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Welcome to the Azure Data Community, empowered by Microsoft

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Azure Data

After the Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS) unceremoniously closed down in January this year and its video library & brand names were bought by Red Gate Software Ltd, it left the SQL Server Family (#SQLFamily) in a quandary.

On the one hand, the big PASS Summit will be revived and all archive videos will be made free, including content previously behind a paywall.

On the other hand, the day-to-day community-run events like user groups and SQLSaturdays were left in the dark. Many user groups moved to Meetup and Eventbrite to ensure their survival. Others — including my own Calgary Data User Group — put up their own websites and mailing lists to augment Meetup and Eventbrite. Even with Red Gate owning the brand for SQLSaturday, not much progress has been made from their side as of this writing, so other initiatives have popped up in the interim including Data Saturdays1Disclosure: I am one of the members of this collaborative effort..

Enter Microsoft, the reason these communities exist. SQL Server is part of the Microsoft Data Platform, where you’ll find all of their Azure Data products including SQL Server2If you’re wondering why an on-premises product is seemingly part of a cloud offering, it’s because Azure means “hybrid,” not just “cloud.”. It makes sense to leave behind the “SQL Server” branding because it is niche. Azure is cool, SQL Server is old-school. Besides, much of the knowledge we data professionals have gathered working with SQL Server is applicable to a broad swathe of technology, much of which is covered by Azure Data.

Which brings us to the initiative launched by Microsoft in the last few weeks, the Azure Data Community. If you’re on Twitter you may have already seen Buck Woody (yes, that’s his real name) and Rie Merritt promoting the idea of “Community-Owned, Microsoft Empowered” user groups and community events under the #AzureDataCommunity hashtag.

I encourage you to sign up with Microsoft if you run an Azure Data community event. You will need to agree to a code of conduct, and undertake at least six events a year that are free to your attendees, with half of those being topics focused on the Microsoft Data Platform.

In exchange, Microsoft is offering:

  • A free license for your group on
  • Membership in Azure Data Tech Groups on
  • A free license to Microsoft Teams for Communities
  • Access to the same network of people you had with PASS

That last item really depends on the adoption by the wider community of course, which means you reading this. As of this writing, there are 75 groups in 21 countries already signed up, representing over 40,000 people.

The SQL Family is as diverse as it is widespread, and one thing we can agree on is that PASS did not speak for the entire community. Even when Red Gate puts together something that is a good replacement of SQLSaturday and the PASS Summit, it will still only be a small part of our community.

With Microsoft’s help, we maintain our independence if we want it, and still collaborate with each other like we always have done. Along with your local user group, there are many events happening all over the world including Data Saturdays (which picked up the slack when SQLSaturday’s website went offline), Data Weekender, Data Days, SQL Grillen, and Data Minutes, over and above the previous 1,000+ SQLSaturday events worldwide.

I’m excited by this new opportunity. It is the best of both worlds, really. Red Gate already supports community initiatives with SQL Server Central, and now they are making the entire PASS video archive (around 4,000 videos) available for free. Whatever they do with SQLSaturday will be something to look forward to. If we want to leverage co-branding opportunities, there’s nothing stopping us.

At the same time, we continue doing what we’ve done before, and that’s teaching people about the Microsoft Data Platform, empowered by Microsoft. If you want to know more, you can visit the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Image by Microsoft Corporation.

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