Guest blog post by: PASS President Thomas LaRock – a SQL Server MVP, MCM, and Head Geek at Solarwinds – is a seasoned IT professional with over a decade of technical and management experience. Author of DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA, he holds an MS degree in Mathematics from Washington State University and is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a VMware vExpert. You can read his blog at thomaslarock.com and follow him on Twitter at @SQLRockstar.

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April opened with the general availability of SQL Server 2014. But well before we could wrap our hands around the final bits of the new release, the SQL Server community has been getting an early taste of its exciting performance, availability, manageability, and cloud features, thanks to a grassroots launch and readiness program that has spread around the globe.

The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) and hundreds of our volunteers around the world have joined with Microsoft to host free SQL Server 2014 launch events and technical sessions that focus on what matters most to data pros. These sessions explain the new features in the release, how the features work, and how we can use them to benefit our companies.

From user group meetings and PASS SQLSaturday sessions to the ongoing SQL Server 2014 Countdown webinars with PASS Virtual Chapters, the launch of SQL Server 2014 has truly been a community affair – and we're just getting started. Whether you're already on the path to early adoption, preparing to take advantage of the new release soon, or gathering information for the future, here's how you can get involved and get the details you need to make smart decisions for your organization:

  • Connect with fellow SQL Server pros: Microsoft Data Platform Group GM Eron Kelly noted that for Community Technology Preview 2, there were nearly 200K evaluations of SQL Server 2014, including 20K evaluations with the new release running in a Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine. That's a lot of folks who now have first-hand knowledge about SQL Server 2014. Check out those blogging and speaking about their experiences and sharing at chapter meetings, and then get to know them and what they know.
  • Share your questions, issues, and solutions: Have you tried out SQL Server's new built-in in-memory OLTP features? How about the enhanced mission-critical and availability capabilities? Have questions about implementing a hybrid data solution that bridges on-premises and cloud technologies? And how and when should you use the new delayed durability setting or clustered columnstore indexes? Share your experiences – and what you don't know or need more information about – and help the community build up resources that enable us all to work better, smarter, and faster.
  • Learn how to get the most from your data: Go inside the new release with experts on the SQL Server product team at upcoming live SQL Server 2014 Countdown webinars and watch on-demand replays of those you missed. You can also learn more about SQL Server 2014 and Microsoft's data platform strategy at the Accelerate Your Insights online launch event April 15 with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, COO Kevin Turner, and Data Platform Group Corporate Vice President Quentin Clark. And remember to check with your local PASS chapter, Virtual Chapter, or nearby SQLSaturday event for more SQL Server 2014 launch and learning events happening worldwide.

I'm grateful to be part of one of the most passionate technology communities in the world and excited to participate in a SQL Server 2014 launch program that, at its core, is about empowering SQL Server professionals and their organizations to be successful.

Thanks to everyone who is helping connect, share, and learn about SQL Server 2014.
Thomas