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Highlights of Microsoft TechEd New Zealand 2013 (Part I)

We’ve been reporting back on our TechEd highlights and exploits each year since the Intergen Blog began (for the historians amongst you – see 2008, 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; 2012), and this year is no different. The only difference now is that, with the number of Intergenites that descended on New Zealand’s preeminent annual tech event  this year – at last count: 27 delegates, five speakers, one video star, and a cast of supporters in The Hub – we can’t possibly contain our highlights to a single blog.

Intergen Group Photo

Our team at Microsoft TechEd New Zealand 2013

Here’s the first in a series of highlights posts, where our Intergenites share what they learned, what they loved and the memories they’ll take away with them. 

Steve Frampton

As usual, TechEd was a spectacle that really has to be seen to believe the scope of the event and its impact on the IT community.  This year there was a major push around all things Azure, and although that was not my focus this time round it showed Microsoft's dedication and belief in that technology space.  Seeing Intergen in the keynote for Signal was great , helping to bring this piece of software to the attention of a wider range of IT professionals.  It was also a nice surprise to see Intergen mentioned in one of the sessions in regards to the Microsoft StockTrader sample application .

A streamlined Hub area made it far easier to run into plenty of clients and enjoy discussions that did not revolve around work.  With some great sessions on .NET development, architecture, and Windows 8, I came away with a few more things to investigate in more depth.  Also a great Surface RT delegate deal was too good an opportunity to pass up, and it was amazing to see the number of people heading out to grab a tablet to go with their TechEd tablet bag.  I suppose the only downside of having this number of IT professionals in one place was that there simply weren’t enough mains points for everyone to charge all their devices at once!

Microsoft TechEd New Zealand 2013 Hub

A general view of the TechEd Hub

Roanne Steele

My top three highlights:

1. Making Agile Estimation Work and the Agile Buffet Table

My favourite sessions of the entire TechEd was the Agile presentations with Steven Forte. He is an American version of our own Chris Auld . Totally passionate about technology and makes you want to be a better technology person. John Bistowe and Duncan (no last name) played the straight guys, showing Steven how typing worked and keeping him on the straight and narrow. Highlights:

  • XP is so OVER. You might not know all of it, but you are doing it every day of your life. Revolutionary 15 years ago, now this is the basic standard.
  • Scrum: this is the “now”. We are finding the issues and working around them. This is the new standard.
  • Kanban: the future. Start heading there NOW.

You have to pick from the agile buffet to get the system that works for the company, the project and the team. You can’t have a plate of bacon EVERY time you go to the buffet.

2. Modernising Legacy Software Assets

Great talk by Chris Jackson about changing the language around legacy software assets. There are lots of legacy applications still clinging on out there in the real world. VB6 still has a huge market share with Microsoft confirming the runtime will be supported in Windows 8; pushing the timeframe for existing applications out until 2023. How do you continue to support the application lifecycle of these systems? Finding people with the skills and knowledge becomes harder. As clients modernise these assets, the pool of solutions using the support team shrinks rapidly. The cost allocation to each system increases exponentially. Lift and Shift or modernise using the new technologies?  Ask yourself: is this system still actually business-critical or are other applications doing the same task?

3. Lync

I went to a number of great sessions on Enterprise Voice with Lync and discovered the secrets of using Lync for all your communications - basically replacing the PBX. Cool features like allowing external phones to call your Lync session and your cellphone at the same time, spoofing your phone number if you use Lync to make an external call to a phone and doing it all with high availability.

And the coolest thing: Lync 2013 has a new feature synchronising with your calendar to show your meetings in the Lync client. If you have an Online Meeting, it will show up allowing you to simply click on the meeting in the Lync Meeting list; connecting you to the meeting. So you no longer have to open up your calendar in meeting rooms to connect to an Online Meeting. Absolute Genius.

Lync 2013

You can get the Lync 2013 client on your new Surface RT tablet through the Windows 8 store.

Angela Gilbert

It was great getting back to my developer roots at TechEd 2013. Admittedly as time goes by in my CRM Consultant role, the development roots are getting murkier through the veil of time. But some things never change, and the excitement at learning new things never fails to bring back the passion. Being surrounded by like-minded people is a wonderful environment to immerse yourself in for a few days and get revitalised.

It was fortunate for me as a CRM Consultant that I do have development roots, because there was only one session with a CRM component to it and that was touted as a Ninja Javascript session. The rest of the sessions I attended had me hooked back into the wonderful world of coding once more. I even attended some Azure sessions and one with SCOM where I was out of my depth in the infrastructure world but fascinated by the monitoring options available these days.  My impression of the infrastructure world is still one of mainly making sacrifices to the correct gods and goddesses and peering at tea leaves. Perhaps SCOM can go a long way to making it less reactive and fix things before users realise.  Anyhow, it was interesting.

Back to the sole CRM session.  Gayan was the presenter and someone I have known for a few years. He was excited at sharing some CRM goodness with us. The room filled up nicely and we heard the news that the Non-Disclosure Agreement on CRM 2013 had just been lifted a few days earlier and Gayan had permission to sneak a few peeks at CRM2013 into his session.  But first we got to see his exciting Javascript slides and demos.

I got my first look at Typescript.  A common library in our CRM development world is jQuery. But Gayan was pushing for more of us to embrace Typescript.  One of the major benefits to my mind seemed to be the stronger typing, which can always help in finding issues before they get buried in a mire of weakly typed lines.

Next up, Gayan showed us a new JavaScript SDK he has been helping build on CodePlex. http://xrmsdkjs.codeplex.com  It is $Xrm and was full of useful utilities and although Gayan said we could add to it (being open source) or request an addition, I bet it is pretty comprehensive already!  One of the beauties of the new syntax is it mimics the .Net syntax very closely. Awesome for reducing the learning curve for new developers to CRM.  I like the idea and I’d like to hear what others think about it.  I am involved in the Dynamics User Group here in Wellington, so I think that is a perfect forum for discussing people’s thoughts on that over the next few months.

Then we got onto the CRM2013 sneak peek. What an amazing product CRM2013 looks to be.  Microsoft have listened to the CRM community and built in quite a few things into it that we have been asking for.  Gayan showed us some nice new client-side changes that will make our lives a bit easier.  We had a demo of the real-time workflows. That looks to be an interesting option – a synchronous workflow! We also took a closer look at Custom Actions and Entity Images in another demo.  And this was just a taste of the changes ahead in CRM 2013.  It’s an exciting time in Microsoft Dynamics CRM land. Can’t wait!

We’ll be back next week with the next instalment of TechEd highlights.

Posted by: Katy Sweetman, Marketing Director, Empired Group | 20 September 2013

Tags: TechEd, Microsoft

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