Ignite 2019, Microsoft’s premier tech expo, brought together over 30,000 IT professionals for five days of in-depth presentations, sessions, networking, and even an adventure at Universal Studios, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. As someone that’s worked with MSFT technologies for over 20 years, it was such a treat to finally attend my first Ignite conference—I highly recommend checking one out. Read on for some highlights of Ignite 2019.

Hello from Microsoft Ignite 2019

With the wind clearly in his sails from Microsoft’s recent winning of the JEDI contact, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, delivered an energized keynote. Nadella elucidated a vision of “Tech Intensity” that set the tone of the conference. He defined and demonstrated it with an algorithm:

Tech Intensity = (Tech Adoption x Tech Capability) ^ Trust

Tech Adoption being the speed of integrating new tools and services into organizations.

Tech Capability being the freedom for users to use those new services.

Trust refers to your trust in Microsoft to enable and embrace this culture change of digital collaboration.

Nadella proceeded to highlight how new Microsoft products, like Azure Arc, Azure Synapse, and Visual Studio Online, helped fulfill that vision of Tech Intensity

It was also refreshing to hear (similar to Google Next 19’s keynote) that Microsoft acknowledges the multi-cloud aspirations of customers, and is ready to participate in the Cloud-agnostic movement.

At the BeyondTrust booth, I thoroughly chatting directly with potential customers on their Cloud journeys and how our leading privileged access management solution suite could help secure them.

Trevor Combs, Sr. Solutions Architect, chatting with customers at Booth #719

On November 5th, BeyondTrust along with our partners, Okta and McAfee, hosted a social event at Tin Roof. New friendships were formed over tasty prime rib and drinks, with some rocking live music! As an engineer, that often spends too much time head down in code, it was energizing to connect with these folks in a less formal setting, sharing BBQ recipes and arguing which city has the best local craft beer!

Our clever BeyondTrust swag - a beer koozie!

Back at the conference, the technical sessions covered a wide variety of exciting emerging topics, some of my favorites were:

  1. Figuring out Azure Functions: Frank Boucher, a MSFT Cloud Advocate, brought his unique energy to present the concepts of “serverless” computing, specifically using Azure Functions. He demonstrated how by developing your application leveraging serverless computing could help dramatically reduce your product’s consumption costs. It was awesome to see how easily he weaved in other technologies like Windows Terminal and Logic Apps to bring them all together.
  2. Azure Quantum: Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure provided a peak into the future of this powerful computing model, set to be a massive game changer in the mid-2020’s.
  3. Tales from a Site Reliability Engineer: This session, hosted by Niall Ferguson, global head of Microsoft SRE, was held in a small, intimate room of less than 30 people. The session focused on dissecting the emerging discipline and culture of site reliability engineering (SRE). We enthusiastically contrasted the differences between SRE to DevOps. In short, while DevOps focuses primarily on the delivery of the product, SRE is primarily focused on the reliability of that product. This session provided helpful tips on how to encourage adoption of SRE best practices and accelerate the culture change to have everyone across the development cycle building reliability into their products.

On a personal level, it was refreshing to see Microsoft had a big focus this year on diversity and inclusiveness, with many sessions dedicated to tackling a variety of challenging subjects. They are really living up to their “Cloud for all.” mantra by example and it gives me hope that we are globally headed towards more diverse and inclusive workplace.

While at Ignite, Microsoft actively solicited feedback from experts on its products. I participated in a focus group on ARM Templates--it’s nice to see they acknowledge some faults in the user experience and presented a variety of paths for future improvement.

One of the small perks of attending Ignite is that they offer Microsoft certification exams for free. Normally at a cost of $165 USD, attendees could take a risk-free leap. I took advantage of their 1-hour quick-review sessions to prepare and ended up writing two exams to achieve the Azure Solutions Architect Expert designation!

On Thursday evening, a few new friends and I jumped into an Uber to attend the Microsoft Ignite celebration at Universal Studios resort, where tens of thousands of conference-goers descended to scream in delight on all the rollercoasters. Getting to walk through theme parks like Diagon Alley (Harry Potter) to browse spell books, and Springfield (The Simpsons) to visit Moe’s bar was an amazingly immersive experience.

Microsoft Ignite takes over Universal Studios for the night

After walking over 70km attending 20 sessions, completing 2 exams, and meeting countless new friends, I have to say: What an unforgettable experience! I am looking forward to attending 2020, and I hope to see you there too.

Bye for now - See you at Ignite 2020