It's technically still summer for a few more weeks, but it's already starting to feel like fall with school back in session and all the trappings of seasonal change. Some folks look forward to the changing of the leaves, crisp fall afternoons spent playing football, and drinking cider around a fire. But of course, hard-core SQL Server professionals reading this newsletter are more interested and excited about the upcoming fall SQL Server conference season, right?

What, you're saying you've had other things on your mind all summer? Shame on you! There's still time to make your travel plans for one of the upcoming SQL Server conferences, with the 2007 PASS Community Summit and DevConnections being the two major SQL Server events as measured by the number of sessions and attendees. I've played, and continue to play, various roles in some of the SQL Server shows as a community leader, but I don't have a direct economic interest in any of the shows I'll be mentioning. In other words, I don't make any money if I convince you to attend an event. Personally, I think it's great for SQL Server professionals to attend at least one major non-Microsoft show per year. I'm not going to say "this is the show for you," but I do encourage you to go to one of the events if your schedule and finances enable you to.

PASS is right around the corner (September 18-21 in Denver). PASS is the largest SQL Server show by far in terms of the number of attendees, speakers, sessions, and the size of the tradeshow. It's hard to identify just one thing about PASS that's the most exciting, but I'm going to try anyway. I'll share some of the most exciting aspects of DevConnections in an upcoming commentary, as that event gets closer.

PASS always offers a lot of high-quality content, but I encourage you to attend the six sessions offered by the Microsoft SQL Server Development Customer Advisory Team (SQLCAT). Quoting from a recent PASS newsletter, " SQLCAT is the team within Microsoft that handles some of the most demanding SQL Server implementations in the world. The SQLCAT team is also part of the SQL Server development group actively participating in developing new SQL Server releases. The team is the authority on use patterns, user challenges, real-life high-availability and scalability requirements, and end-to-end use of all SQL Server components within the Microsoft development organization."

Most of the third-party "expert speakers" you'll see at PASS hold SQLCAT in high regard. I'm willing to bet that many of the SQLCAT sessions will be well attended by the speaker crowd as well as by other industry and community leaders. Getting the "experts" excited about attending sessions can be tough. Although SQLCAT might fall too short of the superhero bar to justify spandex and capes, it's awfully close. There isn't a track called "SQLCAT," and I'm not sure if the speakers' bios will directly mention their affiliation with SQLCAT. However, PASS tells me that all six SQLCAT session titles contain the words “using lessons learned from customer…” For more information about the SQLCAT sessions, go to https://www.sqlpass.org/summit/Lists/2007%20Summit%20Sessions/SQL%20CAT%20Sessions.aspx. Trust me, you won't want to miss the team's sessions. I'll be at PASS and I'm personally looking forward to the SQLCAT sessions, even if the speakers show up in spandex. Save me a seat.