Category Archives: pass summit 2012

Microsoft is on the Move — to Charlotte!

PASS Summit is just right around the corner and we are very excited to share all of our hard work with you!  Microsoft is sending over 140 people to Charlotte, NC to share our excitement about SQL Server & BI and spend time with our enthusiastic community.

Charlotte Welcomes PASS

This year the conference is in Charlotte, October 15th – 18th.  Not only is this an ideal time of the year to visit the beautiful city of Charlotte, but it’s the perfect time to attend the world’s largest and most intensive technical training conference for Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals.  There are a lot of reasons to attend, but the bottom line is this:  the amount of knowledge you will walk away with is invaluable.  With the Microsoft’s all-star lineup of speakers you will be armed with the leading edge of technology.

Kicking off the event on October 16th is Quentin Clark, Corporate Vice President Microsoft’s Data Platform, talking about his vision for the data platform and showcase innovative solutions that deliver compelling value for you, your organization, and end users.  And on Day 2, October 17th, you won’t want to miss Technical Fellow David DeWitt as a keynote speaker talking about In-Memory OLTP:  Why, What, and How

And it’s not too late to get registered.  Here are 5 great reasons not to miss PASS Summit 2013:

  1. There will be 190 expert-led technical sessions covering all aspects of SQL Server and Business Intelligence
  2. Learn strategies on how you can improve the return and performance of your SQL Server environment such as virtualization technologies, performance tuning and scaling, better hardware utilization, simplified management, effective business intelligence, and more!
  3. Face-to-face architecture advice from the infamous Azure CAT folks and free tech support from Microsoft CSS
  4. Build your network!!!  Countless opportunities to get involved with the community, meet potential customers, MVP’s, experts, and peers with special lunches and evening receptions
  5. Daily Chalk Talks with the Microsoft experts in the Microsoft booth – your chance to have a casual chat with the likes of Conor Cunningham and David DeWitt!

Can’t make it in person? Not to worry!  Connect to the live steam of Quentin Clark and David DeWitt’s keynotes plus fantastic spotlight sessions by Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich, community leader —, and many others on the PASS website starting 8:00 AM EDT, Wednesday, October 16th, 2013.

What’s Your Favorite Feature of SQL Server 2012?

PASS Summit in November was a perfect opportunity to catch up with SQL Server community members to ask them about their favorite features of SQL Server 2012. We caught up with many of them at a local restaurant and captured their responses in this video to kick off Quentin Clark’s keynote.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the favorite features named were exceedingly diverse, but there were some commonalities in the outcomes people were looking for.  These benefits included:

  • Reductions in application downtime
  • Improvements in database and application performance
  • Improvements in productivity
  • Costs savings
  • Empowering end-users with BI tools to improve decision making

So if any of these outcomes are critical to your next project, watch the full video above and see what features of SQL Server 2012 can help you achieve these aims.  And for those that are interested in the Business Intelligence benefits for your next project, you may want to hear more by attending the PASS Business Analytics Conference on April 10-12 in Chicago.  That would be a great opportunity to catch up and hear more about your favorite feature of SQL Server 2012!

Many of the customers featured in the video have already worked on published SQL Server 2012 customer stories.  You can find a complete list of these case studies at www.microsoft.com/sqlcustomers

David Hobbs-Mallyon, Senior Product Marketing Manager

 

PASS Summit 2012 Recap & the Milestones of SQL Server 2012

Microsoft_VP_Ted_KummertLast week marked the completion of a great week at PASS Summit 2012, the world’s largest technical training conference for SQL Server professionals and BI experts alike. During this year’s 3-day conference, nearly 4,000 attendees heard firsthand about the great advances being made toward managing big data. Over the course of two keynote speeches by Microsoft Corporate Vice Presidents Ted Kummert (Data Platform Group) and Quentin Clark (SQL Program Management), Microsoft announced the following:

  • Project codename “Hekaton,” a new in-memory technology that will be built directly into the data platform, will ship in the next major version of SQL Server.  Currently in private technology preview with a small set of customers, Hekaton completes the company’s portfolio of in-memory technologies across analytics, transactions, streaming and caching workloads, enabling business acceleration by shrinking the time from raw data to insights.
  • SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), the next version of Microsoft’s enterprise-class appliance, will be available during the first half of 2013.  SQL Server 2012 PDW includes PolyBase, a fundamental breakthrough in data processing that will enable queries across relational data and non-relational Hadoop data.
  • SQL Server 2012 SP1, which supports Office 2013 by offering business users enhanced, new capabilities for self-service business intelligence using familiar tools such as Excel and Sharepoint, is now available for download here

What’s more, on the final day of PASS Summit 2012, attendees were treated to the presentation, “Big Data Meets SQL Server 2012” by Microsoft Technical Fellow David DeWitt. 

PASS_Summit_2012All the while, conference participants attended a wide variety of technical sessions presented by industry experts in addition to a host of other programs. From on-site certification testing, to hands-on-labs, attendees were able to boost their technical skills using these resources, as well as work through technical issues with top Microsoft Customer Service and Support (CSS) engineers and get architectural guidance from the SQL Server, Business Intelligence and Azure Customer Advisory Teams (CAT). Of course, the learning didn’t stop there; attendees were invited to new, “I Made That!” Developer Chalk Talks, which featured 30 minute casual talks with the Microsoft developers who worked on specific features and functionalities of SQL Server 2012. The topics appealed to many, ranging from AlwaysOn to Hekaton. You can see more great photos from PASS Summit 2012 on the SQL Server Facebook page or access the video interviews with Dave Campbell, Quentin Clark, and David DeWitt available at the SQL Server virtual press room.

And so, as we close on another year of PASS Summit, it’s the perfect time to look back and see how far we’ve come since the launch of SQL Server 2012.  Join us below, as we take a celebratory look at the milestones we’ve hit along the way, and let’s look together toward the bright future ahead!

SQL_Server_2012_Milestones

Seamless insights on structured and unstructured data with SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse

In the fast evolving new world of Big Data, you are being asked to answer a new set of questions that require immediate responses on data that has changed in volume, variety, complexity and velocity. A modern data platform must be able to answer these new questions without costing IT millions of dollars to deploy complex and time consuming systems.

On November 7, we unveiled details for SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW), our scale-out Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) data warehouse appliance, which has evolved to fully embrace this new world. SQL Server 2012 PDW is built for big data and will provide a fundamental breakthrough in data processing using familiar tools to do seamless analysis on relational and Hadoop data at the lowest total cost of ownership.

  • Built for Big Data: SQL Server 2012 PDW is powered by PolyBase, a breakthrough in data processing, thatenables integrated queries across Hadoop and relational data. Without manual intervention, PolyBase Query Processor can accept a standard SQL query and join tables from a relational source with data from a Hadoop source to return a combined result seamlessly to the user. Going a step further, integration with Microsoft’s business intelligence tools allows users to join structured and unstructured data together in familiar tools like Excel to answer questions and make key business decisions quickly.   
  • Next-generation Performance at Scale: By upgrading the primary storage engine to a new updateable version of xVelocity columnstore, users can gain in-memory performance (up to 50x faster) on datasets that linearly scale out from small all the way up to 5 Petabytes of structured data.     
  • Engineered For Optimal Value: In SQL Server 2012 PDW, we optimized the hardware specifications required of an appliance through software innovations to deliver significantly greater cost savings, roughly 2.5x lower cost per TB and value. Through features delivered in Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012 PDW has built-in performance, reliability, and scale for storage using economical high density disks. Further, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V virtualizes and streamlines an entire server rack of control functions down to a few nodes. Finally, xVelocity columnstore provides both compression and the potential to eliminate the rowstore copy to reduce storage usage up to 70%. As a result of these innovations, SQL Server 2012 PDW has a price per terabyte that is significantly lower than all offers in the market today.

With SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse, Microsoft already demonstrated high performance at scale when customers like HyVee improved their performance 100 times by moving from SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse. SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse takes a big leap forward in performance, scale, and the ability to do big data analysis while lowering costs. For the first time, customers of all shapes, sizes and data requirements from the low end to the highest data capacity requirements can get a data warehouse appliance within their reach.

We are very excited about SQL Server 2012 PDW which will be released broadly in the first half of 2013 and invite you to learn more through the following resources:

  • Watch the latest PASS Summit 2012 Keynote or sessions here
  • Microsoft Official Blog Post on PASS Summit 2012, authored by Ted Kummert here
  • Read customer examples of SQL Server 2008 R2 PDW (HyVee)
  • Visit HP’s Enterprise Data Warehouse for SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse site
  • Find out more about Dell’s SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse here

Breakthrough performance with in-memory technologies

In a blog post earlier this year on “The coming database in-memory tipping point”, I mentioned that Microsoft was working on several in-memory database technologies. At the SQL PASS conference this week, Microsoft unveiled a new in-memory database capability, code named “Hekaton1”, which is slated to be released with the next major version of SQL Server. Hekaton dramatically improves the throughput and latency of SQL Server’s transaction processing (TP) capabilities. Hekaton is designed to meet the requirements of the most demanding TP applications and we have worked closely with a number of companies to prove these gains. Hekaton’s technology adoption partners include financial services companies, online gaming and other companies which have extremely demanding TP requirements. What is most impressive about Hekaton is that it achieves breakthrough improvement in TP capabilities without requiring a separate data management product or a new programming model. It’s still SQL Server!

As I mentioned in the “tipping point” post, much of the energy around in-memory data management systems thus far has been around columnar storage and analytical workloads. As the previous blog post mentions, Microsoft already ships this form of technology in our xVelocity analytics engine and xVelocity columnstore index. xVelocity columnstore index will be updated in SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW v2) to support updatable clustered columnar indexes. Hekaton, in contrast, is a row-based technology squarely focused on transaction processing (TP) workloads. Note that these two approaches are not mutually exclusive. The combination of Hekaton and SQL Server’s existing xVelocity columnstore index and xVelocity analytics engine, will result in a great combination.

The fact that Hekaton and xVelocity columnstore index are built-in to SQL Server, rather than a separate data engine, is a conscious design choice. Other vendors are either introducing separate in-memory optimized caches or building a unification layer over a set of technologies and introducing it as a completely new product. This adds complexity forcing customers to deploy and manage a completely new product or, worse yet, manage both a “memory-optimized” product for the hot data and a “storage-optimized” product for the application data that is not cost-effective to reside primarily in memory.

Hekaton is designed around four architectural principles:

1) Optimize for main memory data access: Storage-optimized engines (such as the current OLTP engine in SQL Server today) will retain hot data in a main memory buffer pool based upon access frequency. The data access and modification capabilities, however, are built around the viewpoint that data may be paged in or paged out to disk at any point. This perspective necessitates layers of indirection in buffer pools, extra code for sophisticated storage allocation and defragmentation, and logging of every minute operation that could affect storage. With Hekaton you place tables used in the extreme TP portion of an application in memory-optimized main memory structures. The remaining application tables, such as reference data details or historical data, are left in traditional storage optimized structures. This approach lets you memory-optimize hotspots without having to manage multiple data engines.

Hekaton’s main memory structures do away with the overhead and indirection of the storage optimized view while still providing the full ACID properties expected of a database system. For example, durability in Hekaton is achieved by streamlined logging and checkpointing that uses only efficient sequential IO.

2) Accelerate business logic processing: Given that the free ride on CPU clock rate is over, Hekaton must be more efficient in how it utilizes each core. Today SQL Server’s query processor compiles queries and stored procedures into a set of data structures which are evaluated by an interpreter in SQL Server’s query processor. With Hekaton, queries and procedural logic in T-SQL stored procedures are compiled directly into machine code with aggressive optimizations applied at compilation time. This allows the stored procedure to be executed at the speed of native code.

3) Provide frictionless scale-up: It’s common to find 16 to 32 logical cores even on a 2-socket server nowadays. Storage-optimized engines rely on a variety of mechanisms such as locks and latches to provide concurrency control. These mechanisms often have significant contention issues when scaling up with more cores. Hekaton implements a highly scalable concurrency control mechanism and uses a series of lock-free data structures to eliminate traditional locks and latches while guaranteeing the correct transactional semantics that ensure data consistency.

4) Built-in to SQL Server: As I mentioned earlier – Hekaton is a new capability of SQL Server. This lays the foundation for a powerful customer scenario which has been proven out by our customer testing. Many existing TP systems have certain transactions or algorithms which benefit from Hekaton’s extreme TP capabilities. For example, the matching algorithm in financial trading, resource assignment or scheduling in manufacturing, or matchmaking in gaming scenarios. Hekaton enables optimizing these aspects of a TP system for in-memory processing while the cooler data and processing continue to be handled by the rest of SQL Server.

To make it easy to get started, we’ve built an analysis tool that you can run so you can identify the hot tables and stored procedures in an existing transactional database application. As a first step you can migrate hot tables to Hekaton as in-memory tables. Doing this simply requires the following T-SQL statements2:

image

While Hekaton’s memory optimized tables must fully fit into main memory, the database as a whole need not. These in-memory tables can be used in queries just as any regular table, however providing optimized and contention-free data operation at this stage.

After migrating to optimized in-memory storage, stored procedures operating on these tables can be transformed into natively compiled stored procedures, dramatically increasing the processing speed of in-database logic. Recompiling these stored procedures is, again, done through T-SQL, as shown below:

Hekaton_PASS_Summit_2

What can you expect for a performance gain from Hekaton? Customer testing has demonstrated up to 5X to 50X throughput gains on the same hardware, delivering extreme TP performance on mid-range servers. The actual speedup depends on multiple factors, such as how much data processing can be migrated into Hekaton and directly sped up; and, how much cross transaction contention is removed as a result of the speed up and other Hekaton optimizations such a lock free data structures.

Hekaton is now in private technology preview with a small set of customers. Keep following our product blogs for updates and a future public technology preview.

Dave Campbell
Technical Fellow
Microsoft SQL Server


[1] Hekaton is from the Greek word ἑκατόν for “hundred”. Our design goal for the Hekaton original proof of concept prototype was to achieve 100x speedup for certain TP operations.

[2] The syntax for these operations will likely change. The examples demonstrate how easy it will be to take advantage of Hekaton’s capabilities.

Countdown to PASS Summit Series: Meet the Superheroes of SQL Server at the ‘I Made That’ Chalk Talks

PASS Summit 2012 has arrived in Seattle and our #SQLFamily reunion is under way! In this final post of our Countdown to PASS Summit Series, we invite you to meet and greet the developers who worked on SQL Server 2012, for a personal, behind-the-scenes look at SQL Server 2012 in the making!

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Yesterday, we introduced you to the Arkitektor, the newest superhero on the scene from the Data Barrier Agency (DBA), who you can see up-close on the walls of the Microsoft booth at PASS Summit this week. However, we also have a few more SQL Server Superheroes that you can meet in person this week during our “I Made That!” Developer Chalk Talks.

This week, at PASS Summit, join some of the top Microsoft developers who worked on SQL Server 2012 for some informal and unscripted talks about the functionalities and features they wrote. Relax and unwind with these SQL Server superheroes on comfy couches with snacks to share, and get the inside track on the development of SQL Server 2012. You can find the full schedule of Chalk Talks and SQL Server Superheroes here, but in the meantime, you can preview a few of the SQL Server all-star team members that you can mix and mingle with during the "I Made That!” Developer Chalk Talks:

Eric Hanson, Chalk Talk Host on Columnstore:  12:30 pm, Thursday, November 8th

Eric_HansonDr. Eric Hanson is a Program Manager Architect on the Big Data team in Microsoft SQL Server, where he focuses on data warehousing and the integration of data warehousing with Hadoop. He was instrumental in initiating the work that lead to the new columnstore index feature that shipped in SQL Server 2012.

SQL Server Superpower:     Columnstore performance tuning

SQL Server Supergadget:    Trace flag 2312

 SQL Server Supermotto:  If the heavy lifting is done in batch mode, you’re golden!

 

Sunil Agarwal, Chalk Talk Host on Hekaton:  1:30 pm, Thursday, November 8th

Sunil_AgarwalSunil Agarwal is a Principal Program Manager in the SQL Server Storage Engine Group at Microsoft. Sunil has co-authored two books on SQL Server and owns/participates in the popular SQL Server Storage Engine Blog. Prior to joining Microsoft, Sunil worked at DEC, Sybase, BMC Software, Asera and DigitalThink, focusing primarily on core database engine technologies and related applications.

SQL Server Superpower:     Storage engine

SQL Server Supergadget:    Hekaton

SQL Server Supermotto:  In-memory data is king!

Special Data Barrier Agency (DBA) Agent Arkitektor Presents Mission: PASS Summit 2012

From xVelocity in-memory analytics and X-ray vision, to the ability to take on 1 million commands per second, I am Arkitektor, special agent of the Data Barrier Agency. In alliance with Microsoft SQL Server, the Data Barrier Agency’s goal is to fuse the top qualities of the world’s top DBA rock stars – top notch problem solving, technical prowess, and razor-sharp decision making – and amp them up to super hero status.

My mission: Introduce the people of SQL Server to the ultramodern SQL Server tools and capabilities available to DBA agents across the globe.

I invite you to visit the Microsoft SQL Server booth at PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle, Washington, to see my grand debut on the SQL Server scene. Be sure to follow my mission and my continuing adventures this holiday season through the SQL Server network dossier.

In the meantime, here is your mission, should you choose to accept this role:

  • Arkitektor_Special_SQL_Server_Operative Join the conversations. Keep in contact with the Agency and fellow DBA agents by using the proper codes in your communications. Use hashtags #sqlserver, #sqlpass, #summit12 and #sql2012.
  • Play the #PASSword of the Day contest to win prizes. Follow @sqlserver on Twitter and watch for the #PASSword of the day. Use it in a tweet to @sqlserver with hashtag #PASSword, and the best tweets will win prizes! Keep your eyes peeled — additional instructions to follow on Twitter.
  • Crack the code and win. Stop by the Microsoft booth and pick up your code sheet. If you can crack the data visualization puzzle at our booth successfully, you will receive a SQL Server sleeve for your secret agent computer, and you will also be entered in our daily drawing to win an XBOX/Kinect bundle!
  • Enjoy our SQL Server special treats. Mix and mingle with fellow DBA agents by visiting the Microsoft booth on Thursday at 1 pm PST to sample our SQL Server Red Velvet cupcakes. While you’re there, have your photo taken with me, Arkitektor, and maybe you’ll see your photo up on the SQL Server social channels!
  • Wear your Agency attire on Friday, November 9th and earn a chance to win an XBOX/Kinect bundle. Wear any SQL Server T-shirt that you’ve acquired on your mission this week, and we will select one secret agent at random on Friday who will win an XBOX/Kinect bundle.

Join me and the SQL team on Twitter and Facebook, where you’ll learn about other special PASS events and contests including chances to win an XBOX. Use #sqlpass and mention that Arkitektor sent you.

Countdown to PASS Summit Series: The ’Don’t Miss This’ Guide to Summit 2012

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With just a few days until the official start of PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle from November 6-9, 2012, the SQL Server team is hustling and bustling to put the finishing touches on the many activities that we are offering at the world’s largest and most intensive technical training conference for Microsoft SQL Server and BI professionals. Senior executives are getting ready to present the latest developments, trends and strategic vision for SQL Server, the cloud-ready information platform. SQL Server Engineers are challenging each other to prepare the best technical sessions and educational content for our strong and demanding Global Community.

Here is a brief overview of the “DO NOT MISS” activities at PASS Summit this year:

  • Get up early to secure a front row seat as top SQL Server Executives Ted Kummert and Quentin Clark take center stage with keynote addresses on Wednesday and Thursday from 8:15am to 10:00am. For the first time, we will also stream both keynotes on our SQL Server website during PASS Summit.
  • Just added! Listen to the legendary Dr. David DeWitt, Technical Fellow at Microsoft, as he presents a Spotlight Session on “Big Data Meets SQL Server” [DBA-410-S]
  • Visit the Microsoft Booth in the PASS Summit Exhibition Hall to discuss questions with Microsoft SQL Server Engineering team members, browse through a wealth of demos at our technology kiosks and listen to one of the short, but deep, technical sessions in the showcase theater.
  • Choose from of over 190 technical sessions that are offered by SQL Server Experts. You can get a head start by building your personalized schedule with the PASS Summit 2012 mobile guide or the Schedule Builder.
  • Get certified onsite! Microsoft Learning is onsite to provide easy access to Microsoft Certification exams at discounted rates.
  • Work through your technical issues with top Microsoft Customer Service and Support (CSS) engineers and get architectural guidance from the SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT) at the SQL Server Clinic. Walk-ins welcome!
  • Try out the latest Microsoft technologies through self-paced and instructor-led Hands-On Labs.
  • Visit the new “I Made That!” Developer Chalk Talks for 30-minute unscripted conversations with Microsoft developers on functionalities and features they actually wrote.
  • Have your say and share your feedback on SQL Server technologies in one of the Focus Groups.

Finally, we want to remind you that one of the most valuable aspects of PASS Summit is the opportunity to connect with experts and peers alike, network, share issues and exchange solutions. As always, the SQL Server Social Media team will be sharing the latest news, activities, contests live from PASS Summit. Chime in and connect online with us and the SQL Server community (hashtags: #sqlpass #summit12 #sqlserver #sql2012).

We look forward to seeing you at PASS Summit 2012!

Countdown to PASS Summit Series: Make it Happen at The Summit

It’s closer and closer we get to the official start of PASS Summit 2012, and our celebratory countdown continues! Today, we have more advice for you on what you need to get out of PASS Summit from SQL Server community members Rob Farley and John Sansom. 

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FEATURED MVP ROB FARLEY

Rob_Farley Rob Farley runs LobsterPot Solutions, a Gold Partner SQL Server and Business Intelligence consultancy in Adelaide, Australia. He presents regularly at PASS chapters and conferences such as TechEd Australia, SQL PASS, and SQLBits (UK), and heads up the Adelaide SQL Server User Group. He is an MCT and has been a SQL Server MVP since 2006. Rob has helped create several of the MCP exams, wrote two chapters for the book SQL Server MVP Deep Dives (Manning, 2009) and one for SQL Server MVP Deep Dives 2, Volume 2 (Manning, 2011). He is currently a Director of SQLPASS.

I’m probably not the typical PASS attendee, but the thing that I’m looking forward to the most from this year’s PASS Summit is people realising where the real benefit of the PASS Summit lies.

I should point out – I’ve only been to two PASS Summits. My first was as recent as 2010. I gave two presentations plus a lightning talk that year, only to take the next step and deliver a precon in 2011 (oh, and I sang during a keynote). I was on the board as an advisor during last year’s Summit, and this year I will be attending my first PASS Summit as a full director.

So, you see, I’ve never been a real first-timer at PASS. My experience of getting into the SQL Server community came through local channels.

I went to TechEd Australia as a regular delegate in 1999 – that’s when I was a proper first-timer. A colleague and I flew up to Brisbane for the event, where we worked out which sessions we’d each go to, based on what we wanted to learn from the event. There was a lot of information, and I made a lot of notes. I see a lot of people doing the same at conferences today – people who haven’t realised yet.

In 2000, I moved back to the UK for a couple of years, and didn’t go to many local events. I didn’t even consider myself a SQL guy back then, but the company I worked for was involved in some of the other local communities – back then it was things like Commerce Server and Content Management Server. I didn’t attend the meetings that were going on, and I definitely didn’t see it as valuable. I would’ve jumped at the chance of going to the larger conferences, though and I did attend an event that Bill Gates was speaking at in early 2002 (I think). It wasn’t anything like the PASS Summit though.

A few years later I found myself living in Adelaide, attending an event at the Hilton Hotel (the one in Adelaide, not the local pub in Hilton), where someone invited me to the .Net user group. I asked the guy I reported to about going along, and found I could use company time for it. Like all drugs, the first hits are often free.

Fairly soon I realised that the benefit of the local community wasn’t in the presentations that were being given, but in the network of people that were there. The presentations didn’t actually thrill me that much, and it wasn’t long before I offered to give presentations myself, ones that even got noticed by people at Microsoft. This was both in the .Net world and the SQL world – and I was also starting to appreciate that I had a lot more to offer the SQL community than the .Net one.

When I was just attending events for the content, I really wasn’t benefitting much from the whole experience. I could probably skip the talk, look at its title, do some research through the blogosphere, and learn just as much, at my own pace, with lots of varying perspectives – even seeing demos of things on YouTube and the like. Well, maybe I couldn’t do that so much back nearly ten years ago, but certainly these days. (Of course, there’s the time aspect – if you go to an event, you’re actually setting time aside to learn. That’s great. But for me, it’s not quite enough.)

But when I shifted my focus, I started getting so much more out of them. In doing this, I saw three differences.

1. By being more interested in the people that are at events more than the technical aspects of the presentations, you start to hear what’s actually important about the technology, rather than basic technical details.

2. By becoming a presenter, you value presentations differently, and even learn more from them. You start to consider factors such as what made the presenter choose a particular demo over another, and how you would present that point yourself. And you don’t see the other presenters as being so aloof.

3. By understanding that the technical details of a talk are all things you can pick up later through your own research, your energy at an event can go into building relationships. You meet the presenters, get to know them, and they become part of your network.

In 2005, I attended my second major event – another TechEd Australia. I was mainly just a delegate, but I had also been told by the guy who ran the SQL Server user group to catch up with a few particular people there (a few weeks later he asked me to take over the group, but that’s a different story). The conversations I had at 2005 were therefore very different to the ones from 1999.

By 2006 I had become an MCT, and proctored Hands-On Labs at TechEd Australia, which I also did in 2007 and 2008. I presented sessions in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and felt like part of the establishment at the event. I was definitely getting a lot more out of it that I had done in the past.

2006 had also seen me get the MVP award. This meant I could go to the MVP Summit, which I did in both 2007 and 2008. There I was just a delegate, but in hindsight, I found that the focus of the events was on building relationships – both with other MVPs and with Microsoft staff. It was at these events that I met many people in the global SQL community for the first time.

In 2009 and 2010 I travelled to the UK for two SQLBits conferences, where I gave precon seminars and regular presentations. I had met some of the MVPs at the MVP Summits I’d been to, but got the chance to meet many other people as well.

You see, in today’s world, you can find out technical information very easily. What you can’t do so easily is form the kinds of relationships that give you allies in solving problems that aren’t so straight forward.

So what I want “first-timers” to realise (regardless of how many PASS Summits they’ve been to) is this:

The thing you need to do at these things is to get to know the people behind the profiles. Find out what interests them outside the data world (and potentially within it), and you’ll come away with so much more than if you wanted to learn about the technology.

And the thing that I personally enjoy about events like the Summit is seeing people wake up to this tip and making it all happen.

FEATURED SQL SERVER DBA  JOHN SANSOM

John_Sansom John Sansom (@SQLBrit) is a Technology Lead with the database team at Expedia, Inc. providing consulting services and support for one of the world’s largest SQL Server environments. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor Award (MCC) John can be found regularly blogging about Being a DBA and Professional Development over at http://www.johnsansom.com

Jadba is a diligent, hard working chap with a passion for technology. A typical DBA, he’s all about ensuring the availability and performance of the environments in his care. He enjoys working with a variety of data technology but his favoured weapon of choice is SQL Server. A studious and ambitious fellow, he taps into the vibrant SQL community to learn and grow as best he can. Regularly reading the latest blogs and white papers, attending webinars and even the odd local User Group event. Jadba has invested in his own professional development to become quite the proficient DBA.

Like many Data Professionals it’s always been an ambition of his to attend the most prestigious of all SQL Server community events, the PASS Summit. For the opportunity to learn from the very best, to finally meet with international community peers of many a year in person and to feel like a true member of the #sqlfamily. To attend the Summit seems a distant dream to Jadba, so far out of reach both physically and financially.

At least that was the case, until recently. Frustrated and no longer content to accept missing out on the sidelines, it was time to take action into his own hands. You see earlier in the year he made a commitment to himself that this time there were to be no excuses, no matter what. He was going to attend the PASS Summit 2012!

I am of course talking from my own personal experience and not just another DBA (Jadba). Having worked as a data professional here in London for over ten years, to travel to the PASS Summit has long been an ambition of mine. The desire to attend has been on my radar for so long now but there’s always been an obstacle to contend, be it financial or logistical, that’s kept me from my goal. If I’m being honest, perhaps I’ve been too easily swayed and should have acted sooner. No matter, armed with some sage advice I made a public commitment to finally get to PASS. Don’t make the same mistake that I did by procrastinating. I encourage you to act without hesitation, to take control and make the investment in your own career.

Don’t settle for being simply just another DBA. You can read heaps more about Professional Development for the DBA over on my blog. Make the investment in yourself and I’ll see you at the Summit.

Countdown to PASS Summit Series: A Network of Experience & More to Bring Home

We can feel the excitement building as the Summit approaches! Here today, to help us with the final countdown and to get you ready for the rewarding week ahead are two of our SQL Server MVPs, Chris Shaw and Steve Novoselac, to share some wise words on what you can expect to get out of PASS Summit 2012 in Seattle, Washington. 

Seattle_Super_Trivia

FEATURED MVP:  CHRIS SHAW

Chris_ShawChris Shaw, a former United States Marine, started his database career in 1993.  He is an Microsoft MVP Award Recipient the author of Pro SQL Server Practices 2012, which was released in October.  Chris currently consults for Xtivia, and can be reached at Chris@SQLShaw.com.

I try to go to the PASS Summit each year, and I think over the last 10 years I have only missed a couple of them.   Recently at the local Users Group meeting, I was asked why someone should go to the PASS Summit.  It didn’t take long for me to start talking about all the reasons I go, but at the top of the list:

This is the best opportunity I have to sit and talk SQL with other professionals who have different experiences than I do.

At work, I don’t always have the opportunity to utilize all the things that SQL Server can do, so when a situation arises and I am asked to complete a project with SQL Server, I sometimes lack the experience in actually doing it.  I may have the knowledge on how to do it and the resources to find out to implement it, but without the experience, I believe you are more likely to miss some of the obstacles that you might encounter along the way.  I also believe that you might be more concerned about some of the challenges that may not exist, so speaking to others who have had different experiences can be very rewarding.

TJay Belt a close friend of mine was asked in an interview why he was the better candidate for a position.  The answer was along the lines of, “When you hire me, you get me and my network of SQL Server Professionals with all of their experience as well”. 

For more insight from Chris on why you should be excited about PASS Summit 2012, read Chris’ Big Data blog post, where he discusses another highlight of PASS Summit 2012, David DeWitt’s session, Big Data Meets SQL Server.

 

FEATURED MVP:  STEVE NOVOSELAC

 Steve_Novoselac Steve Novoselac (@scaleovenstove) is the Business Intelligence and Software Development manager at Trek Bicycle Corporation, as well as on the Board of Directors of MADPASS, the Madison, WI PASS Chapter. Steve can be found blogging at http://blog.stevienova.com and http://stevenovoselac.com.

Very soon, I will be landing in Seattle for the annual PASS Summit. This will be my third Summit, though I wish I could say that I had been to them all because the experience is one you don’t want to miss.

After consecutively attending the last few Summits, I can attest to the fact that it is a great thing. When asked "What is the one thing you look forward to at the Summit?", I really don’t have to think about the answer.

What keeps bringing me back is not so much things at the Summit, but what I bring back. Usually around the last few months of the year, I start feeling like I’m in a rut with things, and it just so happens that the Summit lands smack dab in the middle of that. I go to the Summit, plug into as many new and exciting things as I can get my hands on, and the juices start flowing. By the end of the week, my head is filled with so many ideas on how our team could implement "this" or think about how the business could use "that" — it really is invigorating.

I have always tried to get at least one other team member, if not more (myself and two others are attending this year) to attend the Summit so we can get more info, cover more bases and look from multiple angles. We try to talk to as many people we can, including presenters, MVP’s and Microsoft Employees. We try to hit the big sessions and the not-so-big sessions (where all the stuff that is going to be huge a couple of years from now is being talked about!). We try to make it to events throughout the week and check out as much as we can of the entire experience. (We also don’t forget to try some Pacific Northwest cuisine and beer!) But the best thing for me about the Summit, is taking things we learned back to the office and actually executing on them.

The Summit is the one time of year that we can forget about what we are working on day to day and start to learn and experience things to make not only our careers interesting, but help the business we work for become more productive and successful by using the solutions we will put in place –w ithout a doubt, many of these solutions come from the ideas sparked at the sessions and discussions at the Summit.

I hope to see you there!