Brent’s 2012 Conference Schedule


I feel like the luckiest guy in the world: I get to take part in six major SQL Server events in 2012.  Here’s where I’m going and why:

January 26-Feb 4: SQLCruise Miami

SQLCruise is the highlight of my year.  This year, we’ve transitioned SQLCruise completely to Tim Ford – he owns the event start to finish.  I’m really excited because I get to sit back and enjoy the event a little more, and Tim gets to do what he truly shines at: bringing good people together to learn and bond.

I’m doing three all-new in-depth sessions on SQLCruise Miami: Procedure Cache BI, Scaling SQL with Solid State, and SAN Features for Senior DBAs.  All three are targeted at DBAs who have to make applications go faster.  You need 3-5 years of experience with SQL Server, and you should already be familiar with the basics of reading execution plans and designing indexes.

I like SQLCruise because it’s a limited number of people together for an extended period of time.  I get to know every single attendee, hear about their challenges at work, and have plenty of one-on-one time for design questions.  Some attendees have started bringing their laptops armed with a SQL Server instance, a copy of their production database, and their toughest queries or design problems.  I love discussing this stuff for hours over margaritas.

Trust me, this is the cheapest way to get the most honest consulting, and it’s not just from the presenters – it’s also from your fellow attendees.  Learn more at

Feb 28-Mar 2: MVP Summit Redmond and SQLSaturday Redmond

The annual international MVP shindig is the coolest benefit of being a Microsoft MVP.  We have to pay for our flights to Seattle, but once we’re there, Microsoft picks up pretty much everything else.  We get insider NDA sessions, and given the timing on the below event, I’m hoping that we’ll get insider content on SQL Server 2012 at the MVP Summit this year.  The training really isn’t my favorite part – I just like getting the chance to spend more time with my favorite community and Microsoft people.  There’s no substitute for face time with these folks.

The public isn’t invited to the MVP Summit, but the good news is that the MVP Summit will bring a ton of great speakers to SQLSaturday Redmond!  This might be the best SQLSaturday all year.  I try to work in SQLSaturdays whenever it matches my travel schedule, and this one fits perfectly.  I bet lots of out-of-town MVPs will make a similar decision.

March 25-31: SQL Connections Las Vegas

This Connections is billing itself as a SQL Server 2012 launch event, and it just so happens that the conference date exactly lines up with the next SQLBits conference too.  Does this mean we’ll see SQL Server 2012 released here?  Who knows – it’s tough for conference planners and software vendors to get all the stars to line up simultaneously.

Connections feels like the most training-oriented of the conferences: it focuses on quality, not quantity.  There’s less simultaneous sessions, but the presenters tend to be very polished professionals who are very accustomed to being onstage.  (Presenters get free registration, hotel, and a fee per session.)  It lacks the rowdy, party, community feeling of the PASS Summit: but there’s clearly an audience for a more traditional learning event.  I like both events for different reasons – I meet more friends at the Summit, but I make more consulting business connections at Connections.

I’m doing a few sessions at Connections, but the official itinerary isn’t out yet.  The only one I can announce for sure is my all-day Virtualization and SAN Basics for DBAs session, which will be a $399 post-con session on March 30th.  Registration is open now.

May 24-June 2: SQLCruise Alaska

I’m doing the same presentations that I did on SQLCruise Miami.  Neither cruise is more junior or senior than the other – it just boils down to whether you’d like to see the islands or the icebergs.

There’s one big difference, though: in Alaska, I teamed together with Jeremiah, Kendra, and a friend of ours to get the Garden Villa suite.  SQLCruisers will all get to hang out with us here:

Look like fun?  Book yourself a cheap inside room (they’re as low as $679 per person right now) and register for SQLCruise.

Fall: SQL Connections Las Vegas

Sometime in the fall, I’ll be returning to Vegas for another round of Connections.  The dates, exact location, and session agendas are still to be determined.

November 6-9: PASS Summit Seattle

The PASS Summit is the biggest event of the year in terms of quantity: thousands of SQL Server professionals from all over the world gather together to talk shop.  It’s a zoo of nonstop activity, a whirlwind of tweeting and meeting that goes by in a blur.  I love getting the chance to meet up with some of my best friends for the briefest of moments.

There’s at least a dozen sessions going on simultaneously at any given time, but as big as the event is, there’s fierce competition for speaking spots.  Speakers get free registration (roughly $1500 value), so speakers from all over the world vie for spots.  The call for sessions hasn’t gone out yet, so I have no idea whether I’ll be accepted, but I’d pay to go out of my pocket even if I didn’t get the chance to speak.

And I Wish I Could Hit More!

The good news – heck, the GREAT news – is that I’ll be hitting so many major conferences next year.  I pinch myself when I think about this because it just seems too good to be true.

The bad news is that I’d love to do more: I would love to do SQLBits, TechEd, a few CodeCamps, storage conferences, and VMworld, but with just these ones above, I’m already away from home for six weeks.  In order to keep a good work/life balance, I try to only travel one week per month, and that only leaves me 6 more weeks of travel in 2012.  Since I like to eat and pay rent, I gotta use those other 6 weeks for client projects to make moolah. <sigh>  Decisions, decisions.

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