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Commentary, General, PASS, SQL, SQL Server

PASS Summit 2013 – My Thoughts and Experience

It’s been a few weeks since The PASS Summit 2013 ended and after a few hectic weeks of playing catch up at work, I finally have some time to write down some of my thoughts and experiences of my very first PASS Summit experience.

First, if you don’t have much time to read, you’ve never been to a PASS Summit, and if you are contemplating if it’s really worth it to go, simple answer is YES.  Go to the PASS Summit 2014 registration page right now and take advantage of the early bird price (save $1,200!).

For those who are interested in my first experience with a PASS Summit, please continue to read on!

Before The Conference

Even prior to the main conference there were so many things to do, from social events to extra sessions.  I decided to arrive a day earlier to take advantage of some of the first-timer orientations and the welcome reception.  In addition, Microsoft was offering their certification exams for 50% off, so I scheduled an exam in the morning prior to and several during the conference.  Although I was not able to attend the pre-conference sessions (precons) and they were not officially part of the main Summit, PASS offered 14 different full day sessions full of incredible information and training.  Speaking to the friends I made during the conference, if you can, definitely take advantage of these sessions.

Sessions

The PASS community is full of incredible people who not only have a deep knowledge of their expertise and tools, but possess a wonderful willingness to share what they have with others.  Hence the sessions, regardless of what track I chose, were beneficial and always resulted in something new and useful that I could take away and apply to my work.

Socialize

As important as the sessions are, one important distinction and aspect of this conference is the encouragement to share, reach out, and connect with other SQL users.  The summit provides various social events, such as evening karaoke, as well as various physical spaces, such as charging stations, to promote interaction between attendees.  One more thing, Twitter is THE communication tool between the #SQLFamily, hence it is important to at least create account and follow the community.  Try starting with #SQLPASS, #SQLFamily, and #SQLHelp.

Highlights

Without a doubt, the highlight session for me was the second day keynote by Dr. David Dewitt on Hekaton (or In-memory OLTP for “marketing” name).  I have experienced many technical presentations that ended up being dry and boring, but his ability to engage the audience on this topic was amazing.  His passion and knowledge was incredible and well worth the cost of the conference itself.

The other highlight would be the all the incredible people I met and all the connections that I was able to make!

Most Disappointing

Line ups, line ups, line ups!

Although there can be exceptions where one may have to line up 10 minutes earlier to a session, it basically became the norm to have to line up 20 minutes earlier to attend some of the more popular speakers and topics.  I’m sure PASS will work on this for the next summit.

Big Thank Yous

Lots of gratitude and thanks to all the speakers, volunteers, and organizers for making the PASS Summit 2013 an incredible experience.  Also, a big shout out to all the vendors who attended and sponsored this event; there are some incredible tools out there that we can all benefit from.  Specifically, thank you to SQL Sentry for being a generous sponsor and host with the maps, social events, and the shuttle around town!

Last Thoughts

One thing that I would suggest to PASS is that instead of the just having the usual loud and large social gathering events, perhaps they can have a lounge style gathering where people can drink and talk in an environment that is conducive for conversation.  Perhaps limit table sizes so that everyone can have a chance to talk and listen.  With the majority of attendees who identify themselves as introverts, such an environment may provide even better networking and knowledge sharing opportunities.  I know that I made my best connections when I was sitting in a lounge with 5 other attendees and when I was sitting on a patio with several attendees.

I can’t wait to see everyone again at the PASS Summit 2014 in Seattle!

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