This week I had the opportunity to present at Microsoft’s Pass Summit, which was one of two events I had on my list for this year, (the other was Oracle Open World.) Although I’m still learning about all the events on the Microsoft side, unlike Oracle, where there’s one, massive event in San Francisco each fall, Microsoft has split their annual events into three to focus on each audience. In less than two months, there was MS Ignite in Florida, focused on tomorrow’s technology, IT Dev Connections, geared towards development and then this week, Pass Summit, for the Data Platform expert, (DBA and Data Scientist…) I’m unsure of what events are going to have to leave my list I currently attend to fit these ones in, but somethings going to have to give.
Still a Newbie
I attended my first Pass Summit last year and was incredibly impressed with the quality of content, as it geared towards the topics and focus someone like me would be interested in.
Although there are a number of similarities to any technical event, (and I do present at a number of different events specializing in Oracle, SQL Server, Big Data, DevOps, Testing and Agile) there are some unique characteristics to Summit that I want to recognize.
The content is top-notch and focused on database, development, analytics and professional development. I’ve already discussed some of my favorite sessions from the conference and my main failing was not having the opportunity to attend more sessions. Delphix has been a sponsor of Pass Summit for years and this year was no different. I’m always impressed with the attendee interest and traffic in the exhibitor area for Microsoft events. The attendees are just more engaged than other events and want to understand how products can make their companies more successful with technology.
This event is held each year at the Washington Conference Center, which is easy to access, has ton of hotels nearby and makes it easy to make the most of the event.
Diversity and Inclusion
Upon receiving your registration badge, one of the first things that stand out from other events is the Anti-harassment 800 number and policy notification on the back in red. Some of the attendees joke about the need of this notification, but for a woman in technology from other communities, I was struck by the overall behavior differences at Microsoft events and I have to give some of the credit to the importance Microsoft and the Pass community gives to diversity and inclusion.
This acknowledgement is to notify attendees and exhibitors that this event has a no-tolerance policy towards harassment and that all attendees deserve the best event experience. Where a woman in attendance at most tech events often expects one or two awkward incidents to occur, the reminder displayed on the badge decreases the likelihood. It is there for everyone who attends the events and sets expectations. All interactions, no matter the participants, are less apprehensive and I found there were more networking, communication and all attendees’ benefit.
On the topic of diversity and inclusion, there are multiple women in technology happy hour tables, a luncheon and sessions. Men wear kilts in support of the women at least one day of the conference and there is an openness in discussing even difficult topics with a goal if more diversity involvement in technology and in the community. Social media has it’s own handle that highlights the women’s contributions throughout the week and many regional groups have a goal of 50% women speakers for their events. There are still the same challenges when it comes to having more people of color in the technical space, but that just means there are more opportunities for this initiative to grow.
As with most conferences, there are a number of post-day events, but what’s more popular are the niche events that have grown in popularity over the years, like karaoke, (yes, I said karaoke.) I still didn’t get up the nerve or have the time to attend, (I’m pacing and bracing myself for the upcoming month of travel) but I’m told this and post conference dinners are the thing for networking with others.
Gaining intimate knowledge of the MSSQL community or SQLFamily, (you can follow the #SQLFamily hashtag for more) is important as you speak at these events. Quite a few of the events require an invitation, either in the form of tickets or armbands to gain access if necessity demands it. Some of these events are incredibly invaluable to me and my goal is always events that I can communicate with those that are hosting and attending, so if they’re noisy to the point you’re unable to, you’re probably going to lose me quickly.
So what did I feel were opportunities for improvement this year? Often there were multiple invites I wasn’t able to attend. As I stated, with some of the events are just for attendees to unwind and let loose. These aren’t the events for me, where I’m looking to connect and network, but everyone deserves to get their geek on, no matter what form that takes in and Summit ensures that everyone has the chance.
I have an additional, professional goal- I need to spend some serious education time enhancing my Microsoft Data Platform skills. I find that I’m still pulling from my previous life as a DBA and as most people know, I believe in walking the walk, not just talking the talk. The demands of my day job, pull from different technology and platforms have kept me from investing the time I need to in Microsoft post SQL Server 2012 and that has got to change. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to email me at my dbakevlar address at gmail. I’d appreciate the feedback and advice.
Until the next SQL Saturday, I’m focused on Oracle for a couple weeks, first at East Coast Oracle Conference, (ECO) this week, next week at Devoxx Morocco, followed by DOAG, (Germany) and UKOUG, (The UK) to finish up the year. Boy, am I going to be tired this Christmas!