TechEd North America – Half Way Mark

It’s now Wednesday 14th May, and we’re at the half way mark of TechEd North America 2014. This is my first TechEd outside of Australia, and it’s been an interesting experience. A lot of the following reflections will be due to my TechEd Australia exposure which gave me certain expectations.

For starters, the community is really a great group. Almost everyone is very courteous and respectful which is inviting and welcoming to someone who’s traveled here by themselves. It’s very easy to just start talking to someone, as everyone seems genuinely interested to find out more about others and have a chat. For example, as I was sitting writing this, someone mentioned that I should eat something as I hadn’t really eaten much of it. We had a quick chat about jetlag, and I thanked him for his concern.

I’ve been told it’s a sold out event, with about 11,000 people in attendance, which dwarf’s Australia’s 2000-3000 headcount. The venue itself, the Houston Convention Center is huge, along with all the areas inside. The general dining area looks bigger than a soccer field to me.

The Expo area is about as big, which contains all the vendors giving away shirts, pens and strange plastic items, while trying to convince you to know more about their products. The staff are quite nice too, not being too pushy. There’s also a yo-yo professional, a magician and probably other novelties that I’ve not seen yet.

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Many competitions are going on with the vendors too. One had a chance to go bowling with Steve Wozniak and I was standing next to him which was awesome. Sadly didn’t win the bowling part though:

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There’s a motorbike to win, countless Microsoft Surfaces, headphones and other bits and pieces that vendors are using to get the attendees to come visit.

Moving onto the keynote (which I liveblogged here), the focus was Mobile first, Cloud first. There wasn’t much noise from the crowd for the whole keynote, as most were probably coming to terms with having to start worrying about Azure now. Microsoft made it very clear that Azure was THE way now, not just an option.

The announcements of the keynote were all features for Azure. Good features which others have written about in detail, but no new products or services. Not even a mention of the upcoming Surface 3 and Surface mini. No mention of Nokia either, but there was an iPad on stage to show off some Microsoft technologies. Times have changed!

There’s hundreds of sessions going on every day, so we’re rather spoilt for choice. I’ve only been to a few and expecting to focus on that more today, but they’re a bit part of what makes up TechEd and so far have been very informative. The 1 hour and 15 minute format means they don’t go on for too long, but don’t feel rushed.

Microsoft also decided to make one exam free to all attendees – the 70-409┬áServer Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center. I decided to take it and passed, which was a nice bonus.

Vendor parties make up all the non-TechEd times and there’s many going on at once – again spoilt for choice. It’s another great way to meet others and find out what’s going on for other IT professionals, while sampling the local food and beverages.

There hasn’t been a huge buzz from attendees, but everyone is still happy to be here. It’s been a good two days so far, and I’m looking forward to the next two!

 

Originally posted at WeBreakTech

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