PASS Summit 2011, Day 1

I’ve already had a few good days in Seattle/Redmond this week, meeting with the Microsoft SQL Server program teams and with other Microsoft SQL Server MVPs.  I was as excited as a squeeling Justin Beiber fangirl waiting for his new video, wishing I could tell you all of the cool things I learned at Redmond about the future of SQL Server.  But as you’d expect, all of that cool stuff is presently NDA.  I’m sure there’ll be some cool announcements from Microsoft this week.  So be on the lookout for the good word from Microsoft.


Rushabh Mehta, the PASS president, spent a few moments extolling the value of community and the achievements of the professional association.  And he’s got a lot to be proud of.  PASS has come such a long way.  One of the most telling facts about the significance of PASS, to me, is that important SQL Server announcements now happen at the PASS Summit.  There was a time, and not very long ago too, in which Microsoft made important SQL Server announcements at other Microsoft events like PDC and TechEd.  No longer!  PASS is the nexus for Microsoft’s data management users.  And it shows.

Ted Kummert, Microsoft’s top data executive, had a lot of exciting talking points about how the community has grown.  PASS now has hundreds of chapters worldwide and nearly ninety thousand members.  The event has over 4000 paying attendees this year, which means probably around 6000 total attendees including press, exhibitors, speakers, etc.  That’s big!  In fact, that’s just about the peak capacity for the Washington State Convention Center here in Seattle.  No wonder PASS will be at other locations in the future.

It’s Officially called SQL Server 2012

SQL Server “Denali” is officially rolling out as SQL Server 2012.  There are a lot of interesting new developments with SQL12 regarding the way the product is splitting into multiple types of appliances designed for specific workloads and customer needs.  Need a massive processing appliance, check! That’s PDW.  Need a hybrid solution for data housed both on premises and in the cloud?  Check.  Need processing power for BigData?  Need processing for non-relational and unstructured data?  Check.

Microsoft’s improving tools will culminate in a new release of development tools called “SQL Server Data Tools”, formerly known as Project Juneau, while the business intelligence side of the house will have a new set of tools in “Power View”, formerly known as Project Crescent.  Hadoop figured large in the keynote, as Microsoft acknowledges that many BigData problems are best served by non-relational data stores.  Denny Lee, of SQLCAT, proposed an in-house data marketplace during his demos.  My face lit up like a kid at a surprise 10-yr birthday party.  Really?!?  FOR ME?!!?  I laugh because I’d been doing that at jobs throughout my career, offering up what I used to call the “data feedstore” to managers within my team.  +! for validation of your ideas.

First Session of the Day

From there I headed out to my first presentation of the conference, which I was delivering with my pal Buck Woody (blog | twitter) of Microsoft. Our session was all about Cloud 101 – when it’s appropriate to use the cloud and where you can learn more about the specific technologies like IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.  Many IT pros don’t know the difference and are being subjected to the “implement it!” decrees of their bosses who simply read an article on an airplane saying that the cloud is the future.  The best quote from the Twittersphere about our session?  “Elastic is fantastic”  I couldn’t have said it better!

Speaking of conference sessions, my buddy Brent Ozar (blog | twitter) pointed out this great mobile schedule planning resource:

Go to Guidebook and download the app for your iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Android, or Blackberry.  After launching it, you’ll be prompted to download a guide.  Type in PASS Summit, and we’re near the bottom of the list.

Voila! Instant mobile schedule guidebook to the PASS Summit.

The Energy is Nuts!

After delivering my session, it was off to the Exhibit Hall, where I played the role of booth jockey for Quest Software for the rest of the proceedings that day.  I noticed two things of significance.  First, the crowds were thicker and more energetic than I’ve seen in years.  Wow!  I knew attendance was our highest ever, but the crowd was near to bursting out at the seems like a 14-year old kid wearing last season’s clothes.  So either the Washington State Convention Center is no longer big enough or more planning is needed to make this venue work.  When I was in leadership for PASS, planning and properly utilizing the venue was always a logistical nightmare.  So I don’t envy the current leadership in figuring out how to make the PASS Summit scale to an even larger size.  The second thing I noticed was how focused the crowd was.  Usually, you get a lot of tire-kickers in the booth who, deep down inside, only want your vendor swag.  Yes, we had some cute swag this year (a Toad beanie baby and some cool ribbons for your badge).  But we also had huge crowds even after we ran out of swag.  And, in case you didn’t detect the important part of the previous sentence, we ran out of swag! That’s right we gave out everything on day 1 of a 3 day event.  I nearly freaked the freak out. What is going on here, folks?  Haven’t you heard that there’s a recession going on?



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