Category Archives: SQLPASS

#PASSSummit Women in Technology lunch live blog!

It’s the Women in Technology luncheon! I’ll be updating this (at eating) for the next hour or so…let’s go.

Update: And we’re done!


Wendy Pastrick, the PASS Director of educational content, wecomes us. It’s the 15th annual PASS Summit WiT luncheon. There are 800 attendees at the lunch today!

She’s introducing the speaker. There will be a QnA session afterward. (This is being live streamed on PASS TV, and the recording will likely be available there afterward.)

He Says. She Says.

Our speaker is Heather Ritchie, Head of Portfolio Marketing and Communication, presenting “He Says. She Says. Bridging communication gaps that prevent great ideas from being heard.” That’s a good premise.

Slide: Where are the gaps? Thinking, expectations, confidence, linguistics, voice.

“Take what I say with a grain of salt. I’m going to make some HUGE generalizations today…there’s going to be exceptions” to every rule. That’s a good disclaimer to keep people from shouting “WAIT BUT NOT ALL MEN/WOMEN” etc.

Heather discussed communication styles – 75% of men tend to evaluate as analytical, while 75% of women have the relational profile.

And now, a discussion of group IQ, and how it was evaluated in one study. Which boils down to a relational mode of thinking (e.g., how often people are interrupted, how they contribute, etc.)

You need “diversity. You need all profiles to build a great team.”

Expectation Gaps

Women face a double bind, where what it means to be a woman (communal, nurturing) and what it means to be a boss (leader) are in opposition. The story of a woman whose new team were asking her basic questions: “Would you ask Steve this question?” “No.” “Then don’t ask me, I’m not your mother.”

Women are two times as likely to get personal criticism in reviews (e.g. , “bossy”, “abrasive”, “aggressive”). This has been my experience, definitely.

Things get more complex for women, in order to be understood properly.

The Confidence Gap

Here’s a video of Cheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, on negotiating for the Facebook position. (I have also had to learn to negotiate.) “If you don’t negotiate, he won’t value you as much.” But you can’t do it the way men do it, Cheryl says. There are videos on how to do it at  As a woman you have to tie that into how it’s going to be good for the other side.

Heather says, everyone has doubts. Women express it differently.

“I have never met a woman who’s said I’ve seen this position I want it. I am the best for this. NEVER.” – Carmen Munoz, CEO, Citelum Group.

“Confidence is not a fixed state.” 

Linguistic Differences

“You can geek out a LOT” on the linguistic differences in gender.

“Words have power. How you say things makes a difference.” Heather plays this video, which I first saw from Rie Irish:

Feminine language drives rapport; masculine language drives status. We need both, and both have downsides.

Voicing your ideas

Heather actually worked with a voice coach to improve her volume, and voice in general.

“Women have a natural disadvantage with voice.” (I’d also like to note that girls are far more likely to be told to be quiet and polite, and that does affect how we speak.)

GREAT advice: record your phone meetings, record yourself speaking (like practicing for a session), listen to how you sound. 

We can do better

The “We can do better” slide says:

  1. Adapt the way you communicate your idea for your audience
  2. Build intelligent collaboration practices
  3. Learn how to frame your ideas in a common purpose
  4. Get rid of mindsets that hold you back [“Sorry”, or interrupting women.]
  5. Develop your communication skills: basics, strengths, adaptive

My Commentary

Something about this bothers me. It’s not bad advice, as far as it goes. But I don’t like advice to women, that we should change and bend to the world, if the advice doesn’t come with some serious recognition that things shouldn’t be this way.

That we can work to change attitudes, not to just adapt to what’s here.

Maybe working to change attitudes isn’t the greatest career advice….but maybe it really is. The story from above – “Well don’t ask me, I’m not your mother” – rings better to me.

So absolutely. Work on how you communicate, of course. Get better at collaborating, at framing ideas. All of that. But also: push back.

And a little more…


#PASSSummit day 2 keynote live blog

It’s the day 2 keynote! Rimma Nehme – a brilliant speaker – is presenting this keynote, titled “Globally Distributed Databases Made Simple’ I’ll be updating this for the next hour or so…let’s go.

Update: And we’re done! Wow. you’re gonna have to go watch the video, for sure, and so am I. That was a LOT of information, well presented. Not even “technical glitches aside”…those were AV issues, and she handled them with perfect grace.

Note: I’ve added a couple of side-note style commentaries in italics throughout…

The abstract says, in part,

Public clouds are quickly making massive-scale computing capabilities available to an ever-larger population of developers and data professionals. These computing capabilities are no longer a playground restricted to a small handful of large-scale internet services organizations. … In my talk this year, I will provide a deep dive understanding into Azure Cosmos DB, Microsoft’s globally distributed, multi-model database service that was 7 years in the making.

We start with a community video, with attendees talking about the Summit itself. Theese are nice.


It’s Kilt Day here at the Summit, and Grant Fritchey (PASS president) takes the stage in a lovely red tartan and dark sporin. He’s talking about who makes up the PASS community. And what PASS does, what events are coming up (several online 24 Hours of PASS events next year, among others).

Grant is welcoming VP of marketing, Denise McInerney. She’s up to talk about PASS’s global reach. There are over 2,000 viewers watching on PassTV right now!

Here comes the Passion Award announcement. It’s for the outstanding award of the year. It’s….Roberto Fonseca!

More takeaways:

  • You can buy recordings of the PASS Summit sessions. I recommend doing this.
  • The event evals ARE important.  Hit , download PASS events app, find PASS Summit 2017, do evals!
  • PASS Summit 2018 registration is now open!

And now, Dr. Rimma Nehme!

Dr. Nehme (who I may end up calling Rimma, because she’s very approachable) is the group product manager for Cosmos DB at Microsoft.

Rimma first gave a PASS keynote in 2014. Today we’re looking at CosmosDB…at globally distributed databases.

Let’s do some takeaway style notes as we go along:

  • “90% off the world’s data was created in the last two years alone.” Wow. In the next 3-5 years, we’re looking at at least 50 times more.
  • “Data never sleeps.” Every 60 seconds, 204 million emails are being generated.
  • Data is interconnected.  Buying a coke in Seattle can have an effect in a country in South America.

  • So we’re looking at HUGE, constantly changing, globally effecting data and databases.

  • “‘Project Florence’ is the blueprint of what is known today as Azure Cosmos DB.” Slide: “The entire distributed database system built from the ground…” circa 2010.
  • How should the DB be designed for the cloud?
    • Turnkey global distribution
    • Guaranteed low latency at 99% percentile worlwide
    • Guaranteed high availability within the region and globally,
    • Guaranteed consistency
    • Elastically scale throughput/storage any time, on demand, globally.
    • Comprehensive SLAs
    • Operate at low cost
    • Iterate and query without worrying about schema and index management
    • Provide a variety of data model and api choices.

“Even though it’s perceived as a new service, it’s 7 years in the making.” Don’t I know it. Minion Enterprise is over eight years old; we’ve been selling it for about 2-3 years.

Rimma put up a fairly complex architecture slide, and then put up a set of colorful scribbles all over it. One excellent thing she does: make tongue in cheek observations when she breaks a presentation rule (here, the overly complex slide). That makes it WORK, speakers.

There are 42 Azure regions across the world. Ooh, a virtual tour of the data centers! We love this stuff. We’re seeing external pictures of data centers, which isn’t quite as impressive..oh, here’s the inside. yep, that’s a lot of racks.

“The basic concept inside cosmos db is a container, a representation for the data with a data model…a table, a collection of documents, a graph” and more. From the slide:

  • DB account/DB may span clusters, regions
  • DB is scaled out in terms of containers
  • Designed to scale throughput and stored independently.

There simply isn’t time to come up with proper headings for this live blog

This is a fast presentation, but it’s easier to digest (esp. as compared to yesterday’s keynote) because it’s a good, contiguous story. We’re not going to get every aspect of every technical detail, but we get the sense of everything. Again: this woman is an absolute professional presenter. This will be worth re watching on PASS TV, for a few reasons.

Here’s an article and video that discusses some of what Dr. Nehme is speaking on right now.

Now, partitioning best practices. Now, resource model summary. (Hey, I’m not going to try to learn and summarize this at once!)

Adding regions for “turnkey global distribution” is a click away. In an Azure portal, you can pick where your data should be. That’s quite nice, of course. It looks pretty easy to set failover priority, too.

Dr. Nehme: “You can simulate a regional outage. (Don’t go crazy with this, guys.)”

Oh good, “policy-based geo-fencing”. Different parts of the world have requirements as to where the data can and can’t be stored, so they’ve implemented this to help. Very nice. That was a huge concern YEARS ago when MS couldn’t tell us where data in Tha Cloud would be stored.

Backups in the cloud…elastic scaleout…

Resource governance….I’m definitely falling behind.  I do like this on the slide: “Resource Governance cannot be an afterthought.” There’s a complex process to evaluate the cost of a query, to help with the resource governance. (On the slide, a read is one resource unit (RU), while a delete is 2 and  query is 4.)

Transparent horizontal partitioning, responsive partition management operations. Looks like you can decide what partition will provide what number of RUs, and there appears to be magic involved because I can’t quite keep up. Oh good, an example!

During peak season, elastically provision more resources on demand, and then when you don’t need them (after the peak) turn them off. This is better than on prem (she says) in terms of not having to buy and keep the huge server. Of course, this has been the appeal of the cloud all along; get what you need when you need it, and no more. Just, you know…remember to turn off the extra stuff after the busy times are done.

Nope, still no time for article headings…

“Guaranteed low latency” slide has very nice things:

On a customer application example, “This is literally the speed of light.” I do like that the speed of data globally really is the speed of light.

CAP Theorem

This is on consistency models. But, you guessed it…

Slide: “Consistency models in Azure Cosmose DB”. Most real life apps do not fall into those two categories. Instead, there are 5 well defined consistency levels with clear tradeoffs. Includes Strong, Bounded-stateless, Session, Consistent Prefix, Eventual.

Video time, Dr. Leslie Lamport “Foundations of Cosmos DB”

Oh it wouldn’t play. I’ll get the video after the keynote. Oh here it is!

Moving on

“Offering consistency for a price”. Different consistency levels have different costs.

Object Model

If you model data in the relational way, you collocate all the parameters in one document. How do you query that? With a SQL query, which behind the scene is represented with an ARS representation. It can be represented as a tree, and so can the results.

At a global scale, schema management becomes a covnersation nonstarter. Schema agnostic indexing… okay again, this is going by at light speed. She’s mentioned a couple of times that data is ingested and indexed automatically.

She’s skipping the physical index organization, and I cannot help but think we’re grateful, and look forward to studying it later. Well, those who are going to dig into Azure Cosmos DB are looking forward to studying!

She keeps saying, “Let me go a little bit faster here…” By now we are good-naturedly laughing along.

Slide: Query processing:

  1. Support for multiple query lang mappings via a compact Query IL grammar.
  2. Ability to call in and out of javascript contexts during execution
  3. Resource governed execution

Support for multiple apis, formats, and wire protocols. I’d be interested to hear from the field on how well this works, vs how big of a pain in the butt it is.

In Conclusion…

“Why should you care?” The one who survives is “the one who is most adaptable to change”.

Try Cosmos DB for free. Cool.

And we’re done!

A brief tour of Seattle (for #PASSSummit)

We’re talking about our favorite places in Seattle, because we’re here for the PASS Summit of course. Here are a few of mine*:


Sure, you can go to Starbuck’s if you want, but I don’t want.

  • Seattle Coffee Works – 107 Pike St. These guys make a great mocha, have lots of nerd-fu coffee gear, and have a great ambiance. Also they’re right by Pike Peak Market.
  • Monorail Espresso – 520 Pike St. This place is close by the convention center and also makes yummy coffee. It’s a drop-by-pick-up-coffee. CASH ONLY!


There are LOTS of good places to get food. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Biscuit Bitch – 1909 1st Ave. SO GOOD for breakfast. Get there early if you can, or order to go; seating is very limited.  Has vegetarian (not vegan) options.
  • Daily Grill – 629 Pike Street. The restaurant in the Sheraton is pricey, but really quite good, especially for breakfast. Try the hash!
  • Cactus – 350 Terry Ave N.  A little pricey, a little out of the way, and a lot yummy. Try it out if you have the mind to.
  • Pike Place Chowder – Oh, yum.  And reasonably priced. Two locations, one near the convention center and one near Pike Market.
  • Whole Foods – 2210 Westlake Ave. Yes, we like to eat out quite a bit, but it gets expensive. So we do a fair amount of eating and snacking from grocery runs.

Things to Do

Just a few, because we’re busy people…

  • Pike Place Market – We do so love the market, mostly for its lovely foodstuffs like Chukar Cherries, fresh fruit, nuts, tea, honey, hot sauce, and so on. But last time we were in Seattle, the daughter and I treated ourselves to some lovely wool sweaters… Get cheese and Salumi salami at DeLaurenti. There’s also a magic shop and a lovely small bookstore downstairs.
  • Seattle Underground Tour – 614 1st Avenue. This comes highly rated, though we’ve never managed to make the time for it yet. Maybe this year…
  • No Parking on Pike Vintage – 1102 E Pike St. This is a fantastic little vintage shop. Go check it out!
  • EMP Museum/MPOP Museum– 325 5th Avenue North. Apparently this is now the MOPOP Museum. Whatever, it’s a delightful place, and THEY HAVE A JIM HENSON EXHIBIT RIGHT NOW! Excuse me, I’ve got to go now…


*Interestingly, I can’t eat at some of these because I’ve gone vegan this year. No matter, they’re still great places to eat, and I’m recommending them to you.