I spent the November 8th through the 11th in Seattle at the PASS summit. It was an incredible time and a very well run event. I had some very particular goals for the conference. First, I wanted to learn more about powershell specifically how it can help the DBA. Second I wanted to talk to the SQL Cat team to get some guidance in a couple issues we are seeing. Next I wanted to catch up with some people I met two years ago at my first PASS conference. Finally, I had assumed that Microsoft will have a product announcement of the next version of SQL Server and I was hoping a CTP version would be in my grubby paw by the end of the week. It was a fantastic week.
I think the PASS did an excellent job putting on this conference. I especially liked how they focused on first time attendees. It really seemed like the theme of welcoming first timers and providing them with an wonderful experience permeated the entire event. That was very cool. I wish there would have been that focus two years ago at my first conference. One of the things that brought be back to the conference was the freshness of the sessions. Other conferences I have attended the “technical” session were simply infomercials for their products. Again, the PASS summit did not disappoint. All the sessions I attended were well done, well rehearsed, and full of great information. But no review would be complete without at a couple of suggestions. Here they are: in the long thin rooms (think 201 & 202) I would suggest putting a second screen and projector half way back in the room. Anyone sitting more than half way may have had a less than optimal learning experience. Second: Since twitter handles were requested on the registration form, why not put a yes/no check box on the form asking if you would like your handle placed on your conference badge. I think that would really help put faces with handles. Seriously, those are very minor suggestions to an altogether excellent event. I really can’t wait to see if I can get back there next year.
I have been hearing how powershell can make life easier for all system admins and DBAs, so I expected to see some sessions focused on that particular technology. I was not disappointed. Aaron Nelson (Twitter: Blog), Allen White (Blog) and Joe Web (Twitter:Blog) made awesome powershell presentations. Each one from a slightly different angle that really helped me start to wrap my head around the power of this scripting language.
I came to the PASS summit with a few little issues from the office that were annoying, but not show stoppers. So I took a little time to go meet the SQL CAT team (Twitter:Blog) to see if I could get these figured out. It only took them a few seconds to understand my question and give me the correct direction to find the solution to my problem. One of the issues involved two logins. One login was a SQL login and the other was an AD login. These two logins were given the same rights to a database, but one could access functions and one could not. I had taken the path of “If A can execute it, why can’t B?” They helped me understand that neither should be able to do it, so A must be picking up rights elsewhere. Within a minute of getting back on that system and ADUC, I was able to understand exactly what was happening. I asked a couple of *gasp* SQL 2000 hardware migration questions and they were gracious enough to reach way back in their minds and provide me with answers. That was a very useful 1/2 hour.
I was not disappointed with the product announcement during the Keynote talks. Microsoft did announce SQL Server ‘Denali’ and provided us with CTP versions of the code. I have installed it and started poking around, but really haven’t dug into it deep enough to start playing with the new features. But that will be part of of technologies I will be playing with during the cold winter evenings we are headed towards.
I was excellent to reconnect with friends I had made at previous SQL Server events, and make new friends, and to see some of the faces behind the tweets that I have been following. My one regret in this area is that I was unable to meet @buckwoody. I saw him from across the room a couple of times, but it never worked out actually talk to him or hear him present. Well, hopefully that opportunity will present itself in the coming years. Other memories of this summit I will hold onto was Andy Leonard doing a lightning talk, without seeing his slides that were created by Allen White. Then getting to talk to Andy the next morning while walking to breakfast. There was also the realization that Brent Ozar and I live four hours apart in the midwest and only see each other when we are on the west coast. There are so many moments like this that just beg to be experienced. If you get the chance to go the the PASS summit. It is well worth the investment.