PASS Summit 2004


PASS Summit 2004!

The 2004 PASS Summit is the premier SQL Server conference for users, software developers, and the Microsoft SQL Server development team. It's an annual event that has been held in the fall and brings together over 1,500 people that are involved with SQL Server in some way for a 3 day conference on all aspects of SQL Server.

The last two years it's been in Seattle in November, which has provided the conference with unprecedented access to those brilliant folks at Microsoft who have developed the product by which many of us make our living. Being able to interact with those who actually build the product, the tools, the add-ons, and yes, fix the bugs, has been great. I've learned more from a few minutes between sessions or in the exhibition hall over a beer than from in weeks of browsing the web.

Not that the web isn't a great resource 😉

This year the Summit is in Orlando, FL, a very popular vacation spot in the US. This will be the third Summit that the team has attended and we're very much looking forward to the event. We support PASS, which is the only SQL Server professional organization and brings us the largest event dedicated to SQL Server each year. We hope that you can attend the conference as it's well worth the cost. Both in learning about SQL Server, current and future versions, as well as networking for your career. I know that my attendance at the first Summit in Chicago many years ago taught me a number of things that I hadn't known. Things that probably saved my company money over time, enough to offset most of the cost of the conference.

If you read the newsletter regularly, you've probably seen us including information about the Summit in the editorial. We worked with PASS to refer members last year and it was a huge success, so we've been working to make this year even better.

We receive a referral fee for each person registering through us for the conference, but we don't look at it as a money maker. Last year we went to great effort to try and return every penny of the referral fee to those who supported both us and PASS with a very nice long sleeve oxford shirt as well as a copy of our Best of book. If you know anyone that attended, ask them what they thought and I'm sure they were happy.

This year we're trying to outdo ourselves and make it more special. If you register for the conference with our code (SSC), then you'll not only get a polo shirt (better suited to Orlando's weather) and a copy of the new Best Of book, you'll also get to attend a special event, exclusively for our supporters where you'll have the chance to win an XBOX. Maybe 2 or 3, depending on how many registrations we can get 🙂

As I mentioned, the Summit is a great networking and learning opportunity. With the release of Reporting Services and Notification Services last year and the upcoming release of SQL Server 2005, this is the best place to advance your SQL Server career. Some of the highlights I've had over the last couple years:

  • Learning how to build an extended stored procedure from Ken Henderson
  • Seeing MOM early on in it's history with a great presentation by Euan Garden of Microsoft and getting to ask him a few questions afterwards (where I learned more in 10 minutes than in the previous 40). I also saw a fantastic presentation on DTS at another event.
  • Seeing Reporting Services in it's beta stage in a presentation by Bill Baker
  • Meeting some of the PSS guys and learning about a couple ways in which you can detect a memory leak.
  • Learning about how memory, bus speeds and disk technologies can affect high end installations in a NETIQ presentation. This was one of the most informative 40 minutes of my life.
  • Meeting two of the Profile developers and getting to complain about it's shortcomings 🙂

and much more. There's an online listing of sessions so you can plan your attendance plan and pick out your sessions ahead of time. If Euan Garden or Amir Netz of Microsoft come by, go see them. They are wonderful speakers. Just be sure to save time to go see Brian and Andy present on Friday.

If you are interested and can budget for them, there are also some preconference sessions on Monday (SQL Server 2005 Readiness) and Tuesday (quite a variety). Personally I haven't attended these in the past, but I've heard good things about them.


The Gaylord Palms has special rates for the conference and it is nice staying at the same hotel. I haven't seen it, but Andy scouted it out and says it's a first class facility. However there are some alternatives for those of you on a budget:

Wherever you stay, Orlando is a great place for the whole family. Besides Disney, there's Sea World, Cocoa Beach isn't too far, Tampa and Busch Gardens are about an hour away, Cape Canaveral is less than an hour, and lots more. I've been fortunate enough to have a couple vacations and 2 or 3 business trips in the last 6 years and my family has loved it when they've gone. My kids always want to go back.

If you do want to see some sights, or get around, be sure you rent a car. While the Gaylord isn't far out, there isn't much within walking distance.

So lean on your boss, make a case and see if you can't get a few training dollars to attend. We're looking forward to the event and the chance to meet many of our members. Those of you that attended last year, please feel free to agree or disagree and add your comments below. Thanks for the support and see you in Orlando.

And feel free to stop any of us, anytime, and say "hi". We'd love to have a few minutes with everyone during the week.

Steve Jones