PASS Summit 2015 is nearly upon us. With less than three weeks until the big event, the SQL Server team caught up with Denise McInerney, PASS VP of Marketing, about the world’s largest gathering of SQL Server and BI professionals.

Can you tell us in a few short sentences what PASS Summit 2015 is and why people should be excited to attend this year?

DM: PASS Summit 2015 is three days of networking, professional development, technical sessions and fun! Every year I attend I’m still amazed to see this huge global SQL community come together in Seattle for the world’s biggest SQL Server event, to share ideas, develop their careers, expand their professional networks, and stay at the forefront of technical advances. Last year, PASS Summit saw over 5,000 attendees, so it really is the biggest event on the global SQL Server calendar.

How will this year’s Summit be different to previous years?

We’re very excited about the new Microsoft Foundation sessions. These are in-depth sessions from Microsoft leaders that delve into new features and products, and detail leading technologies. The sessions will cover Advanced Analytics, Big Data and Data Warehousing, Business Intelligence, and Designing Modern Applications on Azure.

Can you detail some of the event highlights that will take place?

T.K. ‘Ranga’ Rengarajan, Corporate Vice President – Data Platform, Cloud & Enterprise, Microsoft, will open PASS Summit 2015 with the keynote “Accelerating your Business with a Modern Data Strategy”, which will focus on how data professionals can use the next-generation SQL Server to maximize data platforms and manage data to better predict outcomes.

On day two, Microsoft Keynote presenters David DeWitt, Technical Fellow and Rimma Nehme, Principal Research Engineer, both of Microsoft Jim Gray Systems Lab, will present “Data Management for Internet of Things”.

Another highlight will be the Women in Technology Luncheon, which always proves to be very popular. This year, Angie Chang, Vice President – Strategic Partnerships, Hackbright Academy, will detail how Hackbright Academy, the leading engineering school for women, is working to increase female representation in the technology sector through education, mentorship and community.

Are there any particular themes in the sessions this year, any key topics that are being covered that you’d like to highlight to attendees or those still considering attending?

As with previous years, there are a number of sessions that discuss transitioning to the cloud, Microsoft Azure and other leading technologies. There are also sessions on new features and advanced technologies in SQL Server 2016. There are 10-minute Lightning Talks, 75-minute General Sessions, three-hour Half-Day Sessions, and full-day pre-conference workshops. With more than 220 technical sessions on offer, there is literally something at PASS Summit for all data professionals, from beginners to those more advanced in their careers.

You mentioned beginners. What will this year include for first-time attendees?

The First-Timers Program includes an orientation meeting and a fun speed networking session. This is a similar concept to speed-dating, except attendees will use it as an opportunity to network with their peers and further develop professional relationships.

In addition, in our Get to Know Your Community sessions, longtime PASS members share how to get involved with PASS and the worldwide SQL community, including encouraging those new to PASS to connect with their local SQL Server communities through PASS Chapters. First-timers can also continue their learning through Virtual Chapters, SQLSaturdays and other free professional development opportunities.

What practical technical skills development will be available?

As with previous years, attendees will also get the opportunity to work through technical issues with top Microsoft technical support staff and get architectural guidance from the Azure CAT, SQL CAT, and CSS teams at the Azure CAT & CSS Clinic.

What is one piece of feedback you’d give to attendees this year?

Take advantage of all the learning and networking opportunities we have available and if you want a deeper dive or more intensive training in a particular area, consider adding a day or two of the Pre-Conference sessions to your schedule, go to one of the Microsoft workshops, and visit the SQL Server Clinic.

Where can you register for PASS Summit?

To register, just go to Register Now – and remember to take advantage of the $150 discount code from your local or Virtual PASS Chapter. We also have a great group discount for companies sending five or more employees. And don’t forget to purchase the session recordings for year-round learning on all aspects of SQL Server.

Once you get a taste for the learning and networking waiting for you at PASS Summit, we invite you to join the conversation by following us on Twitter (watch the #sqlpass #summit15 hashtags) and joining our Facebook and LinkedIn groups. We’re looking forward to an amazing event, and can’t wait to see everyone there!

Please stay tuned for regular updates and highlights on Microsoft and PASS activities planned for this year’s conference.