What to Expect at the PASS 2008 Summit

With SQL Server 2008 now RTM, what's your best opportunity to learn about the new features and capabilities of Microsoft's premier data management platform? The PASS 2008 Community Summit! The Professional Association for SQL Server ( is holding its ninth annual event this November in Microsoft's own backyard in Seattle at the Washington State Convention Center.

This year's event, despite a contracting economy, promises to be the largest ever. At the time this article was written, registration for the regular conference and pre-conferences was running well ahead of the same time last year. If projections hold, the conference will have between 2,000 and 3,000 attendees. So what's all the fuss about?

The PASS Summit offers more than 130 sessions this year in four tracks: Application Development, Business Intelligence, Database Administration, and Professional Development. These hour-long break-out sessions enrich your SQL Server skills enormously. The regular sessions run from Wednesday to Friday of the conference. The break-out sessions are also supplemented with 90-minute "spotlight" sessions presented by the best-known and most highly rated SQL Server experts. This year, there is a new certification center on-site where you can certify on SQL Server 2008 at a discount, with deep discounts on classroom training for all attendees with the help of Global Knowledge, a Microsoft Learning partner.

On Monday and Tuesday, PASS is offering six full-day "pre-conference" seminars prior to the start of the official conference to give you especially deep training. The pre-conference seminars cost a bit extra in addition to the conference registration fee, but are well worth it. Pre-conference seminars are delivered by the very best and brightest in the SQL Server world - luminaries like Itzik Ben-Gan, Mosha Pasumansky, Kimberly Tripp, Paul Randal and Kalen Delaney.

Attendees at the conference will have unprecedented opportunities to rub shoulders and network with the industry's top talent. You'll find the largest concentration of SQL Server MVPs at any event anywhere. The SQL Server MVPs are Microsoft-recognized experts in their field. In addition, you'll find the largest concentration of Microsoft SQL Server team members. More than 300 of Microsoft's SQL Server team will be present and looking for opportunities to speak to attendees, from developers and program managers, to testers, documenters, and support specialists.

PASS is continuing its close partnership with the Microsoft SQL Server Customer Advisory Team (CAT). The CAT is responsible for stewarding top SQL Server customers through some of the most difficult implementations, the most forward-thinking architectures, and the most unusual challenges. The CAT now has a full track of sessions. The experts who make up the CAT are some of the finest minds in the SQL Server business and have written some of the best white papers and technical how-to articles about SQL Server available today. Similarly, Microsoft Support Services will be holding an open house and lab for anyone with hard-to-solve problems, as well as training in their internal tools, practices, and methodologies for solving SQL Server problems.

Networking, for many attendees, is the real draw to a big technology event. Meeting other people with similar issues and interests greatly expands your ability to get work done. After all, it's very nearly as valuable to know someone who knows the answer to your question as knowing the answer yourself. One frequent attendee now describes the PASS Summits as almost "a mini-family reunion." So, while the regular meetings of the PASS local chapters can go a long way to increasing the size and value of your network, the PASS Community Summit offers an exponentially larger opportunity to meet other SQL Server professionals who can help you with your latest questions and challenges.

Come join us in Seattle for the PASS 2008 Community Summit! You'll learn more about SQL Server than ever before. And you'll foster relationships and make friendships that can last a lifetime. And, if you can't make it this year, consider purchasing the event DVD pack containing recordings of most of the sessions. Get more details at