After a busy week in Orlando, I am in full wind-down mode and recovering from the Ignite 2017 conference. The event itself was excellent, but there were many complaints about how far attendees had to walk between the West and South halls of the Orange County Conference Center. Some reported Fitbit step counts of over 40,000 for a day, which is a lot. Moving from the West hall, where many of the Office 365 sessions were located, to the expo area in the South hall, was a humid and hot trek, especially when the moving walkways and escalators broke (regretfully, a common occurrence).
The expo area was what you’d expect. Lots of ISV stands (Figure 1) and a massive Microsoft area, which was a good place to catch up with program managers and engineers.
My Ignite Sessions
In any case, my week was busy as I spoke at one breakout session (75 minutes – a recording is available online), two theater sessions in the expo hall (20 minutes each), and moderated a panel of Exchange MVPs for a question and answer session (here’s the recording). Moderate is possibly a bad word. Control might be better. In any case, it was fun.
Microsoft posts recordings of many sessions online to allow attendees who miss sessions and those who don’t attend Ignite to catch up with events (hint: use Michel de Rooij’s Ignite download PowerShell script to copy the sessions you want to review).
As always with conferences like Ignite, the best part of the event was the opportunity to meet people, including many of my MVP colleagues. Microsoft erected a wall listing the names of all the current MVPs and obviously this was a natural photo opportunity (Figure 1). Alan Byrne looks happier here than he did when interviewed by Brad Sams for the “Petri Dish.”
News from Ignite
However good a conference agenda is, there is no substitution for real-life conversations with industry contacts to get the pulse of what’s happening and what might happen. For those who are interested, I published 7 articles based on what I learned at Ignite on Petri.com.
From a news perspective, the most interesting are possibly the ones about Microsoft dropping plans to charge for inactive mailboxes and the transition of Skype for Business Online to Microsoft Teams. However, the news about how hybrid deployments of Exchange will soon be easier and the release of multi-geo support are strategic steps forward in the move to the cloud. And for those who want to stay on-premises, the news that Exchange 2019, SharePoint 2019, and Skype for Business 2019 are coming is welcome.
Podcasting at Ignite
Moving to the main topic of this post, Ignite features a really nicely-kitted out podcast center, overseen by Ally Reckerman with Julius Evans leading the production team. Paul Robichaux and I managed to book a slot for our “Office 365 Exposed” podcast and recorded the episode on Wednesday evening.
Christophe Fiessinger, a program manager for Office 365 Groups, came along to join the debate (Figure 2). He was a good sport, even if some of his answers marked him as having high potential for political office. I think the information that we shared was valuable and the in-studio audience seemed to appreciate it. The highlight for me was Paul’s analogy comparing mailboxes to children. You’ll have to listen to the recording to understand what I mean.
Video and audio recordings of the podcast are now available for your viewing and listening pleasure. The video is here and the audio is available through Paul’s “Down Home Page” or from iTunes, where you can find previous episodes. You’ll notice that the quality of this episode is much better , which is what happens when recording is in the hands of experts.
Flying with Paul
After finishing the “Ask the Exchange MVPs” session late on Thursday afternoon, I headed to Kissimmee Airport to fly with Paul Robichaux. We have wanted to fly together ever since Paul bought his plane and never quite managed to be together in the same place at the same time with the plane in easy reach. Paul took a number of other guests for a quick flight in the Orlando area before I got there.
Unfortunately, I arrived close to sunset (Figure 3). This wasn’t a problem for flying because Paul’s license allows him to fly for an hour past sunset, but it meant that photos from the plane were impossible, even with a Nikon D5 (think of 1/40 second exposure at f3.5 at ASA 8000 from a moving object). Despite flying over Walt Disney World, all I have are some memories and blurred photos.
Ignite 2018 will be in Orlando from September 24-28, 2018. If you are interested in attending the event, you might want to book hotel rooms or Airbnb now. You can also pre-register for the event now. There were 23,000 attendees at this year’s event and probably more will be in Orlando next September.
Home to Ireland
After the hectic week, it’s a pleasure to anticipate a leisurely return home to Ireland on the direct Aer Lingus flight to Dublin tonight. Next week will be hectic too because the Office 365 for IT Pros team will be working hard to generate an updated book including the news from Ignite.
Like after every conference, we have to be careful to separate information about features that will (or might) appear in a few months from the practical tips about what you can do today with Exchange Online, Teams, Groups, SharePoint Online, and the rest of the Office 365 ecosystem. The joy of working on an always-evolving eBook is that we can deal with change in a way that printed publications cannot. It’s a good place to be in.
Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.
Want to know more about how to manage Office 365? Find what you need to know in “Office 365 for IT Pros”, the most comprehensive eBook covering all aspects of Office 365. Available in PDF and EPUB formats (suitable for iBooks) or for Amazon Kindle.