PASS 2011 Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

One week down and we are now 4-weeks from this years PASS Summit.  Hopefully, you have already registered for the summit.  If not, let’s get that out of the way first by clicking on the image below…


If you aren’t convinced and haven’t registered yet, take a look at the following:

StrateSQL – The PASS Summit from Jason Strate on Vimeo.

PASS Sessions

Last week’s post talked about the networking side of attending PASS.  This week let’s dig into the sessions themselves.  The main reason you’re likely coming to PASS is to learn a bit more about SQL Server and to make the most of the time available, you need to know what sessions you are going to attend.

For me, there are a few criteria I apply when selecting sessions:

  1. Does it provide information that is new or unique?
  2. Will the information provide a competitive edge to what I know?
  3. Is the speaker someone I would want to meet after the session?
  4. 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 customer 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 meet someone at PASS that shares your interests in SQL Server, attending a session or three 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 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.

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.  I have two sessions this year.

Discovering the Plan Cache

Execution plans are stored after execution 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. This information can be used 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.

Extended Events, Work Smarter Not Harder

There are many ways to performance monitor your SQL Server environment. In this session we’ll review Extended Events, which is one of the newer SQL Server monitoring platforms. Learn the ins and outs of how to get detailed information on the errors and events that occur within SQL Server and how to dig into the information. With a few T-SQL statements, issues that could take weeks to research can be investigated in minutes.

If these are two topics that interest to you, I encourage you to stop in.  If I am fortunate, none of my demos will behave unexpectedly.  Feel free to stick around with questions afterwards, they will hopefully be informative to all.  I expect that you’ll even be able to find Jes Schultz Borland (Blog|@grrl_geek) and Ted Krueger (Blog | @Onpnt) in the room heckling me to some extent.

Schedule Builder.

One last thing to mention that is critical… or maybe just really important before heading to the PASS Summit.  Plan out the sessions you want to attend!

Just last week, PASS 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.  Or more 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.

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