Looking ahead to Microsoft Ignite 2016

This September and October is an exciting time for me. I am heading to the United States of America for the first time to attend the Microsoft Ignite conference. A first time major conference attendee, a first time Microsoft conference attendee and a first time visitor to the US. What's the worst that can happen? (famous last words…).

Background

I've followed various Microsoft conferences, via Channel 9 on MSDN, for a few years now. Every event now is videoed and uploaded to the site. It means that I can catch up on all the Ignite action while being able to watch in my own time. The only problem is that most of the content is the Powerpoint slide deck + audio in most cases, which unfortunately, doesn't do the sessions justice. You miss out on the human element and in a lot of cases the demo's.

To get a more immersive experience and to get up to speed on a number of Microsoft technologies, first hand, I asked Kloud if it was cool for me to attend this year. Thankfully I had a pretty good year in 2015 (achieving the highest billed consulting hours in NSW) and as a reward for the hard work, I'd be able to take the time off to go to Atlanta. Yes, working hard does result in recognition and reward.

It's my first time at a major conference. That's big. Having worked as a Microsoft centric consultant for 10 years now, attending either a regional conference (like Microsoft Ignite Australia or the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference) seemed to always elude me. Projects or life got in the way. This year the stars aligned and I'm heading to one of the larger conferences on the calendar.

It's not the first time Kloud has gone to the conference though. Every year at least two Kloudies head over to take up as much as possible and bring back awesome tidbits of knowledge. That knowledge sharing has some benefits as I've come across a number of great ideas for attending the conference. Some are no-brainers, but, some pro-tips I never thought of…

Pro-tips

What are some of the pro-tips and “hacks” to make conferences and traveling in general as smooth as butter:

  • Conference food
    • Included in the week-long conference pass is daily breakfast and lunch meals
    • Theres 25,000+ attendees though
    • That's a lot of mouths to feed and, you guessed it, long lines to get your food!
    • Thanks to Darren (@darrenjrobinson) who suggested:
      • Change your meal preference from the default to either a vegetarian, kosher or specialised meal
      • Still quality food, fewer people, fewer lines, made to order
  • Conference size
    • With 25,000+ attendees, there needs to be a lot of content to give them
    • Theres a huge area of halls, rooms and stalls to speak all things tech
    • To get around that will take time
    • Thanks again to Darren for:
      • Suggesting comfortable shoes are a must!!
      • Forget leather shoes or corporate wear
      • Smart casual and comfortable shoes as you'll be walking from one side of the pavilion/hall/conference to the other all day
      • Darren also mentioned the conference app to get the skinny on where you need to be and when
        • As of the time of this blog, there was no iOS or Android app out for 2016
        • The 2015 Windows Phone app was still available and could be updated for 2016
  • Sessions
    • Leading up to the event, Microsoft has published all the sessions on the MyIgnite site
    • There is a schedule builder that allows you to pre-screen all the sessions and select those you want to attend to
    • There's overlaps, but, incase sessions are full, I quickly know where others are that interest me
      • Only gripe is that although this personal schedule can be exported, it can't be exported and imported into a calendar
    • I've put mine together and shared it on Twitter:
  • At the conference
  • Travel
    • Earlier this year (last month) I spent 3 weeks in Europe
    • I did that by traveling light and only packing my onboard suitcase + my backpack
    • Lesson learned ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH ONBOARD!
      • Story time: A few days before we landed in Dubai in transit to Munich, there was a runway incident where there was a fire on a plane. It was nothing too serious and no one was injured. I guess if you don't count the hundreds or thousands of people stranded at the airport while they dealt with the issue as “not an injury”, then no one was “hurt”. The knock on effect was evident when we were there with many travelers stuck in the airport with nowhere to go. That resulted in backlog of flights, luggage, passengers, the works! Our flight, a few hours of layover later, proceeded on time and apparently with nothing wrong. It wasn't until we got into Munich that we heard on the plane's PA system “Ladies and gentleman, we wish to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this news may bring. With backlog at Dubai, a number of baggage items were not able to be loaded onto the plane. Please proceed to blah blah blah if your luggage is not at counter blah”. Luckily, I lied, cheated and stole my way to an argument victory and convinced Mrs Lucian to travel with onboard luggage only with me. To us, this luggage issue had no impact. We were cleared of customs in no time and on our way to our holiday. Lesson learned, onboard luggage is the way to go!
    • On another note, a great Bill Burr Thursday afternoon, just before Friday, Monday Morning Podcast episode about packing light
      • It goes for about a minute start of this episode
      • I was listening to it while in transit last month and laughed out loud a little too loudly and got some awkward stares
      • I recommend listening to it to reiterate my point on light travel
      • 1:57 to 2:30 is the part I'm referring too

https://soundcloud.com/themonday-morning-podcast/thursday-afternoon-monday-80#t=1:55

  • Airline food
    • Much like selecting a special meal at Ignite, selecting a special meal works on airlines
    • In my experience when I've selected a vegetarian meal (as usually meat is horrible on airlines), I've had great food
    • The other benefit is getting your meal first, well before everyone else
    • So much faster that I've had my entire meal before the people around me even got theirs
      • My meal preference is the vegetarian lacto-Ovo Meal (VLML)
      • This is a vegetarian meal that may also contain eggs and dairy products
      • It contains one or more of these ingredients: vegetables, fresh fruit, eggs, dairy products, and pulses. It does NOT contain any type of fish or meat.

Intentions

So I’ve put in 43 sessions to attend in my Ignite schedule. Yes, that is certainly biting off way more than I can chew. The logic is to have several options; I mentioned this earlier. There’s a lot of sessions and a lot of great topics. There’s going to be many booths and companies to chat to about all things tech and how that ties into Microsoft.

I’m particularly keen and interested in the latest on Azure and specifically Azure and containerisation. Advancements in connectivity to Azure, automation in Azure for workloads, security improvements, and new ways of management (Powershell on Mac- woohoo!).

Daily blog

During the conference I’m going to try and put up a daily blog and share some of the day, night and everything in between. I’m sure there will be a lot of cool new things being announced and a lot of interesting nuggets of information at the many sessions. Stay tuned…

Excited

If you couldn’t tell by the information overload in this blog post- I’m pretty excited. I’ve done my homework. I’ve made all the necessary arrangements to really enjoy Ignite.


Discussion 💬