This week was the 2010 SQL PASS summit in Seattle. I would have to say that this was the best PASS summit that I have attended (this was my fourth). There were more exhibitors that ever before, there were more attendees than we’ve had in a very long time, and I think that lots more people had a great time.
For the first time I was able to deliver a pre-con session on the day before the first regular conference day. For those that haven’t gone to a pre-con they are typically full day sessions (8:30-4:30) and come with an extra cost to the attendee, $400 per person in this case. My pre-con was a great success as far as I could tell. There were lots of questions (which means that people were listening and wanted deeper information than I had in the slide deck) and we had some great discussions during the session. Another great thing was that the room was pretty full with 82 attendees being the final count.
During the regular session days I was able to make a few sessions, less than I would have liked to have made it to, but more than I went to last year. I end up spending a lot of time socializing with old and new friends, building my professional network.
As a testimonial to how much better things went this year, on Friday night after PASS last year I sat down with Bill Graziano (Twitter) and he wrote down hundreds of suggestions, problems, etc that we spotted with the 2009 summit. This year there were about a dozen (not counting the keynote opening act) and most of them were pretty small. Bill apparently considers this feedback to be valuable, as we have actually scheduled some time for next year for this same conversation.
The biggest issue which I saw was that PASS wasn’t doing a very good job with the dietary needs of some of the attendees. The group which came to mind was a small group of a dozen or so people who didn’t have much of anything to eat during breakfast and lunch because they have an allergy to wheat. Without having access to food which they can eat, those attendees would need to head out to the convention center vendors who did have options. Bill agreed that attendees shouldn’t be forced to buy food, and that hopefully we could get that fixed easily. The nice thing about this problem is that it is easy to fix, and should be cheap to fix (Bill really likes things which are cheap to fix as he’s the guy in charge of all the money for PASS).
Other things were pretty small:
- A couple more projectors in the speakers room so that more people could connect to a projector at a time.
- If speakers are going to speak for 3-4 days (which I did) 2 speaker shirts would be good so we’d have time to get one washed.
- There weren’t enough speaker shirts for all the speakers (apparently there was some clerical error on this one).
- If you called PASS HQ to order the DVDs at the discounted on site rate they closed at 5pm Mountain time, but the website didn’t specify the timezone so some people assumed it was Pacific time as that’s where everyone was.
I think that PASS made some great additions to the conference this year. The biggest (for both the attendees and the PASS budget) would be the recording of the pre/post-con sessions and making them available for sale. There were so many excellent pre/post-con sessions that picking the one to attend can be tough. With the sessions being recorded this year you could (after attending a pre-con) buy all the pre-cons on DVD for the cost of a second pre-con ($395) or if you wanted just one pre/post con track it was like $150 or something (also an excellent deal).
After all this I had a great time, and I would (as many have done) call this the best summit so far.
Don’t forget that the summit is in October next year (scheduling issues caused the move) and there’s no time the like present to start planning and working your boss to get money in your company budget to get up there. Once I get home and get my pictures downloaded (and I steal some of Pat’s) I’ll do another post with some pictures from the summit. Until then you can find them on Flickr by looking at the sqlpass tag.