Need a little more convincing? How about this SQL Server themed parody video? Just be happy that you weren’t forced at gun point to do this and get yourself registered.
Last week’s post talked about the networking side of attending the PASS Summit. For this week, let’s dig a little into the learning side of the summit, and the sessions themselves. Most likely, the main reason you’re likely going to PASS is to learn a bit (or a lot) more about SQL Server. Therefore to make the most of the time available, you need to know what sessions you are going to attend.
Before you can start selecting sessions to attend, you first need to have an idea of what you want or need to attend. For me, there are a few criteria I apply when selecting sessions:
- Does it provide information that is new or unique?
- Will the information provide a competitive edge to what I know?
- Is the speaker someone I would want to meet after the session?
- Are my peers attending the session?
Some of these may seem like obvious criteria. When it comes to new and unique information, I use these sessions as a seed for creative uses for SQL Server. I may have heard of a feature in passing, but to see someone use and demonstrate the feature can open my eyes to ways that I can better leverage SQL Server with my customers. Of course, mentioning customers means that I am always on the lookout for ways to deliver better solutions to them. This need will drive me into sessions that focus on information that solve problems I anticipate my customers having.
When it comes to meeting speakers, attending their sessions and asking them questions is a sure fire way to get through an introduction. The reason people will want to meet speakers is different for everyone. But mainly, they focus around the desire to reach out to someone that you find to be an expert – and then get permission to e-mail them a question or two. Meeting the right person at PASS may help get you that next big bonus. And, many networking experts will tell you, talking to someone about themselves, like the session they just delivered, is a great way to get someone talking.
The last bit is attending sessions with your peers. If you are at PASS with a co-worker, or you meet someone at PASS that shares your interests in SQL Server, attending a session or three together is a great way to build a friendship (and also have a sounding board for the content of the session). There have been countless times that I’ve changed the session I was headed to in order to join up with some friends – and this has always worked out for the best.
Don’t forget – you can purchase most of the Summit content on DVD to catch any session that you may miss. But you can’t go back and make that introduction and ask the question right away. You won’t have the shared experiences with friends and co-workers. You can watch them again later but without the chance to network.
My PASS Sessions
Since I’m talking about the sessions at PASS, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the topics that I’ll be speaking on. For this year’s PASS Summit, I have two Spotlight sessions. The topics are similar to what I spoke on last year and fairly common to what I’ve presented at the SQL Saturdays – though, with some good improvements. My sessions are:
After execution, execution plans are stored in the plan cache. This metadata about how queries are executed can provide insight into how your SQL Server environment is functioning. By using XQuery to browse and search the plan cache, you can find potential performance issues and opportunities to tune your queries. You can use this information to help reduce issues related to parallelism, shift queries from using scans to using seek operations, or discover exactly which queries are using what indexes. All of this and more is readily available through the plan cache. In this session, we will explore the plan cache, and start you on the road to discovery.
Of the many ways to monitor your SQL Server environment, Extended Events is one of the newer platforms that can help you investigate and resolve performance problems. In this special 90-minute session, we’ll review Extended Events and learn the ins and outs of how to get and analyze detailed information on the errors and events that occur within SQL Server. With a few T-SQL statements, you can research in minutes issues that used to take weeks to investigate.
If these are two topics that interest to you, I encourage you to stop in. Last year I was a bit surprised with the turn-outs for the sessions. I’m a big fan of these topics and it turned out that there are many others in that camp as well. Feel free to stick around with questions afterwards, they will hopefully be informative to all.
One last thing to mention that is critical… or maybe just really important before heading to the PASS Summit. Don’t just choose the sessions you are going to attend… actually put a plan of them together to make certain that you stay on your agenda.
In just the last week, PASS has released the schedule for the sessions which includes a Schedule Builder. With the Schedule Builder, you can view any of the summit sessions and add them to your schedule. When you finish, you can send the schedule to your boss so that he, or she, knows what great information you’ll be bringing back. Most importantly, add the sessions to your own calendar so that when you get to Seattle you can focus on the important stuff, like talking to people, instead of trying to figure out where to go.