Whether you caught a single session, took a pre-con, or filled your schedule last week with multiple sessions, l’m going to review last week’s PASS Virtual Summit 2020 conference!
The week of November 9th to 13th held the annual PASS Summit conference this year. Normally it’s held in Seattle WA, but this year due to COVID-19 it was held this year online on a virtual conference platform. I’m very thankful that they decided to continue with the conference instead of canceling it like so many other events have done this past year. It was certainly different than previous years, but certainly good to continue the conference in whatever venue this year would allow.
I was quite fortunate to have presented a pre-conference all day boot camp called Amplify your Virtual SQL Server Performance on Monday November 9th. We spent the entire day with performance and availability topics for virtual enterprise SQL Servers, and I’m really thrilled with the response from the attendees and their line of questions. If any of you who took my precon and have any follow up questions in the future, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.
Next, my general session was called 10 Cloudy Questions to Ask Before Migrating Your SQL Servers. The session was the first session as part of the Modernizing with SQL Server Learning Pathway series. Before you can modernize and advance your SQL Server data platform, especially if you’re looking at the cloud, I presented my most important questions that you should have answers to before you embark on your modernization journey. As before, if anybody who attended or watched this after the fact have any follow-up questions, please reach out and let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them.
I spent the rest of the week watching in on other people’s sessions and learning as much as I could. I absolutely loved the variety of the sessions and how distributed they were amongst multiple time zones. Given that this is now a global event because of the online nature, it’s great to see the accommodations for people that are not located in North America.
If you have not already done so, please fill out your session evaluations. As the speaker, I’m always interested in what worked well and what could have been presented better. Feel free to be critical, but make sure to be constructive at the same time period if you think I was terrible, tell me, but tell me what I can do better or what specifically you didn’t like. All of the speakers do this because we want to become better speakers over time. Any improvements that you can suggest we’re going to take seriously. As a side note, they do have prizes that you can win for filling out your evaluations. Please make sure to do so by Friday November 20th at 5:00 PM eastern Standard Time to be eligible to win the prizes.
Overall, the conference exceeded my expectations. I knew with the change of delivery mechanism, it was bound to be different. The in-person nature of these events really adds to the feel and the impact of the conference, as it’s not just the technical sessions that I’m there for. Having that networking time to meet up with longtime friends and make new ones is critical for this community. I had no technical glitches or issues with any of the tools that I was given to do the presentations. The video-based community zone was also a very nice touch so I could see people face to face. Yeah, not being there in person wasn’t the most fun, but the social aspect was still appreciated with the Welcome reception and Birds of a Feather groups.
I think the toughest part about attending any conference this year is that work always tends to get in the way of conference activities. When you’re there in person, it’s difficult for people to reach you, so you can focus on the conference. When your remote, work tasks and emergencies always seem to creep up, and it’s difficult to stay focused for an entire day. Thankfully, complimentary streaming for one year is available for all regular sessions at the conference, so I’ll be able to watch the few sessions that I wanted to see but missed at some point over the next 12 months.
Like any other conference, there’s always things that could have been done better in hindsight. I’ve got a short list of things that I’ll be sending over to PASS for review. It’s all things that can help the experience. If the event needs to be virtual next year, these are things that I’d like to see to improve the community aspect, such as having the community zone hangout space available all of the hours of the conference each day instead of select blocks of hours. If you have any constructive suggestions for improvement, send them over as part of the event evaluation because I know they are going to review these carefully.
I also appreciate the candor that the board presented during the open Q&A sessions with the PASS board. This year’s been quite challenging, and it was comforting to see the openness at which they described the challenges of the year and what they intend to do about them. The amount of pain that accompanies changing a big event from physical to online is really tough, Especially for things like venue and hotel contracts. I applaud their efforts in making these changes as transparent and painless as possible for the speakers, the sponsors, and the attendees.
I’d just like to thank all of the PASS board and PASS HQ for all of their hard work to make this event happen. I know it’s been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, especially when this is the primary revenue stream for PASS. I feel the value in the conference, and understand that they still needed to charge something for it while other conferences were going free for the year. I’m glad so many people attended, and I’m looking forward to seeing the evolution of PASS and this conference for 2021.
Thank you all for making it to the conference and to take the time to watch this wrap up discussion. If you attended any my sessions or watch them after the fact, thank you very much! Feel free to reach out if anybody has any follow up questions or thoughts, and I’d love to know your opinion on the conference.
Everyone stay safe, and hopefully we’ll all be back in person this time next year!