PASS Summit 2011 recap


Recap of my first ever SQL PASS Summit – 2011:

Saturday, Oct 8 – Travel day – I flew from Richmond VA to the Seattle / Tacoma International airport via Atlanta. The flight arrived early… 11:20pm (that’s 2:20am EST… yuck). Other than being in the airline system for 12 hours, it was pretty non-eventful. (But I can’t complain… others attending were traveling in excess of 24 hours.) Well, almost non-eventful. It seems that when work books airline tickets, everything is booked “point-to-point” (I have never heard that term before), so my checked baggage was sent to my first destination… Atlanta, not Seattle. The airline promised to get it to me Sunday afternoon. Thankfully, I did bring some clothes in a carry-on. What was really nice was the welcome to the PASS Summit convention sign in the Seattle airport… I started feeling welcome right away.

Sunday, Oct 9 – Slept in. When I finally woke up, I wondered down to the Washington State Convention Center, which is about 4 blocks from the hotel. This is a beautiful convention center. It was too early for the registration, so I wandered around the downtown area looking for others and seeing what was in downtown Seattle. I ran into my friend Bradley Ball (@SQLBalls | Blog), and Karla (@KarlaKay22 | Blog ) and Rodney Landrum (@SQLBeat | Blog) down at The Tap House, where we shot some pool while waiting for the registration to open up. After seeing how bad everyone plays pool (well, except Rodney… if you play him, I wouldn’t put any money on the game… just saying…) we went back to the convention center. There we got our PASS Summit material, and I met up with some friends (for some, this was the first physical meeting), including Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard | Blog), Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey | Blog), Gail Shaw (@SQLInTheWild | Blog), Audrey Hammonds (@DataChix2 | Blog) and Erin Stellato (@erinstellato | Blog). While I was there, I received a call that my luggage had made it to the hotel, so I retrieved it, then headed out for dinner at The Tap House where I ran into Johan Bijnens (@alzdba) and Aaron Nelson (@SQLvariant | Blog). I retired early to get a good nights sleep… tomorrow is Grant’s and Gail’s precon on All About Execution Plans, and I am really looking forward to this session!

Monday, Oct 10 – This was a thoroughly delightful day. First and foremost, the day was spent in the All About Execution Plans precon by Grant Fritchey (@GFritchey | Blog) and Gail Shaw (@SQLInTheWild | Blog). Grant and Gail really know their stuff, and the synergy between them was fantastic. A lot of learning was done, with an excellent audience participation with some really great questions. If you have a chance to attend any of their other sessions (individually or together), do so. I met up with Roy Ernest (@RumblingDBA), Jim Murphy (@SQLMurph), David Easley (@sirSQLalot), Thomas LaBlanc (@TheSmilingDBA), Maria Zakourdaev (@MariaZakourdaev) and several others. Went to Lowell’s for the Networking event, and ran into the 2011 Exceptional DBA of the year, Jeff Moden. Afterwards, Jeff and I wondered down to the “TeamMidnight” first-timers group dinner, hosted by Jen and Sean McCown (@MidnightDBA). I sure wish that I was better at remembering names… there were many other people that I met at all three events, and I’m sure I’ll forget others names as the week progresses.

Tuesday, Oct 11 – This day was spent in the No More Guessing! An Enlightened Approach to Performance Troubleshooting precon by Adam Machanic (@adammachanic | Blog). This presentation did not cover what I had thought it was going to… it covered WAY MORE! This was an excellent presentation. After this presentation, I attended the PASS Summit First Timers, where Don Gabor put on a special Speed Networking session for us. This was immediately followed by the PASS Welcome Reception. At the beginning of it, all of the First Timers were ushered from the Speed Networking room into the meeting hall, in a manner that reminded me somewhat of the Olympics. This was really special to me. After this was the Red-Gate / SQLServerCentral party, where my friend Jeff Moden was awarded the 2011 Exceptional DBA of the Year. I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of this award than Jeff.

Wednesday, Oct 12 – What a great day. It started off with the Keynote address, where SQL Server code-named “Denali” was given its official name (SQL Server 2012), and its release date (the first half of 2012). Following this was the sessions: Bad plan! Sit! by Gail Shaw (@SQLInTheWild | Blog); Inside TempDB by Bob Ward (@BobWardMS), and BLITZ! The SQL – More One Hour SQL Server Takeovers by Brent Ozar (@BrentO | Blog). Interestingly, these were all in the same room. But the highlight of the day was meeting almost all of the authors of the SQL Server MVP Deep Dives Volume 2 book, and having my book signed by them at the book signing. And the biggest highlight of all was meeting Paul Randal (@PaulRandal | Blog) and Kimberly Tripp (@KimberlyLTripp | Blog). At the end of the day was the Exhibitor Reception. During this, all of the past and future SQL Cruisers gathered to thank all of the sponsors of SQL Cruise. My one disappointment for today was missing Grant’s session on using DMO’s for Performance Tuning – I really would have liked to have seen this, but other more important sessions conflicted with this. Grant, I hope that I’ll get to see this soon on the SQL Saturday circuit!

Thursday, Oct 13 – Well, I started Thursday off running late, so I missed most of the Keynote address. The first session of the day was Bug or Feature? by Itzik Ben-Gan (@ItzikBenGan | Blog). After this, I attended the excellent Women In Technology luncheon. Judging by the majority of the questions, it seems to me that the biggest concern presented is that women have trouble asserting themselves, are uncomfortable in asking for things, etc. IMO, there are two reasons for this: the first is from a lack of knowledge on the subject (and the solution is to get yourself educated on that subject); and the second is that you haven’t been assertive or asking for things enough to get comfortable with it (and the solution is to keep doing it until you do get comfortable). Note that these pretty much apply to most everything in life; not just about asking supervisors for things. In the afternoon, I attended the Physical Join Operators session by Ami Levin (Blog), What Happened? Exploring the Plan Cache by Kalen Delaney (@SQLQueen | Blog), and More DBA Mythbusters by Paul Randal (@PaulRandal | Blog). Finished off the night attending the Community Appreciation Party by Microsoft and PASS.

Friday, Oct 14 – The day started off with another book signing – I was able to get one more author to sign my book. The Keynote started with a song by Buck Woody (@buckwoody | Blog) and Rob Farley (@rob_farley | Blog). The main Keynote address was by Dr. David DeWitt… I now understand why he is so sought after by PASS to speak at the Summit. This was an amazing keynote, where he explained in terms even I could understand how Hadoop and SQL Server work together, and with what NOSQL is… and isn’t. I hope that we can get him to come back every year. The morning session was Query Tuning Mastery: Zen and the Art of Workspace Memory by Adam Machanic (@adammachanic | Blog). Friday was the Birds of a Feather luncheon, and Jeff Moden was hosting a table, so I sat in there to see what else I could learn from him. For the afternoon sessions, I attended Isolated Disasters in VLDBs by Kimberly Tripp (@KimberlyLTripp | Blog), and finished up the Summit with SQL Server Memory Management by Thomas LaRock (@SQLRockstar | Blog). I finished up the day saying bye to all my friends (new and old), and chatting with Damu Venkatesan about a Healthcare PASS Virtual Chapter that he is starting up, to see if I can help him out in any way.

Saturday, Oct 15 – Traveling home. Figured out what to do when in the Seattle airport while waiting for your flight… chat with Paul Randal & Kimberly Tripp! (We weren’t taking the same flight – they were waiting just one gate away!) During the flight, I did get a revelation for a presentation that I plan to put together soon (after I finish another article for SQLServerCentral!)

I guess it’s typical of all PASS Summit conferences, but there was so much to see and do. For almost every session, there were two other sessions that I wanted to attend (I’m glad that I ordered the DVDs!). Some of the sessions were a validation of the things that I thought I knew, however there were things learned in all of the sessions that I attended. I’m looking forward to implementing what I’ve learned, and in teaching my co-workers some of these things. I’m very glad that I was able to attend, and I definitely feel like this was money well spent. (Hey Boss… if you’re reading this, you can send me to Summit 2012 with two precons for 1/2 price ($1395), but only through Nov 15!)