summit2016_og_1200x630Last week I had the pleasure of attending a few sessions at PASS Summit 2016 and although brief, my first experience was very positive. The PASS Summit is one of the data industry’s largest conferences, and it regularly boasts 4,000 attendees. Pass Summit was held in Seattle, our company’s hometown, in the last week of October. I’ve been interested and working with SQL for a few years now, and my main reason for attending was to learn more about this tool.

Over three days I attended eight sessions, running through the halls to take in as much of the conference’s experiences that I could while I was there. When I stepped into the conference it was immediately clear that I was surrounded by like-minded folks, and traveling between sessions became exciting. Each speaker was very well prepared, and I enjoyed listening to all of them.

A few of the highlights for me:

• Brent Ozar: Intro to Internals. Being new to this world of SQL I decided to follow the man everyone was recommending. This session was both light and informative as Brent stepped through his process, and being a visual person I found it useful to have a printout of what he was describing. It was easy for me to listen to him describe how the SQL server engine works and I found myself understanding more about processes I’ve learned working at Greenfield. Although at the time this was my first session, in retrospect I understand why everyone speaks so highly of Brent and his ability to explain SQL.

• Kathi Kellenberger: Indexing for Beginners. Since this session I’ve researched a lot of points Kathi went over. She was very easy to follow as she kept referencing her experience in a library and how that index translates to the world of SQL. Just like Intro to Internals, I left this session with a greater understanding of how I could become more productive in my position.

• Sean McCown: Monster Text Manipulation. I choose this session mainly for its name and proximity to another session I was interested in. Although I won’t use the information he was going over in the same way, I stepped away understanding a lot more about the abilities of SQL and how much more I could manipulate with code. I enjoyed how interactive Sean was with the group and how efficiently he portrayed ideas in a quick manner.

Looking back, I learned that knowing the speaker is key to finding a successful session. There is a lot going on at once, and in the future I’ll be more prepared by researching each session in greater depth. I would also like to spend more time in the group events, whether that is attending key speakers or spending more time in the SQL Clinic. The conversations I had with people I’ve never met before proved how beneficial it is to approach someone, and PASS does a great job of creating that platform for everyone. Overall, I learned a lot, and I look forward to continuing my growth in this area.