This week I've been at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Washington State. This is my second summit, and I was really looking forward to it. In fact, after my first one last year, I was excited to get more debate and information about SQL Server as a product and how Microsoft is building the product.
Unfortunately almost everything we've seen is under NDA, so I can't really put out specifics, and I'll have to get clearance for this post just to let you know what's happening. We can't even take pictures in most places. Here's the outside of the Microsoft Conference Center. I like the flags from all over the world displayed here.
This year I was a bit disappointed by the events and presentations at the Summit. I spoke to a few people that have been here more times and they aren't surprised. With SQL Server being somewhat in between releases (SQL 2008 was just released, SQL 11 is just getting started), everyone is a little unfocused on what to do. Or at least it feels that way to me.
The presentations are a little vague at times and the MVPs don't seem to enagage the Microsoft employees as much as last year. Overall things seemed a little vague, with program and product managers kinds of throwing things out in their sessions, which were more Powerpoint/presentation sessions rather than discussions.
Day 2 ended up with many more discussions between MVPs and MS people, so it was more interesting, and more information came out of it. Unfortunately, most of this is under NDA, so no specifics yet.
I do like the auditoriums where a number of briefings are held. There's a tiered auditorium that's well designed for the modern world. Tiers of desks WITH power every few feet. Nice for laptops, especially when you're in there all day.
I did meet a number of new MVPs, which was exciting. Pinal Dave, of SQLAuthority.com sought me out with a few other MVPs from the other side of the world, and we had the chance to chat a bit. It was nice seeing plenty of other MVPs, like Joe Webb, Hugo Kornelus, Louis Davidson, and many more. I met Jason Massie, who I've exchanged tweets with and spent time with Andy Warren, my partner in JumpstartTV. Brad McGeHee, director of DBA education with Red Gate is here, and Jacob Sebastian received an award from the MVPs for his contributions this year.
It's great seeing friends and colleagues, many of whom I correspond with regularly. This is a great networking opportunities for SQL Server professionals that have the chance to discuss and debate issues in a very low noise environment. As much as it's great to interact with the community at large, I find that some discussions aren't as focused for some reason.
There's an MVP dinner one night, a separate one for each product group. Last year the entire Maggiano's was rented out. Eric Johnson and I got confused last year and ate salads with the Visual Studio MVPs until we realized it and moved to the SQL room. We were back at Maggianos again, and it was a good time chatting with both MS and MVP folks.
MVPs Andy Warren and Robert Cain are above, enjoying a little conversation before dinner. I also snagged Pinal Dave, of SQL Authority, as well as Jacob Sebastian, one of our SQLServerCentral regular authors. Arnie and Satya snuck in there as well.
I was exhausted at dinner, having gotten up at 5:45 to run before a long day at the Microsoft Conference Center, so I left on the first bus I could, but it was great to catch up with a few people, including my brother-from-another-mother, Dan Jones, one of the main PMs for SQL Server.
I've been coming to Seattle for many years, since 2001, and in all that time I'd never been to the Experience Music Project before the 2008 MVP Summit. Andy Warren and I tried to go a few times over the years, but it was closed and we didn't bother. I had such a good time there last year, I actually took my son there, and the Science Fiction museum, when he came with me in November 2008 for the PASS Summit.
As with any Microsoft event, they did a fantastic job of providing food and drinks. A variety, and plenty of them, which always go over well with geeks. The same as last year, there was a karaoke band and people were invited up on stage to sing. It's a mix of people with some talent and those with enough adult beverages inside them not to care.
Above we have Michael Coles performing with his background singers, Allen White, Pinal Dave, Rich Heiges, and yours truly. I'll get some video of this, and others, up soon.
I'm a "green" guy. Not militant, but I think it's worth paying attention to how you impact the environment. A few interesting things on the Microsoft Campus.
First they have a huge bus system to move people around this campus. It's a large area and people are always needing to move between buildings. You can call for a ride, and someone will show up to move you around. I saw building numbers in the 100s, and after the expansion that's underway completes, will have more than 10 million square feet of space.
They have all sizes of busses, but it's nice to see a number of Toyota Prius' being used. Since most trips probably have 1-2 people, this is a great gas savings.
They also have done an interesting job of setting up not only recycling containers, but also composting containers. I hadn't seen anything like this in other companies I've visited, but I think it's cool. The three bins below are "Trash" (white label), "recycle" (blue), and "Compost" (black).
It can can be a little confusing as to what goes into which bin, but I did notice that my coffee cup had a note to let me know it was compostable.
It's hard to read but it says "Compostable" on the top line, and then below that "Cup = Compost" and "Lid = Trash"
I think the MVP is a great networking opportunity, and while it's a closed club, it also gives MVPs a chance to bring community feedback and ideas to those at Microsoft who build SQL Server. Since they sometimes work in a vacuum, this is a good time to talk to the folks that decide what things get built.
While many MVPs are paying attention to the community, answering questions, speaking, etc,, it definitely helps if any of you out there experiencing issues would make it a point to contact an MVP or two and explain your issue. We do try to get your feedback to Microsoft, so be sure that you let us know what things are pain points, of features of desire in the next versions of SQL Server.