“What’d you learn?” caught me a bit off guard and I joked about scanning the 17 pages of notes to send up. My boss asked me for a recap of the event to make sure the appropriate people know great value was added. I highly recommend you do this if you want to get future events paid for. Make sure something like this ends up in the hands of the decision makers. Keep in mind they may not even know SQL Server exists, let alone its where all the valuable data is kept.
PASS is the Professional Association of SQL Server. There is a yearly summit in the fall that has been a huge success for years. This was the first year of trying a shortened version of the summit which was called SQLRally. (3 days instead of 5 days)
The focus was instructional sessions given by community elected speakers. There was a menu of sessions to attend including the categories of Development, Database Administration, Business Intelligence and Wild Card. I have 17 pages of notes from these sessions that I plan on putting together in a presentable format for my peers.
The highlight was a 5 minute lightning talk by Grant Fritchey (http://www.scarydba.com/ ). He gave a scary performance in a high volume, intense manner. The message was just backing databases up isn’t good enough, and you need to test your restores.
Each day went from 8:30 to 5:30 and also had planned after hours networking activities. We learned immensely valuable information about SQL server and all the third party products available.
The key benefit is making connections at events like this. This way, as a team we can all learn SQL Server in practice and not just theory. Finding information from a source like BOL, Blogs, Forums etc. doesn’t hold a candle to talking to someone who has already “been there done that”.