The PASS Summit 2010 Experience

Since I came back to Trinidad I have been focusing on two very important events, Teleios Developer Day and TTSSUG last meeting for the year 2010. After both events were completed I finally got some time to do this long overdue blog post but I decided to leave it as my last post for 2010.

Last month I attended the premier event for SQL Server professionals, the PASS Summit 2010.  Many people have described this Summit as the best Summit ever and while I would agree I guess you can say that my view is a bit biased since this is my first Summit ever. This event also goes down in history as my first IT conference and also my first trip to Seattle. There are too many details and events to write about but I will try to capture as many highlights as possible in this post.
Outside the Washington State Convention & Trade Center
Freezing at 11am...Crazy!!!

Trust me when I say that getting accustomed to Seattle weather in November is very difficult for someone living in a country that has an average temperature of 26⁰ C. The concept of wearing a jacket at 12 pm while in the sun and the sunset occurring at 4pm can really be confusing to your mind and body. Once you get pass those concepts you can really experience the beauty of Seattle. There are many tours and attractions highlighted in PASS Summit 2010 Connection Section. I visited the Seattle Aquarium, the Pike Place Market and the Space Needle. I suggest that you take some extra days either before or after the Summit to explore Seattle, if you are unable to spare the extra days then you should try to make the PASS 2010 Photowalk. The Photowalk is an annual event, lead by Pat Wright (Blog |Twitter) and Tim Ford (Blog |Twitter), which gives Summit attendees the chance to view some Seattle sites and to meet other attendees before the official start of the Summit. I recommend this event to all first timers especially if you are attending alone.
Seattle from Space Needle

PASS Summit 2010

The conference has over 160 spotlight and program sessions with about 14 sessions occurring at the same time so attending all the sessions is impossible and choosing which sessions to attend might seem even more daunting because of the number of great sessions being presented by knowledgeable and well-known speakers. So why should you attend if you can’t attend most sessions and you are going to have problems choosing which sessions to attend? Maybe it might be better to just buy the DVD? Well the first point is that you should buy the DVD whether you attend or not. The second point is that the sessions are not the only way to get SQL Server knowledge at the Summit.

Chapter Lunch

There are Keynotes, Ask the Experts sessions, Chalk Talk sessions and Expo Partner sessions. Even at lunch there is knowledge sharing with the Bird of a Feather Lunch, Women in Technology Luncheon and Chapters Lunch. Of course you cannot talk about learning advantages of the conference without mentioning the grand Microsoft presence which is one of the main reasons why I will attend the next Summit. Besides providing speakers for sessions and the Keynotes they also have Microsoft CSS and SQLCAT members available at the SQL Server Clinic and they also have Hands-On Labs available. Another benefit of attending is the networking that I consider a necessity to survive in the IT world. The PASS Summit is full of SQL Server heroes and legends that you know from articles, blogs, forums and Twitter. Networking and learning goes hand in hand at this conference, you have no idea how much you can learn from a simple 20 minute conversation with some of these professionals.

Andrew J. Kelly and Itzik Ben-Gan

My PASS Summit experience was basically one long AWESOME day filled with knowledge sharing, networking and socialising that started Sunday night (November 7th) and ended Thursday evening (November 11th).  The Keynotes were very insightful and exciting because of the SQL Server Denali information that was being shared. The Keynotes were a great way to start each day before attending spotlight and program sessions. The first session that I went to was Brad McGehee's 'How to Optimise tempdb Performance' and the last session that I attended for the Summit was Kalen Delaney's 'Seeking SQL Server Secrets'.

Kalen Delaney's Seeking SQL Server Secrets
When I found it difficult to choose a session I would normally visit the Clinic, the Ask the Experts sessions, the Exhibition Booths or I would act as PASS Ambassador. However the majority of my time outside of sessions was spent meeting people like speakers, Solid Quality Mentors team members, chapter leaders and of course people from my list. Most of the people that I was looking forward to meeting were actually attending the listed and unlisted PASS After Hours events. I really enjoyed all the 'After Hours' events that I attended because they were really big ice-breakers for me but the two listed events that were really helpful to me as a first timer was the Meet-and-Greet Dinner and the Photowalk. Three of the unlisted events that made me feel welcomed and comfortable are the Volunteer and Community Speaker Party, the Solid Quality Meet and Greet Party and the Inappropriate PASS Sessions Party.

I would like to thank all the new people that I met at the Summit events because you all were one of the main reasons why I really enjoyed my first PASS experience. Special thanks  to Brad McGehee (Blog | Twitter), Kendall Van Dyke (Blog | Twitter), Douglas McDowell (Twitter), Nancy Nasso (Twitter), Kathi Kellenberger (Blog | Twitter), Rushabh Mehta (Blog | Twitter), Pinal Dave (Blog |Twitter), and last but not least the Midnight DBAs : Sean (Blog) and Jennifer McCown (Blog | Twitter). You guys gave me lots of advice during my stay in Seattle, introduced me to many people and most importantly you made me feel at home. By the way Jen thanks for the shout out on your blog.

Me and Brad McGehee

I recommend that all IT people attend at least one IT conference in your life and all SQL Server professional should attend at least one PASS Summit. It is a great eye opener and also a true lifetime investment! If you are interested in attending the PASS event, take some time and review some articles and blogs that provide reviews for past events and also provide tips for first timers.  Interested in PASS Summit 2011 and you are a first timer? Then, check out Jeremiah Peschka's post: Getting to PASS on the Cheap, Kendall Van Dyke's post: More PASS Summit Tips for First Timers and of course my PASS Summit post: Going to PASS Summit 2010. See you at PASS Summit 2011!!

Goodbye 2010.... See you guys in 2011!


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