The SQL PASS Summit 2008 in Seattle feels as homey and friendly as a gathering in convention center can be. It's great to be surrounded by folks who are passionate about SQL Server and who come together to learn as much as they can about it. There are over 150 technical sessions this year; PASS spokesperson Anna Vue says this has grown 34% compared with last year.

Interestingly, in a sputtering economy attendance at this year's Summit is higher than last year's. There are around 3588 summit registrations this year compared with about 2260 last year. Vue notes that 1000 SQL fans are coming to their first Summit. Bill Graziano, of the SQL PASS board, speculates that when times are hard, professionals want to brush up on their skills so they can do better in their current job or else be competitive when they move to the next one.

Here's what Vue says is new for the Summit this year:

  • A full track of 15 SQLCAT sessions
  • The Microsoft Customer Service and Support (CSS) First Aid Station
  • SQL Server Heroes Unite evening event
  • Onsite Microsoft Certification Center, including 100 free certification exams
  • 300 Elite SQL Server developers and program managers from Microsoft present to answer questions

To learn more about the SQL PASS organization, check out their website at www.sqlpass.org.