PASS Summit 2016 Recap: Better Together

PASS Summit 2016 had a record-breaking of 6,000 registered attendees! This is one of the biggest conferences in the SQL Server community and now expanding to Data professionals. It was truly about connecting, sharing and learning. Below are my personal highlights from PASS Summit this year.

The Keynotes

We started Day 1 with Joseph Sirosh talking about A.C.I.D Intelligence, and the 5 new announcements. These are: Public Preview of Azure Analysis Services, SQL Server 2016 DW Fast Track Reference Architecture, Data Migration Assistant and Database Experimentation Assistant, Azure SQL Data Warehouse Expanded Free Trial and Cognitive Toolkit (formerly known as CNTK).

PASS Summit Keynote Day 1

I also had the opportunity to demo Text Analytics using U-SQL in Azure Data Lake Analytics against War and Peace novel to answer content-based questions (smarter than English Query) in this keynote.

Day 2 was super informative where Dr Dewitt in his keynote compared Data Warehousing technology on the cloud including Amazon RedShift, Snowflake and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

PASS Summit 2016 Keynote Day 2

Watch the full Keynotes here.


SQL Unplugged

This was an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and voice their feedback directly to Rohan Kumar (General Manager Database Systems), Mark Souza (General Manager Azure CAT) and Lindsey Allen (Program Manager for SQL Enterprise). Some of the questions came from in-person attendees and from those asked at the @SQLUnplugged twitter account. Check out the recording here. Any questions will be brought up to the next monthly Channel 9 SQL Unplugged live stream. There were a lot of interesting questions, but just to give you a taste of what was asked:

  • With Large Fact table containing over 200 columns, it’s not easy to understand which Statistics used or not. Having Statistics lingering like this, costs space and time to backup/restore. Is there going to be a support for DMV that tells us which statistics are highly used and not. That way we can drop the ones that are not used / hardly used.
  • SQL Server currently supports R. Is there going to be a support for Python?
  • Roadmap for SSAS Multidimensional and SSAS Tabular.
  • Batch size for online rebuild index. (Here the product team talked about the new Resumable Index roadmap)
  • Better support for Transactional P2P replication.
SQL Unplugged at PASS Summit 2016

Chalk Talk: Azure SQL DB

This was an opportunity for the audience to talk to Tomas Talius (Architect of Azure SQL DB), Lindsey Allen (Program Manager of SQL Enterprise), Joe Sack (Program Manager for Query Optimizer), Kevin Farlee (Program Manager for InMemory) and a few other Program Managers and Engineers from the Microsoft SQL Team. Here are some of the many thoughtful questions / comments asked / raised.

  • Azure SQL DB has Index Recommendation feature and how does this relate to Database Tuning Advisor (DTA). Tomas explained about how the team uses Machine Learning against the required telemetry data to provide recommendation, which is different from DTA.
  • Ike Ellis (MVP – attendee) commended the Threat Detection feature on Azure SQL DB. Imagine if it could be done the same for SQL Server. Kevin provided some discussion around some of the challenges and the consideration around this.
  • Audience requested an easy migration tool from other vendors to Azure SQL DB/VM.
  • Joe explained the Adaptive Query Processing (QP) feature that is coming. Read more about this from Kendra Little’s blog. To sign up for Private Preview, see
  • Discussions around requests for Security enhancements and management, such as Certificate Management, Support for VNET, Encryption etc.
Azure SQL DB Chalk Talk at PASS Summit

Chalk Talk: SQL Server

Similar to the Chalk Talk on Azure SQL DB, this also was an opportunity for the audience to talk to Lindsey Allen (Program Manager of SQL Enterprise), Joe Sack (Program Manager for Query Optimizer),  Shreya Verma (Program Manager for Query Optimizer + SQL Graph), Jovan Popovic (Program Manager for JSON + Temporal), Dhruv Malik (Program Manager for Security), Kevin Farlee (Program Manager for InMemory) and a few other Program Managers and Engineers from the Microsoft SQL team. Here are some of the many interesting questions / comments asked / raised.

  • Lindsey mentioned about the Resumable Index operation feature that is in the roadmap.
  • Audience requested the team to support for fully contained database on premise and to provide more support for Availability Groups.
  • Shreya mentioned about Private Preview for SQLGraph. Sign up the Private Preview to learn more about it.
  • Audience requested the team to keep supporting and enhancing Replication!
  • Audience requested the team to support Availability Group auto load-balancing on reads and writes.
SQL Server Chalk Talk at PASS Summit 2016

There were many questions and great discussions at SQL Unplugged and the Chalk Talks. The SQL team took a lot of notes during the sessions and continued the conversation well after the sessions.

The Sessions and The All-Important Networking

Luckily, a lot of the sessions are recorded, so I’m looking forward to watching them when they’re ready 🙂

I’m happy that this year I’ve managed to do more networking compared to prior years. Catching up with the Aussies at the PASS Community Zone was super awesome; great to see my Aussie family and to make new friends here. Thanks Martin Cairney, Heidi Hasting, Andrew Zarb, Daniel de Sousa and Hamish Watson (the Kiwi out of this list of people) and a few more for the Tim Tam (lacking the Slam this year), Cherry Ripes and Jaffa Thins!

I also loved the opportunity to meet and talk to Data Professionals about their winning stories, the snags they hit and their workarounds in their data world; and how SQL Server, SSAS, SSRS, SSIS or Power BI helped them and how they could be better. Lots of notes taken and shared back with the SQL team. And of course, the after events… Sponsor dinners, social events and quiet dinners were superb.

Oh! And meeting my heroes! Yup. I got to meet the people that continuously inspire me to do better. The Legendary BI friends: Matt Masson, Patrick LeBlanc, Kasper De Jonge, Will Thompson. The inspirational ladies of Data: Rimma Nehme, Mickey Stuewe, Melody Zacharias, Lindsey Allen, Theresa Iserman, Cindy Gross, Lara Rubbelke, Jen Stirrup, Michelle Ufford, Catherine Wilhemsen, Karla Landrum, Ginger GrantKalen Delaney, Victoria Holt and Laurie Carr. (I’m sure I’ve missed a few here). These ladies outstanding achievements are above-and-beyond to me; so diverse and vivacious!

BI Legendary Friends

Wrap Up

Just to quote Adam Jorgensen in his Day 1 opening of PASS Summit 2016.

We’re all better together. You are here because someone helped you along the way.
That’s what we do here…

Recovering from PASS Summit is never easy. I am saying this with a smile, great memories and new learnings. This is my kind of richness in life 🙂

Further Reading

After PASS Summit 2016 Recap (as seen by me!) by Louis Davidson

Thoughts from the SQLPASS Summit Wednesday Keynote, 2016 by Kendra Little

PASS Summit 2016 Day 1 Keynote by Tim Mitchell

PASS Summit 2016 Day 2 Keynote by Tim Mitchell

PASS Summit 2016 – Day 1 Keynote by Reza Rad

PASS Summit 2016 – Day 2 Keynote by Reza Rad

Some cool SQL Server announcements SQL Graph, Adaptive Query Plan, CTP1 of SQL vNext, SQL Injection detection by Denis Gobo

One comment on “PASS Summit 2016 Recap: Better Together
  1. Pingback: PASS Summit 2016 Recap: Better Together — Ms SQL Girl | WIT Society

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