The 2008 PASS Community Summit took place last week in Seattle, WA. This was my 7th Summit over the years and it's always a highlight of my year. Unfortunately this year I went to Seattle early with my son for a weekend of sightseeing, and while we enjoyed it, I was a little homesick by Friday and decided to leave early. Next year I'll wait until Monday morning to go and be sure to stay through Friday night or Saturday morning.
I am asked constantly why the Summit is worth the training dollars spent for someone to attend. I'll answer that in a couple of ways.
First the learning opportunities are there. I stopped by a couple pre-conference sessions, something I've never been interested in attending. There were more than ever this year and in talking to people that went, they really, really learned a log. That's a great endoresement and I expect we'll have another 4-6 each day.
The various sessions that you can attend are good, and you can definitely learn a few things, but those are also available later, so I'm not sure that I think they're the best use of your time unless there is someone or something specific that you need to learn.
The learning and networking opportunities, however, are fantastic. The most valuable thing that occurs at the conference, at least I think, is at the end of sessions when you can talk to the speakers and ask them questions, and in between sessions when you can grab a Microsoft expert in the hallway and ask them a question.
Networking is not just for finding jobs, however, and you should stress this to your boss. It helps you
- get to know experts that you might be able to call in a pinch
- meet consultants that you might want to engage for a project
- meet people that teach classes, such as my partners Andy Warren and Brian Knight. That can help you decide if it's worth attending a class from them (or skipping out.
- find people that might be good employees. You never know when you'll find someone that might fit in your organization.
- spark ideas in your mind.
That last one is key. Talking with people, hearing what issues they've faced, what solutions they've found, and what applications they've built can help you to become a better employee back at your company. You can come up with ideas that really leverage SQL Server and other technologies to improve your business.
If you read through the blogs and covereage, I think you'll see that as a common theme. There is some video content at the PASS site as well and look for more and more to appear over the next few weeks. You have to be a member of PASS, but since it's free, there isn't an excuse to not join.
Technology was rampant, from online blogging from people (some linked below) to a bunch of twitter feeds. PASS had an official one, but there was a collection for anyone using #sqlpass in their posts. It was especially interesting to see live reactions during the keynotes on Thursday, including a few from Donald Farmer right before and after he was on stage. I'm not sure of the whole social networking thing as an everyday thing, but it was neat to see it working at PASS. I included my location in a bunch and got people stopping by to say hi. I'll at least do that at all future events.
I think I missed the best one. It seems that Friday's was the one to attend, but the others weren't horrible. Just not that great. They were well attended, as you can see below:
The decision to set up a table for bloggers was great. Myself, the SQLBlog crew, Brent Ozar, Tony Davis, and more were there working along. You see some great notes from the keynotes below, way more than you'll find about other sessions.
The Wednesday and Thursday sessions were OK, pretty much taken over by Microsoft managers with a few demos, but nothing amazing, at least not to me. The Friday one sounded great and I regret no being there.
There was some real time blogging set up at the conference for the keynotes. I've collected a few links here from the week from people I know that were making good notes about what they learned.
Gai Shaw - All PASS 2008 posts
Adam Machanic - PASS 2008, Friday Keynote: Parallel Scale
Devon Knight - The Post PASS Summit
Jamie Mac - Those kids won't eat anything!
Grant Fritchey - PASS Posts
Jonathan Kehayias - PASS posts
Once again I didn't take enough photos. I carried a camera around, but didn't end up snapping it enough, partially because I was under the weather, but partially because I didn't think enough about it. I should hire someone to just walk around and snap photos next year. Perhaps I can convince Dominick Reed of Red Gate, with his fancy camera, to do that next year when he's not manning the booth. In any case, a few photos below:
Steve Jones - Mostly the SSC party.
Brent Ozar - Quest expert, and a much more regular photo-taker than I.
Flickr photos tagged SQLPASS2008
The 2009 Summit will be back in Seattle, on Nov 3-6, 2009. You can register now, and if you have the budget, I'd recommend you do so. The cost is $995, half the cost of it next year. The savings can almost cover the cost of hotel and travel.
If you register, be sure you use the SSC6 code. I'm not positive it will work, but if you get it on your registration, you'll make our party. Look for another writeup on that for Thursday.