With the dimming of lights, the drone of "Born to be Wild" from Steppenwolf, and an opening film slip of motorocycles, the PASS Summit kicked off the first keynote. The lights came on the center stage to reveal PASS President, Wayne Snyder, sitting astride a motorcycle at center stage. It's a good opening that gt some smiles all around the audience.
Wayne welcomed us a "SQL Server Heroes", kind of the current marketing pitch for the SQL Server group from Microsoft. Wayne talks about us fighting through issues, learning, and doing our best to keep systems running smoothly. Wayne's talk is focused around the things that PASS is trying to do, which is mostly the conference. They want to see people networking, getting access to Microsoft, and reading the content they publish. That latter is a little disappointing since the SQL Server Standard (as I heard yesterday) has been discontinued. Supposedly the content from the old issues will get on the web.
Microsoft has sent over 500 people to PASS this week, which is one reason why I think this conference should be in Seattle every year.
Not a Zombie Conference
I heard this yesterday from Chris Stoltz, who kind of runs the European part of PASS. Wayne mentioned it again that he didn't want to be a zombie conference where people wake up, walk to sessions, and go back to their hotels. Not networking, no talking, and that's something that you want to do. They want this conference to be different, be something where people are decide to interact and really learn from each other. I think all conferences struggle with this, but it's something you want to try and mention this to people and encourage them to talk to each other.
PASS is You
It was good to see Wayne mention that the things PASS does aren't things he does. They're things done by the PASS volunteers and community, meaning you. He's right and this is a year I've seen more and more people putting on local events like SQLSaturday all across the world.
Growth to 136 chapters this year, more than a 70% increase. Good to hear since it seemed to me that chapters might be on a decline. Why go to a meeting when you can learn across the web. It's good to get together face to face, and learn a few things from each other.
Membership is now free, so that should help grow the organization. Why join? What do you get from them? Over 300 hours of recorded content available as well as lots of technical information.
The intention is not to replace sites like SQLServerCentral, but expand on it, and be a bit of a portal. We'll se as I've always expected SQLServerCentral to be the central portal, but we'll see what happens.
The board was introduced, and includes Kevin Kline, the immedaiate past president. He's still involved and helping the organization keep organized. The rest of the board's is introduced and described. We also saw the new candidates and a call to vote. Voting ends on Thursday afternoon and I need to vote, now that I've completed my endorsements.
2007 had 1528 registrations with 2445 in 2008. Quite a bit of growth and that's exciting. Pre-conferences went from 732 to 1143. In terms of sessions, we have over 150 of them to choose from this year. It's a bit of a concern since another similar level of growth in terms of percentage, might mean that this conference center might not be able to hold the event. Seattle is a great place to hold this, just because so many people from Microsoft come over from Redmond. As much as I prefer locations like Denver and Orlando, I don't want to lose the large Microsoft presence.
Evening receptions every night (Tue, Wed, Thur), which is nice.
There's a Women in Technology luncheon that takes place today. I like seeing that, not because women need to be treated differently, but because they face challenges that men don't. I hear about this all the time from my wife, so this is a good idea.
Sponsors are an important part of the community. I know it's hard, there's a lot of advertising as well, but those ads, which include some of the payments to a conference like this, support the community and bring some variety to our work lives. Not that you have to buy something, but check out the tools and see if they can help you. In my career I've used relatively few third party tools, but some of them have been very, very helpful.
Not a bad opening to the conference.