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The Summit 2009 - Day 1

By Steve Jones,

What was the first day of the Summit like for me? I blogged quite a bit, though not as much as I would have liked. You can see me working at the blogger's table, along with Grant Fritchey and Tony Davis, busy tweeting and making notes about the opening from PASS President Wayne Snyder, the keynote from Bob Muglia, and the keynote from Ted Kummert.

You can read about them, and they were interesting, but the whole opening took too long. As someone stuck with a duty to report on what happened, I was a little stretched to hold a bladder full of morning coffee through a 2 hour keynote. That's a long time, and I'll admit I bailed early.

That was one of the first things that made me long for the days of being just an attendee, able to flit from session t session throughout the day. I would have liked to sit in sessions, listening to some of the very, very talented speakers that have come from all over the world. I saw a number of very interesting topics, but I had other things to do today.

Following the keynotes, I managed to sit in Michelle Ufford's (@sqlfool) session on Super Bowl tuning, which looked like it would be a good exercise in tuning. Michelle works for Go Daddy, and they ran one of the most successful ads ever in the Super Bowl for her company, one which caused them to re-examine how their application and database were architected in preparation for the next year. Any of you remember this ad?

I did and had listened to Michelle give an outline of what they had planned to do when I had to leave for a press briefing about the items talked about in the Keynote. I wasn't sure if it would be worth it, but I had committed to the session, so I had to leave. It wasn't that informative, and I wish I'd skipped it. I think I would have more information for you if I'd stayed in Michelle's session. I did clarify a few things about the Microsoft strategy moving forward, and I'll write about some of them in the next week or so, but nothing earth shattering.

After that it was time for a Microsoft luncheon. Offsite, it was a great lunch, on the top floor of a mall nearby, the sun shining in. I actually sat next to Ted Kummert, who is the executive VP in charge of SQL Server, Visual Studio, and more. We talked a little shop, but lots of informal chatting. It's interesting to get reminded that the people in charge of large groups are just regular people like us. They have kids, exercise, and more. It was much more enjorable than I expected, especially since I didn't really know any of the people at my table before I sat down. It was much like being at lunch in the conference hall, except I didn't have to work to get people to talk. Most of my tablemates were business people, and eager to interact. I wish more geeks would learn about networking, and make more of an effort. I meet a lot of interesting people, but I also find it can be hit and miss at things like lunch.

My advice to geeks: say hi and start talking to people at a table.

After lunch I ended up with two more briefings, one with a few members of the PASS board of directors, and another with Microsoft. The PASS one was interesting, and I expressed what I see are problems with PASS. I tempered those with some good feedback. I think that the Summit is better run each year, especially the last two, marketing of the event is great, and volunteers seem to be better utilized. They seem to be listening, and that's good.

My Microsoft briefing was about PowerPivot, which is the add-on for Excel 2010. It looks pretty cool, and it was impressive to see 101,000,000 rows in Excel. No, that's not a typo, it is 100 million rows. And it performed well. It's backed by an Analysis Services like engine, and I was impressed. Will it work that well for you? Not sure. Is it a great new thing that will change BI? Maybe, but I'll reserve judgement. More people will see this demo on Wednesday, so I'll be interested to see what they think.

After that, I was pretty tired. It's been a long couple of days, especially after the SQLServerCentral party on Monday night. That's become a great tradition and I think I'll have an agreement with PASS to do it again next year. We had over 130 people come, and I think everyone had a great time. We gave away a few thousand dollars worth of prizes with lots of winners. A very touching letter from Josef Richberg, the Exceptional DBA of 2009. He wasn't able to attend due to illness, but Brad McGehee read his letter to lots of applause. If you get the chance, I'd recommend you come to the party, and not just because I host it. Ask anyone that's come and I think they'd recommend it.

Most of my time consisted of meeting lots of old friends, and quite a few new ones that are a part of the SQLServerCentral community. That's something I'm looking forward to doing more of tomorrow, and seeing a few more sessions. I learned that trying to report on the event is exhausting, and I'm not sure it's better than telling you about what I learned in some session. Those little nuggets of knowledge gleaned from a presentation or a hallway conversation are invaluable. I will say that if you follow the #sqlpass hash tag on Twitter, you'll have a great idea of what's happening at the event. There's even a live feed of the tag at the event (see the photo to the right).

The big news of the day, I think, was the announcement that SQL Server 2008 R2 is scaling to 256 logical processors. Exactly what that means for us, I'm not sure, but increasing the scaling limits, especially as data sizes grow, is a good thing for DBAs.

Steve Jones

Podcast Note: No podcast today due to time constraints, but look for some footage of the event tomorrow.

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