#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 women.org.  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! http://PASSsummit.com

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!

#PASSSummit day 1 keynote live blog

I’ll be updating this for the next hour or so…and done! This went FAST, and it was content intense. They went fast, and they needed a bit more storytelling….for people who aren’t native BI guys, for example, an awful lot of the demos and significance was lost, and the applause noticeably suffered.

Having said that, there were lots of demos- which is GREAT – and lots of technology, and very VERY little third party commercials. Great marks, there.

The Welcoming

Welcome to my  blog, where we’re (I’m) writing a blog live from the PASS Summit day 1 keynote blogger’s table! That means I have a name card and a table, which is nice. And that you get info from someone on the front lines (technically we’re in the center of the room, but still).  Let’s see what’s up this year.

Up first: Adam Jorgenson! This is PASS Summit’s 19th year. I’ve been coming nine years or so, so the more I attend, the more of an old timer I get to be!

This is being live streamed on PASS TV, and so will more content from the conference, which is (seriously) fantastic.

By the way, half of the fun of the keynote is watching the #PASSSummit hashtag on Twitter…just saying…

Adam’s talking up PASS, which really does facilitate a lot of really great networking and education. He’s also thanking past and present volunteers and board members.

Next up, keynote speaker Rohan Kumar – general manager for DB systems engineering at Microsoft.

Keynote speaker: Rohan Kumar

But first, a video!

Okay, Rohan’s up. “Data cloud and AI are three of the most disruptive technologies of our time….”

He mentions the quick release schedule of SQL Server 2016 and 2017. They’re working on keeping up with change fast. He’s going to jump into new features in a minute! This is what most of the nerds at the blogger table are waiting for…

The modern data estate is a hybrid model between on-prem and cloud databases. It’s really, REALLY huge that they recognized this publicly! Most of what we hear out of Microsoft is all cloud, all the time. He asked the audience to raise their hands if they felt they could move completely to cloud computing, and retire their data centers. Two people raised their hands. We have hundreds if not thousands of people in here.


Slide: “SQL Server 2017 on Linux, Docker, and Windows server.”

Conor Cunningham and Bob Ward are invited to the stage, and there are actual sighs of delight from the blogger table. We love an SSMS demo.

They’re going to show off “5x performance with no code changes”…using scalable persistent memory, “a diskless database server”. An SSD drive is also attached, as a sort of control.

The SSD run takes 15 seconds. He emphasizes his use of DROPCLEANBUFFERS, runs it against scalable persistent memory, and the query takes 2 seconds. It turns out he’s running against Linux. There are sounds of surprise from the audience.

Geez, he talks fast. Bottom line:  “SQL Server 2017 is 5x faster out of the box, with 50% storage costs.” <– This is about an HP product, if that wasn’t clear.

Now, automatic tuning

Bob: “Have you heard of parameter sniffing?”

Conor: “Yeah, I’ve heard of it, I think I named it”

They’re going to simulate the problem, which I won’t explain just now, but it causes stored procedure performance to tank (more or less) out of nowhere.

He’s running against a DMV, dm_db_tuning_recommendations.  Someone to the left of me is actually laughing delightedly. The thing gives, as you might guess, recommendations on how to fix the query.

I believe he’s running with automatic tuning. We see the query run, start to tank, and then performance picks up when the automatic tuning kicks in.

SQL Server 2017

Bob and Conor exit, Rohan returns. After some stats, “SQL Server is now the fastest database platform in the world, period.” I look forward to a closer look at those stats.

He’s talking about R, which I have not yet played with, but about which I hear nothing but wonderful things, seriously.

New features:

  • Support for graph data and queries
  • Advanced machine learning with R and Python
  • Native T-SQL scoring
  • Adaptive query processing and automatic plan correction

There are a good many more new features…I see “management studio monthly build on the slide”…but he’s not going into them just now. I hope someone snapped a picture of that slide.

Demo – Getting started with SQL Server on Linux containers

Tobias Ternstrom (principle group program manager) and Mihaela Blendea (sr program manager) now!

Setting up a new build. Container: “a packaged application with one ore more components, and SQL Server can [now] be one of those components.” It lets you set up your local environment fast and predictably.

They’re showing how to automate the process of packaging SQL Server within your app.

T: “Fancypants!”

Audience: *laughs*

She’s showing us the code for the build definition. It restores the production database, sanitizes and shrinks the database.

There’s more, but it’s not in my field and it went by FAST>

Announcing: MS SQL Operations Studio

Rohan is back, and he’s announcing SQL Operations Studio. “Free lightweight modern data operations tool for SQL Server”, which works cross platform on your database of choice. Kendra Little, next to me, is SUPER excited about this.

Also announcing special pricing (up to 30% off) for SQL Server on Linux and Red Hate Enterprise Linux.

Slide: “Optimize SQL Server workloads with Azure”. Looks like you can templatize a SQL instance…and we’re already past this again.

Cloudy cloud cloud

“Streamlining your journey to the cloud.” This is more on-message.

This is always touchy to some of us, because some of the message hints at “You don’t need DBAs/as many DBAs!” (Yes. You DO. You need DBAs for cloud databases, folks. /rant)

He’s spotlighting the path – hybrid on-prem and cloud, DB migration service, and Azure SQL Database – but the thing that’s jumping out at me is a note, “Maximize current on-premises license investments[new]”. It looks like they’re incentivizing on-prem and hybrid shops that are moving more to the cloud.

Azure SQL Database

“Focus on your business and we’ll take care of the rest.” See?

Here’s another slide I’d like a longer look at. Headlines include Intelligent DbaaS, Privacy nd trust, Seamless and compatible, Competitive TCO.


Demo with Danielle Dean

Danielle Dean, principal data scientist. “How we’re using Azure…and machine learning…”

There’s a hospital application open. Clicked on a button, and it came back instantly. It was machine learning behind the scenes apparently.

Now, ingesting tons of information into an Azure, 1.4 million rows/second.

Now looking at machine learning model.

Azure Data Factory, SSIS in Azure…

Rohan’s back, talking about the new Azure data factory.

SSIS in Azure has my attention. “Azure data factory  now provides a managed environment for SSIS execution”. … “Hourly pricing with no SQL Server license required.”

Let’s see Scott Currie, the creator of Biml! Biml is another tech I hear nothing but excellence about.

We’ve got some scripts here. Announcing that for Azure Data Factory v2, full support for First Class Elements for creating Azure Data Factory assets.

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Rohan again: “This is our flagship cloud data warehouse story.” Introducing Azure SQL Data Warehouse compute-optimized tier.

Demo: Julie Strauss, principal group PM. “Blazing fast analytics at petabyte scale with SQL Data Warehouse”

Will demo how this will significantly boost the performance of compute-intense queries. Users want fast UI, and the queries are extremely complex, and the data set is of course huge.

Query at hand has been generated by an app. Combines two analytical concepts, and so on. (In other words, this is a sufficiently complex query.)  Lots of data collected, transformed, and analyzed.

Executing query, came back in 6 seconds. That’s on 100 TB of data. Not bad at all. Julie: “If that’s not impressive, you’re going to have a hard time…”

Modern BI

Here we have more slides, often with more information than I can absorb. Simple slides are best, kids.


Demo with Christian Wade, sr program manager. “Insights at the speed of thought with Analysis Services”.

Data is the NY taxi model. He just dragged-and-dropped a marker for 10 billion roads, and got instant BI back. That really is quite impressive. “This is clickly-clicky, draggy-droppy data analysis” for massive data sets.

That really, really was an impressive freaking demo. Wow.

Announcing: the new scale out feature is generally available, allowing you to support 100,000s of users…

You can have several read only models of that huge data set, implemented as a simple slider bar (meaning if you  want 7 RO models instead of 5, just move the bar over 2 spaces). All load balanced and readily available. Cool.

Back to Rohan…

Power BI

Ricardo Muti from PowerBI team. “Power BI Premium” for on-prem, cloud, or hybrid.

I’ll tell you the truth, we’re getting a bit punch from the “drinking from the firehose” feeling of this keynote. Lots of demos, which we love. This was a nice quick demo of Power BI Report Server, putting a report together quickly over a ton of data.

Back to Rohan for the goodbye.

That’s it!

Real news, real tech.