2019 PASS Summit Recap from a First Timer

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Heading to PASS Summit…
It is Sunday the week of PASS Summit and I am at the airport after a relaxing morning with my wife and son. Unfortunately, I keep getting notifications that my flight keeps getting delayed. On the bright side I don’t have anything on my agenda today for the conference. I had planned to just take my time and enjoy the trip and that is what I am doing. It doesn’t hurt that there is a football game on at the airport gate. I just finished fixing an issue with a storage array.
Now to let the trip begin
Oops, not so fast.  After 3 official delays and a huge gate change we were boarded and ready to hit the skies. I am so blessed that I work for a great company that allows us to travel in first class. This takes a lot of the anxiety away for me while traveling. Needless to say for each year I get older I seem to get a few more inches rounder as well. If it was not for this perk I am not sure I would be looking forward to this trip.
Traveling is so interesting to me. I have become a people watcher in my old days and an airport or airplane for that matter brings people together in bunches. I watched the gentleman in front of me give every contact in his phone a custom ring and text sound. The really nice man next to me could not figure out how to get his sound to work on his earbuds through his MAC. So I helped him with that for a bit while his daughter napped.
Arriving in Seattle around 2:00 was nice. The airport was not as chaotic as it was when my wife and I had come here a couple years ago. Found my bag and booked an Uber to the hotel. They have certainly made it more confusing to find the Uber once booked. However, I did it and we were on our way to downtown Seattle.
The terrain and scenery is quite nice, but the town not so much. Loved seeing all the airplanes at Boeing. And seeing the port yards and some of the ships. Downtown is beautiful and the buildings architecture is so nice.
Checked in and found my room. Sat by the window to decompress for a minute and FaceTime my wife and son. He was so tired that he almost fell asleep while talking to me. Him and his momma stayed busy during the day.
They opened registration for a few hours on Sunday to allow Pre-Conference attendees to get their badges and registration complete.  So I went over to the convention center to get my swag bag and get registered.
Now, time to shower and go meetup with some people or eat and sleep?  If you know me you know I chose the later. I decided to order some food via DoorDash. That was a cluster as my driver decided to go to the wrong room in the wrong tower of the hotel and just leave the food by the door and then call me. So I had to go find the room and grab my food. Yuk, cold pizza is all I have to say.  Want to watch some football with your dinner, sorry that channel has a poor signal. Great, thanks I am going to bed.
Monday…
After the festivities of the travel day I woke up bright and early to prepare for the day so I would not have to rush. Checked some work emails and systems and then began getting ready.
I decided to not use the Starbucks voucher given and try one of the restaurants at the hotel. Rookie mistake. It always amazes me at the end of the day how these places can justify the prices they charge. Anyway, after breakfast where I saw many PASS Summit badges I headed across the street to the convention center where PASS Summit is being held.
Now up to the 6th level of this huge convention center to my all day Pre-Conference in ballroom 6A with Rob Sewell ( b | t ) to hear about my favorite topic dbatools ( b | t ). Learned some tidbits that I did not know, but for the most part all was a refresher.
I finally got to meetup with a friend of mine from home at lunch. It was good to see a familiar face around the thousands of strangers. Back to training after lunch and more dbatools.
The “beard” showed us about notebooks in Azure Studio. I need to look in to this for sure. More demos of dbatools and how to automate around AG with synchronized logins and jobs between nodes. Finished up the pre-con with a few more demos then we were let go.
That was a full day of learning and still we had the evening to go. I met up with my friend Steven who has already met six people and invited them all to dinner. We made our way to Ivar’s Seafood since everyone wanted seafood, we are in Seattle after all. So let the half mile walk begin. It was all downhill to the harbor so that is good, but it took a lot out of me. So after an awesome dinner I grabbed an Uber back to the hotel while everyone else walked to a second location for some libations. I was done for Monday. Time for some rest before the next big day of pre-conference.
Tuesday…
Again I got up early for Seattle time, but late for home time. I checked some email for work and kicked off a restore that was planned for the morning. I got ready and headed down for Starbucks and found a bottled water and bacon and egg sandwich. Pretty good if I do say so myself.
Now over to the convention center for pre-conference day 2 in the same 6A ballroom from day one. Today’s session is how to move on premise workload to Azure. Pretty good training, a lot of topics and scenario I had experience with already, so it was a great refresher.
After lunch I decided to explore a little before the actual conference kicked in to full effect.  Off to the Nike store across the street and see if they had anything unique or interesting for my son. I found him a pretty cool pair of shoes. I am a shoe addict and force this on him too. After hitting the Northface store across the other street, I went to hotel and worked through some email and took a little cat nap as I knew two events that night would take a lot out of me.
Got ready and headed back to convention center for the first timer event where all the people attending conference for the first time meet and great with some of the veterans. It was a good time and met some nice people. Then it was time for the welcome reception hosted by PASS. A lot of mingling and networking.
After a long day and night I was headed to bed.
Wednesday
The actual first day of the conference begins. Woke up at normal time and got ready and checked on work stuff.
Headed down for Starbucks again. Pretty good sandwich and hot chocolate today.
The keynote this morning started a little earlier than the previous days got going. Microsoft had a large presence and talked about the 2019 release and the new exciting features. There are a lot of great new features that wowed the crowd and that people are excited to work with. A lot of cool demos for the different features.  Under my seat was a winning ticket for a RasberryPi that was stolen from me when I stood up to get my stuff put together. Nerd must have needed it more than me.
Time for the general sessions begin. My first choice of sessions is Azure SQL tuning.  This did not really meet the need I was hoping. A lot of discussion about what tools can be used to monitor for tuning in Azure versus on premise, but no examples or demo content to help along.
It is lunch time again. Since I was a little early I decided to hit the exhibitor section. I had a contest card where you get stamps by about 10 vendors to be entered in a drawing for some prizes on Friday. Figured I would get that knocked out before the crowds come flooding in.
Saw my friend Steve and went on in to the lunch hall. After eating and getting to know my table mates I decided to head back to the vendor section and get in line for a massage. That sounded awesome and relaxing. Boy was it. ??
I was on the hunt for some swag for my 3 year old son. I told him I would bring him something and besides the shoes I got yesterday I have not found anything. Luckily a couple of the vendor booths had cool kid friendly items, Imagine that around 3000 adult children…
Now time for the afternoon to begin. I am taking a Powershell class from Aaron Nelson. Talked about Azure Data Studio Notebooks and using them for PowerShell work.  Very interesting concept, but the amount of tooling Microsoft is pushing these days makes my head hurt a little.
Next up Azure Managed Instance best practices.  This is a good topic and had a lot of helpful information.  I am trying to get migrated to these at work, but it is slow going getting people interested in the migration.
In what has already been a busy week, I decided to head to the hotel and lay in the hot tub for a bit and then order room service and grab some sleep.
Thursday
Late start this morning. Not really interested in the day 2 keynote topic. So I did some work in the hotel then went down for some Starbucks and people watching.
Now on to my first session. How to deploy SQL server containers on Kubernetes in Azure.  This is the first class of the week that my friend and I both attended together.  Very cool technology, it is just hard for me to see where this could fit in to any workload for us at work. It was a great session and gave good basics for containers. The Kubernetes was a little confusing and over my head.
Lunch time.  Not as crowded as the other days. Sat next to a couple guys who work in healthcare and both ended up being from Beaverton Oregon. They started talking shop and I politely excused myself and went to walk around the exhibitor hall.
Now afternoon sessions begin. Going to an entry level session on Azure Data Lakes.  This is something I have heard different teams mention as a possible project in the future.  So I wanted to understand what it was about and see what might be involved.
Next we have one of the classes I have anticipated all week. Designing Azure data disaster recovery strategy is something we will be focusing on first quarter of next year and something I am passionate about.
After deciding not to attend my evening RedGate dinner I went out with Steven and his gang.  We went to Dough Zone.  I am not much on Asian food, but I decided to tag along and go out of my comfort zone once again.  Man, this place was awesome.  The food was great and out waitress did a lot to accommodate our party. Cannot recommend enough that you go their if ever in downtown Seattle by the convention center.
Friday
Final day of a very long week is underway. I am going to sneak home early, so I needed to get up early and try and Tetris my stuff back in the suitcase. When you add all the swag and the few other gifts and stuff I accumulated it was a tough fit, but I made it happen. I proceeded to checkout of my room and then check my luggage to keep with the bellman until I finished my sessions.  The Starbucks line was too long for me so I risked it and decided to skip breakfast.
My first session of the day was Tuning SQL Azure database to reduce cost. The class was from an  interesting perspective, when you look at the code that you execute against your db and the fact that the more careless you are the more it will inflate your Azure database costs.
The speaker gave some tips and tricks to check for when your developers are writing their code and the functions they use and when.
Next session was with two MS Program Managers on the Azure Managed Instance product. I am fascinated with this offering and wish that we could migrate to this as soon as possible. Luckily, one of the sections in the session was about the network configuration and I cannot wait to present this to our network team and hopefully get some traction to do some consolidation and migration. Failover groups look awesome for DR and just seem the perfect fit for our workloads.
The next session was a late minute add and something I had tried to sign up for before conference began. A certification boot camp about becoming an Azure Data Engineer and how to get certified in the field. The presenter went through how Data Engineer related out to what DBA does and what developers do and how this new path fits in to our ecosystem. It is something that intrigues me. Does it align with what I am currently doing, but that might just me over thinking it. So it was good info to learn as well as they have vouchers for 50% off cert exams. So it might be a new path I look in to in my free time.
My final official act at conference was a meeting I had arranged for a demo and discussion with SentryOne to get a fresh look at their tools and monitoring solution. I like what they have done with the product since I last investigated 4-5 years ago when I did a monitoring comparison at Elevate and we eventually ended up going with a different vendor/product.
The Journey Home
With my activities coming to an end, I grabbed a sandwich for lunch and then went back to the hotel and rested in the lobby and did some work. Steven and I were going to carpool to the airport since my flight change ended up landing me on his flight back to DFW. So we got to the airport and made it through the snake line that is TSA security at Seattle airport. We then found a place to chill and do some work for a bit since we ended up being 3 hours early for our flight. Then we found a little pub and grabbed some dinner and chatted some more about life. Now on to the gate and wait for boarding. All pretty easy and streamlined. Got in my seat and settled in for the 4 hour flight. I had a few podcasts I was behind on due to Summit going on and no time for podcasts.
Conclusion
Attending PASS Summit was a new experience for me and something I had wanted to attend over the years. I think the conference part met my expectations. The networking and socializing was a challenge for me as I just don’t have that gene in me no matter how hard I try. I just cannot walk up to a person I do not know and kick off a conversation. That being said, I will converse with anyone that approaches me and starts the talking. So very bad on my part for not trying harder or coming up with an “elevator pitch” before hand.
If I ever get the chance to attend a conference I will work harder on the networking and definitely put more analysis and thought in to sessions to attend.

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