I went to my first Professional Association for SQL Server Summit in 2007. I’d gone to a few local SQL gatherings, talked to other area DBAs, and worked on some pretty cool projects. I really liked what I was doing, and I thought I was doing a decent job. I knew I wasn’t a rocket scientist, but I kept the trains running on time.
At the PASS Summit, though, it was as if a giant light bulb clicked on above my head.
I learned that the stuff you really need to know isn’t in Books Online.
You wanna learn the stuff that makes your server fly, the stuff that saves your rear when the database is suspect, the stuff that makes you look like a genius amongst your peers, the stuff that makes the developers’ eyes get big, the stuff that makes you wave your hands in the air and shout “I’M KING OF THE WORLD, FOR TINYINT VALUES OF WORLD!”
Everybody knows the stuff in Books Online – that stuff ain’t enough. You wanna learn the secret tips, the undocumented goodies, the up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A cheat codes. They say there’s no /faster switch for SQL Server, and they’re wrong. The SQL Server world is chock full of sorta-kinda-barely-official things that don’t get enough press, yet make a very real performance difference. The classic example from last year was Jimmy May’s session on partition alignment.
- by Brent Ozar
- blog post here
I attended my first PASS summit in 2006 and remember the experience as one that shaped my career as a DBA. I was new to SQL 2005 and my company tasked me with security and performance.
I remember meeting SQL MVP Erland Sommarskog in one of the all day pre-con security sessions asking some very good questions about the new security features in SQL 2005 to one of the Microsoft developers who wrote much of the security for SQL 2005. There is nothing like learning real-time with a dialog between a MVP and the developer who wrote the tool. This experienced helped me to secure our web hosting environment.
We had just migrated to SQL 2005 and were seeing blocking on a SPID labeled -4. So, I asked Bob Ward who happened to be manning the CSS area. The question even stumped him, but not for long with his resources back at Microsoft, he gave me his email and said he would look into it. After short email dialog he found that TEMPDB was having contention problems, so we increased the number of files and upgraded to latest cumulative patch and all was good.
Nothing like getting tons of information to help you with your job, getting free support help from CSS, and meeting tons of people in your line of work struggling with exact same thing as you!
- by Chuck Lathrope
- blog post here
I attended my first PASS Summit in 2004. I also attended a pre-conference (pre-con) led by Kalen Delaney. It was awesome! Kalen's pre-con focused on performance tuning, and I learned a lot about both SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server 2005.
The most important thing I learned was: I was not alone! There's a whole lot of us out there, lurking in corner and basement cubicles, automating process monitors, reviewing job logs.
I learned most database professionals are "accidental DBAs" - most of us didn't ever plan to enter the field. We decided to do database work sometime after starting in IT, or (like me) were standing closest to the server when a database position became available.
In short, I discovered I was part of a community.
And so it has remained the past five years - I am part of a community.
That's the cool part of PASS for me. At the Summit, I get to see folks I haven't seen for a year. I learn as much at the events and networking with new and old friends as I do during the sessions.
And that's saying something - the sessions are awesome!
- by Andy Leonard
- blog post here
Let’s start at the beginning. I wanted to learn more about SQL Server, and found a local User Group, and attended.
After a few meetings, I got to know a few people, including the President. Having these contacts, and being able to ask questions of these local ‘knowledge stores’ when I needed help was priceless. If the story ended there, it would already be a success story. I had networked and learned. I was a better DBA for it.
But that’s not the end. The President told me that I should go to PASS. Since I trusted him already, I went. My family came with me to Florida, and went to DisneyWorld, as I went to PASS. I remember being alone with people all around me. But I soon noticed tons of people, just like me, wanting to learn. During the conference, I saw a few people that I knew, and recognized some names from books I had read. Soon, I realized that all the people attending and speaking, were just like me. This is the 1st great thing that I learned; there are no experts that are better than me, they are people just like me, they just learned this stuff earlier. Now they are sharing with the rest of us. I too can learn what they know. The quantity of knowledge and contacts I have gained because I attended PASS cannot be measured. And that’s why we are all here at PASS. To learn and to network.
- by Tjay Belt
- blog post here
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