Wow what a week. Well I failed miserably in my goal to post daily. Here it is Friday and I am at the tail end (actually sitting in the hotel lobby writing this before heading to the airport for the flight home). It has been a whirlwind of learning, networking, and fun. Didn’t make it to the SQL Karaoke event(s) or wear a kilt but I managed to have a good time anyway. Tons of material for lots of technical posts so I won’t try to do that here but suffice it to say my brain is fried.

A quick recap:

After an uneventful flight to Seattle (the best kind) on Sunday, we got checked into the Sheraton and headed to a meet and greet at Lowell’s in the Pike Place Market. Met some great folks from all over and had a great meal. It is always great to meet others with the same types of issues and challenges in their environments that I have.

Monday was a full day pre-conference seminar on Storage and Virtualization for the DBA. I have been dealing with the SAN side of this for many years but still picked up a few good tidbits. And the virtualization stuff was great. I am finally finding myself being brought over to the “dark side” of virtualization. As an old-school DBA, I have resisted it but it seems that it has finally matured enough to be a viable solution for most databases.

In the evening, the conference got officially started with the opening night reception and SQL Quiz Bowl. The Quiz Bowl is always a fun. More humor than actual hard core SQL stuff but it was great. And of course, Paul Randal always amazes with his encyclopedic knowledge of trace flags (and he wasn’t even participating).

The Tuesday opening keynote was great. Lots of good demos to keep our attention (not to mention the pre-keynote entertainment … Tina Turner is looking pretty good!). The big announcement is that the CTP bits for “Denali”, the next version of SQL Server have been released and we all got DVD’s on Wednesday. Lots of great stuff in the new version. As has been the pattern in recent releases, Business Intelligence features and TCO seem to be the theme. More on specifics in future posts.

As always, the biggest challenge I have every year at the conference is the fact that there are so many good sessions all at once and you have to choose. In the morning, I attended a Microsoft Session on “Juneau”, the VS 2010 integrated development environment that should ship with Denali. Not in the CTP though so we’ll see. Lots of good stuff in this. MS continues to amaze with excellent tools. Some good stuff there. As soon as I can get my hands on some bits, I’ll try to incorporate a brief look at this in my VS 2010 DB Project presentation I did at SQL Saturday . Although a lot of this was covered in the Wednesday keynote so I wish I had known and gone to something different.

After lunch Tuesday, went to a session presented by my new friend Sarah Barela. Titled “CSI: SQL Server” it was a great deep dive into SQL and Windows Event logs and some specific things you can do to figure out what is going on in the engine, who did what, etc. Sarah is the lead DBA at MaximumASP, a large hosting provider with thousands of instances, many of which are directly on the Internet (gulp).

Wednesday’s keynote was the weakest of the three from my perspective. Lots of tools demos, including the Juneau stuff I had gone to a session on already. I ended up working a lot on Wednesday so missed some really good sessions. Thankfully I ordered the DVD so I can catch them all. Wednesday night is the night Microsoft rents out the downtown GamWorks and throws a party for SQL PASS. Fun times and met tons more people. In fact, the food, drink, and networking were so great I don’t think I even played a game!

Thursday I was able to get back to some more really good sessions. Paul Randal’s DBA MythBusters was great. Hit the lightning talks and the Hands On Labs and then went to Christian Bolton’s SQLNEXUS presentation. I have used the tool and think it’s great but still learned a few things. Plus who doesn’t like to hear an Englishman talk?

That was it for the main body of the conference for me. Had a meal with a friend Thursday night (a local, not a SQL PASS attendee) then back to the hotel to pack and get ready for the post-conference seminar on Sharepoint 2010.

Only got to about half of the SharePoint 2010 post-con due to some client issues and needing to get to the airport but it was great as well. SharePoint 2010 seems to be the version where the platform has “arrived”. SQL 2005 felt that way to me for SQL Server. With the BI integration and the maturity of the platform, I came away from this wanting to really look at adding SharePoint to my consulting practice. We’ll see how that goes.