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Lisa Gardner - SQL Sever Premier FIeld Engineer

PASS Summit 2011: My Recap and Advice on Takeaways

PASS Summit 2011: My Recap and Advice on Takeaways

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This was my first time attending the PASS Summit as a Microsoft employee, but I have been to the summit 6 times before.  I had typically gone to the summit simply for educational purposes and steered clear of a lot of networking and social events. This year I added more networking into the mix.  Instead of booting up my laptop and working, I tried to sit a different tables during each meal and chat with other attendees to network with customers. The PASS Summit has been invaluable to me to help me learn how to be a better DBA.  Now, as an MS employee,  I feel it is very important to help share experience and knowledge with others based on well over a decade of experience as a production DBA before joining MS. It is also a great way to here about how other companies have solved similar problems in a different way.  You may very well learn a great deal of technical information between sessions by talking with other attendees!

Of course the main point of the summit is education.  There were a number of great sessions, and I learned a lot! My advice for anyone attending PASS in the future is to start following certain speakers. Who you follow really depends on your interests/needs, but after your first year you will notice speakers that speak to your needs quite well.  I also always try to attend at least 1 session about a subject to which I have little to no knowledge/experience.  The sessions are relatively short, so even if you will not use the knowledge right away, it is not much time. Also, you never know when you may attend a session that sets off the light bulb in your head that can solve a big need in your enterprise (Service Broker, VS DBPro, AppFabric are some of my personal examples of that).  

Key point of advice:  The Summit does not end on Friday!  There are a number of post-summit tasks that I believe everyone should do…

  • Download all PPTs and sample code/demos provided from all the sessions you attended.  Great reference material.
  • Review some of the sessions that you wanted to attend but chose not to, download those ppts and samples also. Review them.
  • If you work on a team of DBAs and only 1 or 2 of you were able to attend, consider getting the DVD of sessions for your coworkers and recommend some sessions for them to view.  While waiting for the DVD (or if you cannot get the purchase approved), share the downloaded presentation info with your team.
  • Document a recap of what you learned and how you can implement improvements in your current environment based on knowledge you gained at PASS.  Put this in a PPT to present to your team and manager.
  • Use this presentation as cost justification for next years PASS Summit.  Try to secure approval/funding early.  Typically if you register for the next year before year end this year, there is a substantial discount (typically 50%)

Personally, I feel the PASS Summit is by far the best training for database professionals that is available,  Note that it requires you to be willing to dig deeper into what you learned at the summit as time only permits so much per session.  It is a great motivator to keep you educating yourself throughout the year. As technical professionals, it is our responsibility to maintain a constant state of education to keep our skills sharp, current, and marketable.

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  • This was my 6th PASS summit and always nice to SQLCAT and some of the Microsoft experts.  How do you feel about the changes over the past 5 years to SQL Community.  Previously there was a handful of knowledgeable MVP’s and now if you have Twitter followers, you got yourself MVP.  Microsoft MVP Awards sure does need to review Quantity versus Quality!  

  • I honestly am not extremely familiar with the MVP process, so I cannot really comment on how it is assigned.  I do agree that there do seem to be more MVPs than in the past, but the SQL community as a whole is also a lot larger.  I also think that as a whole the SQL community has more in depth knowledge of the SQL product (in part because of PASS).  I have noticed a number of audience questions being more and more specific to deep internals than before. It seems that there are a lot more higher level sessions than in the past, with higher attendence numbers as well. The SQL community knowing more about the product is great, and sharing knowledge is important also.

    I personally have always stuck with a lot of sessions taught by MS personnel.  That being said, a ton of customers have done a lot of very interesting implementations and PASS can also help you see how others have solved similar business problems to your own.  

    I do love how the SQL clinic has grown.  It is a great idea to showcase some of the amazing talent within CSS and SQLCAT.  Before working for MS, I have used the Clinic to help validate some designs that I was working on and get some great feedback.

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