The Professional Association for SQL Server recently sent its members a survey asking where they should hold their next summit – in Seattle again, or rotate it around the country. Initially we heard that the results wouldn’t be posted for a variety of reasons, but the PASS Board of Directors heard the community loud and clear. PASS President Rushabh Mehta announced the survey results today.
Here’s a quote from the announcement:
“At first glance, the results seem fairly clear: 81% of the 1,573 respondents want a PASS Summit on the East Coast at least every four years.”
I was expecting a strong vote to move the Summit around, but 81% – that’s amazing. Four out of every five people agreed. It’s hard to achieve that kind of agreement in any kind of meeting at all! The article continues to say:
“When we look at responses from only 2008 and 2009 Summit attendees (our most successful ones by far), the number who want a future Summit outside of Seattle drops to 69%.”
Let’s think about that for a second – if we want to increase PASS Summit attendance, that means getting new people to attend. Forget the opinions of the people who’ve already been – what about the folks who haven’t been yet? That’s the opinions we need to hear if we want to raise attendance. Rushabh doesn’t quote that number, but it must be higher than 81% because the average went down 12% when these people were excluded. Wow.
So PASS started investigating what it would take to move the Summit, and they said:
“We would not be able to achieve anywhere near the same level of support from Microsoft as we do when Summit is held in Seattle. We would lose out on at least 50% and likely 75% of Microsoft presenters, developers, and SQLCAT and CSS staff – all things a majority of survey respondents listed as important or very important.”
This is interesting, because this is where we need the raw data to answer a deeper question. My question is, “Of people who haven’t attended the Summit before, how important is access to Microsoft staff?” If we asked them to rank the following in order of importance, I’d be curious what they chose:
- Access to Microsoft staff
- Access to Microsoft MVPs
- Access to your peers, SQL Server community members
- Low hotel and food costs (under $150/day as opposed to over $200/day)
- Summit location nearby (within 4 hours driving distance)
When I was a DBA, I didn’t attend the PASS Summit to talk to Microsoft folks, although that was a nice fringe benefit. I wanted to spend more time with people who had the same job, challenges, and duties that I had. I wanted to get tips on how to do my job better, and that’s something I didn’t get from Microsoft.
But back to the press release, which notes:
“Based on Microsoft’s release cycle history (major release cycles run approximately every 3 years, with minor ones often coming in between), 2011 or 2012 will likely be a launch year. It would be disappointing for the community to lose out on the advantages of being in Seattle during a potential release year.”
Uh, hold on a second here. If major release cycles run every 3 years, and minor ones come in between, then the odds of having a release on any given year is 2/3! Every year is a potential release year. As far as I’m concerned, if Microsoft wants to promote a release, they can come to the community. This is exactly their strategy in Europe – they’re coordinating with community leaders to host regional events all over Europe for the launch of SQL Server 2008 R2. Why does the community have to come begging to Microsoft’s doorstep? They’re the ones making money off us.
The final word is that we’ll be in Seattle for the foreseeable future:
“The Board has decided to hold PASS Summit 2011 and PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle for the reasons listed above.”
Well, the good news is that they laid out their rationale in public for all to see. That’s awesome, and I cheer their movement toward transparency. I don’t agree with their decision, but I’m glad they didn’t try to hide the poll results from us. The users clearly don’t agree with the leadership, but we elected ’em. I’m also excited to see that this little ruckus has caused at least one person, Jack Corbett, to consider running for election this year. If you don’t like the way things go, this might be a great year to run. Having 81% of the members on your side on a given issue makes for a great campaign platform, that’s for sure. “My name is ___, and I’m committed to bringing the PASS Summit to the East Coast, unlike the current Board who wants to keep it in Seattle through 2012.” Presto, you’re in.