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PASS Summit 2011 Highlights

PASS Summit 2011 Highlights

Another PASS Summit has ended, amid multiple announcements and awesome demos from Microsoft about new features in the upcoming release, as well as the official announcement of the name of that release, which will be SQL Server 2012. Although I have attended every single PASS Summit that has occurred in the United States, this is the first one in which I was really tuned in to the constant tweeting before and during the conference. (Yes, I realize there wasn’t such a thing as Twitter during the first several PASS Summits.) Although I personally didn’t do a lot of tweeting, I was reading the #sqlpass hashtag tweets for several weeks prior to the event. It was amazing to see how much excitement was brewing. People were like little kids in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and I mean that in the best possible way, of course. It was awesome!

The energy and excitement around PASS Summit weren’t limited to Twitter. I talked to several first time attendees at PASS Summit, and they all commented about how happy and excited they were to be there. A couple of them also mentioned how amazed they were that all the “big names” they met were so open and friendly, and it was easy to be included in whatever group activities were taking place. They said they felt no sense of any kind of cliques or exclusive groups among the speakers, non-speakers, and first timers. In other words, it felt like a real community! In reality, there are some cliques and some of the “big names” don’t even get along well with each other, but isn’t that true in any community?

There were far too many sessions for anyone to attend even a reasonable fraction of them, so being able to buy the PASS Summit DVD set of all the regular sessions is a real benefit. My favorite place to listen to these recordings is on long flights, and I have two such flights coming up. I’m going to Sweden in November and Israel in December, so I hope the PASS Summit DVDs are ready by then.

One concern I had going into PASS Summit 2011 was that there at least four different sessions covering information similar to what I was presenting in my Spotlight session. My topic was on plan caching, and among other things, I talked about the good and bad sides of parameter sniffing, as I did in my last SQL Server Magazine UPDATE commentary, "The Pros and Cons of Parameter Sniffing."

It turned out that each of the sessions on the plan cache approached it from a slightly different angle. My session dealt with the different caching mechanisms and how and when a plan would be reused. Another session dealt with the internal management and memory of the cache. A third session covered how to process the XML plans that could be retrieved from the cache and discussed how to interpret the XML plan contents. Just realizing that there are so many different ways to approach the plan cache is part of the incredible education you can get at PASS Summit.

But really, the best part of the conference is the community, which is made up of people with a common passion. Some of these people are so passionate about SQL Server that they write a book about it (SQL Server MVP Deep Dives, Volume 2) and donate all the royalties to charity, or they stand in line for a long time to get the aforementioned book signed by dozens of SQL Server MVPs who wrote various chapters of the book.

Some people are so passionate that they write a song about SQL Server and sing it in front of thousands of other people at the Friday morning keynote. (The songwriter/singer is Rob Farley, and you can see his blog about the song, "I should've looked the other way," for the lyrics, and in the blog post you can also find a link to a YouTube video where you can hear the song.)

And other people are just so passionate about SQL Server that they never stop writing about it, and talking about it, and sharing what they know whenever and however they can. What was your favorite part of the PASS 2011 Summit? How do you display your passion for SQL Server?

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