I’m back home in Vegas, back down to Inbox Zero, and I’ve had some time to think about last week’s conference in Seattle. I liveblogged the keynotes, but I wanted to talk about the conference overall.
This was Redgate’s first time running an in-person Summit after the professional organization folded in December 2020. Redgate bought the Summit’s assets, ran a virtual event last year, and then this year was a hybrid event. You could either attend in person, or online.
Overall, the in-person event went well. The rooms were well-sized, the AV worked fine, lunches were served quickly. Given that it was the Summit’s first return to “normality” in a while, things could have been much worse. We got really lucky with the weather: sun every day, and not a drop of rain.
In-person attendance was down, but still big. I heard total in-person attendance was around 1,500 folks, which probably includes the vendor & support staff, down from a pre-COVID height of around 4,000. Pre-conference workshop attendance was way down – peaked around 80 in-person, down from 350+. In any given pre-pandemic year, this still probably would have been the biggest Microsoft data platform event in the US.
The virtual side had a lot of glitches. Online attendees couldn’t join all sessions, or missed the first part of sessions, and some recordings didn’t work. Running a live in-person event is hard enough, and I salute Redgate for trying to make the hybrid thing work, but it seemed like there was still a lot of work to do on that. I wonder if next year will be hybrid again, or in-person only. If you’re considering attending the hybrid version, you should set your expectations appropriately: stuff may not work.
I was happy not attending sessions. Leading up to the event, I shared with y’all that I was going to skip sessions altogether and do the hallway track instead, meeting my friends and having little family reunions all over the place. I didn’t take any photos, but the event photographers were all over the place, and I’m guessing there will be a public photo album somewhere. I heard there were a lot of good Microsoft-delivered sessions about SQL Server 2022 and Azure Managed Instances, so I’ll go back and peruse the recordings of those later.
There weren’t many health precautions. Very, very few folks wore masks, there was no social distancing, no mandatory testing, and lots of people (myself included) were shaking hands and hugging. I’m telling you this, dear reader, because I know that a lot of y’all are still at home, and haven’t gone to public events yet. If and when you return to in-person events again, I just want you to have a rough idea of what to expect.
I will likely return in 2023. I had a good time, I loved reuniting with my friends, and Redgate did a good job of stewarding the event. I can’t think of any reasons why I wouldn’t go back. It went well!