Yet another great event has come and gone. Even though the drive was somewhat long and painful to get up to Atlanta (Alpharetta), I still had a blast. There were so many great presentations going on that it was extremely hard to pick which ones to go to.
We ate at Bahama Breeze, which I had had for the first time a month or two ago. The food was pretty good. There were probably about thirty or forty people who showed up for the dinner and it was interesting as for the most part over the past few years I have been around the same basic areas so had known most of the people present. I still new quite a few of the people, but there were definitely as many if not more people who I had not yet met. The atmosphere was good, as were the conversations. In fact, the wait staff eventually had to remind everyone that we could actually talk while sitting and that we might like to order soon. I ended up chatting away with both Mr. Nelsons, John Welch, Julie Smith and many others.
We next set off to find Taco Mac for the after dinner party that was being put on by the good folks at SQL Sentry. Unfortunately I relied on GPS and ended up going to the wrong one. Happily I was not the only one to have made the mistake and Grant Fritchey and I soon realized our mistake and set off for the correct location. There were far fewer people here, but for those of us from out of town we were more than willing to sit around talking for a few hours.
Check In / Breakfast
I had no trouble, and saw no trouble with people checking in to the event. The breakfast was interesting as it was catered (Bagels, Energy Bars, Juice, Coffee, etc) and they decided to put the breakfast table in the center of the room with the vendors. I think this is probably a good way to get some early morning interaction between attendees and the sponsors. I’m not sure that it would work for all venues, but it seemed to do pretty well here.
Master Data Services (Eric Melcher)
I dropped in on the Master Data Services session as it is a portion of the SQL Server toolset which I have not had any chance to look into until this point. After sitting through the session, which was at the perfect level for me, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for what it is that the tool provides. I’m not certain that it is something that the company I work for will get any good use out of, but I can see where it might be useful. I’m just not certain whether or not it will be worth my time to learn more about it until I have a better use case. Eric did a great job at providing the information that was necessary to explain everything and seemed very knowledgeable.
SQL Server Parallelism and Performance (Adam Machanic)
This was one of the sessions that I was most interested in once I saw the published list of sessions. This was, I believe, the first time I had the chance of meeting Adam and his session did not disappoint. I learned a good amount about a subject I thought I was pretty good at, reading query plans. He was very clear and concise in explaining how the query engine broke down parallel queries, what the plans looked like, how you could investigate them to understand what was happening and a few tips on how you might optimize the query structure and underlying tables and indexes. Overall a very informative session.
Lunch was one of the only points that seemed to have some problems. Apparently, during the pre-con the day before there had been some issues, so they decided to change some things up. Unfortunately, they didn’t convey this throughout the team. Also, the caterer was a bit late with the food and the corresponding set-up. However, once these issues were worked through the lunch itself was pretty good. It was a boxed lunch type deal with sandwiches, cookies, etc. Not too bad.
Also, during lunch, there were a few sessions. I’ve heard that the SSIS vs ETL Smackdown was a success, with the line to get in out the door. However, I was feeling anxious and found a corner to look over my presentation and demos.
Inside SQL Server Waits Types (Bob Ward)
I am pretty sure that I have sat through the recording of this session from PASS Summit 2009. However, it was more than worth sitting in again. Bob Ward has so much knowledge about the underlying tool and he is just amazing at conveying information. If you have the opportunity to attend one of his sessions I would highly suggest you take it up. Seeing how the product passes the wait information to the sql os, as well as watching Bob use the debugger was very interesting. Hearing him explain how he often has to tell customers that if you are seeing a wait of type X it is something with your application, not with the SQL Server product was amusing and informative. The most annoying part of Bob’s sessions was that I had to skip the next one because I was presenting in the same timeslot.
SSIS Data Flow Buffer Breakdown (Eric Wisdahl)
The room was relatively full and there were lots of great questions even before the session started. Unfortunately, as seems to be the case about half the time, I ran out of time prior to getting through all of the demos and slides. I really have to take a look at perhaps cutting some of the material. Perhaps I will do so after the session next week. All in all, I still feel that I was able to convey lots of good information to the people who attended. The room seemed engaged throughout. After talking to a few of the people who were in the room at the after party, I feel like I did a decent job. I guess I can wait for the survey results whenever I get them in.
The closing of the event was the only other point that I would say was potentially a problem. There just wasn’t a good place to put all of the people (and there were a lot). Still, there were plenty of good prizes, the event organizers got their messages out and the vendors seemed happy.
We went to the five seasons, a brewery / restaurant that was only a block or two from the event site. I was surprised to see how few people showed up compared to the number who attended the event. However, I really enjoyed hanging out with all of those people who did make it. I had a good chance to talk to a few of the people who attended my session and answer their questions and give them some advice. I also got my new favorite shirt (for tonight anyhow) with the slogan: I work with models. The women in the group got the corresponding t-shirt: Data Model. I love it!