On the MVP Summit...
Later today Christy and I leave Seattle. Our trek to my first MVP Summit was our first trip alone since Stevie Ray was born - and Stevie Ray turned five in February.
We won't wait that long again. We had fun! :)
Since this was my first MVP Summit I'm not sure how it compares with previous years. There was a lot of activity. There was the usual cool stuff that we cannot talk about without violating the Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) MVPs must sign in order to participate in Summit sessions, but it will be public knowledge soon enough. There were also live addresses by Ray Ozzie and Steve Ballmer, followed by Q&A with the attendees, which were both informative and entertaining.
What struck me most was the openness of the Microsoft Dev Teams in seeking our feedback.
I spent most of my feedback time with the SSIS Team and found them very interested in what SSIS developers had to say. I was admittedly skeptical when they initially told us they wanted our honest feedback, but they convinced me as I watched them interact with us individually and as a group - they literally kept at us until we dropped the pleasantries and told them the things they wanted to learn from us. The group included lots of people I admire in this industry; names you would recognize if you do ETL work or use SSIS at all; folks whose blogs and books help us all (sometimes daily!). I describe this group as a collection of very intelligent SSIS developers... plus me.
The exchange of information worked both ways. I have one large pet peeve about the product cycle (that I will not further define here). I was able to learn why things are the way they are, and it made sense to me.
This is indicative of my Why-in-the-world-did-they-do-it-like-this experiences using Microsoft products over the past couple decades: There was a reason. Critics will argue this reason is inferiority. Critics need to read the definition of "de facto standard," marketshare reports, and The Art of War (although I kind of hope they don't read either and continue blindly criticizing what they do not understand).
On Software Companies...
Microsoft, it turns out, is a software company after all.
So is Andy Leonard Technology, Inc.
Does Microsoft always get things right? No. Do I? No. Does either company make excuses? No - we improve it and move on.
Microsoft is not immune from the "gotchas" that plague our industry, they are simply criticized in proportion to their size in the industry. Since they are large, they are criticized heavily. From what I saw and heard this week, they respond to the criticism with the same vigor as they respond to the challenges of writing software that delights customers.
When attendees shared complaints and issues with the software, I did not see a "Crap! I was hoping no one would ever uncover that!" response. Instead, I saw a "Crap! How did we miss that in testing?" response.
In response to competition I witnessed acknowledgment, brutal honesty, and even humor.
For me, it was reaffirming.
On the SSIS Team...
Kudos to the SSIS Team for their work! Kudos for involving a lot of the people I admire in this field in discussions on their product and for inviting us to share what we really thought.
I depart Seattle believing the next version of SSIS will be better, faster, stronger. I leave with informed confidence in this team. I go with more friends than I had upon arrival.