure to attend your local user groups, Code Camps, or SQL Saturdays. These are usually free to attend in-person training opportunities on various topics, not to mention it’s your chance to network with other technology professionals. At these events, talk and engage people, as you never know when one of those conversations may lead to your next career opportunity. That’s a win-win. An added benefit is that usually these types of events provide you with motivation to further your own professional development. You’ll be surprised on how they will affect your outlook on work and learning. If you can’t make it out of the office or home for training, did you know there are many virtual training opportunities available like PASS’s virtual user groups ? These are live training sessions, much like those at SQL Saturdays, given during lunch hours or after work. They are also often recorded so you can watch them when its more convenient.

Lastly, do yourself a favor and join Twitter. So many of us in the SQL Community are out there learning from each other every day. Bloggers tend to leave breadcrumbs for learning.

We post links to our newest blogs.

We note things like Currently Reading: xyz Blog Topic with a link to that blog.

Follow the #SQLHELP hashtag. We are all out there helping each other trouble shoot issues and providing references to answers. This is a fantastic place not only to find help, but to learn.

These are just a very few things you can easily do to start investing in yourself and your training. Below I have listed sites for free or low-cost training, links to great blogs you may want to start with. However, you start… the point is to START. Stop complaining and making excuses and just go for it.

I started out working at the Port of Virginia with ZERO SQL Server Database Admin experience straight out of college. They sent me to a SQL Server bootcamp, (the only training I EVER got from them in 12 years) in which after, I took my certification exams and I was off and running with no more training. As we know, when you attend training like that, it’s really just a ton of topics thrown at you, an exam is taken, and nothing is really digested. In order to be successful and keep the Port’s databases running as their only DBA, I had to invest in myself and my own training. If it wasn’t for me taking the time to self-train I would not be where I am today and my tenure at the Port would have been disastrous.

Training Sites

SQLPass – pass.org

PluralSight- https://www.pluralsight.com/

SSWUG – https://www.sswug.org/

LinkedIn Learning- https://www.linkedin.com/learning/

Microsoft Virtual Academy – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/learning/training.aspx

MS SQL Tips – MSSQLTips.com

Blogs

SQL Server Central- https://www.sqlservercentral.com/ (stairways series are good for beginners)

Denny Cherry and Associates Consulting- https://www.dcac.com/publications/blog

SQL Skills- https://www.sqlskills.com/sql-server-training/online-training/

MS SQL Tips- https://www.mssqltips.com/

Simple Talk- https://www.red-gate.com/simple-talk/

SQL Performance- https://sqlperformance.com/

C-SharpCorner – https://www.c-sharpcorner.com/

Summary

Each day I learn something new, I take the time to invest in my knowledge and career. No one has to tell me to do this. I want more out of a job, I want a career, so I make one. As the quote above say, I am unstoppable, there is no reason you can’t be too. I understand that this is a personal choice and it is perfectly fine not to want this, but don’t complain while doing nothing. While there are exceptions to the rule, most companies don’t care about your career trajectory. HR is there to protect the company from lawsuits, not to help you. You are the only one responsible for managing your skills and career, and if your company isn’t investing in your training, you need to do it yourself.

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Join me for a PASS Summit Pre-Con

Published On: 2019-04-24By:

PASS Summit 2019

I am very excited to announce I will be delivering a pre-conference session on SQL Server Performance Tuning on November 5th at PASS Summit 2019. If you have ever attended one of my sessions, you know how passionate I am about this particular topic. So, you also know how very excited I am to have this opportunity to spend a full day talking about SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization. Performance Tuning is one of my favorite things to do with SQL Server. There is nothing like seeing performance improvements in an environment as your reward for your hard work. It’s tangible and gratifying. In this session you will be guaranteed to walk away with a  list of items to evaluate in your environments and ways you can resolve common issues.

What is PASS Summit?

According to PASS it’s “Interactive training on the latest technologies and spotlights on hot topics such as security, cloud, and AI will be led by the best data minds in the industry”.

To me it’s a 5-day convention that bring geeks together to celebrate and learn from each other. It’s networking, learning, mind melds, fun, inspiration and renewal.

What’s a Pre-Con?

Pre-conference learning opportunities offer a deep dive into new skills and knowledge before the conference officially begins. These highly interactive sessions will help you build expertise and develop the skills that you can immediately put to work in your organization. The all-day time frame lets speakers delivers topics in greater detail, showcasing more demos and answering more of your questions than in a normal session.

SQL Server Performance Tuning and Optimization Abstract

Do your users complain about slow reports? Are your database servers overwhelmed during times of high usage? Every SQL Server environment can benefit from performance tuning whether your environment has one server or thousands. In this full-day session you will learn about how identify problems using a wide variety of tools and scripts and how to implement best practices across your environment. Additionally, you will learn how to begin reading execution plans and how to tune queries to improve your performance within SQL Server. You will walk away with a list of items to evaluate in your environments and ways to resolve common issues. This session will guide you through real-life performance problems which can be solved by best practices and practical skills. Taught on a level anyone can understand, this session will focus on Microsoft SQL Server 2016 and forward.

You will also learn about maintenance activities and how they affect your server’s overall performance, and how to identify when your infrastructure is affecting your performance. Lastly, we will cover the newest performance enhancements coming with the latest release, SQL Server 2019. You’ll leave this demo-filled session better prepared to tackle many issues that can plague SQL Server performance along with the knowledge of how to resolve them.

You can read more here.

How to Attend

You can register here https://www.pass.org/summit/2019/RegisterNow.aspx and using the discount code below you can save $150 on your conference admission.

Want to know more on why you should attend PASS Summit? Check out my blog on Why I Go to Summit Each Year

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As Microsoft MVP’s and Partners as well as VMware experts, we are summoned by companies all over the world to fine-tune and problem-solve the most difficult architecture, infrastructure and network challenges.

And sometimes we’re asked to share what we did, at events like Microsoft’s PASS Summit 2015.

Awards & Certifications

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