PASS Summit 2018 Recap

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This year, PASS celebrated the 20th PASS Summit. As it has been many times, this year’s Summit was held in Seattle. PASS Summit has visited other locations such as Orlando and Charlotte, but, at least to me, it feels like home when it’s hosted in Seattle.

For those of us who have participated for many years – or who have made connections with the community through social media and attended for the first time – it feels like a big family reunion. From the day of arrival to the final session on Friday afternoon, this is the best week of the year for me (well, except for that trip to Hawaii).

Most of the people attending PASS Summit are there for the sessions. That was the case for me in the beginning. Now, I have quite a few responsibilities between speaking, Redgate commitments, and Women in Tech activities. I did manage to make it to four sessions and will enjoy watching many of them later when streaming is available.

If you were not able to make it to PASS Summit 2018, what did you miss? The Summit kicked off with the v.20 Celebration, aka Welcome Reception, in the big ballroom on Tuesday evening. This year it featured a slideshow with conference photos from the past two decades and the timeline since 1999. In addition to food and beverages, you could play video games or get a selfie with a Star Wars character. Typically, PASS has given out one beverage ticket per person, but this year you could get a beer without a ticket thanks to sponsors like Redgate!

Wednesday morning began with the keynote presentation by Rohan Kumar talking about SQL Server 2019 and the Azure data related news. I remember when the keynote speakers were 100% male, but this year most people demonstrating the features were women! The highlight for many of us was when longtime community member and now Microsoft employee, Patrick LeBlanc (@patrickdba), presented SSRS in Power BI.

After the keynote, the sessions began in smaller rooms throughout the conference center. The most challenging aspect of PASS Summit is figuring out which presentations to attend when there are so many compelling sessions happening at the same time. Fortunately, you can buy a USB of the session recordings even if you didn’t attend. I recommend it!

Thursday had two highlights for me. The first was the keynote speech of Executive Director and VP of Finance, Wendy Pastrick (@wendy_dance). Wendy managed to make the financial report fun by singing it along to the tune of “I’ll Will Survive.” The second was the ever-popular Women in Technology luncheon. This year, Lauri Bingham talked about how she helped start and grow an excellent program to support gender diversity at T-Mobile.

There is no keynote on Friday, but sessions continue until 4:45 PM. The Speaker Idol final was the most exciting part of the day. There were five finalists who all did a fantastic job – each giving a complete session in five minutes or less. This year, Rob Volk (@sql_r) won by giving his “A Modern DBA Career” session. Congratulations, Rob!

Wow! That’s a lot, but I didn’t even mention so many cool things like dinners and vendor parties each evening, activities with like-minded friends (#sqlkaraoke anyone?), the Community Zone, Microsoft Data Clinic, book launches, and so much more! It’s spectacular and overwhelming at the same time.

Finally, after a week of little sleep and trying to squeeze in everything possible, it was time to say goodbye. So long, #sqlfamily. See you next year!

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