PASS Summit MVP Guest Series: Bringing Home the Knowledge

PASS Summit 2012 is heading our way, and there is much to get excited about! Here is your chance to get a first-hand look at what PASS Summit is all about in this special series of guest posts from some of our industry experts and SQL Server MVPs.

Louis DavidsonLouis Davidson has been a Microsoft MVP for 9 years. He has written five books on database design and regularly speaks at SQL PASS events about design and relational database topics. You can find more from Louis on his website, as well as on blogs at and

When the weather changes from warm to cool and the leaves start to drift from shades of green to a more festive color palate, I start to sense that my favorite season is approaching. It won’t be long until I start to see familiar faces and buildings and smell the pizza and burritos from the restaurants at the bottom of the escalators in the Seattle Conference Center, all leading me towards the PASS Summit registration desk. As I ride the escalators up, familiar banners beckon, leading me to begin the experience afresh, even if, after so many years it seemingly should be old hat by now.

For me, the experience each year is very similar to my opportunities to return to the University of Tennessee campus where I spent half of my college career, often on a Saturday afternoon heading down to the football stadium. The feeling of arriving at PASS Summit is very much like the feeling I get once I have parked, hiked a mile, and climbed what feels like a thousand steps to get to a seat in Neyland Stadium– here I am, with thousands of my closest friends about to experience something awesome.

In thinking about the experience of PASS Summit, it’s difficult to choose what I look forward to the most at this event. Is it the people? They are certainly a large part of the excitement, as it is really wonderful to see all of these friends I have made over the years who come back every year. It’s also equally great to associate human faces to identities that I only know as a charmingly goofy names and avatars on Twitter. The people are definitely a very large part about why I love the Summit, but still, there’s something even more compelling on my list.

For me, what I look forward to the most is that moment in time when I have settled into my chair for the first session, and I get that first bit of useful information that I didn’t previously have. Sometimes, it is about a totally new technology that I haven’t used before, and other times it is about some facet of something that I had been pretty sure I was an expert at before the speaker got started. At this point, even if nothing else happened, I would still have this nugget of knowledge that now allows me to get more work done in less time when I arrive back home to the hills of Tennessee.

Of course, it is never just a single nugget of information that I end up with. For three solid days, the new information just keeps on coming. From the hour long sessions and time spent talking to the MVPs, Microsoft CAT and CSS employees, and other attendees during the PASS activities, the learning and fellowship never stops. So at the end of the day, learning new material is what I look forward to the most, but like the icing on a cake, the rest of the experience just makes it all the better.