My recap of PASS Summit 2017

My recap of PASS Summit 2017

When you doing something first time, predominantly jitters happens, right? Fine, it was not my first conference, I wasn’t in a speaker role this time, etc. However, certain voice in my head were asking me “what do you going there for?“. That was that bad guy.
The other one, the good one, was repeating over and over:

“come on! you’ve never been on such big conference. Even better, you’ve never been in the USA. Never exceeded the big water.”

It’s an excellent opportunity to be there, can see everything, meet some people you only contacted via tweets by now, meet Microsoft’s folks and, last but not least, make new acquaintanceships.


Travel was not bad at all. Furthermore, I must admit that it was very pleasant. I had a direct connection from London to Seattle (some folks from the US still don’t believe me in that), quite fresh one. It was Norwegian’s flight on board of Boeing 787. Yes, that one – aka Dreamliner. To my amazement, I had free all seats in my row. Believe me, I have paid only for one!
Being in Seattle I had couple days and I spent them to sightseeing. This post is not about it, so I only mention that Andre Melancia [T] and myself had good trip to Boeing Factory and land/water tour #onaduck (don’t laugh!).


True. First timer. That was my first title on my badge. I’m still feeling very good doing something for the first time. Like this experience. Being co-organiser of the biggest SQL conference in Poland, I was feeling a little anonymously at PASS Summit, the biggest SQL conference in the world.
The event has a special meeting for such first-timers like me: “PASS Summit 2017 Buddy Program”. The program aims to help First-Timers get the most out of first conference experience. Firstly, a title buddy, met us on-site and provided the information we needed.
As a part of it, there was also the First-Timer Orientation & Speed Networking event hosted by Cathrine Wilhelmsen [T|B] with Bill Graziano (T) this year.
We have had a lot of fun during introductions ourselves or attempts answering the questions displayed on the screens to an individual who was seating in front of you. We had only 3 minutes per a round, and in that way, we got to know 10 new people in 30 minutes.

KeyNote Day 1

Although I was late, I went to the first row as I always like to see well the actors on the stage. I’m little shy only.
The first day of Keynote was leading by Rohan Kumar who was inviting many guests on the stage. In a brief, what we heard about new features in SQL Server 2017:

  • Support for graph data and queries
  • Advanced Machine Learning with R & Python
  • Native T-SQL scoring
  • Adaptive Query Processing and Automatic Plan Correction

It worth to mention about several new features/services (all in preview phrase yet) in Azure SQL Database:

  • Data sync v2
  • Managed Instance
  • Database Migration Service
  • New version of Azure Data Factory

The keynote contained many practical demonstrations, giving us a chance to watch the features in action. We could have seen:

  • Bob Ward [T] and Conor Cunningham [T] whose demonstrated how super fast performance has been achieved in SQL Server 2017 and why performance tuning will become automated job
  • Tobias Ternstrom [T] and Mihaela Blendea [T] have showed how quickly set up, in a new way, a development environment with supported containers.
  • “Hospital Intake Prediction” application demo during which Danielle Dean [T] has presented how scalability and high performance in Azure SQL Database can combine with built-in AI to create new and powerful insights from IOT data.
  • Scott Currie [T], CEO of Varigence, showed off how Azure Data Factory can collaborate with BIML language to automate data movement in the cloud.
  • Julie Strauss demonstrated new compute-optimized tier in Azure SQL Data Warehouse.
  • Christian Wade showed how you can spread out your workload and Scale Out up to 7 read-only replicas, each with 10 billion rows, allows you to support thousand of concurrent users.
  • At the end, Riccardo Muti showcased hybrid BI solution with Power BI Premium using interactive reports and stunning visualizations

“Quite accidentally”, Microsoft has announced new tool: Microsoft SQL Operations Studio (T|W) – new, multi-platform, open-source application which empowers DevOps practice to work with SQL Server, Azure SQLDB & DW.

KeyNote Day 2

First 4 minutes have belongs to Grant Fritchey who was talking about PASS itself – its growth, finances, Virtual Group Members and goals for 2018. Grant was encouraging everyone not only to learn, but also make new connection, but absolutely to use event opportunity to have fun! I agree with him absolutely.
Then Denise McInerney briefly described her journey with PASS which continues since 2012 and her role as a VP of Marketing.

Rimma Nehme on the stageFor the next over 80 minutes on the stage was fantastic Dr Rimma Nehme. She is an Architect of Azure Cosmos DB at Microsoft.
Dr Rimma Nehme [T] reminded me that 90% of the world’s data was created in the last 2 years and how the current trends in data looks like: Data is growing, 80% incoming data nowadays originally are in unstructured form. Florence was the original project name when CosmosDB was born about 2010.
So what the Azure Cosmos DB is? It’s a globally distributed, massively scalable and multi-model database service which having:

  • Turnkey global distribution
  • Elastic scale out of storage & throughput
  • Guaranteed low latency at the 99% percentile
  • Five well-defined consistency models
  • Comprehensive SLA’s

Dr Nehme went through and described the Resource Model and System Design as well as from physical perspective and from partitioning.
On of the cool things among CosmosDB is that it was designed to elastically scaling throughput from 10 to 100s of millions of transactions/sec across multiple regions. Another cool stuff is automatically indexed SSD storage – they just don’t ask you if you want it or not. It’s by default, out of the box. During her session, we could have understood how Cosmos DB is beating the speed of light 😉
You can download slides from her presentation.


As I mentioned, each conference is not only possibilities to learn something new. It is especially great opportunity to networking, which I love to do. You can meet new people during an event or at the (one of many) evening party. During this event, my first PASS Summit, I’ve met in person the people who I knew only from blog, twitter and so on: Kendra Little [T|B], Pinal Dave [T|B]. Furthermore, I had occasion to see in live to guys from Microsoft’s crew I’ve never met before like Dr Rimma Nehme [T], Adam Saxton [T|B], Patrick LeBlanc [T|B], and the others.

Microsoft Clinic

Another dodgy thing during the event was a Microsoft Clinic stall. The place where you could come over, find a bunch of Microsoft specialists and ask them any difficult questions from any field about an issue you have been struggling. Even if they couldn’t answer your questions on site (predominantly they do), Microsoft Clinicyou will get a contact to right person in Microsoft or they reply to you as soon as possible.
I couldn’t not use this opportunity and I’ve booked myself in a queue to discuss about existing problems with SSDT whereas your solution is (huge) having a lot of circular references. So, I’m not only had a chat with guys who helped me (kudos to Dimitri Furman and Prabhaker Potharaju) to find the right guys in Microsoft, but also I could see how the Microsoft Clinic works inside. Finally, I found (Kevin Cunnane [T] and Eric Kang [T]), seen their session and we are carry on discussion by the emails.

Hopefully (I wish), certain very painful issues about SSDT gonna be resolved.


If you’re reading this post on my blog, you probably know, there is a podcast series titled “Ask SQL Family“. I would not be myself to if I not use an opportunity to talk with some folks from the US. Damian was connected via Skype and it was more challenge for us this time. Guess why? Yes, due to the time difference: -9 hours between Seattle, WA and Poland (there is only one time zone). Anyway, new 5 episodes have been recorded with: Bob Ward [T], Cathrine Wilhelmsen [T|B], Michael Rys [T], Pedro Lopes [T], Grant Fritchey [T]. Many thanks to all you guys for your time. We were talking about SQL Server, USQL, Azure Data Factory, tools, hobbies, women in technology, work-life balance, community and volunteers. If you interested to hear on of our guests – please stay tuned.


#SQLFamilyAmazing, I’ve written much more than I’ve expected. My thoughts after my first time at PASS Summit? Impressive. It’s really big show and everything (at least from attendee point of view) was worked out in details.

Will I go next year?
I’m not sure yet. I would like to, because it’s really great event with dozens fantastic speakers who covering many variaties topics.
In the other hand in the UK, we have also very cool & big event (SQLBits) which is more affordable for me. Even though I had free entry tickets for the conference (thanks again Alex Whittles & Chris Testa-O’Neill) – all the other costs  (flight, accomodation) had to be covered by myself.
Either way, it would be hard to say “no” as I promised to Alexander Arvidsson (T) that I’ll be there next year.

That’s all

PS. I had a chat with a few more people and sorry that I didn’t mention about all of you.
Any comments about PASS Summit or topics described above? Don’t hesitate and leave your opinion below.

Thanks for reading,

PASS Summit 2017 Day One Keynote
PASS Summit 2017 Day Two Keynote
PASS Summit 2017
My photo relation from PASS Summit 2017

Previous Photo relation from PASS Summit 2017
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Kamil Nowinski
Kamil Nowinski 200 posts

Blogger, speaker. Data Platform MVP, MCSE. Senior Data Engineer & data geek. Member of Data Community Poland, co-organizer of SQLDay, Happy husband & father.

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