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!
Any chance you are planning to go to SQLBits?
No, as much as I’ve dreamed about going to Newport since my childhood….
I think you meant to say “ran a virtual event last [year]” in the second paragraph.
Good catch! Fixed, thanks.
It was a great event. Was my first time at PASS (after last try was canceled). Enjoyed the sessions, among them yours.
Tried a few times finding you at the hallway track, but schedules must have been off there.
Loved the support that was shown to Hugo all over.
I got lots from the different on-line sessions – This is my first Pass Data conference and hoping to be back next year.
I really enjoyed the conference, and importantly, so did my colleague who was there for the first time (this was my third). I didn’t manage to find you and say hi (unlike you, I did cram in the sessions) but I did catch your Lightning Talk on Thursday. Thanks for all you do to keep the community informed!
“There weren’t many health precautions.” I confess to watching the @passdatacommunitysummit hashtag to see how many people end up with COVID. ?
It usually takes some time to acquire, gestate, and test positive, so I wouldn’t have expected exact numbers during the conference itself.
My girlfriend and I went to World Fantasy recently in New Orleans, where the policy stated that vaccinations were required and masks were mandatory. However when we arrived, they were not checking for vaccinations at registration, mask wearing was spotty at best, and there was no one tasked with asking people to put their masks on.
My partner was there for professional reasons (including being on panel presentations). In one presentation, someone on staff asked the panelists, if they would be comfortable doing so, to remove their masks so lip-readers could get more value from attending. They all refused.
At $250 per ticket, the con had plenty of money to hire sign language interpreters and people to enforce the vax and mask requirements. That would have been a better use of money than the centrally located dessert buffet that was a gauntlet that everyone had to go through to get out of the presentation areas. We stuck it out and were very anxious the entire time and for the 10 days we isolated afterward. Luckily, we didn’t get sick. I sincerely hope that no one got sick from going to Summit.
It’s sad that an event as large as the Summit didn’t do better than this, but at least they weren’t pretending to.
I’ve seen smaller and less expensive conventions that had good policies in place, enforced them, and had at least one ASL interpreter available on site. There was still lots of (masked) hugging (if you do it right, you are breathing past each other, not at each other). No one got sick during, or in the week after the con.
This pandemic isn’t nearly over, and people pretending it is are why.
Hi Brent! Was really good to see you there!
Couldn’t agree more! It was a good event and there is a lot of room for improvements but overall was super nice too be around the #sqlfamily again
My wife is a high school Anatomy/Biology teacher here in the FREE state of Floriduh.
She’s had COVID once already, so I am very aware of the life cycle.
I meant that I was interested to see how many people tested COVID+ after the event.
In previous years, attendees would tweet after getting home they caught the SQLFlu or NerdFlu.
It would be nice to know how many attendees test COVID+ after attending.
Oh, wait. I’m asking for contact tracing. We don’t do that here.
Given my previous experience with Redgate, I knew they would do a great job with the event.
Thanks for all your blog posts during the event.
Totally agree with everything you said. I was “online only”, and I missed several sessions because they simply would not play. I found the lack of “one standardized streaming platform” added to the issues and confusion. I counted three different ways/technologies they were using, although I could not tell you what they were. I do believe they have a long ways to go to make this a more professional and well organized event. Now, as to content, it was absolutely fantastic for all the sessions I was able to participate in, and next year I plan on being there in person, no matter what. R.