Getting ready for Microsoft Ignite

The Ignite event remains essential for any enterprise with investment in Microsoft.

sparkler / firework / sparks / celebration / hands
Rui Silvestre (CC0)

Next week is Microsoft Ignite (disclosure: Microsoft is a client of the author) and a whole bunch of us are flying into Orlando on Sunday to spend the week with Microsoft. In anticipation of this sold out event, I thought I’d list my expectations for this event which is largely focused on enterprise customers. (You can stream many of the sessions if you want to attend this thing remotely. As an aside, I wonder when we’ll be able to attend events like with Mixed Reality?)

Let’s get to it. 

Push to the cloud

While I expect there will be sessions that cover the breadth of what Microsoft provides I also expect that most of the focus for this show will be on Azure and the cloud. Azure is Satya Nadella’s baby and he takes incredibly good care of it. With the coming of 5G, I’ve been expecting a big pivot from Microsoft toward even more comprehensive cloud services, and my expectation is that is exactly what we will see at the show. There is very little you can’t do in the cloud these days with the only limitations, at least when it comes to personal technology, being bandwidth. With 5G networks starting to get lit up in a few short months (2019 event), the ability to truly pivot to the cloud is near, and I’m looking forward to seeing just how far that pivot will be at Ignite.

While it may seem a tad early, given there is no 5G yet, companies like Microsoft tend to anticipate these advancements at shows like this. This is so that when they come all the elements are lined up to begin testing, and were it makes sense, deploying solutions based on the technology. This means they need a lot of lead time, and given the proximity to the roll out, I believe we are now in that window. 

It is particularly interesting that this is an almost back-to-the-future event because the age of mainframes, which preceded PCs, was all about centralized computing. We seem to be pivoting back to something similar as an industry. There is no doubt in my mind that computing will again be centralized by 2030; the question is how much sooner will this come to pass? I’m hoping this event will help answer that question. 

Microsoft Teams and collaboration

Looking at the top promoted sessions, one of the more interesting appears to be about Microsoft Teams. This is another huge area for advancement in the company and this will also likely be my first chance to see the new version of the Surface Hub. Teams is important for two reasons, one is there is a renewed focus on collaboration and both Teams and the Surface Hub are focused on that. But the other reason is that Microsoft lives or dies on collaboration both inside the company and with partners, so I know Microsoft Teams usage has been going up almost vertically. As a result, I’m hoping to hear less about the technology and more about how it is being used successfully at the event. With tools like this it is all about implementation and usage, and I expect there will be some interesting stories coming out of those that use these tools.

Networking and diversity

Shows like this are as much about making contacts as they are about taking classes (for certification) and attending keynotes. Microsoft has been pushing hard on diversity, and I’m interested in seeing the progress they have made in that regard. This is also a place where you can catch up with old friends and maybe make some new ones. Particularly useful for folks that are practitioners these things are a great place to locate people that have solved many of the problems you may be struggling with using the vendor’s (in this case Microsoft’s) offerings.

On the show floor you can often run into interesting new companies and products you may not see anyplace else, and there are always a few fun things to check out. On the topic of fun, it looks like they are going to Universal Studios this year as a reward for the attendees. This park is my favorite in the nation, and the new Harry Potter stuff is just amazing. But even here you can meet new contacts and friends, but watch the alcohol consumption because those Facebook posts could come back to haunt you this year.

Wrapping up

Microsoft Ignite remains one of the most important shows to attend if you are an enterprise with a significant investment in Microsoft. You can best monitor their pivot to the cloud and get a sense for what is coming before the changes surprise you and your team. But the real benefits remain with the contacts you make both with peers and with folks in Microsoft. This is because with all the changes going on with tech, we all need a little edge, and that edge may be that one person you meet that can provide the critical answer you’re looking for. 

If you are going to ignite and end up at Universal Studios, watch out for the Mummy Ride, it remains my favorite and make sure you hang on when you see the bugs. Safe travels!

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