The PASS Summit had a lot to live up to. I’ve heard so much about the Summit from my fellow PASS members I fully expected it to be located in the Land of Oz, staffed by the Kermit the Frog and the Muppets, and the speakers carried lightsabers while moving you to tears by just saying hello. Like I said, a lot to live up to. Although not located in Oz and not one Muppet was sighted (Buck Woody didn’t’ attend) there were plenty of good things that this conference had to offer.
I attended Paul White’s excellent pre-con titled “Understanding the Optimizer and Interpreting Execution Plans” on Monday. I walked into the pre-con, sat down then saw that five MCMs sitting behind me and one MCM sitting I front of me. At that point, I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical conference pre-con. Paul did a great job of presenting some very complex stuff and was very engaging with the audience. That pre-con alone made the trip worth it.
The Charlotte area is lovely. The place is picturesque. It’s like the place isn’t in America. It’s so perfect it’s kinda weird. I took a couple of Vine videos (video 1, video 2) while I was there check them out if you want a quick look at the place. My hotel was located across the street from the convention center so it wasn’t a big deal to head back to the room to pick something up. There was also a ton of restaurants in the area and getting around was just so easy. I have to say it was the perfect location for a conference even if it was a bit weird.
During the Summit there was a bunch of things going on at once, sessions, vendor area, SQL Cat team, lightening talks, and the community zone. You couldn’t do everything so you had to choose. I did spend some time in the Microsoft area. There I got a one-on-one discussion with a Microsoft employee about the Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW). We went back and forth on how PDW worked compared with other parallel databases like Teradata. I pretty much got my own private session of PDW which is most awesome.
Even though I didn’t attend many sessions many of the speakers were top notch. It’s always a crap shoot when you go to these kinds of conferences. Will the speaker know the material? Will the speaker be engaging? I’d much rather hear a great speaker talk about something I could care less about than hear a bad speaker talk about a topic I’m passionate about. So of the three sessions that I attended I made it a point to see Brent Ozar (twitter | blog) speak. I had no idea what his presentation was about because I didn’t look at the title. As usual he was informative, entertaining and engaging. It’s always a pleasure to hear him speak.
I also participated in SQL Run which was a 5K run put together by Jes Borland (twitter | blog). I know, why in the world would I wake up at 5 AM to run three miles with people I didn’t know? Why wouldn’t I? SQL Run was a great way to get out, see the city a bit and meet some folks all while getting some exercise. I also got an awesome tek shirt out of it.
Can I tell you something else? The parties were awesome. Some were planned, some were not. There was always someone interesting to meet. Andy Warren’s (twitter | blog) networking party packed out Buffalo Wild Wings. And let me tell you these people love their karaoke. I counted three full nights of karaoke, and that’s awesome.
Sure there was a whole lot going on during the Summit but there was one thing that was the thread throughout the week and that was #SQLFamily. Being apart of the SQL Server community is one of the reasons why I started dotNet Miami. From Sunday when I landed in Charlotte until Friday night when I landed back in Miami I was surrounded by SQL Family and it was awesome. So that’s why my favorite part of the Summit was the Community Zone. At any given time it was full of people willing to talk about technology and community. And the people that were there were chapter leaders, SQL Saturday speakers, PASS volunteers and Summit speakers. These were the kinds of people that you hope to meet at a conference and they were all in one place. I’m still scratching my head why more attendees didn’t flock to the Community Zone. Such an opportunity wasted…but not by this guy.
* Title photo credit: Kendra Little