Thanks to Joe Healy, I was provided a Special guest pass for the 2007 Microsoft MVP Summit. I am not yet a MVP (I hope it happens soon!!!!) but it was great to go to Seattle for 6 days and learn all about Microsoft, upcoming products, and learn more about the future of SQL Server.
I flew up on American airlines from Tampa-DFW-Seattle. I am starting to sound like an AA spokesman, but I LOVE AA and the fact that I was able to secure a first class upgrade for the trip (being AAdvantage Platinum) helps. We flew a MD80 from TPA-DFW and one of the ex-TWA 757-231 jets from DFW-SEA. It was good to fly on the ex-TWA ship (N705TW) as it will soon be flying for Delta. Then the only TWA birds left in AA's fleet will be 103 MD80s, but that's another topic. The flight home was not as good - my upgrade was not available from SEA-DFW (ex TWA MD80) and in disgust I chose not to upgrade from DFW-TPA. Both the flights were good and the weather was beautiful - I actually purchased an Asian chicken salad from buy on board food and it was pretty tasty. I would have preferred the hot roast beef sandwich in first class but I digress....
Arriving in Seattle I rode a taxi downtown to the Westin. Microsoft did great - they put us in a nice hotel. Two nights I roomed with Keith Kabza - the remainder of the nights I spent solo on the 34th floor of the south tower overlooking the port of Seattle. The views were wonderful.
Sunday Keith and I walked around downtown. We watched the NCAA selection show from Fox sports grille where my team (Missouri State) was once again denied a berth so lesser teams could get beat out of the conference in the first round (Duke???? j/k). Stan, Keith, and I went out for a great steak dinner at Ruth's Chris to discuss building our brands and businesses. Jeffrey Palermo (www.jeffreypalermo) hosted a Sunday night party at Jillians Billiard club. It was at that party when I began to recognize the importance of the summit to my professional career (networking opps). Thanks Jeff it was great to meet you.
Monday started out meeting Joe Healy, Stan Schultes, Keith Kabza, Jim Zimmerman, and one of Joe's buddies for salmon soup in a local fish restaurant by the famous Pike's Fish Market. Have you seen that video FISH! about teamwork? Well I was slightly disappointed to find the actual fish market was kind of boring. I much preferred watching the donut guy fry donuts and catch them in his sack without looking. We then went to the MVP Expo at the convention center. I spent the afternoon looking at MSFT products and meeting with MVPs and fellow community leaders. After having a community happy hour, we all met up at the Americas regional dinner at the Westin. The dinner was fun, especially all the photos. Afterwards, Keith and I played a tough round of darts with Brian Knight (www.brianknight.com) and I socialized with Valeria, a very nice SQL Server 2005 MVP from Paraguay. The evening ended with a great party at Gameworks.
Tuesday was the start of sessions. Bill Gates did the keynote presentation first and had a q& a session. Of course he was very smart and well spoken, and he looked just like the nice guy you see on tv. Matter of fact, I cannot believe anyone would want to throw a pie at him (see Amsterdam 2000). Because of the NDA, I am limited in what I can say, but I will summarize in the following points. Future games for XBOX (Halo 3 especially) look WONDERFUL. I will be buying an XBOX 360 soon. Windows Mobile 6 is coming out and I wish I could upgrade my wonderful Pocket PC phone to it. SQL Server 2008 will have some great features too. The evening was spent at the Museum of Flight, looking at airplanes and enjoying cocktails and great food with many different people.
Wednesday we arose early and were bussed to the Microsoft corporate campus (MSHQ) in Redmond. I was kind of surprised at the campus - it was nice and clean, but not as grand as I expected. I guess I expected there to be super cushy offices with 24" LCDs and digital projectors everywhere, but sometimes I don't live in reality and it would be hard to find something to complain about at MSHQ. The conference center was very nice and we had 5 breakout sessions covering databases. Again, I cannot discuss what I learned, but let's just say that SQL Server 2008 will build on an already successful 2005. the part that most interests me, SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services), will have some new features as well. I was pleased to meet the product teams and was able to ask one of the original SSIS product architects why some features I consider imporant were missing (and got reasonable answers - all related to time and keeping within scope). We had a product dinner in the corporate cafeteria that night where I spent an hour talking to Doug and Mike from the product team (both great guys). After I got back downtown, a bunch of us SQL guys met at the Elephant and Castle bar to discuss the days events over drinks.
Thursday was the last day of the conference. Went to a couple breakout sessions and a closing luncheon. After the lunch, I was escorted to the SQL Server 2005 development building where I was able to meet directly with the product teams. It actually felt like I was back at work - we sat in a conference room and watched slides, demos, and had a q and a session. The MSFT developers are great guys and I enjoyed talking with all of them. Headed back downtown afterwards and met up with the Florida group again for a happy hour and evening entertainment to rehash the conference, what we learned, and make plans for Tech Ed 2007 and next year.
There you have it - my detailed overview of the MVP Summit. It was great and next year I hope I am back as a full MVP. I am so excited about the future with SQL Server 2005 and SSIS, and I am thankful of the decision I made in 2005 to get involved with the local community here in Florida to promote these great technologies. Now if I can only convince my boss to let me off to go to Tech Ed 07 in Orlando.....