Blogging from the PASS Keynote : 2010-11-09

The keynote starts off with a tine Turner impersonator (or maybe it really was Tina?):


Rushabh Mehta (donning the Tina wig) delivers the first segment of the keynote, telling the SQL Server community that we are "simply the best." He then introduces the Board of Directors and founding partners.  He tells us the Board of Directors will be available for chatting at the Meet & Greet on Thursday from 5:30 – 7:30 PM, and that PASS is eager to hear about our ideas for how to improve the organization and its events.

This Summit has 3,807 attendees from 48 countries. And there are over 4,500 registrants from 49 countries for the streaming keynotes and WIT event.  There are 191 speakers, 44 of them MVPs, and 111 out of the 168 sessions are 300+ level.  And for the first time, the DVDs will include all 168 sessions *AND* the pre- and post-con recordings. (And probably David DeWitt's keynote again, if history is any indication.)

Exhibitors are an important part of PASS, obviously. Visit the Exhibit Hall (which sold out for the first time ever).  The hours are Tuesday from 10:45 to 4:00 and Wednesday from 10:45 to 5:00.  Also all attendees are welcome to the Exhibit Hall Reception tonight from 6 – 8.

Mark Souza comes on stage and talks about Ask the Experts, SQL Clinic, and several ways you can interact with the MVPs and Microsoft employees that are here at PASS.  One of the giveaways each day will be an XBox Kinect.  They give away an Alienware laptop after placing an envelope under a random chair in the crowd.

Before Ted Kummert takes the stage, there is an entertaining video about the evolution of SQL Server – from breaking out of the Sybase code ($100 million/yr) to SQL Server 2008 R2 ($3 billion/yr).  Ted comes on stage and exclaims that this is the largest PASS ever.  He talks about the focus of SQL Server over the years, and more importantly, the future.  He explains that SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (formerly "Project Madison") is available now, and will be shipping on appliance servers in December.

Jesse Fountain (Principal Program Manager, CAT) comes on stage and shows off two nice racks loaded up with PDW, and then explains a new CREATE TABLE statement that incorporates the CLUSTERED INDEX, HASHING KEY and PARTITION boundaries all in the WITH clause – looks like very simplified syntax compared to setting up partitioning today.  Then he demonstrates an 800 billion row query that runs in 19 seconds.

Paulo Resende, Chief Architect, Bank of America comes on stage and talks about he implemented SQL Server solutions to reduce costs, improve performance, and be more agile.

Dave Mariani, VP Development at Yahoo, talks about ad distribution for 600 million users (3.5 billion events, amounting to 1.2 TB of data per day).  He discusses using a 12 TB cube in Analysis Services for data mining to deliver relevant ads and optimize the revenue of their advertising customers.

Ted announces updates to support & service offerings such as Premier Mission Critical, and the new Microsoft Critical Advantage Program – end-to-end support and service starting with Parallel Data Warehouse appliances.

Then Ted talks about the beta for Codename "Atlanta" – an agent that runs on your server and uploads various performance and health metrics (not actual data) about your SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 to a secure service in the cloud.  You can log in to the portal to view various metrics about your servers, but it also assesses best practices and configurations to provides guidance on preventing incidents, and better enables support to analyze your systems in case you do have an incident.

Bob Ward comes on stage and demonstrates troubleshooting the dreaded "Cannot generate SSPI Context" error message.  He says that Atlanta is all about preventing problems, being proactive, and minimizing downtime.  He shows that the Atlanta user interface has pointed out an issue in Kerberos configuration and actually guides him to a KB article that solves the problem.

You can sign up for Microsoft Atlanta at (requires a Windows Live ID, and Silverlight once signed in).

If you're at PASS and you want to learn more about Atlanta, you can attend the following spots:

Breakout Session (DBA226M) Tue 10:15 AM in room 612

SQL Clinic

o   Come talk to the product team and the guys behind the rules
o   Product team (Paul Mestemaker, Tim Ng, Lorenzo Rizzi)
o   Knowledge v-team (Bob Ward, Suresh Kandoth, Adam Saxton)

2 Product Pavilion Showcase Theater Demos

o   Tue 6:00pm – 6:30pm
o   Wed 1:30pm – 2:00pm

2 Focus Groups (please attend to influence our Wave 3 planning!)

o   FG#1 – Room 305 – Wed 3:00pm – 4:30pm
o   FG#2 – Room 305 – Thu 4:30pm – 6:00pm
o   If you know you’d like to come, RSVP to [email protected].  If you have some free time and want to stop by, we’ll allow you in if there is room.  We are targeting about ~8-10 people per focus group.

Next, Ted talks about the cloud, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS).  He says the key benefits to SQL Azure in terms of PaaS are that it is self-managed, has elastic scale, and is both agile and familiar.  He talks about the new CTPs that were announced at PDC : Web Admin, Reporting, and Data Sync.  He talks about Windows Azure Marketplace DataMarket – where you can get both public domain and commercial data sets to pull into your own applications.  Adam Wilson (SQL Azure PM) demonstrates this feature for a fictional bike store, which pulls sales data and correlates it to weather data pulled from the Marketplace.

Finally, Ted talks about what we're all waiting for: SQL Server Codename "Denali" – the next version of SQL Server.  The press release is available here:

Quentin Clark et. al. will be providing much more detailed information about Denali in tomorrow's keynote, but we are getting some high-level information from Ted today.  He talks about Mission Critical, Productivity, and Pervasive Insight.

Amir Netz comes on stage to discuss enhancements in PowerPivot for Denali, and shows off Excel browsing 100 million rows of data.  It's very fast and impressive, though I'm curious what type of machine that is really running on.  I think a lot of business users are stuck on decrepit hardware that may not exhibit such smooth performance. 

Then Amir shows how Visual Studio, Management Studio and BIDS have been combined into a single, unified interface, and how when looking at data on a server, the interface can sort and filter 2 billion rows "in a flash."  Again, quite impressive, and garnered a separate round of applause.  Then he shows updating reports in real time, representing scanning a trillion rows per minute.  Then he talks about a new columnar storage mechanism in Denali.  Yes, you heard that right, we're getting vertipaq technologies in the next version of SQL Server.

Next, they talk about Codename "Crescent" – data visualization feature that allows you to represent data in a report in many different ways, including animated charts that can show, for example, the evolution of movie sales over time.  Another round of applause here for the animated chart, and what he called "instant replay" – which allows him to slow-motion the chart animation.  Then he shows live data being updated inside a PowerPoint presentation – I don't think I'll be able to pull this off using Keynote.  I can't really describe this for you, I'm just going to have to figure it out and build out a demo.

The big tech sites already had prepared articles waiting for the press release announcement, where you can read about some of the key features:


The Register

You can download the CTP here, or wait for DVDs available after the keynote tomorrow:


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. :-)

1 Response

  1. Marc Scheuner says:

    Does anyone know whether or not the SQL CLR contained in Denali will be upgraded to .NET 4.0 standard?? I was pretty sure it would be – but I cannot find any hard facts pro or con on this one…