PASS Summit 2013 Review

As a long-standing member of PASS who lives in the greater Seattle area and has attended about nine of these Summits, let me start out by saying how GREAT it was to go to Charlotte, North Carolina this year.  Many of the new folks that I met at the Summit this year, upon hearing that I was from Seattle, commented that I must have been disappointed to have to travel to the Summit this year after 5 years in a row in Seattle.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  I cheered loudly when I first heard that the 2013 Summit would be outside Seattle.  I have many fond memories of trips to Orlando, Florida and Grapevine, Texas for past Summits (missed out on Denver, unfortunately).  And there is a funny dynamic that takes place when the conference is local.  If you do as I have done the last several years and saved my company money by not getting a hotel, but rather just commuting from home, then both family and coworkers tend to act like you’re just on a normal schedule.  For example, I have a young family, and my wife and kids really wanted to still see me come home “after work”, but there are a whole lot of after-hours activities, social events, and great food to be enjoyed at the Summit each year.  Even more so if you really capitalize on the opportunities to meet face-to-face with people you either met at previous summits or have spoken to or heard of, from Twitter, blogs, and forums.  Then there is also the lovely commuting in Seattle traffic from neighboring cities rather than the convenience of just walking across the street from your hotel.  So I’m just saying, there are really nice aspects of having the conference 2500 miles away.

Beyond that, the training was fantastic as usual.  The SQL Server community has many outstanding presenters and experts with deep knowledge of the tools who are extremely willing to share all of that with anyone who wants to listen.  The opening video with PASS President Bill Graziano in a NASCAR race turned dream sequence was very well done, and the keynotes, as usual, were great.  This year I was particularly impressed with how well attended were the Professional Development sessions.  Not too many years ago, those were very sparsely attended, but this year, the two that I attended were standing-room only, and these were not tiny rooms.  I would say this is a testament to both the maturity of the attendees realizing how important these topics are to career success, as well as to the ever-increasing skills of the presenters and the program committee for selecting speakers and topics that resonated with people.  If, as is usually the case, you were not able to get to every session that you wanted to because there were just too darn many good ones, I encourage you to get the recordings.

Overall, it was a great time as these events always are.  It was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones, and the people of Charlotte did an awesome job hosting the event and letting their hospitality shine (extra kudos to SQLSentry for all they did with the shuttle, maps, and other event sponsorships).  We’re back in Seattle next year (it is a release year, after all) but I would say that with the success of this year’s event, I strongly encourage the Board and PASS HQ to firmly reestablish the location rotation schedule.  I’ll even go so far as to suggest standardizing on an alternating Seattle – Charlotte schedule, or something like that.

If you missed the Summit this year, start saving now, and register early, so you can join us!

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