Blogging from the PASS Keynote : 2009-11-03


We were told that there is going to be a November CTP of SQL Server 2008 R2.  There are two new editions planned for the RTM release: DataCenter Edition (256 logical processors, unlimited virtualization) and Parallel Data Warehouse Edition (formerly known as "Madison").  There was a great demo of a 64 CPU system scaling up to 128 and then 192 to handle additional load. They didn't talk about pricing, but outside sources suggest that edition pricing (not CALs) is going up.  For more details from the source, see the official press release.

SQL Server has new benchmark records: TPC-E: 2,012 tpsE – best speed on x64 & IA64 at lowest price.  TPC-H 3TB: 102,778 QphH – world-record on Windows. Dynamix CRM: 20K users with sub-second response time.  Impressive speed that many of us will never be able to (or need to achieve), but there is a subtler realization from this announcement: TPC results must be issued six months within the release of the product.  This means SQL Server 2008 R2 will RTM by the beginning of May! 

Wayne Snyder, President, PASS

The keynote opened with Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane (a Canadian!).  Wayne has always reminded me a little of Kenny Rogers (not a Canadian).  He talked about the value of community, with the highlight: connect, share, learn.  This year's version of the PASS Summit came very close to the 3,000 mark in attendance.  The total registration count was 2,998.  Down from 3,600 last year, but given the economy, understandable.  Other conferences are down 20%, 30%, 50%.  42% here for the first time.  98 SQL Server MVPs.  Talked about real chapters and virtual chapters.  Talked about the org itself and the re-launching of SQL Server Standard Magazine as print online only (thanks for pointing out my typo Kalen!) – since it costs more to ship the hard copy than it did to create it.

168 sessions, CSS & SQLCAT best practices sessions, hands-on labs, chalk talk theater, Ask the Experts, Birds of a Feather lunch.  Session DVDs are $125, but videos will be downloadable this year. Don't eat alone – make new connections.

Bob Muglia – President, Server and Tools Business, Microsoft

Bob told a story about meeting Bill Gates in 1988, when he first started on the OS/2 version of SQL Server (which shipped with both 3.5" and 5.25" floppies).  He had the original box on the stage, it was huge.   He talked about the fact that advances in memory are leading to the ability to do amazing things on end users' laptops that were never before possible.  He gave a demo of VMM 2008 R2 – using Live Migration, he migrated a SQL Server VM from one node to another, without interrupting connectivity of database users.  Also talked about how there is I/O overhead, but Hyper-V advantages cancel it out.  Of course you can only do so much with 4 CPUs (the Hyper-V limit), so hopefully we'll see some advances there soon.  Cloud (SQL Azure) can be hosted privately, or at a host, or by Microsoft.  But this does not mean the DBA is dead: our skills will transfer and still be usable in a lot of ways in the cloud.

Ted Kummert, Senior VP, Business Platforms, Microsoft

SQL Azure will be billing in the first quarter.  SQL Server 2008 R2 will be released in the first half – managed self-service BI w/Office 2010, multi-server management, stream insight, master data services / master data management, scale-out data warehousing.  Ted gave his top 5 reasons to be at PASS :

  1. still the world's largest gathering of SQL Server profesionals
  2. you can take your questions right to the source (*lots* of dev team members on site – helps that it is in Seattle)
  3. we've got Wayne (Synder) and Rushabh Mehta
  4. you can work hard and play hard (Gameworks event tomorrow night)
  5. you will build skills & knowledge on the #1 database in the world

Then he talked about the four pillars of the SQL Server platform:

Mission Critical Platform

Quality (2008 SP1 had < 10% of fixes compared to 2005 SP1), secure (fewest critical vulnerabilities; not a single one identified yet in 2008) and scalable (FastTrack 2.0 from IBM, HP, Dell, Bull & NEC).  2008 R2 – up to 256 logical CPUs, 10s to 100s of TB with low TCO.

First American Title rushed their upgrade to 2008 for online re-indexing, table partitioning and 45% space savings benefit in data compression (on 10 TB of data). Upgrade to 2008 in production was thoroughly planned and tested but the business people were not even aware an upgrade took place.


Policy-based management, multi-server management, resource optimization, deployment simplification (Data-Tier Application Component).

Dan Jones gave a demo on creating an Access Control Point and managing multiple servers centrally using a single set of screens in Management Studio, including consolidating under-utilized instances using point-and-click.  Focus on many of the wizards is validating first, rather than just run and come across problems after.  Also gave a demo on Visual Studio 2010 beta 2 – deploying changes to existing DACs will be a very quick process, with no alter scripts to modify by hand. 

Dynamic Development

Pablo Castro gave a demo of Entity Framework / .NET 4.0.  I'm still not a big fan of this methodology (and based on the facial expressions around me, I don't think many of my colleagues are either), so I apologize for only briefly mentioning this part.  He coined a new term, "Persistence Ignorance."  This is the concept that you don't need to connect to a database (or even have a database yet) to unit test database-related code – this raised a lot of eyebrows but in principal makes sense.  We have a lot of chicken and egg problems when we need to focus on code vs. schema vs. procedures and the windows of opportunity do not always occur in the right order.  He also demonstrated PowerPivot, which gives a lot of power (perhaps too much) to Excel end users.

Pervasive Insight

Ted talked about StreamInsight, self-service Business Intelligence, and again talked about the scale-out data warehouse.  Excel users shouldn't need to understand database terminology to consume data and learn from the information in a useful way.

Amir Netz gave a demo of Master Data Services, uploaded data to a scale-out data warehouse (336 CPUs overall), and consumed the data with self-service reporting.


All in all a very good keynote presentation, though it did drag on a little long.  I hope that the keynotes tomorrow and Thursday do not contain a lot of repetitive information, because if that is the case, they could have stripped this one a bit and spread the demos out over multiple days.

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at Simple Talk, SQLPerformance, and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him. If I've helped you out, consider thanking me with a coffee. :-)

2 Responses

  1. Aaron Bertrand says:

    Thanks michael, I don't spend much time on app dev side and certainly not on EF, so the term was definitely "new to me."

  2. Michael K. Campbell says:

    Great summary – thanks.
    However, PI or Persistance Ignorance is not a new term. It's a HUGE term in the dev world and something developers have been looking for for a long time with regards to ORMs and other mappers. (And also something that EF has been lacking up until now. That said, EF performance is still pretty bad and it's much more than just an ORM – so I don't see too many of my peers that like it much either. Frankly, it really feels like something MS is forcing on everyone – yet very few people are really excited about it.)