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My first US SQL Saturday and PASS Summit visits

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Since I’ve just come back after my first US SQL Saturday and PASS Summit trips I thought I’d write a post about my visit. I’d been putting off going over the years for various reasons and this year ended up going. 

SQL Saturday Portland

Well the layout for SQL Saturday Portland was like SQL Saturdays hosted around Europe. However, because it’s hosted right before the PASS Summit some of the international speakers turn up to speak there.

What I found interesting was that VMWare sponsored the event. Mostly due to the fact they have never sponsored any of the SQL events I have attended in Europe even though they have some large European customers. 

Location wise it’s perfect as it’s hosted at a University.
If you are thinking about attending in the future bare in mind this is a US hosted event and is aimed towards an American audience. However, the volunteers went above and beyond for all attendees throughout the day. 

SQL Train

After the SQL Saturday I travelled up to Oregon on the SQL Train. SQL Train is something organized by Chris Hyde where every year people who have been to SQL Saturday Portland travel to Seattle for the Summit on a train. Chris is very organised and makes sure it is well stocked with drinks and snacks.

It was a great experience and I have to say that Chris does a great job with this. Talking to people from all around the world with different views was very interesting.

PASS Summit

I’ll avoid going into too much technical detail. To get more technical details buy the event material from PASS. My PASS Summit experience started on the Tuesday with the first timers event and the keynote. 

Because I was a first timer I was given a mentor. Luckily mine was my friend Johan Brattas, who gave me useful tips leading up to the event.

I found the keynotes very good, plus the sessions that Microsoft held at the event were very useful. Microsoft also hosted a good security walk in workshop. I think if Microsoft keep up the same presence at other events elsewhere they will have a positive impact on them. It looks like the focus is shifting to SQL Server running on Linux.

SQL Server 2019 announcements

In one session they suggested there would be a product rename. We will have to wait and see if this is for SQL Server 2019 or just one feature. There were also a fair few SQL Server 2019 announcements.

A couple of interesting ones were the ability to add system databases to Availability Groups and in-memory tables being used in tempdb databases.

Other sessions

I attended a couple of other good sessions there. Some were obviously there to reflect the industry shifts. I also got to catch some of the Speaker Idol sessions. Admittedly I was impressed with all the speaker idol finalists and I think the audience had mixed expectations about who would win it.


The sponsor exhibits were very impressive. A lot of sponsors were there who I had never seen at any European events before. I spoke to the guys from SQLGrease who had a very hypnotic Lego Rollercoaster and I got to play Scalextric at another vendors stand. VMWare had organized for a free massage for attendees as well, so I took advantage of that.

All in all, the vendors displays were all very good. One piece of advice I would give to some vendors though is to make sure that if you have somebody demoing a product make sure they know it at a reasonable level.


Overall, I found the tour to the US an interesting experience. It was good to meet people from all over the world there. After talking to other attendee’s it sounds like it would be welcomed if the event was available in different parts of the world as well. However, that’s something for PASS to decide upon.

I hope you have enjoyed this post, feel free to comment below.

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