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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

Why I Love the PASS Summit


I was chatting with my friend and business partner Brian Moran (@briancmoran) about PASS and shared how the PASS Summit 2004 was a turning point in my database professional career. Brian agreed with me that this is a compelling account of the good that can come from PASS and the SQL Server Community, and suggested I post this story. I posted it a couple years back, so I simply copy it here.

The Story (reposted from Things I Know Now)

I was struggling with my new career as a DBA. I felt I was in over my head and, any minute, I was going to be discovered and fired. I am not making this up. About the time I attended the PASS Summit 2004 I got a few successes under my belt - enough to feel more secure in my job but not enough to convince me I knew anything about very large databases in SQL Server.

It was The Year of the Storms in Florida. Orlando looked like it had been bombed. It was ugly, but the conference went on. I stood in line at the hands-on labs to meet Ken Henderson. I was devouring The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Internals and Architecture along with Kalen Delaney's Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2000. I credit both authors with saving my career, incidentally.

I heard Ken dispensing no-nonsense advice to people. I think some thought to "teach him a thing or two," and he respectfully but firmly resisted this with the gentleman in line in front of me (poor guy). I was next, and was probably visibly shaking in my shoes. I explained to Ken that I was pretty new to large SQL Server databases and was a web developer that had been thrust into a new position at work. I told him about my approach - relying on my engineering training and testing heavily - and explained the symptoms I was seeing. Ken made a few excellent suggestions, which I wrote down and which, unsurprisingly, put me right on top of the issues I was describing. I thanked him profusely and started away. He said "Hey, you're approaching this like I would."

I felt like the kid on the old Coke commercial - the one where Mean Joe Greene throws him his jersey. I know it sounds cheesy, but I entered that room as a guy learning databases and left it a database professional. The difference for me was the confidence that I was approaching this problem like Ken Henderson would.


Occasionally I get questions from concerned community members and friends about my passion for the SQL Server Community, my attention to detail surrounding the behavior of PASS leadership, and PASS elections.

This is why: I love the PASS Summit. 

The PASS Summit has tremendous potential when it comes to impacting the lives and careers of SQL Server community professionals. My career and life was changed – for the better – by this encounter at the PASS Summit 2004. I’ve heard numerous accounts from other SQL Server Community members that echo this sentiment. I want this to continue.

I know from experience - from reading the blogs and comments of the many volunteers involved and from conversations with PASS leadership - that conducting the Summit is hard work. Many will never see the amount of work required to organize a small event; much less a larger one the size of a Summit. Trust me, it’s more work than you imagine. When done correctly, it looks easy. For the most part, PASS leadership makes the Summit look easy – which means they’re doing a good job with the Summit.

But I also know PASS could be better. PASS leadership has made mistakes. All of them are forgivable mistakes – especially considering many of PASS’ leaders are volunteers – but it’s simply going to take more time to forgive some of them. I think it’s normal and good for any organization to make mistakes and that those mistakes are forgiven in time. Wanting PASS to better serve its community and the larger SQL Server Community drives my passion.


The PASS Summit 2011 is approaching and it’s a great event for SQL Server professionals. The technical content is good, but the networking opportunities are stellar. If this is your first year attending the PASS Summit you’re in for a treat: The PASS Orientation Committee is in its second year – and thriving! My friend Thomas LaRock (Blog | @SQLRockStar | SQLPeople) has more information at that link, but the most important thing you can do today is let PASS know you’re coming to the Summit and are a First-Timer.

I’ll be there. If you read this blog and plan to attend the PASS Summit, please find me and introduce yourself. I’m the fat guy with a fu.


Published Monday, August 15, 2011 3:00 PM by andyleonard

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