I cannot believe how surreal this past SQL PASS Summit was for me. This was the second Summit I have attended, was the best conference of my life, and I’m quite amazed at the difference a year can make in my professional life. Last year, I was a relative unknown in the SQL Server community. Having been much more involved in the community since the last conference, this year was quite different.


I started the week with the Robert Davis (b | t) and Argenis Fernandez (b | t) PASS Pre-Con session on De-Mystifying DBA Practices. I was extremely happy that I attended this session, and I learned both that my best practices checklists are not only pretty decent but that I still have a good number of topics to bone up on. I must confess that I was ecstatic when Argenis not only made a positive comment on my virtualization skills but that he called out my SQLIO Analyzer as well. Just so you know, I trust these two’s opinions more than I trust most people’s fact, and am honored to be recognized like this!

On Tuesday, my employer, House of Brick Technologies, held a training session alongside the Summit for those folks who were not registered for pre-cons or were in town for other reasons. The topic was a five hour boot camp for Virtualizing Business Critical SQL Servers, and exceeded my expectations. The attendees were excited and had some incredible questions and insight, and a number of the PASS Summit speakers were actually attendees in our class! I will post details here for more educational opportunities from House of Brick in 2013 as we start to roll out a more formal educational set of training opportunities.

As for the PASS Summit convention itself, I was only able to take in under two full sessions (but I bought the full session and pre-con video set so I do not feel guilty!). I spent most of the time answering people’s questions about virtualization and SQL Server while volunteering in the VMware booth in the exhibit hall. I also spend some quality time in the PASS Community Zone networking with other attendees. I met a LOT of great people, and was very happy with the range and variety of questions I was asked, both about SQL Server and VMware in general but also on the vFabric Data Director product. The Wednesday of the conference it was announced that the product will support SQL Server in just a couple of weeks!

My biggest claim to fame at this conference was being asked and then speaking with Kevin Kline (b | t) on a topic near and dear to my heart – Managing SQL Server in a Virtual World. If you do not know who Kevin Kline is, he’s a legend in the community and one of the nicest people that I have ever met. To speak with him this year is one of the greatest honors that I could ever hope for. This session packed a 500-seat conference room with 15 minutes before the start time. I was thrilled to present in front of such a knowledgeable and enthusiastic crowd. The presentation slide deck has been posted at Kevin’s blog here. I feel confident that this will not be the last time you will see us present together, so keep checking back for more details!

I hope that more of you can share the sense of exhilaration and satisfaction that I feel when I mention something while speaking, seeing the light bulb go off in someone’s head or knowing that you just answered someone’s question, and seeing them scribble some notes for them to make a change to their servers after the session. To have these same people thank me after the session makes the late nights, the thousands of hours of self-education, and the constant struggle to keep up and stay on top of these wildly changing topics, all worth it – without a second thought.

(Thanks Kevin for the awesome photo you took while I was not watching!)

I can’t believe the conference is over with for this year, but the planning for next year has just begun! I overheard John Morehouse (b | t) and Phil Bramer (b | t) planning something fun with some out-of-state folks, and I can’t wait to be a part of it. More details will be posted here once I know more.

Make sure to go ahead and register now for the SQL PASS 2013 conference! October 15-18 in Charlotte, NC! Use the alumni code ALUMNI3D to get $100 off your early-bird registration!

Once again, the SQL Server community came together in a way that makes me very proud to be a part of it. Many thanks go to the volunteers, the speakers, the chapter leaders, board members, and attendees who made this conference something truly special. This community strengths and energizes me every time I get involved, and makes me even more pumped to contribute for that is left of this year and start fresh in 2013!  I have grown as a speaker and as a professional as a result of this conference, and I look forward to speaking with the PASS Virtual Chapter on Virtualization, regional SQL Server User Groups, and more SQL Saturdays in the coming year! Thank you all!

<random> I just have to say that Seattle in the fall is absolutely beautiful. A few friends and I went up to the Experience Music Project for the Thursday night activity and then wandered over to the Space Needle. Seattle at night is an incredible sight, and I wish I could spend a lot more time in that great town.

Saturday morning in the Pike Place Market was even better. The fresh fruit was quite tasty and the atmosphere made me not want to jump on the plane back to Omaha that afternoon.

Also, to Frank Gill (b | t)  and Jes Borland (b | t), you two were great sports letting me take this photo of the two of you together!