It’s not uncommon for software companies to enlist DBAs to test their products. However, many software companies get DBAs’ opinions late in the product-development process or after the product has been released. Quest Software put a spin on the product-testing process by creating Quest’s Association for SQL Server Experts (QASSE), a group of SQL Server DBAs that test Quest Software’s products very early in the development cycle. “We don’t want to develop things in a vacuum,” said Billy Bosworth, vice president and general manager of Quest Software’s SQL Server products. “We want real people who do real jobs . . . that can interact with us very early in the process of building a product. That helps us to identify what the real pains are out there.” With the QASSE program, Quest Software gets feedback far enough in advance to improve the final product. “Its wonderful validation for any solution that we’re trying to put out there to the market,” said Bosworth.

QASSE also enables Quest Software to better understand the needs of the SQL Server community. “What do they read? What do they consider a good user group? Where do they go for their information? What do they want to aspire to be in the SQL world? Where is SQL Server going itself? As a SQL Server DBA, where is your career going? And to do all that, we want them involved with us, like I said, very early and very often, with no pressure from us,” said Bosworth.

However, Quest Software didn’t create QASSE just for its own benefit. Bosworth believes that QASSE members benefit from the partnership as well because Quest Software helps them get their name out in the SQL Server community. “We want to help them from a general career perspective while they're helping us from a product perspective.” According to Bosworth, Quest Software representatives can help DBAs by finding writing opportunities and setting up speaking engagements. “We also want people who are active, though, in their world,” said Bosworth. “We want somebody who can be vocal, we want somebody who’s active, we like somebody who blogs.”

Quest Software also created SQLServerPedia.com to provide DBAs with yet another place to get answers to their SQL Server questions. According to Bosworth, DBAs can go to the Web site and post questions, which are then answered by QASSE members.

Bosworth said Quest Software hopes being a member of QASSE is something that will be valued on a resume and that QASSE members can eventually be seen as “thought leaders” in the SQL Server community. Quest Software’s goal is for QASSE to be one of many similar SQL Server communities in the future.

“We are getting our finger on the pulse of the real SQL Server community, and that’s what we want to accomplish with this group,” said Bosworth.

For more information about QASSE, contact Rachel Gross, public relations specialist for Quest Software, at rachel.gross@quest.com.