Microsoft Ignite 2015

Microsoft ignite conference

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Microsoft Ignite 2015 Conference, Chicago USA

It was an action-packed week at the Microsoft Ignite conference attended by both Andrew Bettany and Chris Rhodes.

Chris Rhodes, Trainer and Microsoft MVP.

Last week saw Microsoft host their newest and biggest event named Ignite, in Chicago.
I’ve been to many tech conferences over the years, but this was big like no other. With 23,000 techies in town, Microsoft had the IT community in their hands to wow.

The keynote featured Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, and a host of other big name hitters including Joe Belfiore and Brad Anderson (I just had to get him to pose with one of our WUG mugs!)

Ignite and Chris with WUG mugWhat did I learn? Straight out on Monday morning we found out that a slew of new product releases are imminent, some with previews downloadable now in fact. These include SQL Server 2016, Windows Server 2016, Exchange 2016, Office 2016 and most intriguingly Azure Stack which allows companies to run Azure within their own data centre.

One thing that really wowed me was Nano Server. This is a cut down version of Server Core (which is in itself a cut down version of the regular full fat Windows Server). This looks really promising as a tiny footprint, small attack surface workhorse server OS that will mean even greater density virtualisation estates than today.

Part of me wonders if we will get any more releases of on-premises products like this in a couple of years as technologies such as Office 365 and Azure continue to gain traction in businesses large and small? In fact being able to now use full-on Azure technologies in your own data centre (through Azure Stack) certainly points that way as the future direction of where we are headed in this ‘Mobile First, Cloud First’ vision that Microsoft have now.

So much to learn, and I honestly thought we wouldn’t have much to chew on after the //Build conference the week before!


Andrew Bettany Microsoft MVP.

I think I understand Microsoft conferences – Finally!

Every new invention requires a showcase or, in Microsoft’s world a ‘keynote speech’.  Not just any keynote speech, but one which lasts three hours!

Keynote speech image16,000 Microsofties listened to the speech directly, whilst I and another 1,600 people were in the overflow room (a grand theatre located at the conference).  The conference total of 23,000 attendees had the chance to catch the stream of the keynote as it was beamed live around the show and worldwide via the web. The Keynote was interesting, full of hope, new opportunities and big innovations, but mostly it was about how Microsoft is trying to help everyone be more productive…

After two hours of the talk I had to head off to the Windows booth, located within the Grand Expo, which was to be my base for the five day conference. I passed queues lining up for the first sessions whilst on my way there.

I was one of the three Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) for Windows Deployment and I shuffled between my booth and the Windows Security booth next door.  I was very keen to understand the advances being engineered into W10, including security and anti-malware such as Device Guard, Windows Hello and the free upgrade options.  I even had a peek at the IoT device bar showcasing the Raspberry Pi 2 (loaded with a tiny version of Windows 10) which was pretty darn cool.

Ignite was huge, maybe too big, but I am a regular attendee at Microsoft conferences and I felt at home working the event to my benefit, networking with colleagues, product specialists and vendors.  The conference was a lively, exciting and busy with a chance to catch-up with old friends and make new acquaintances.
Microsoft ignite conference

One highlight of my week was when an attendee approached our booth and asked specifically about the new VSM (Virtual Secure Mode) that will helps secure corporate devices against malware.  As neither myself, nor my colleague had the answer to this very technical question we called over Nelly Porter the Principal Lead Program Manager from the Windows Core Security and Identity team.  She was able to fully explain how the VSM protected the system from Pass the Hash attacks at the AD/LSA level.  I later had the chance to chat with the attendee further, and found out that he is one of only a handful of Active Directory Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) in the world!

So what did I learn from Ignite?  Lots!  However, my overwhelming feeling about attending such conferences is that they give you a great sense of belonging.  Not only to the current world of I.T., but also a looking glass to the future world of what is coming around the corner with both new technology and clever software.
See you next year (hopefully).
Kind regards,