TechEd

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 Server 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!

 

Microsoft TechEd AU Split Up

An interesting official announcement for Microsoft TechEd. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m off to TechEd North America next week as press, and looking forward to an amazing event. In contrast, TechEd Australia has just been announced as being broken up from a single event into multiple cities here.

From the page:

For 20 years, TechEd has been hosted as one event at a single location.

This year that format will be changing. Microsoft is excited to announce, that in 2014 TechEd will be held in multiple cities, in order to increase the accessibility to Australia’s premium learning conference for technical professionals. This new approach will provide the opportunity for more people to benefit from the TechEd experience throughout the year.

TechEd 2014. Coming to a town near you.
Kicking off in Melbourne before being repeated in Sydney, these events will retain the quality of the TechEd brand by focussing on two days of deep technical training, access to experts and hands-on technology.

On twitter there are already some negative comments around this:

People are pretty upset. The clash with Europe is interesting – you’d have to think that some amazing speakers can’t attend both because of the conflict, but at the same time there should be enough great speakers for one of the biggest software companies in the world.

The event is also cut down to two days – previously it was 3 to 4 days. So will less time, there must be less content?

The other reason I think people are upset, is that it’s often their only big reward in the year. Going off to a nice location, catching up with all your fellow minded IT people and being swept up in the conference itself. That will change by splitting it into two events.

Brisbane/Gold Coast people may not be able to go because they’re used to being able to travel locally. Sydney and Melbourne people will most likely go to their local conference instead, which takes them less away from their work. Friends and contacts people have made and see each year may go to difference conferences.

There are some upsides though. Smaller companies that only have a few staff and can’t afford to send them all at the same time can now send them separately to each event, without people missing out. I think this is what they mean by the accessibility reasons, with most attendees coming from Melbourne and Sydney anyway.

Tickets should be cheaper too, less time should equal less money.

The other interesting side is how sponsors will take this. Will they spend less because they have to spread it over two events, with fewer attendees at each event?

Although there’s negativity now (which I completely understand), it will really depend on how the events go. Then it will be up to Microsoft to weigh each option, but as it is now they’re planning for more cities in 2015. Maybe it’s about getting more exposure, and getting more people onto the Microsoft Cloud?

Otherwise if you don’t like it, you could always go to TechEd New Zealand (TechEd North America is sold out!) 🙂

TechEd North America 2014

 

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I am really lucky this year to be going to Microsoft TechEd North America 2014, being hosted in Houston, Texas from 12th May to 15th May! Not only am I just attending, but I’ll be going as Press, representing The Register and We Break Tech.

I’ve been to TechEd Australia a few times and it’s a great experience, but this is a whole new level for me.

There will be over 10,000 people attending the single conference, a somewhat larger scale than the ~2500 that attend TechEd Australia.

To get there, I’ll have to fly Adelaide > Sydney > Dallas > Houston which will take about 24 hours, and to get back it’s Houston > Los Angeles > Melbourne > Adelaide. I’ll definitely be taking a few different gadgets and games to keep me entertained for that journey.

I don’t know what to expect exactly out of this experience. I’ll be doing writing of course, but there might be interviews, meeting and talking to world renowned experts/MVPs, mingling with Bill Gates and Satya Nadella… ok maybe not, but again I don’t really know what I’m in for!

My most similar experience was having HP fly me to Sydney for a day to cover the release of HP Converged Cloud on OpenStack technology which I live blogged and that was being thrown in the deep end – about 8 bloggers and 10 or so HP representatives there just to tell the 8 of us all a bunch of information.

Anyway, I realise this is a completely different scale and experience, and I’ll be one of hundreds of Press – but I do know this will be an awesome experience.

I’ll post some bits and pieces on here too, and I’m sure I’ll be constantly on twitter talking about my experience along with half the attendees.

Hoping to meet a bunch of new people and probably be way out of my comfort zone for the entire trip, but that’s what living is about! 🙂