Category: PASS

PASS Board of Directors Election

Greetings. It’s time to vote for the open PASS Board of Directors positions. I want to start by thanking some folks.

Thank you to the Nomination Committee for their time and effort on this process:

Bill Grazziano
Grant Fritchey
Robert Davis
Lori Edwards
Bob Pusateri

I would like to thank the four candidates, all of whom have shown a passion for this community, not just with their words, but with their actions.

Ryan Adams
Tim Ford
Argenis Fernandez
Jen Stirrup

This is never an easy decision to make. I know each of these great people and have no doubt that the outcome would be great for PASS for any of them to sit on the Board.

Here are my votes, with the rationale behind each.

Jen Stirrup

I know that Jen is the only candidate for EMEA and a vote here isn’t really necessary. I am voting for her anyway because I have tremendous respect for her and the work she has already done on the PASS Board. I love how great she has been in terms of transparency. I love how she has served as a champion for the data professionals out there that aren’t DBAs or Database Developers. While the core of PASS has long been, and continues to be, with our Database Administrators and Developers, it is vital, in my opinion, for PASS to also embrace the data analysts, data scientists, and consumers of data. One way is via the PASS Business Analytics Conference. Our DBA and Database Developer friends put a lot of time and effort into helping to store our vital data and keep it safe and secure. We keep and safeguard that data so we can USE it. Jen has served well in speaking for those people.

Tim Ford

Tim has shown excellent leadership in continuing the success of the SQL Saturday program, which I believe in very strongly. To me, between his direct involvement with SQL Saturdays, his efforts on SQL Cruise are also fantastic. I hope to do one some day. 🙂 I think Tim has demonstrated his passion and ability to lead and I would like to see him continue those efforts. I do also appreciate his support for the PASS Business Analytics Conference and serving that community.

Ryan Adams

I met Ryan Adams when I was a PASS Regional Mentor. We chatted at a Regional Mentor’s meeting at PASS Summit and participated in discussions at the PASS Chapter Leaders meeting as well. I was amazed to hear how he performed that role. I was amazed at his organization and his passion for his chapters and for PASS. He made me want to be a better Regional Mentor myself. I chatted a bit with the Chapter Leaders in his region. They were in awe at how helpful he was for them and had nothing but praise and appreciation for Ryan. I knew during those conversations that it was only a matter of time before I would see his name on a ballot for the PASS Board. I also knew that I would vote for him when it happened. The time has come.


I mentioned that this is a very hard decision. Argenis is a brilliant SQL Server professional with a tremendous passion for this community. I think he is a great candidate for the PASS Board. I have every confidence that we will see his name on a ballot again. At this time, I feel that my three choices above are the ones I need to make.

My fellow PASS members, I implore you to vote. Please make your voice heard.

PASS Summit 2014 PASS Board Q and A

At PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle, I attended a couple Q and A sessions with the PASS Board of Directors members. There were three such sessions. I missed the general Q and A as my Summit presentation was at that same time. Rather than try to capture the play by play of everything, I decided to distil all my notes into a single post that is more of an article. I have not really tried this type of journalistic article before, so I hope you will bear with me.

For the past two years, the PASS Board election process has been somewhat less than smooth from a Community perspective. Last year, there was uproar over the fact that people with multiple accounts could vote from each account, thereby allowing them to vote multiple times. To try to rectify that situation prior to the 2014 election, PASS instituted a policy that required people to update their PASS profile in order to be eligible to vote. The plan was to also look for duplication in the accounts and have people with multiple accounts choose a single one to serve as their account. As listed in this post by PASS President Thomas LaRock (Blog|Twitter) on the PASS blog, PASS communicated this requirement many times on many different channels. Despite this, there were many members that did not receive the message and/or take necessary action to ensure their eligibility to vote in this year’s election. Once again, there was a massive outcry against PASS over this situation. When asked about this situation, PASS Executive Vice President, Finance and Governance, Adam Jorgensen (Blog|Twitter) replied, “A significant amount of work went into the communication plan on this. People didn’t get an email, but email was not the only thing.” Given the fact that PASS tried so many avenues of communication, Adam wants to ask PASS members the following: “What is the BEST way to make sure, when we communicate with folks, that they read it AND take action? What is the best vehicle? What channels are most effective for them?”

All of this outcry started once the election began and people discovered they were not eligible to vote. There was an understandable amount of frustration for people whose reactions suggested they felt they were being disenfranchised. The PASS Board responded to this outcry by extending the election to allow people more time to update their profiles. I asked what went into making that change. Adam explained that the PASS organization is governed by Bylaws as well as the laws of the state of Illinois. As such, it is not going to be able to turn on a dime. According to Adam, “We had to decide if wanted (and if so how) to change things and extend the election. This required 12 people in a very short time. HQ did a great job to help coordinate that. We had to talk to our legal counsel to assess the ramifications of changing things midstream.” Denise McInerney (Blog|Twitter), PASS Vice President, Marketing, added to this, “HQ did an amazing amount of work during that election change. A lot of credit goes to HQ for enabling us to do this as quickly as we did.” Adam went on to describe some of the thinking that was involved in this process. “Is it good governance or bad governance to extend or change the election in the middle? LOTS of conversation on that.” In the end, the Board made a conclusion that I agree with: “[It is] bad governance to change the election, BUT governance isn’t just about trying to err on the side of good or bad governance, but also about keeping a community what we want it to be.” The Board decided it was more important to keep the community whole than to perfectly adhere to policies they had enacted.

Another topic that has ben on people’s minds is the decision to commit to continuing to develop the Business Analytics (BA) Conference. At the Blogger Q and A, Thomas LeBlanc (Blog|Twitter) asked why this investment was going to continue given the challenges it has faced. Thomas LaRock gave the first response. “Three years ago, Microsoft came to us and said, ‘You guys have built something incredible. Can you go find the Business Analytics folks?” Basically, PASS has helped to build and foster an amazing community around Microsoft data technologies in terms of those who develop tools, and provided the services for others to do so. Microsoft asked PASS to try to do the same thing for the people who consume those services and that data. In the age of Self Service and tools like Power Pivot, there is certainly some overlap in terms of people enable analysis of data and those of perform that analysis. But largely, the audience for the BA Conference is one that PASS has not really targeted or served before.

Regarding the fact that the BA Conference has not really found its footing yet, Denise contributed, “You learn as you go. We didn’t quite hit the mark on getting the program and audience matched up. We tried to be too many things to too many people.” She added that PASS does Community very well. I have to agree on that. And that Community really helps people develop and learn. Attendees at PASS events often have great experiences of learning something cool and saying, “I’m going to try this at work on Monday.” According to Denise, “We want to create THAT experience for the business data user.”

Adam acknowledged that there have been questions around why PASS didn’t just do a BI (Business Intelligence) conference. “It’s not about BI. And if you do a BI conference, where does half of Summit go?” He then added what I feel is a great point, “We don’t want to split audiences up; we want to bring them together.” This is key as it reinforces that understanding that many of us have that the audience for the BA Conference is not really a subset of the existing PASS Summit audience; it is a different group of people that PASS has not served before. As Adam explained, “Are we taking something away? We’re not. We are building something new that is additive.”

Regarding BA Conference location, the first was in Chicago. Last year was held in San Jose, CA. Next year will be in Santa Clara CA. 2016 is back in San Jose. Thomas LeBlanc asked why the BA Conference is not as mobile as Summit. According to Denise, “Silicon Valley was strategic. Silicon Valley is on the leading edge with what is happening with Analytics. By locating there, we thought we would have access to a pool of speakers that would be local to the conference.” The idea is that this would make it easier to get speakers. Locating in Silicon Valley is not just about speakers, though. Denise continued, “Lots of the target audience lives there. Exhibitors would be nearby and it would be easy to get them.”

The topic of Speakers brought forth the topic of the decision NOT to have a Community Call For Speakers for the BA Conference this year. Instead, the speakers will be invited only. For many, this is seen as a problem. I, myself, being a speaker who has content appropriate for business users, was disappointed by this decision at first. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. In the existing PASS Community, we have a lot of presenters with content around BI. But we have very few with analytics topics. My own content around showing people how to use Power Pivot is still BI, even if it is aimed at the business user. It is still about enabling analytics as opposed to performing analytics. Adam pointed out that when Summit first started, there was not Community Call For Speakers. According to Adam, “We have looked at the [evaluation] results over the past few years. People liked it but the program was mis-targeted to them.” Some have asked why the board did not choose to do a community call for a percentage of the sessions. Adam indicated that the board discussed that and arrived at this though: “What percentage is acceptable to be NOT OK with attendees? That would be zero.” I have to agree with Adam, here. That is also why I totally understand why I did not receive an invitation to speak. I have not demonstrated that I have content appropriate to an Analytics audience.

At this point it is appropriate to bring in some comments from the separate Q and A about the BA Conference. Jen Stirrup (Blog|Twitter), Director-at-Large, Virtual Chapters, gave further explanation behind the decision to keep forging ahead. “We did a lot of research with the BA Conference. People are really excited in Microsoft products, so that will continue to be a base. But, Tableau, for example, has its own user conference. We don’t want to just create another Tableau conference. I have spoken at those. They were much more sales driven and about user stories. With PASS, the main emphasis is on practicality. Learn on one day and apply it on the next.” She then put a key difference between BI and Analytics that I had not heard before: “BI projects focus on deliverables. BA stuff focus on business value.” That makes sense to me. With BI, we work to produce some object, whether it be a data model, cube, report, dashboard… As Jen added about Business Analytics, “[it] is less time-boxed and more value oriented.”

Amy Lewis (Blog|Twitter), Director-at-Large, PASS Programs, made a fine point here as well: “One thing we did poorly before was focusing on the tools. We saw we need to stop focusing on the architect perspective and more on the data analyst standpoint.” When asked about the personas present in the intended audience, Denise added, “We have come to understand it is not about job title. It was about what they do all day. What they have in common is Find Data, Make Sense, Produce Something With Impact.” Denise went on to point out that there were marketing issues in the past. “As far as Marketing, last year people thought it was a SQL conference. It has its own site, now. All the messaging is consistent now to clarify that.” Head on over to the new website to learn more about the new and improved messaging.

I want to close with a direct request from the Board. Adam pointed out that the PASS Board are fairly reachable people and are happy to respond to questions they receive. He stressed, “I would request that if you want to know the answer to a question, ASK THE QUESTION. We are happy to have conversation, but the judge, jury, and executioner style is just NOT productive.” Adam gave a great example of a blogger who wanted some facts for a blog post and ended up having a great conference call with several board members to get the information he needed. Tom then added, “I have really enjoyed this blogger Q and A at Summit. We should find a way to do this more.” We discussed the idea of doing this quarterly or something and in a format like #DataChat on Twitter happens now. That sounds like a good plan and a good way to help people who may feel they are not being heard to have another avenue to speak out.

I hope you found this helpful. I certainly feel better about these topics having attended the Q and A sessions and put in the work to write this up.

PASS Voting Extension

Greetings. PASS announced over the weekend that they were extending the deadline for updating your PASS Profile in order to be eligible to vote in the current Board of Directors Election. See the announcement from PASS President Thomas LaRock.

It is important that we all have our chance to cast our vote for the open Board positions. In case people are having issues receiving emails about this from PASS, I have pasted the steps present in the email I received. Please take a moment to make sure your voice is heard! #WeArePASS


Extension to Voting Period for 2014 PASS Board of Directors Elections

To address issues around voting eligibility for the current PASS Board of Director elections, the PASS Board voted today to extend this year’s registration and voting period to ensure that as many members as possible have the ability to cast their ballot. Here are the key dates in the extension:

October 5: All PASS members as of June 1, 2014, who have not already registered to vote by updating their myProfile on myPASS will now have until October 5 to update their profile.

October 6: We will pull an updated list of registered voters and filter for duplicates.

October 7: We will send all newly registered voters an email with their ballot link.

October 14: All voting will close at noon PDT.

How does this decision affect you?

If you already voted

You don’t need to do anything. All votes currently cast will remain valid, there will be no need to recast any votes.

If you already received a ballot but haven’t voted yet

You can cast your vote any time until the deadline on October 14 at noon PDT.

If you established your PASS profile after June 1, 2014

You are not eligible to vote in the current election, but you are already eligible to vote in next year’s elections if you have an up-to-date profile.

If you had a profile prior to June 1, 2014, but have not yet updated your profile

Please follow these steps in order to register and received a ballot to vote in this year’s elections:

Step 1: Update your PASS membership profile by October 5, 2014, 11:59pm PDT.
New mandatory fields were added in January, 2014. Please log in to confirm your PASS profile information is correct and fill out the new mandatory fields, including: Job Function, Industry, Country, Region, City, Zip Code/Postal Code, and Time Zone.

Step 2: Click ‘Save’ and make sure you see the words ‘Profile Updated and Voting Eligibility Recorded’ appear underneath the ‘Save’ button.
If you update your profile by October 5, 2014, you will receive a ballot on October 7, 2014.

Thanks for your patience and feedback as we work through these voting changes, and we apologize for any inconvenience.

To help PASS communicate important news and reminders, and in order to receive future voting ballots, please take the following steps to ensure our messages can reach you:

  • Ensure the PASS IP address is whitelisted on your company or email address provider’s servers:
  • Add to your safe sender list and as a contact.
  • Check spam folders regularly for important messages.
  • If you believe that you are not receiving PASS emails, please contact to let us know!


If you have been following the recent difficulties around the PASS election of Board Members, you will no doubt have noticed a climate of negativity and sometimes bashing. This has made me really sad to see in a community that I care a lot about. Rather than provide yet another blog post that goes into the details, I instead want to say Thank You to a lot of people.

Thank You to the people that have been raising issues and offering ideas. While I may not agree with the way in which these issues were raised, or the tone present, there were some good points made. You Are PASS.

Thank You to the PASS Board of Directors that worked through/around so much negativity to keep the Community in mind while striving to implement solutions. You took a lot of heat and, as far as what I saw, you handled yourselves with professionalism and patience. It was clear to me during this entire process that you care deeply about the PASS community and work hard to make it as strong as possible. You Are PASS.

Thank You to the people who have been understanding of the difficulties and stayed positive about the willingness of PASS BOD to work through these difficulties. You Are PASS.

PASS has been a huge asset to me in my career in working with SQL Server and related technologies. I feel that I owe a lot to the existence of this organization and the people within it who work so hard to keep it strong and help it grow. That includes the PASS members throughout the world. Thank you. You Are PASS.

My great hope with these recent events around the election and the events surrounding the PASS Summit selection process is that we, as a community, will learn something. The key idea that I think has been lacking on the part of some folk within the community is that everyone involved here, from the BOD to the various committees, to the PASS members ALL want this community to thrive. I would ask that, in the future, those of us who want to raise issues, those who want to make sure their voice is heard, etc, will base how we raise those issues by keeping one, very important idea in mind as we do so: WE ARE PASS.

My PASS Summit 2014 Submission Feedback

Speakers have been asking PASS for feedback regarding their Summit submissions for a few years. This year, following a bit of a heated “discussion,” PASS announced that session feedback would be available upon request. I, like so many other speakers had done, applaud this decision. PASS did make it clear that the both the quantity and the quality of the feedback varies widely.

I am a big proponent of learning from the experiences of others. As such, in the hopes that someone can learn something from the feedback I got, I hereby share what I received. I want to thank the reviewers who took the time to make these comments.

Analysis Services Terms and Concepts For The DBA (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


Despite some overlapping concepts, the worlds of the Relational engine and Analysis Services really are quite different. With more and more organizations realizing the power of Analytics, there is a good chance a BI initiative will come your way at some point.


This session is intended for the DBA that wants/needs to learn more about SQL Server Analysis Services. The goal is to provide a meaningful base of knowledge that will allow you to effectively participate in discussions of Analysis Services in your organization.


Through both slides and demos, you will learn:

— The differences between SSAS Multidimensional and SSAS Tabular

— Key terms like Measures, Dimensions, and Hierarchies

— Storage options such as MOLAP, HOLAP, ROLAP, and Direct Query

— Monitoring with Extended Events

— Overviews of MDX, DAX, and XMLA

— And more


Come take a few steps into the exciting world of Business Intelligence with SQL Server Analysis Services.


Seems this may be a 100 level session
Good topic, sounds more like a 100-level session to me.
No need of prerequisites to be SQL Server Administrator. should also focus on OLAP DW part and schema concept, slice and dice part of SSAS OLAP cube if someone wants to show the power of BI Analytics using SQL server analysis services.
Excellent and useful topic!


DANGER: The Art and Science of Presenting (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


Over the past decade, we have learned a lot about the chemistry of the brain and why humans react the way we do to events in our environment. The idea of Emotional Intelligence – EQ – is a compelling concept that applies this knowledge in a set of learn-able, improvable skills for leading others. Although EQ is often applied to corporate leadership, this session will explain the basics of EQ and demonstrate how you can use it to make your presentations better in the following areas:


• Crafting better slide decks

• Preparing yourself for presenting

• Delivering your content

• Dealing with the unexpected


Understanding and practicing the concepts of EQ can make your presentations a better experience for everyone in the room – including you.


This session was chosen as an Alternate last year and I ended up presenting. It was greatly successful (narrowly missed being in the Top Ten sessions) so I submitted it again, noting to the committee why I was doing so. That should provide some additional context to some of the feedback.


Excellent topic. Excellent consistency across session name, abstract, topic and goals. Perhaps, given the topic, some real examples should have been added. Reference to PASS is 2013 should have been avoided.
While the abstract and topic are great I’m not sure that we would want to see a repeat session from last year.
Delivered too recently at the past Summit. Very targeted audience.
The abstract goes too much into EQ and feels disconnected from the title.


Keeping the "Business" in Business Intelligence (REGULAR SESSION – NOT SELECTED)


It is no accident the term “Business Intelligence” starts with “Business.” Any Business Intelligence initiative should, likewise, start with the needs of the Business. For many years, BI was seen as a technology project. This is one reason why so many BI initiatives fail. Rather than a Technology Project, BI is a Business Program. It must grow and evolve as the Business grows and evolves.


In this session, we will discuss the following:

— Why BI is a worthwhile investment (using case study examples)

— What criteria to use in determining the success of a BI initiative

— Several reasons why BI initiatives fail

— Critical Success Factors for BI


So much of the success for BI happens before the requirements are even gathered. Come learn how you can set yourself up for success with Business Intelligence.


Could be an interesting approach to a rather dry topic
The abstract is clear about what will be discussed as for failures of BI projects. If it has real examples, maybe you can get some demo to demonstrate. You can demo the results in chart, as time and effort, even the results.
Thanks for the abstract.


Power Query: Data Chemistry for The Masses (REGULAR SESSION – SELECTED)


ETL Developers have being doing chemistry with data for years in tools like SQL Server Integration Services. These tools require training, experience, and time that few business users have. But in the age of self-service BI, those business users need a way to shape data to support their analysis.


This session will show how Power Query can be easily used to take advantage of data’s properties to drive the change we need to support our goals.


We will discuss/demonstrate:

— The simple process of accessing a wide variety of data sources

— The ease with which simple transformations can be achieved using the Power Query Ribbon

— Power Query’s fantastic ability to travel through time to see every step taken with the data

— The foundations of the Power Query Formula Language, informally known as "M"

— Using "M" to take Power Query WAY beyond what the Ribbon has to offer.


Come learn about what may well be the most exciting member of the Power BI family.


seems like too much to cover in 75




As with so many aspects of life, a solid foundation makes a huge difference. This Star Trek themed introduction to MDX leads you on a voyage through the terms and concepts necessary for a solid foundation for learning this fascinating language. Terms covered include:

— Measures and Measure Groups

— Attributes and Dimensions

— Hierarchies

— Members

— Tuples

— Sets


This session also shows how you can think about the cube space in a way that is very easy to understand. The word "cube" suggests a 3 dimensional object. That way of thinking is fraught with confusion. Forget about the Rubik’s Cube. It doesn’t help.


With that foundation, we then dive into MDX syntax and fundamentals including:

— Query Axes

— Slicer Axis

— Tuples and Sets

— Hierarchy Navigation Functions

— Crossjoin

— Functions allowing us to travel through time


Come join us for a fun voyage through the cube space and boldly go where no MDX presentation has gone before.


Is the topic about MDX or DAX? Just got a little bit confused. The abstract states what will be discussed and what the analogy comes from. About the level, it may be better to be at level 100 since it is an introduction of MDX.


Getting Started with SSAS Extended Events (LIGHTNING TALK – SELECTED)


With SQL Server Profiler on its way to retirement, our friends on the relational database side of the house have already been taking great advantage of the power of Extended Events (XE). There is a lot of great info out there for using XE against the database engine. For Analysis Services, there is a lot less.


This Lightning Talk will demonstrate how easy it is to get started very quickly with SSAS XE once you have some basic information.


We will demonstrate:

— Creating an SSAS Extended Events Trace which outputs to a .xel file

— Make sure your trace is running via the DISCOVER_TRACES rowset

— Importing the contents of that .xel file into a SQL Server db engine table for analysis

— Deleting the SSAS Extended Events trace


Good topic and the abstract explains exactly what the attendee can expect from the session
Great abstract with details on what will be presented and what to expect to learn!
Thanks for the abstract,It’s good to have someone talk on the  power of Extended Events (XEvents) part.


Reporting Services Pagination Triple Play (LIGHTNING TALK – NOT SELECTED)


The ability to have some control over the pagination of Reporting Services reports has been around a while. But it never hurts to review the fundamentals.


This demonstration will cover:

— Basic pagination in Reporting Services using Rectangles (Love these)

— Adding a page name that carries to Excel exports

— Adding a basic Table of Contents to your multi-page report using Bookmarks

— Adding a more dynamic, data driven Table of Contents to your report using Bookmarks and expressions


Come on out to this ballgame where we hit on  SSRS pagination with a report about three of the most famous infielders in the history of Baseball.



Great abstract
Excellent topic that people always ask about in classes
100 demo!
Level appropriate to content
lots to cover in 10 minutes


My Takeaways

Given that there seems to be a wide range in terms of quality and quantity provided to speakers, I have to say that I feel I made out pretty well here. I am pretty happy with both the quantity and quality here.

I am a little puzzled about the confusion over whether my MDX session is on MDX or DAX. And I think MDX is complex enough that any session on it is at least a 200 level, particularly given that almost everyone learns TSQL first and must “unlearn” some things in order to grasp MDX.

Given that the Keeping the “Business” in Business Intelligence is about concepts and ideas, and not technology, I am not sure how I could add demo to it that would not be contrived in an attempt just to say there was some demo.

Overall, I am pretty happy with this feedback and glad PASS made the decision to make it available.