I’m currently sitting in Seattle-Tacoma airport waiting for BA048 to take me home, and coming to terms with what an amazing couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate to have.

The PASS Summit

SummitBadgeI had the honour of being selected to speak at the PASS Summit last week, the biggest SQL Server conference in the World, with I believe in the region of 5,500 attendees. I’ve been a regular speaker at lots of the European events (SQL Bits, SQL Relay, SQL Saturday, SQL Server Days, user groups, etc.) for years and I love speaking at them all. But this was different. The sheer scale of it, the enthusiasm and interaction of the audience, the chance to visit Seattle for the first time, and the parties. Wow the parties. It’s going to take me some time to sober up after this.

IMG_4960If you want to get a feel for the size, this is a photo of the keynote on day 1. It’s big.

What’s important to note is that during the day the focus is on learning, and there are a very large number of sessions to choose from. At night it’s a chance to network, to meet old friends and new, to talk shop but also to get to know people better. Don’t underestimate the value in going to the parties


My session went very well, with some great feedback and questions from the audience, thanks to all those that came and were part of my first Summit talk. I hope you left with a renewed love for MDX, and I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as I did – I had a blast!

The MVP Summit

On October 1st, something awesome happened – I was made a SQL Server MVP. Having spent my professional life looking up to and learning from the amazing group of MVPs we have in the UK and worldwide, it was a thrilling, humbling and daunting prospect to be invited to join their lofty ranks. I’ve been meaning to blog about it since then but haven’t been able to articulate or even understand what this actually means, apart from a cool blue badge.

MVPBuzzAll of that changed this week at the MVP Summit in Redmond. As I was already heading out to Seattle for the PASS Summit, it was easy to extend my stay by a week, and boy am I glad that I did.

I can’t talk about the technical content due to NDAs etc., but I will do my best to describe what it’s like.

Do you remember the first time you met a SQL Superstar? I do, it was at SQL Bits and I bumped into Jamie Thompson of SSIS guru fame. I didn’t even recognise him as he didn’t resemble his twitter profile pic at the time, but after a short chat I carried on up the stairs with a huge grin on my face, only to walk into a room with Allan Mitchell, Simon Sabin and countless others. I sat there for a while just soaking it all up.

Walking into the MVP Summit this week brought it all back, a thousand times over. I’m sat in a room next to Ola Hallengren, Paul Randel, Kimberly Tripp, Stacia Misner, Itzik Ben-gan, Brent Ozar, JRJ, Kevin Kline (and the list goes on and on and on). Listening to the likes of Joseph Sirosh, Shawn Bice, Mark Souza, etc. – the decision makers of the whole data platform. Then technical sessions from the likes of Michael Rys (U-SQL inventor) and Kasper de Jonge (SSAS), etc.. Not only are they presenting, but they’re asking; asking for input, asking for feedback, asking for details of what we see in the field, what we need in the product suite. I really felt that the whole team opened up and wanted a two way discussion. There’s a reason that SQL Server now tops the Gartner magic quadrant, and listening to these folks talk it’s easy to understand why; their vision and passion is inspiring.

IMG_5085And then, yes, more beers in the evening to continue the discussions.

More discussions on the product suite, discussions on sport, life, beer, cars, etc. etc. Getting to know each other better, whilst continuously learning. More and more learning.

I have to say a huge thank you to the whole product team for giving us so much time, and putting up with all our questions. It was an invaluable experience that I’ll never forget.

Also a big thanks to the other MVPs at the summit for being so welcoming. Especially Chris Testa-O’Neill, for being my guide for the week and helping it feel less daunting!

IMG_5072But the biggest thank you must go to Jennifer Moser for coordinating and planning it all so well. Not just the summit, but the activities around it; the scheduling, the transport, the pub crawl, access to the product group, and of course the inaugural MVPs Vs Microsoft American Football match.

Yes that’s right. On the Saturday before the summit, we braved the elements and headed to a local sports field for a game of flag football. Or at least ‘intentional’ flag football, but Mark Souza’s two broken ribs (and Simon Sabin’s subsequent reallocation to the Access MVP programme) are evidence that it was not entirely as contact-less as it should have been!

Mark’s team well and truly beat us, but we put up a valiant fight. Secretly we think that Mark had employed a few college football pros onto the SQL Server team just for this match. I couldn’t walk for a few days after, but we all had an awesome time.

What next?

My brain is well and truly fried. I need time to digest it all, and then I’ll be writing a few blog posts about what I can share.

But for now I’m just hoping to get some much needed sleep on the overnight flight back to Heathrow, and really looking forward to seeing my wife, Hollie, who has been amazing in supporting me and enabling me to get out here. Thanks Hol x.

So how would I sum it all up? I’m tired, drained, jet-lagged, brain-fried, hungover and my feet are falling off. But I loved every second of it.