One DBA's Ongoing Search for Clarity in the Middle of Nowhere


Yet Another Andy Writing About SQL Server

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

PASS Summit 2015 Recap

Last week was the annual PASS Summit in Seattle.  The Summit is the predominant educational and networking event for SQL Server professionals of all types – DBA’s, Developers, Analysts, and many more.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to attend this year but after some gyrations with a friend and my employer I was able to make it work, and it was definitely worth it, as always.

In no particular order here are my top moments from the week:

  • The Day One Keynote – not for the Microsoft message, but for the introduction from outgoing PASS President Tom LaRock (blog/@SQLRockstar).  I have admired Tom for some time for the effort he is able to put in to his job as a technical evangelist (Head Geek) at Solarwinds while still being married with children *and* maintaining a strong presence as a member of the #sqlfamily and the overall SQL Server community.  Being the president of PASS is no small task, with no pay and often little appreciation, and it was obvious as Tom described the journey he has taken just how invested he is in that service to the community.


  • The Day Two KeynoteDr. David DeWitt and Dr. Rimma Nehme of the Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab never disappoint, always delivering a presentation that is almost academic – there is never any hard marketing aside from a brief mention of their project of the moment (such as Polybase) but even that is usually a tongue-in-cheek reference.  This year’s talk was on the “Internet of Things” #IoT – describing how the world is relying on more and more items with internet connectivity, such as smartphones and fitness trackers.  They described how the data generated by these objects is resulting in a data explosion that will be an overload for business intelligence and how we as data professionals need to be ready for that volume.  The slides from the talk are available on the Gray Systems Lab website.They also made a sad announcement that they would no longer be giving PASS Summit keynotes.  Dr. DeWitt is retiring (at least mostly retiring) and Dr. Nehme is moving on to other things.  They will be sorely missed by the PASS community and Microsoft has a very high bar to clear for whomever comes next year.

  • Bob Ward’s session – Bob (blog/@bobwardms) is the “Chief Technology Officer, CSS Americas” for Microsoft’s Customer Support Services (CSS, the artist formerly known as PSS) and he always melts our brains with a deep dive internals session on a chosen area of SQL Server.  This year it was “Inside Wait Types, Latches, and Spinlocks” and was booked for a double session at the end of the day.  Bob’s session is another one of those that always is about technology and *not* marketing or fluff.  It is marked as 500-level (off the charts) and he isn’t kidding – about a third of the audience didn’t come back after the mid-session break.  I learned a lot but I was definitely in a daze at the end.

  • Slava Murygin’s photos – Slava (blog/@SlavaSQL) did an amazing job documenting the Summit with a wide array of “day in the life” style pictures from the keynotes, sessions, exhibit hall, and a variety of other locations.  He posted them on his blog at and I have referenced several of them in this post.  If you haven’t already looked at the pictures you need to check them out – and if you don’t already follow Slava on Twitter, do that too! :)

  • Reconnecting with #sqlfamily – one of the top parts of any Summit is seeing people that I deal with all of the time online but who live all over the world.   From former co-workers that live in town (but that I still rarely see) to new friends from half a world away, there are hundreds of friends new and old that I only see at the Summit (and there are far too many to list here).  Part of #sqlfamily is caring for each other and for others and meeting each other in person just reinforces that.  Two items this year are #sqlcares to support the National MS Society and #ArgenisWithoutBorders to support Doctors without Borders.  This second item especially highlighted how many of us are willing to make fools of ourselves to help draw donations in – this happened at the Summit in response to the $25,000 that was donated:

Erin and her crowd of fans after her session.

I didn’t get a good picture of Kendal presenting but loved his opening slide. :)

All in all it was a great experience as always – registration is already open for next fall!

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