This is probably the biggest technical conference of the year with almost 30k people from all over the world attending throughout the week. Over the next few days I will be blogging about my experiences and takeaways from each day as well as giving you insights into the new announcements made by Microsoft this week.
My personal Conference experience started on Sunday morning as the registration and ‘Swag’ pickup was open at the conference location which is the Orange County Convention centre. Microsoft have done a great job of making this as painless as possible by not only allowing you to do this at the event location but also at the baggage claim at Orlando International Airport! As mentioned there was also ‘Swag’ pickup but this was only possible from the venue and there was some great items including a rucksack, water bottle and t-shirt!
Today (Monday) I decided to get up early (or so I thought) and arrived at the venue for 7:30 to queue up for the Vision and Tech keynotes. I was surprised to find how busy it was already with massive queues for all keynote areas, however I was lucky enough to get a seat in the Security Technical Keynote where there was also a live feed to the Vision Keynote. There were many other places around the venue you could watch the keynotes as well so this made sure no one missed out!
Before the keynote started there was an interactive game of Jeopardy but based around Microsoft Security (I believe the three keynote theatres had a different subject). For me this was a great starter before the main keynote, as it was engaging the crowd as well as an opportunity to learn!
At around 9am it was finally time for the Vision Keynote by Microsoft CEO Satay Nadella. The ‘buzz phrase’ or theme of the keynote was ‘Tech Intensity’ which was described as ‘tech adoption x tech capability to the power of trust (Tech Intensity = (tech adoption x tech capability) ^ trust). After a short introduction the topic changed to the Azure Stack including Azure stack hub and hci, but rather than go into detail or show a short video which is more common with Keynotes, Satay handed over to colleague on the ‘shop floor’ (which was basically the main hub) to showcase some of the stack and HCI products. As you will see this was a regular theme of this vision keynote and kept the flow session and interest of the crowd.
One of the first new announcements was Azure Arc which is a service for customers who want to simplify distributed and complex environments across on- premises, edge, and multi-cloud. It allows deployment of Azure Services anywhere and extends management to any Infrastructure. For me this is really geared towards enterprise customers who have infrastructure not only in their data centres but also multiple cloud environments and need a better way to manage this. For more information on this take a look at the following link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-services-now-run-anywhere-with-new-hybrid-capabilities-announcing-azure-arc/
This was quickly followed by the next new announcement: Azure Synapse is a limitless analytics service that brings together enterprise data warehousing and big data analytics. As before there was another live demo to showcase this new service, however what I didn’t like in this was the negativity towards there competitors. I have seen it before where vendors try to promote there new product by belittling the main rivals similar products, and it was the case here. The demo and service look really impressive so I felt it didn’t need to do this. Vendors should be confident in there own product enough so they don’t have to bad mouth the competition. For more details around this new service, have a look at the following link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/simply-unmatched-truly-limitless-announcing-azure-synapse-analytics/
The next interesting announcement (or at least the first time I have heard of it) was ‘Project Silica’ which is developing the first ever storage technology designed and built from the media up for the cloud. For more information on this, take a look at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/project/project-silica/ .
The new service announcements did not stop there, the next being Azure Quantum. This is a diverse set of Quantum services ranging from pre-built solutions to software and quantum hardware. For further insight into this new service take a look at this link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/quantum/
One of the more notable and interesting announcements for me was the new Microsoft Edge Chromium browser, which utilises Bing search facilities along with Edge services for a new enhanced browser which is more secure and allows you to search not only the web but your internal Intranet. Again there was a really interesting demo which highlighted all the key concepts and features which was really impressive.
The Vision Keynote finished with a game of the new ‘Minecraft Earth’ game which was very entertaining and a fun way to finish the session. The next keynotes were all based around technologies and you had the choice of Applications, Infrastructure, Data and AI with Jason Zander, Modern Workplace with Jared Spataro, Security with Kirk Koenigsbauer and Business Apps with James Philips. I decided to sit in on the Security keynote which was a good choice it turned out! Similar to the Vision Keynote it was a mixture of talking and live demos which kept it really engaging!
In the keynote it discussed Zero trust which is a combination of ‘verify explicitly’, ‘least privileged access’ and ‘minimise impact of breaches’. Some of the live demos included the new Insider Risk management in Microsoft 365 which protects you from internal risks and breaches and Azure Sentinel which is a birds eye view of your enterprise which sees and stops threats before they can cause harm ( https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/azure-sentinel/).
The various keynotes took up most of the morning, so after lunch I decided to take a walk around the ‘HUB’ area. I decided not to book too many sessions on the first day as it is easy to get overwhelmed at these events, so I spent a few hours going round the various vendor booths including Netapp, Veeam and Lenovo.The one session I did book for the end of the day was ‘Exam prep for the AZ-300’ exam which is something I am looking to complete early next year
Shabaz Darr is a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Concorde Technology Group in the UK. Shabaz’s primary responsibility is providing technical expert knowledge in both Cloud and Security to Concorde’s customers and partners. As an avid techie, Shabaz enjoys learning and working with new technology and can be found on twitter at @ShabazDarr https://www.linkedin.com/in/shabaz-darr-900b8361/ https://twitter.com/ShabazDarr