Wayne Snyder, the president of PASS, entered the stage on a Harley-Davidson Fat-Boy. "Welcome to the world's biggest conference for the world's biggest database!" he yells as "Born to be Wild" blares over the PA system. This is going to be an excited event; you can feel it in the air.
"PASS is a live conference for a live community." said Wayne. As the member of the PASS Community, Wayne is a fantastic speaker. He's a passionate and enthusiastic champion for the SQL Server Community.
PASS is in it's 10th year. And this is the most explosive year yet. Attendance increased by over 70% from last year. Last year PASS had 1528 Summit Registrations; this year 2445! The pre-conference seminars experienced a similar growth.
PASS is all about community. One of the benefits of having the PASS Community Summit in Seattle is that there are over 500 Microsoft employees here; over 300 of them are developers on the SQL Server team. They want to help you do your job, but they also are here to learn from you - what you like, what you don't, what you struggle with, what are your tools missing?
Things not to miss this week:
- The SQLCAT team (SQL Server Customer Advisory Team) is here sporting bright green shirts. They are here to help attendees with specific problems they're experiencing.
- The Women in Technology Luncheon has some great panel members to discuss some of the challenges women face in the work place.
- Hands-On labs allow attendees to get a feel for SQL Server 2008 without having to install anything on your machine.
- Receptions are a nightly event this week. Make the most of them. Get to know your neighbor.
- And many, many more...
After 30 minutes, Wayne introduced Ted Kummert, VP of Data and Storage Platform Division for Microsoft, to the stage.
Ted reflected back over the past 12 months. The launch of SQL Server 2008 was obviously a great milestone for the organization. But he's also thrilled with where the community is going. He's glad to have some many people from Microsoft here to interact with everyone. They want to here what they are doing well, and what they are not doing so well.
What's the mission for SQL Server?
"Your data any place, any time." Microsoft wants to extend SQL Server down from the DataCenter to the Mobile and Desktop, and up to Cloud Storage. This is manifested through four pillars
- Enterprise Data Platform
- Beyond Relational
- Dynamic Development
- Pervasive Insight
Ted introduced Ayad Shommout, Lead Technical DBA for CareGroup Healthcare Systems, to share his experiences with SQL Server 2000, 2005, and 2008. They have over 400 SQL Servers supporting 146 mission critical applications. They have been in production with SQL Server 2008 since last December (2007). They adopted early and have seen a sizeable increase in productivity using the latest version. Auditing and Transparent Data Encryption have been key features for them.
Where is the data platform going in the future? One report stated that 80% of all IT resources is devoted to keeping what you have running rather than doing things better. "We need to change that." said Ted.
Jesse Fountain came on stage to demonstrate the DatAllegro in what Microsoft is calling "Project Madison" to scale out SQL Server for "Massively Parallel Processing". This will offer no single point of failure and ensures high data availability.
To test they created 1 trillion, 300 billion rows of data; that's over 150 terrabytes of data. The distributed the data across multiple instances and servers. This allows fact and dimension tables to be joined and aggregated across the nodes very efficiently. It's a lateral scaling of SQL Server. It will be released in the first half of calendar year 2010.
SQL Server Fabric
Next Dan Jones came on stage to demonstrate new ways to manage SQL Server. Traditionally it's done instance, by instance, by instance. Enter the SQL Server Fabric; it collects data about managed instances so that it's easier to manage at scale.
In SSMS, there will be a Fabric Explorer and it'll show a dashboard of managed instances. Using policies, you can set thresholds to define what overly used and underly used resources.
Data-Tier Application Components improvements will allow for enhanced deployments. It's something like MSI for SQL Server applications. It creates "dacpacs".
Managed Self-Service BI Kilimanjaro (Gemini)
Enable users to answer questions themselves. They don't know about star-schema, etc. They just want to answer some relatively straightforward questions, perhap joining some data they have and some that they don't. So the question is how do we enable this?
In SQL Server 2005, it was done through Report Builder. It was extended in SQL Server 2008 in Report Builder 2.0. So what's next? A componentized model for building reports.
Donald Farmer came on stage to demonstrate this new feature. He was wearing white wings and weilding a baton with a star on the end. "They shouldn't server booze in the green room." he said.
In his demonstration, he showed an integration between Microsoft Excel and a backend report model for a data warehouse. It made for a very
impressive demonstration! These are exciting times for business users. Lots of great stuff coming down the pike. Tremendous power is coming to users.
If you're in Seattle and want to hook up for coffee or lunch, shoot me an email or reply via a comment.