Today is Kilt Day at the PASS Summit. We’re going to try to arrange a group photo at lunch time.
The network connection is extremely slow. I suspect the tweeting about the kilts.
Bill Graziano is leading the key note and he started off with having all the kilted stand. Only about 12-15 of us, but that’s five times better than last year. Then it was time for the volunteers to stand up. It was excellent to see so many people. The Outstanding Volunteer of the Year was Lorie Edwards. The PASSion award went to Wendy Pastrick, who really earned it.
Unfortunately the next segment was on governance… blech! But necessary. Everyone here is a member, so they should know how the money is spent. Luckily Bill is not digging in a lot. He’s covering the things he has to. Yes, it’s a boring topic, but this is a not-for-profit organization and it needs to be transparent. I’ve always been happy to see the numbers, even when it bored the heck out of me.
An X-Box Kinnect was given out to a lucky winner. Cool! I was too busy yesterday to take advantage of the contests… ah well.
Today is also the Women In Technology Luncheon.
The first speaker of the day is Quentin Clark of Microsoft. Mr. Clark is introducing Denali. Today we should get some meat. The goal is shifting user expectations and shifting business expectations. Sadly, I was extremely excited about this presentation, but, instead of getting into the product, we got quite a lot of sales pitch. I do want to see what they think is the most important functionality, but I want to see it, not hear about it. That’s important. I think vendors frequently don’t think about the audience. The Twitter stream started to get pretty abusive, just like last year during the “I can’t mention the major hardware vendor that supports PASS because we really appreciate it” presentation.
Finally, after 40 years in the wilderness, we got a demo of SQL Server Always On. He started right into Management Studio, which is the first time I’ve seen it in the last two days during any of the Denali demos. That’s an indication of something. This is pretty neat. Automatic failover with multiple secondaries, so you can have more than one data center, around the country and have synchronous data in multiple sites. THAT will be useful. This without shared disk. Yes, you can still use it, but now you don’t have to. That’s a huge improvement over what we’ve had in the past. And, he got an ovation during the demo. When you have a collection of nerds as big as this clapping for you, you did something right. Thank you Microsoft. The data synchs occur in near real time, behind the scenes, with HA set ups that you can put together, for individual databases or groups of databases, in about five minutes. Huzzah! Oh, and the secondaries can be set to be readable and you can move your backups to the secondary… WOW! Again, thank you Microsoft.
The break down of the goals is the same as outlined yesterday, of course, Mission Critical, which they just showed, then IT Pro & Developer Productivity and Pervasive Insight. Then Mr. Clark mentioned DAC and there was a low rumble around the blogger table. That is not a popular set of functionality. There’s going to be enhancements in spatial within Denali, modifying the abilities to run queries and moving all the way through the BI stack. We’re finally getting Sequence Generator and Paging and enhanced Error Handling.
FileTable, a whole new integration of FileStream technology is being demo’ed next. This should be good too. The Key Take Away is “Every windows application that generates files, can now store files within sQL Server without a single modification to the app.” I’m not so sure this is a good thing, and what about SharePoint? Still, technology is cool and I’m a geek enough. I’m going to enjoy it. So, to a degree, this works like FileStream, but it’s file management through the database, but, the demo showed a set of files getting inserted into SQL Server management through a command prompt. Oooh… That’s cool. The demo is impressive. You can update the documents from the file system or from the database. That’s pretty neat. I’m just not sure exactly where this goes within the enterprise. I’ll have to read some more about it.
The next set of functionality is Project Juneau. I’ve heard a lot about this. It’s likely to hurt some of the 3rd party tools. We went right to the Demo this time. Thanks. We’re in the VS 2010 Shell now, along with BIDS and everything else. They’re not retiring SSMS, but it’s clear that it’s on the way out, must be. I like the improved TSQL completion. The table designer is good too. Because you can sync the visuals & tsql as you create the table. That’s great! I think I said this yesterday, but there are a lot of people that will not enjoy moving to Visual Studio. I’m a fan, but others will not like it. Still, it looks good. It’s working better than it ever did, and that’s a good thing.
Ted Kummert is still talking.
For the cloud, of course, they’re talking about SQL Azure. Microsoft really is throwing themselves into the cloud, completely. The emphasis is that they offer both a cloud and an on-premises solution. I don’t mind saying, I’m still trying to get the full business proposition for an old school, fat, business like the one I work for. What should we be doing with the cloud. I just haven’t seen the magic. I see where smaller businesses, or start-ups, or temporary surge capacity for businesses that may have that type of thing can use the cloud, but… traditional work, it just doesn’t seem to jive yet.
We’re going to see some made-up scenarios for how Azure can manage Contoso Bikes. He shows how the report can pull data from the cloud and deploy reports from the cloud, in order to deliver to people on the road. But, we can do that already in other ways. The ability to link your data with the Data Market data is pretty cool. I can see that being useful. You will have to purchase access to these data sets. You can query against them, but, similar to the PDW demo, we’re not in SSMS any more. I wonder what Microsoft’s long term plans are for SSMS based on the ways we’re seeing it being bypassed.
What’s next for SQL Server? Denali. The CTP is getting handed out tomorrow after the keynote tomorrow. We’ll be seeing the demo on Denali tomorrow. The idea that Mr. Kummert is communicating is that Denali represents client requests. They targets are Mission Critical, IT Pro & Developer Productivity, and Pervasive Insight. They’ve focused on manageability and upgrade capacity. That should be good. They’re going to work on performance, which is interesting. They’re unifying the experience into Visual Studio… I’m OK with this, but I know that a LOT of DBAs are not OK with this. It’ll be interesting to see how it breaks out. Denali is the largest release of integration services ever. Full life cycle development on SSIS. That will be good. They’re also talking about expansion on the PowerPivot type of work. Project Crescent is a new reporting tool that is coming out with Denali, which is a new way of showing business information. Sounds good. Finally, a demo. We’re seeing the 100 million row demo, again. I’d like to see the new stuff, please. So, they pulled the data out of Excel and directly into Analysis Services. That’s good. Showing how it’s working within VS, which gives you source control, etc., and then you also get to use the server, which is better than the memory limits within PowerPivot. And he’s showing how over 2 billion. This is a great demo. We’re seeing a trillion rows per minute, filtered & reported on. It’s very slick. This is good. Same technology is also in the database engine. We’re seeing fantastic performance. I might be out of a job. It’s based on the columnar data store technology. It’s a very good thing.
Come back for more tomorrow!
Mark Souza from the SQL CAT Team, some of the smartest & most capable of MS consultants in SQL Server, is presenting how his team is offering a health check for people’s SQL Server systems.
There going to actually be using some technology to do this little event called SQL PASS It On, using Twitter. Twitter is become more and more of a major part of the event. If you’re not at least monitoring Twitter, you’re missing out.
It’s a busy day with the SQL Clinic, the Exhibit Hall, Community Learning Center, Birds of a Feather Lunch, Regional Mentors, Book Signing and Exhibitor Reception. That’s not mentioning all the sessions.
The key notes will be Ted Kummert today, Quentin Clark tomorrow, and David DeWitt (YAY!) on Thursday where he will talk about Query Optimization. I will be taking notes!
We’re seeing a history of how Microsoft split the code from Sybase for the SQL Server 7.0 release. They built a brand-new database platform in 2.5 years. That’s pretty amazing.
They started off with SQL Server 7.0 for ease of use. Ted Kummert is emphasizing how important Total Cost of Ownership is to Microsoft and their plans. He’s also talking about how important it is that SQL Server is integrated, including Analysis Services and Cloud. His final focus is on large scale, high availability systems. This is the history of what they’ve built. Now, he’s going to focus on the future, starting with mission critical, then covering the cloud, and finally what is going to happen with SQL Server Next.
For mission critical, they’re releasing the Parallel Data Warehouse, which will allow for 100s of terrabytes in what is basically and appliance. That’s right, a toaster for SQL Server. Seriously, this is a big deal. The demo is already fascinating. He’s showing how you create tables with the distribution, and partitioning in place. But it comes with a special PDW loader, which will load up to 1tb an hour of data. It can even be integrated with SSIS. This is pretty amazing. On the Tweet stream I saw Michelle Ufford mention that she’s looking at it for GoDaddy, so this is viable. They then showed how they could move 800 billion (yes, that is a “b”) rows into the system in 19 seconds. Interesting point from Brent Ozar, what they were doing was not in SSMS. Paulo Resende from Bank of America came out to give a customer testimonial on how they implemented PDW. Now Dave Mariani of Yahoo is giving another testimonial on how they manage User Data & Analytics for… well… spam. They’re running through 1.2 tb a day and 50 gb an hour… uh… WOW! The fascinating thing is, they’re moving that data in a cube for the queries and are able to pull out data in less than 10 seconds. That’s great. Microsoft is also announcing “Atlanta” which is a service that assesses the configuration of your 2008 and 2008 R2 systems, through the cloud. Bob Ward, cool, is out to show how Atlanta works. This is extremely cool stuff. I’d like to think that I keep most of my servers up to date, but a service like this could still be extremely useful.
Sitting at the big kids table at the PASS Summit, ready to rock and roll. The Summit has not officially started yet, but it’s been a fantastic ride already. I’m getting to meet a bunch of great and amazing people. I made my very first trip out to the Microsoft campus yesterday. Last night was the SQL Server Central party. This is just a great organization and a great event.
Right at the start, the tweeting is hot & heavy. Hmmm… OK, starting off with a Tina Turner impersonator. She’s extremely good, but I have to ask, what were they thinking? Her name is Truly Tina. She was outstanding. Just a bit odd.
Rushabh Mehta is introducing the PASS organization. He’s showing off the Board of directors and the executive committee. He’s also showing what else PASS has besides the Summit, which include 24 Hours of PASS, SQL Saturday and the European Summit. The organization also includes the chapters and the vritual chapters. The organization reaches thousands of people around the world through all these events and organizations. The goal this year is try to get to 250,000 members.
This year the summit has 3807 registrations from 48 countries. The keynote is streaming live, as well as 40 people blogging and tweeting away. If you want to follow the tweets, make sure you use the hash tag #sqlpass. There are 191 speakers with 44 of them MVPs.
Less than two weeks to go until the PASS Summit. I’m excited. I’ve managed to cram a ton of activities into this Summit, more than ever before. But, I’m still going to try to go to a few sessions. The question asked, which sessions are you going to? Who do you want to learn from. Who can you learn from?
I’ve got a pretty simple answer. Everybody. There’s not a single person that I work with on my current team that I haven’t learned something from. Sure, there are those that teach you tons and tons, for example, we have a fantastic SSIS guy on our team, that has taught me quite a lot, faster than I could have picked it up on my own.
So, you’re going to the PASS Summit. Is your plan to hit just the big name people? If so, you’re messing up. You can learn from everybody. I’m not saying don’t go to the big name sessions, heck I will, but I’m saying you need to look around at more than just names. Now, that said, before I tell you the people who’s sessions I’m going to, I want to give you one important piece of advice. If you go into a session and within 5-10 minutes you can tell that session isn’t for you, get up & leave. Go to another one, or start chatting people up out in the hallway or down at the PASS booth. Don’t waste your time.
I already listed a number of sessions that I thought were must sees. Unfortunately, I won’t be making it to many of them. I’m pretty busy, presenting on Tuesday & Wednesday and at one of the Lightening Rounds on Thursday. I’m also going to work the Ask the Experts area for the first time ever (please, don’t stop by to play “Stump the Chump.” I know you guys know more than I do. I’m just trying to help) Thursday afternoon. Here are some other sessions that should have made my list, that I plan on attending.
Tuesday afternoon I’m absolutely going to make it to Aaron Nelson’s (blog|twitter) session on PowerShell, The Dirty Dozen. I saw him present at SQL Saturday in Raliegh. This guy is good. You may not know his name, but I promise, if you’re getting started in PowerShell, or even if you’ve been working with it for a while, you’re going to learn from him. I’ll probably hit a couple of other sessions on Tuesday too.
On Wednesday afternoon there’s a total embarassment of riches. I want to go to four different sessions right after lunch. I’m leaning towards the one on Professional Development Plans, but I’m not sure I want to miss the one Troubleshooting SSRS Performance or the Incredible Shrinking Execution Plan. After that, probably, because of a new emphassis on SSRS where I work, Cooking with SSRS. The last session of the day is easy, Kimberly Tripp’s (blog) Tales From the Trenches.
Thursday morning is open, assuming I’m still on my feet. I’ll probably hit DBA MythBusters. That’s also assuming that after listening to Dr. Dewitt my brain isn’t completely stuff full. If you only make one keynote, make it Thursday morning’s.
This is going to be an excellent summit. For the names I left out, for the sessions I didn’t mention, I could just list the entire summit schedule and tell you to go to all of them. I’d be willing to bet there are very few, if any, that you won’t learn from. Like I said, everyone can teach you something. Figure out which ones are best for you and go to them. See you there.
I got a little distracted after lunch and was reading through some of the various bloggers reactions to the decision to keep the Summit in Seattle for the forseeable future. I enjoyed Brent Ozar’s take on the situation, but the thing that struck me square in the eyes and inspired me to add one more post of my own, was a comment on Brent’s post by Aaron. Scroll down and read it. Here’s the part that really made an impact:
This whole situation is making me less interested in supporting the organization. As a relative newcomer to PASS and having never attended a Summit, I’m turned off by the “come talk to Microsoft employees” stance. I’d rather them say come and talk to (or sing Karaoke with?) cool guys like Brent Ozar and others in the community who deal with real world issues day to day.
The arguments for keeping the Summit in Seattle largely boiled down to cost & access to Microsoft. Cost has been beat about the face & neck by me & others, and I can’t add anything else even marginally intelligent to the conversation, so I’ll shut up on that. Microsoft. Yeah, having access to Microsoft makes the Summit pretty cool (not to mention useful, a couple of my favorite sessions were from Microsoft presenters). PASS stands for the Professional Association of SQL Server users. The summit is produced by PASS in order to meet it’s own goals which are “dedicated to supporting, educating, and promoting the Microsoft SQL Server community.” (Yeah, silly me, I go and read the organization’s web site).
So here’s my comment. Is the community PASS is trying to support, educate and promote better represented by a bunch of Microsoft developers, or, to quote Aaron, “Brent Ozar and others in the community who deal with real world issues day to day?”
And, lest I take an inappropriate beating, I’m neither knocking Microsoft developers, nor saying that they’re not a part of the community. My job and, to a small degree, my life, wouldn’t be the same without those people. I just want to make sure any rocks tossed my way are thrown for the right reasons.
There has been some discussion recently around the location of the PASS Summit. The debate was centered on the results from a recent survey hosted by PASS. Today’s Community Connector has an editorial by the PASS President, Rushabh Mehta, explaining why those of us on the East Coast will be flying to the other side of the continent for the next two years, and supplying the results of the survey
I get why they’re doing this. Microsoft really will commit more resources to an event that is in their back yard. I get it. I also understand, that those of us who consider the PASS Summit a big part of our “community” are actually in the minority. Most people attending the Summit aren’t involved in the community, aren’t interested in networking, and go to the conference to learn something and then go back to their hotel room. They want to see Microsoft developers, not community members. I understand. I also know that the excellent support team provided through the management company is also headquartered out there. We might see fewer of them at the conference, and those few will cost more to fly in. I get it.
With the economy shrinking, and no end in sight, budgets are getting tightened. Travel expenses are being examined closely where I work and justification for a trip is more difficult than it was previously. Cutting a few corners here & there, including reducing the cost of a plane flight, might make a difference. For example, doing a quick search on Travelocity, no details, accepting defaults, meeting half-way, in Dallas, would cost $216 instead of $399. That’s almost $200 in savings. Even if Rushabh is right and we’d have to increase the cost, let’s say $150/attendee, that’s still offset by the flight.
Still, those are savings at the margins, would that offset it enough to prevent people from travelling? Maybe, some people. But, there’s also the flight itself to consider. Not everyone is Gail Shaw, prepared to cross continents, oceans, raging rivers, burning deserts, and French strike lines to get to the Summit. For some people, that hike out to Seattle, ignore the cost, Microsoft, the community, is too much. Would moving it to Atlanta or Dallas or wherever guarantee a larger percentage of attendee’s? Nope, probably not, but I’ll bet you you’d see a different set of attendee’s and I’ll bet you the attendance wouldn’t drop. Because remember, it’s not just the flying time or the travel costs or the time away from work (yay). It’s time away from the family. Based on the results of the survey, 800 (51%) of the 1500 plus think a short flight is very or somewhat important, where as only about 380 (25%) thought it wasn’t. The vast majority of people responding to the survey are in the Eastern & Central time zones (585 & 458 compared to 331 in the Western zone). I could actually be wrong about the number of attendees.
And let’s just mention, Microsoft is holding some sort of get together in June. It seems to be fairly well attended by Microsoft people and, oh, look at that, it’s in New Orleans, not Seattle. I guess it is possible to get some Microsoft involvement in other places if Microsoft wants to.
I’m not on the board, so it’s easy for me to snipe from the sidelines, but based on the noise level, and the fact that 588 people thought having a conference on the east coast would make it more likely that they would attend, with only 405 making it less likely, and the fact that that number goes up to 639 more likely if the Summit was in the center of the country, I’m not alone in thinking that the PASS Community Summit should move around a bit more than we’ve been doing lately.
On another note, the release of the survey results was… poorly handled. The board, probably for good reasons, tends to play things very close to the vest. I think, at least in this case, too close. I appreciate the need to keep valuable information away from the competition. However, since this is a community organization, and one that is largely run by volunteers, I think the board really ought to err on too much communication instead of too little.
Finally, assuming anyone has made it this far, I want to thank the board and Rushabh for releasing this information. I think explaining how they made their decision and providing the basis for that in the results is absolutely the right thing to do. Did it apparently, or even evidently, require poking from people outside the board? Maybe, but they still did it and deserve the credit for taking the right action.
That’s it. End of the pointless, wandering diatribe. Go about your lives citizens. Hopefully, I’ll get another session or two accepted this year and I’ll see you all Seattle (again).