I'm not only going as a participant, but a small group of us will be there representing EMC, one of Microsoft's partners for the event. Rich Millman, my current MC, will be on some speaking panel and a couple of us will be manning a booth on the floor.
As there were only 4 of us in the group at INS Piscataway that have played around with and read up on SQL Server 2005, I was invited into a brainstorming session on what type of demo that we could put together that would draw people in and hopefully get some new contacts.
My first thought was to create a failover cluster using 4 spare PCs that we had. Not that it's a great demo of the new features of SQL Server 2005, but I figured that it would draw people's attention and since most developers probably very rarely interact with failover clusters. It would have been cool to let people walk up and plug/unplug indivitual nodes and watch it failover automatically. Alas, we didn't have any spare hardware sitting around to build the disk array and it was probably too late to borrow anything from EMC.
My second idea was a little better. Even though database mirroring isn't officially supported in this release of SQL Server 2005, I figured it would be cool to demonstrate it as it's much more likely to be used than failover clustering due to the low cost of implementation. And so, myself and Igor went about building a demo setup for database mirroring.
One of the first challenges we had to overcome was to figure out why it's not officially supported in this release. Obviously, it would have sucked to spend hours working on the architecture and UI only to realize that mirroring was buggy and unstable. After some research, it turns out that the primary reason for not supporting it in this release is because of the fact that Microsoft couldn't find enough beta testers to fully test the new feature. With that in mind, we decided we could probably pull it off and Igor and I started to dig in.
It's actually fairly cool and takes advantage of a lot of the new features of the 2005 suite. The UI is an ASP.Net application that utilizes Atlas to retrieve data from a web service. Another web service was written to interact with the host machine services to stop and start the individual SQL Server instances. Very cool. I'm hoping I can talk them into letting me post the code and walkthrough here for anyone that wants to try to set up mirroing.
So if you're going to be in Philly at the launch event, look for INS there! The demo is very cool.