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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

On PASS Summit Locations, Time Will Tell

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Published Friday, March 12, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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SQLvariant said:


EXCELLENT POINT!  I was so pissed on the wording of one of those surveys that I didn't even participate.  I lived in DC for 18 years and can smell a rigged contest from 10 miles away.  I feel that the PASS organization didn't just fail us in this survey; I feel they intentionally tried to mislead us.  

Just my opinion, but like you said, I see misconstrued numbers every day.

March 12, 2010 9:16 AM

Ralph Wilson said:


I took the survey.  I anticipated the results.  I was right about the results.  However, I am not pissed . . . I tend to be a bit pragmatic about surveys and results.

Some time back (okay, actually a few decades ;-), I wound up assisting with a LOT of surveys and learned more than I ever wanted to know about surveys . . . and how to subtly arrange for the desired results.  As I was taking the PASS survey, I recognized many of the "features" that I had learned about using to get what you want as a result.

One point that immediately leapedto the forefront was that the choices, as presented, basically targetted the orthwest corner of the US or the NE corner (or, possibly the SE corner).  (Since I live in the "fly-over" region, I may be more sensitive to those issues than some of y'all who inhabit the east or west coast regions.)  Essentially, no real consideration was given to the idea of compromising and use a "fly-over" city as an alternative.  

Also, since SQL Server IS a Microsoft product and Microsoft IS in the NW corner of the US, there is an argument to be made (no matter how bogus or spurious) that the world should beat a path to Microsoft's door rather than expecting Microsoft to support its product and the user community wherever the convention is scheduled.  (As a side note, that was always something I enjoyed about the Borland Conventions, aka BorCons, . . . they bounced around the country. ;-)  

My point is that the more I have read about PASS's conferences and the justifications for them being in Seattle every time, the more I have had to wonder about how closely coupled those who weild the decision making power in PASS are to Microsoft.  The argument that PASS conferences would lose Microsoft speakers and presenters if they were NOT in Seattle sounds an awful lot like something that Microsoft would threaten just to see if PASS would ask "How high?" on the way up after Microsoft said, "Jump!"  I hve to ask, Why WOULDN'T Microsoft send speakers and presenters?  After all Microsoft has major offices elsewhere in the country, don't they.  Also, Microsoft has as least a _little_ bit a vested interest in PASS promoting their product, don't they?

March 12, 2010 10:52 AM

AaronBertrand said:

Ralph, the people at Microsoft who we really like to see at PASS are not, for the very high majority, the folks who are located on the East Coast, in Florida, in Dallas, etc.  Almost all of those in the SQL Server division work in Redmond.  Key product contributors like Marcel, Tobias, UC, Boris, etc. work in Redmond and can attend PASS in Seattle because it's a short drive downtown - and they can commit to a few hours, or a day, without impacting them much.  (And I am not talking solely about presenters; I am talking mostly about people you can have an impromptu chat with in the hall simply because they are there.)  For them to go to Charlotte or Chicago not only costs Microsoft more money in absolute costs, but they also need a travel day on each side, and Microsoft loses that whole segment of work on the product.  Quite frankly, I would be much happier that they drive downtown on one day, and spend the other 4 days continuing to improve SQL Server.  I am more than willing to "pay the price" of traveling on their behalf, because I am going to do that no matter where the conference is held, but it's a bigger bonus to get that much more Microsoft presence.  As I've explained in other forums, yes of course Microsoft would still send people to PASS no matter where it is held.  But would the quality and quantity be the same?  Not in this universe.

Anyway, that's just my opinion.

March 12, 2010 2:00 PM

Eric Wisdahl said:

Repost from blog...

There has been a lot of chatter going back and forth as it relates to the official announcement that the PASS Summit will be held in Seattle for 2011 and 2012.  Andy Warren, one of the board members, has had a few different posts on the subject - PASS Update #24 and Summit Location and More.

I'd like to take the time to respond...

I personally like the conference being located in Seattle.  It gives me the opportunity to visit friends and family in the area before or after the conference.  However, I am certainly open to the suggestion of the conference being held elsewhere.  I am also certainly going to do as much as I can to show up at the conference wherever it is held. (I've gone the past two years, which isn't much, but it is essentially ever since I had heard about it).

The things I enjoy about the conference are as follows:

  1. meeting and having lively discussions and extra circular activities with active members of the community (Forum Members, Bloggers, Twitterers, Etc - Any of which COULD be Microsoft developers, most of which are not)

  2. experiencing great sessions

  3. speaking with the developers / CAT Team

  4. seeing the products of the miscellaneous vendors

I think that the survey itself should have been thought through a little bit better.  The questions, as Andy has pointed out, seemed biased.  Even with those (presumably) biased questions the response was taken in, considered, and largely ignored.  So, what was the point of the survey?

All of this leads me to wonder, how many people come to the conference year in and year out?  How many people show up once, or, perhaps once every five years, or once every release cycle?  How vocal are people in either group?  Do we know what the percentage of respondents to the survey there were compared to how often or how likely it is that they will show up to another event in the next few years?  In other words, what is the thought process, if any, for determining how moving the conference versus not moving the conference would affect the various demographics of the conference goers?  Does moving it mean that more people are not able to attend on a more regular basis?  Would the move encourage more one timers?  Knowing that the move would mean that there were less microsoft employees, would there be less people in either category who show up (if, in fact, there is a correlation there)?

How much of the process for the decision was based on the cost factor for the organization?  How much was based around the cost factor for the attendees?  Does the organization know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what it is that draws in most participants (attendees, speakers, sponsors, etc)?  If so, which of these groups is the most important in the decision making process?

I know that this isn't a novel response.  I just think that the responses I have been seeing have been interesting and wanted to throw in my two cents.

March 12, 2010 2:24 PM

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