If you haven’t already, please read Denise McInerney’s post about why PASS no longer stands for the Professional Association for SQL Server.
The Growth of an Organization
If you’ve been involved with PASS lately, you’ve probably seen this change coming. When I read the post, I wasn’t surprised. PASS wants to grow. One area of growth is in data analytics and there’s a lot of non-Microsoft technologies out there in that space. There are a few non-SQL Server technologies belonging to Microsoft in that space, too. Therefore, at least for me, the change was expected.
Do I think PASS will be fine? I do. I think it’ll embrace the change and it’ll grow and things will continue to expand with regards to the organization. Am I disappointed? I am. I’m not the only one.
The Need for a SQL Server Specific Organization
I am not disappointed because the organization is growing and expanding to encompass more people. I think that’s great. I think PASS, with its new mission and expanded focus, fills a need.
I am disappointed because there will no longer be a SQL Server-specific (or even centric) organization and I think there’s a need for that. SQL Server itself continues to get bigger and there’s a lot of folks using it. Therefore, I think an organization that supports the growth of the SQL Server community is a needed one. It’s not just about job security. As an infrastructure and security architect I work with a lot of different technologies. I learn about far more. If you aren’t already doing this, you should be. Don’t get tied to one technology. With that said, if a particular technology continually makes your job easier and helps you “ship,” by all means champion it.
I still love Microsoft SQL Server. I love a lot of the roadmap I see going forward. Look at the feature set for SQL Server 2014, for instance. Think through how and where you could use some of those technologies. Because of this, I think SQL Server is going to continue to grow and flourish. Because of this, I’d like to see a new, SQL Server specific organization come into being. However, as Grant points out, it does need to do a better job of making itself known. What Grant expresses from his own experience is what I’ve seen as well when I step away from the formerly Professional Association for SQL Server events that I have participated in. When I spoke at code camps, for instance, few in my sessions knew about PASS. I found the same thing to be true at many developer user groups as well. In the IT auditor community, it seemed like no one had heard of PASS. So if a new organization does rise up, it needs to get its name out there. The more involvement, the more recognition, the better.
Should the organization be about the big events? I don’t think so, at least, not as a focal area. There’s a lot of opportunities at the grassroots level. I’m not just thinking about user groups and the equivalent of SQL Saturdays. I’m also thinking about code camps and non-SQL Server-specific conferences where SQL Server is still a heavily leveraged technology. I think learning, networking, and occupation growth would function better at a more organic level. But maybe that’s just me. Big conferences are great, but they shouldn’t be the focus.
In Conclusion (or, the TL;DR version):
I wish PASS well in its “new” direction. I’ll be a part of it where I fit in. I also want to see a SQL Server-specific organization be founded. I’d definitely be a part of that. Regardless of whether or not that organization comes into being, we should continue to network, continue to teach, continue to learn, and continue to work together as a community.