Here’s What You Missed at the Biggest Annual SQL Server Conference, PASS Summit 2016

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If you are a SQL Server professional, but you don’t know about the PASS Summit, then you are missing out. The annual conference is convened every fall in downtown Seattle, the backyard of Microsoft, and attracted over 6,000 attendees this year. And, since it’s so close to the Microsoft Redmond campus, hundreds of the SQL Server developers and program managers get to attend—answering user questions, delivering sessions, and presenting chalk talks and panel discussions. Oh, and just in case you’ve been to other IT conferences, but not the PASS Summit, you should expect a very warm welcome, including invitations to many after-hours events from the famously friendly members of the SQL Server community.

SQL Server Announcements Galore!

Just about every time Microsoft speakers took the stage, they made announcements about new

features, pilot programs, and previews/betas of new feature sets. Here’s a quick bullet list:

• A public preview of Azure Analysis Services, the powerful business intelligence suite of tools, is available in the cloud. Details at

• The free trial for Azure SQL Data Warehouse has been extended. You can now request a full featured free trial good for 30 days with up to 200 DWU and 2TB of data. Learn more at Offer requires sign-up by Dec. 31, 2016.

• The Database Experimentation Assistant (DEA) is an A/B testing solution for SQL Server upgrades. Details at

• The Data Migration Assistant (DMA) v2.0 helps users upgrade from legacy versions of SQL Server. The technical preview is at

• A new beta has begun for the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, a free, easy-to-use, open source, commercial-grade toolkit that gives you deep learning to train applications such as a human brain. It is one of the most popular deep learning projects on GitHub, available at

• The public preview of SQL Graph, much like Neo4J, provides a set of powerful new features that enable insight into interdependent relationships such as fraud detection, social networks, recommendations on shopping websites, and the like. You can sign up for the private preview at

• A new public preview for a feature called Adaptive Query Plans, which enables much better plan optimization for certain T-SQL code, is now available. Register at

• The public preview for Power BI Reports in on-premises SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is also available in a preconfigured VM in the Azure Marketplace and is outfitted with everything you need to get started. Learn more at

• Coming soon are resumable index rebuilds. Microsoft has added a lot of features over the years to make index rebuilds faster and more thorough. Now, SQL Server adds the ability for an index rebuild to start, pause, and then resume as the circumstances vary. Previously, this process could only restart.

• There is also a further embrace of the open source community. Microsoft has already incorporated R into SQL Server, and now Python is on the way.

Go to PASStv to Watch It Yourself

I’ve only scraped the surface of all of the new things to learn in SQL Server. Perhaps the best way for you to get deeper insight into the upcoming features is with PASStv. With PASStv, you get on-demand replays of keynotes, sessions, and PASS Summit highlights. Find them all at (It's free but registration is required.)