While their vendor deals with lawsuits and security holes, one of two major user groups for Microsoft Corp. SQL Server products is busy planning for this year and beyond.
Issues such as education, usability suggestions and community technical support for SQL Server—the enterprise database from Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash.—are hot topics for the independent Professional Association for SQL Server, which is holding its annual conference in Denver this week.
"The most significant thing for PASS is ... were going to be formally launching a lot of special interest groups," said volunteer board member Trey Johnson, a data warehouse architect with Encore Development Inc., in Jacksonville, Fla.
The groups, active later this year, will serve the needs of PASS 15,000 members for database administration, data warehousing/business intelligence and application development. The database administration special interest group will likely have subgroups for data replication, security and clustering, Johnson said. Third-party product groups may also be considered.
The conference will feature a keynote address by Gord Mangione, vice president of SQL Server at Microsoft. Mangione will likely discuss the upcoming bundling of SQL Server with Visual Studio .Net—which will be launched Feb. 13—and the next-generation Yukon database, scheduled for a mid-2003 launch. Microsoft will also release the second beta version of Java Database Connectivity Driver at the PASS show, Microsoft officials said.
Throughout the year, PASS will continue its online monthly chats at Microsofts TechNet site, begin Web casts to paying members and contemplate forming smaller but more frequent regional conferences, Johnson said.
For its part, Microsoft should consider building more functionality into the data transformation services of SQL Servers data warehousing products and making the online analytical processing analysis features easier to manage, he said.
"Things have been very good," said veteran PASS member Steve Simon, senior technical officer at State Street Corp., in Westwood, Mass. "Theres a lot of us here at the bank that go to the PASS Web site and take advantage of whats there."
Like many organizations, State Street uses resources besides PASS, such as SQL-specific magazines, and runs other databases in-house. But as the company gets more SQL-Server-intensive, groups such as PASS will be valuable, Simon said.
Meanwhile, the SQL Server Worldwide Users Group is in a murkier situation. The groups Web site has been a blank page for the past few weeks, and group leader Stephen Wynkoop was unavailable for interviews.