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Looking Back at the Summit

By Steve Jones,

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the PASS Summit in Seattle. I've been lucky enough to have been able to go to most of these conferences, and it's always been an exciting week. Since I get to attend a lot of events throughout the year, I often see a lot of the information from Microsoft that gets repeated at the Summit. I'll also see many presentations throughout the year that will be presented in Seattle. Most speakers alter and enhance their sessions for the Summit, so even if you've seen a session before, you might learn something new, especially if a new version of SQL Server gets released mid year, as happened this year.

Looking back at last week, here are some of the highlights that I think are interesting to data professionals. There were a number of pre-cons this year, and 

The leadership of PASS regularly changes, and we see that again this year with three new board members starting this January. I'd like to welcome John Martin, Diego Nogare, and Chris Yates to the board, and I hope they all enjoy the experience, and find ways to make the organization better. Denise McInerney will leave the board, and we should all thank her for her service. The PASSion award winner this year is Rebert Fonseca. I don't know Robert, but I had the chance to meet him and he had quite a long list of ribbons on his badge. Congrats to him for his volunteer efforts, and I everyone, for helping to ensure that PASS continues to run a great event. 

One small note that I missed, but learned about at the Summit, is that Catherine Wilhelmsen is leaving as our SQL Saturday Community Evangelist. Catherine has done a great job, with 14 first time events, 3 new countries with events, and eleven new cities this past year. We've also made it to SQL Saturday #700, coming in March. This means we need someone to help continue to support SQL Saturdays in the future, and I'm hoping that we find someone that wants to fill this role.

The Keynotes were interesting this year. Wednesday had Rohan Kumar, the General Manager of database systems at Microsoft. He talked about SQL Server 2017, of course, and various features including the new servicing model. We saw various cloud and container advances as well as managed instances, which you can read about in Erin's post.  The most interesting thing to me was the emphasis on hybrid cloud as the marketing emphasis instead of just cloud. It has felt that for years, most of the big cloud vendors are pushing everyone to move into the cloud and buy services. However, I think many organizations don't want some of their data or applications in the cloud, but they're willing to consider other ones This view of hybrid, building systems that let us make a choice on how to deploy systems, is a fundamental change in focus, which I'm glad to see. Of course, the demo using HP Persistent Memory is pretty cool as well.

The second day looked at CosmosDB, with Dr. Rimma Nemhe. Dr. Nemhe has given PASS keynotes before and is an architect of the CosmosDB platform. This is a NoSQL system, but it's more extensive, flexible, and scalable than any others I've seen. I keep wanting to spend more time with the platform, but the keynote gives some in depth information about how the system is put together, the consistency models, APIs, etc. There was a lot to learn, lots of decisions to make, and lots of options. I'll watch this one again and make notes, and hopefully try to then build something.

The main conference had the usual mix of sessions and speakers that make for an incredibly informative and inspiring event. Lots of Microsoft session, including the new SQL Operations Studio, which is a VS Code based tool coming out soon. I've been running it for a few months, but it will be publicly released this month. Give it a try and pass along feedback. I'm interested to see how people view this tool. There were plenty of evening events, and I'm thrilled that Game Night went well again. Lots of people appreciated a quiet space to play games on Thursday night and I hope this gets expanded to Tuesday and Wednesday next year.

There are lots of SQL conferences to attend, and plenty of one day events like SQL Saturday, that can help you learn and grow your career. They're all worth going to at some point, and getting yourself recharged and inspired about working with SQL Server and data. If you get the chance, you should go one one, with an open mind, and consider the possibilities that might make your job more exciting.

The Pass Summit is the largest SQL event, and it's special since I've gone to most since 1999. I used to see lots of friends only during this event, and it was a priority. Now I see people many times during the year, but the Summit is still a special time when I meet lots of new data professionals, shake plenty of hands, talk data, and better understand the challenges many of you face. Hopefully I'll see you in Seattle, or elsewhere, next year.

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