SQL in Seattle

To me, late October means one thing: it’s time for back-to-back conferences in Seattle, specifically the PASS Summit and the MVP Summit, with a couple of one-day mini-conferences also thrown in for good measure.

PASS Summit is THE conference for SQL Server professionals. There are hundreds of sessions and thousands of attendees and it is held over a three-day period, usually in late October or early November. In addition to the three main conference days, there are two days of precon seminars, which offer full-day training courses on specific topics.

The main conference starts on the Wednesday morning with a keynote by Microsoft. This has often been where Microsoft announces releases or major features. This year, I won’t be at all surprised if there’s an announcement regarding SQL Server 2016 – perhaps its expected release date. There may very well also be Azure announcements, either around the database offering or on any of the many BI, Big Data and Machine Learning features that Azure offers. Whatever is announced, it’s sure to be a keynote not to be missed. As for the rest of the conference, it’s all about sharing and learning. Some of the sessions I’m especially looking forward to are:

  • Itzik Ben-Gan talking about running totals. Itzik knows more about T-SQL than most of us have forgotten, and his sessions are always enjoyable
  • Bob Ward, in his famous level 500 internals session talking about wait types, latches and spinlocks
  • Advanced analytics with R in SQL Server 2016. R is a fascinating language, and one I’ve just recently started learning. R in SQL Server? Bring it!

The sessions aren’t the only part of the PASS Summit, though. There’s the SQL Clinic where the top CSS engineers will be available to help with any SQL Server problems. There is also the Customer Advisory Team that can help with designs for SQL implementations and features big and small, and there’s the community area where there’s sure to be several SQL professionals at any time, willing to share their knowledge.

The Friday keynote is going to be a treat. Dr DeWitt, from the Jim Grey lab has given the last-day keynote on multiple occasions, always to critical acclaim and usually to a standing ovation. Last year, one of his co-workers, Dr Nehme presented the keynote and, if anything, outdid Dr DeWitt. This year, they will present the final-day keynote together on the Internet of Things (IoT).

The week after PASS Summit, the action moves across the lakes to Bellevue and Redmond, for Microsoft’s annual MVP Summit. This is where Microsoft talks to its MVP award holders about its plans for the future of the company’s various products. Everything that occurs during the MVP summit is under NDA (including the lunch menu) but that just means that Microsoft is free to talk about things that the company is not ready to make public. It also gives the the MVPs a chance comment on, and often criticise, those plans.

While the agenda is NDA, what I’m expecting and hoping to see is a mixture of features coming in SQL 2016 and longer-term plans for the future of SQL Server and entire data platform as a whole.

All in all, between PASS and the MVP summit, it’s going to be a busy, but great, trip.

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