At this year’s recent PASS Summit I sat down with Bill Graziano, Vice President of Marketing for PASS to discuss some of the important changes that the PASS organization has made over the past year and what their future directions are. As an aside, if you’re not aware of it, PASS stands for Professional Association for SQL Server and it is the premier user group for SQL Server DBAs and developers.

One of the most far reaching changes that Bill pointed out to me is the membership in the PASS organization is now free. PASS used to charge a yearly membership fee to belong to the organization.  This past September PASS dropped the yearly membership fee making it easy for all SQL Server professionals to be a part of the PASS organization. This was news to me and certainly is a win-win situation for both PASS and SQL Server professional everywhere. If you’re not already a member of PASS you should go check it out at www.sqlpass.org. The PASS organization is growing fast and now has over 32,000 members with 136 chapters world-wide.

Bill noted that this year’s conference was the most successful event yet with over 3500 total registrations and almost 1000 first time attendees.  The conference featured 144 sessions spread out over 3 days.  Bill pointed out that the PASS Summit has a strong Microsoft presence making it easy for attendees to talk with members of Microsoft’s  SQL Server team. One of the most practical examples of Microsoft’s involvement is the First Aid Station which is manned by Microsoft PSS support staff. The First Aid Station is available to answer all Summit attendee’s technical questions.
In conjunction with this year’s conference PASS has also kicked off a new section on their web site called PASSport that provides a Facebook style community site for SQL Server professionals. The site allows you to post your profile and interact with other SQL Server professionals.

In the future PASS is looking to expand its local chapters through a regional mentors program where experienced group leaders help new chapters get off the ground. In addition, PASS is looking to continue to grow its European Conference which is held in Neuss, Germany in April 2009. The next U.S. PASS Community Summit 2009 will be back in Seattle Nov 3-6. In the meantime, if you’re a SQL Server DBA, developer or part time admin you should be sure to check out www.sqlpass.org