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Highlights from the Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016

Twenty Intergenites attended the Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016 from 25-28th October in Auckland and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here are some of their greatest highlights.

Highlights from Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016

James Tunnell – Practice Lead, Enterprise Productivity WLG

The highlight for me was one of the keynote speakers, Dona Sarkar.  Dona Sarkar is the head of the Windows Insider Program at Microsoft and she spoke about “breaking the rules” and “hustling the humans” in order to get innovation and change happening. 

“We have to let go of this idea of following rules, rules are somebody else’s opinion. You don’t need permission to improve your business.”

“We have to break the cycle, our days have gone binary and that is not why we got into this industry. We’re not here to figure out what’s next and jump on the wave, hell no. We’re here to invent the wave.” 

Priyanka Roy – Practice Lead, Data Insights WLG

Four days of inspiring conversations, learning and fun is how I would summarize Microsoft Ignite NZ 2016 held at Sky City, Auckland. The event is the biggest gathering of tech enthusiasts wanting to learn how to solve problems smarter and faster.

For me, the most exciting part of any tech event is the keynote as it sets the tone for what to expect in the next few days. With the best and brightest minds from the tech industry from NZ and USA presenting, the keynote had live demos on the topics I am most passionate about – Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Internet of Things and Bots. It also had real life experiences from business leaders who described how they are helping change lives of people using technology. One of the wow moments of the keynote was, a Cognitive Face API accurately detecting a man wearing a Dracula mask – talk about keeping the Halloween theme alive!

A lunch session on Women in Technology, focusing on encouraging more women to join, stay, and achieve highly in the tech industry was another highlight of the event for me.  I enjoyed hearing about career experiences of women leaders from Datacom, ICE Professionals and Microsoft.  It was also refreshing to see that the session had a sizeable male audience!

The Ignite party was also something to look forward to. With around 2500 people attending and a live performance from the band, Shapeshifters the party was good fun. In the end, getting an opportunity to meet new people from the industry and bonding with my fellow Intergenites at the Ignite party was a rewarding experience.

Jonathan Burch – Developer, Modern Apps CHC

Ignite this year was showing off some really cool stuff for programmers, like myself. I found myself engrossed, the entire time, in the many subjects covered like the Bot Framework, Cognitive Services, Roslyn, Microsoft Graph, and .Net Core. If you want a taste of these technologies I would recommend jumping on Skype (not for business) and adding the “Your Face” bot. This is a bot that was made using the Bot Framework and the Cognitive Services, it will take a photo from you and tell you the age, gender and mood of the people in the photo, it’s fun and using the technologies involved you could make one too as a developer. Aside from the techy stuff it was really great seeing the people in our field that stand up the front and tell us what’s exciting right now, all while we ate some pretty spectacular food from SkyCity.

Gavin Barron – Solution Architect, Modern Apps SEATTLE

Wow, what a week! It was a real blast to present my sessions on the SharePoint Framework and the Microsoft Graph to a kiwi crowd. Highlights for me included seeing a wealth of content on the DevOps front, some fantastic security focused sessions, and Ivan Towlson’s, @ppog_penguin, session on property based testing which looks to be another useful tool to add our QA suite. Now more than ever Microsoft is helping organisations do more with less by embracing the cloud in the ways that make sense for them.

Marcus Griffin – Cloud Services Architect, Cloud Solutions WLG

Ignite this year spanned an excellent range of topics with something for everyone. We heard some excellent speakers talking about DevOps, rapid development and self-organising teams and how Microsoft is applying these techniques internally.

I spent a significant amount of time in breakout sessions listening to senior Microsoft personnel describe how Microsoft is driving for a security first approach to their delivery of Cloud services. Follow on sessions included discussions around Tiered Security Zones and Roles through to Privileged Access Workstations (PAWs) and Mobile Application Management

This year Microsoft NZ continued the trend of running a session track that focused on personal and professional development, these sessions regularly filled the Sky City Theatre and I would recommend catching up on any sessions via https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/New-Zealand-2016

Brendon Coombes – Developer, Modern Apps DUD

I thoroughly enjoyed the diversity of the sessions at Ignite. Some of the non-technical sessions were amazing; “Being your Authentic Self” was a real standout, and the security sessions by Kirk Jackson and Andy Prow were also standouts. The content that stood out the most however were the sessions on the “Bot Framework” and “Microsoft Cognitive Services”. These sessions were the ones that got me excited about using the technology, and learning the massive capabilities of them set my imagination alight. I have already started using the Bot Framework on a personal project and I am finding it really useful so far. I am really looking forward to using these services on a project where we can really deliver extra value for the client.

I had never been to an Ignite or Tech-Ed before; and the most eye-opening discovery was that all of the presenters were answering questions and talking to us about the future of these services well into the night, after the day’s sessions had ended. It was great to hear the stories of how they were currently being used, the planned uses for them, and how they are going to be improved in the future. You could feel the passion they had for the technology and that resonated with me enormously.

The best thing about the entire conference was getting to meet people in person. I had read the presenters blogs, followed them on social media, and had chatted with a couple of them on Skype before, but had never met them in person. I hit it off with a couple of the presenters that I had not heard of before the conference and got great insight into what it is like to build Microsoft products. It wasn’t just the presenters that I was excited about meeting; I got to meet Intergenites from other offices that I had never had the privilege of working with before. I met clients that I have worked with that I had never met in person before. Getting to know these people on a personal level was a brilliant experience.

Vanita Parbhu – Infrastructure Consultant, CD&I WLG

This year, I had the privilege of not only attending Ignite, but also presenting. It was an honour to represent Intergen on the stage with ex-Intergenite Andrew Kosmadakis. The highlight for me, after the presentation was done and dusted, was attending both technical and non-technical sessions. The functionality of the Microsoft product set is mind-blowing. Getting to know the rest of the Intergen Team was at Ignite was also a highlight. We are very lucky to work with a great bunch of people!

Opender Singh – Junior Developer, Modern Apps AKL

Ignite 2016 was the best yet! An exciting keynote with quick-fire sessions on all the new tech, plus a longer talk by Dona Sarkar which is one to watch again and again. The sessions were pretty impressive too with a lot of conditioned speakers from Redmond, but also the local talent. A particular session that stood out for me was one on Azure Machine Learning by Jennifer Marsman (https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/New-Zealand-2016/M216). She built a model using data from Titanic passengers to see if there were connections between age, gender, ticket type and whether or not they survived. She built this model with a confidence of over 80% from raw data and demonstrated how you can too without a background in the topic.

This conference also had a bigger focus on personal development, and was not entirely focussed on technology but more so on a career in this industry. Speakers like Dr. Harold Hillman and Mel Rowsell were rocking that boat and opening eyes non stop - definitely ones to watch on Channel 9! My biggest highlight though, was the opportunity to own the Ignite NZ stage myself for the first time, with a session on Load Testing (https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/New-Zealand-2016/M379). Looking forward to Ignite 2017, and also jumping on stage again!

Jonathan Cairns – Developer, Modern Apps AKL

I had an awesome experience learning about all the latest and greatest Microsoft has to offer. VSTS has made monumental steps towards becoming a great toolkit to assist developers in providing quality output at an extremely fast pace. VSTS provides seamless integration between all different aspects of a project: task management, source control, CI, testing, CD across a wide range of platforms… and all for free! Donovan Brown gave a great talk and actually challenged the attendees to give him a language to build and release through VSTS. It can handle any target platform – mac, linux, windows, phone and is massively extensible with an easy to use interface. It was refreshing to know that Intergen are keeping up with the whole DevOps push and are already using a lot of the features and workflows in VSTS.

Notes: VSTS -> Visual Studio Team Services, CI -> Continuous Integration, CD -> Continuous Deployment, DevOps -> is a culture, movement or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other information-technology (IT) professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.

Jacques Marais – Developer, Modern Apps AKL

The highlight for me at Ignite 2016 was the drive behind DevOps. I attended an inspiring session by Donovan Brown (DevOps Senior Program Manager at Microsoft) and Thomas Dohmke (Founder of HockeyApp and Principle Program Manager at Microsoft). They discussed in depth how you can use the Microsoft tool set to perform your DevOps for your mobile application. From planning to delivery, to testing and then finally support and monitoring. After the session we had a chance to meet them in person and they were more than eager to answer any questions we had. It is great to know that we at Intergen get a chance to meet the professionals of our industry, learn from them and doing so provide our clients with more value.

Scott Marshall – Senior Infrastructure Engineer, Cloud Platfom Services 

Ignite 2016 was a great experience, the technical sessions regarding Azure and integration with on prem private cloud platforms were very relevant to the direction that CPS and Intergen are taking with our cloud offerings. The personal development sessions were also very good, serving to break up the technical sessions as well as discussing issues many individuals face working in the IT industry.

Daryl Green – Senior Consultant, CD&I WLG

My first Ignite experience was great.  The technical sessions provided valuable insights into where MS is heading with its latest systems and were great to attend (especially our very own, Vanita’s session!)  The business, culture and soft skills sessions were most enjoyable for me.  Chris Cunningham’s tale of the NZ Fire Service’s systems overhaul was entertaining as well as informative – the challenge of getting the front line staff on side with the IT department would have rung true for many of the attendees. 

As a man at the Women in IT lunch session, I found it useful to hear the experiences of my female peers which really highlighted some of the hurdles they face… and that when we manage to overcome these hurdles together and find equality, then we’ll all be working better.  Dr Harold Hillman’s session on being your authentic self was excellent… he is a great speaker.  His story and his message were positive and inspirational.  He called on everyone to not hold any part of themselves back, to put themselves out there and be vulnerable… and to empower others to do the same.  

Of course, a major highlight was getting the chance to socialise with my Intergen brethren and their people… good people, good food and good times.

Aidan Copps – Junior Infrastructure Engineer, Cloud Platform Services

The highlight of Ignite for me was hearing from the experts in the IT industry about the latest approach to security and being able to bring that back and share with my team. The information about new security features for enterprises will be invaluable as we look to improve both our own and our clients’ solutions. It was also really awesome to see real life examples of cool new technologies like Hololens and Azure Machine Learning and how they can be applied to everyday needs.

Phil Wheeler – Senior Developer, Client Service Management DUD

I’d argue the highlight was Ignite’s relevance and coverage. The balance struck by Microsoft’s vision for what their technologies will bring tomorrow versus what we are able to take advantage of today was excellent and is genuinely exciting. There are a wide range of software development tools and technologies that we are all eager to build on to deliver great customer experiences.

Susan Hight – Consultant, Client Service Management AKL

There were so many highlights for me at 2016 Microsoft Ignite but I have whittled it down to a few below:

  • Technology is moving/changing quickly.  The multitude of speakers were making the point that they have to re-visit course content due to its loss of relevance within weeks of a slide deck being created.  This created challenges for them as speakers but also for those with a teaching/training focus.  The relevance of exam content was harder for them to navigate and point you in the right direction for study purposes.  Challenges were being faced by Consultants when recommending solutions to clients due to the quickly changing landscape.  Everyone found this to be an exciting time regardless.
  • Exam Crams and certification for Office 365.  2 exam track for MCSA and 4 exam track for MCSE.  Be prepared to know Office 365, Powershell, Exchange and Active Directory in depth. Oh and did I mention powershell!  Key take on the two exam cram sessions – know how to do things in the UI and in Powershell, what all the icons mean and know both AD and Exchange.
  • KeyNote focused on creating opportunity for innovation.  Don’t ask permission to look for ways of being creative in solution design/dev/business opportunities –take a leaf from Nikes book and just do it and see what happens. 
  • New to tech – Hololens, big touch screens and the ever evolving Cloud.
  • Dev-Ops – standardised and more accessible ways to develop.  Big focus on Devs and technology which makes their jobs easier – templated environments, json and frameworks.
  • Move to the cloud, move to the cloud and move to the cloud.  Hybrid to assist on the way.  Highlighting challenges and opportunities for stepping through the hybrid approach – hybrid Search and Exchange a good place to start.  Getting Identity right and plan.
  • The Azure Stack allowing Microsoft to move away from the cost heavy service provider data centre model with limitations on how many touch points in the globe they can achieve.  Offering other service providers their model/software allowing them to get a piece of the pie.  Hardware providers in turn getting on board to collaborate.  Microsoft vision of penetrating globally.
  • Security – new offerings for protecting the cloud – how malicious content is being tackled by Microsoft and other providers. 
  • Identity -  authentication models – how this is approached by Devs and architecture.
  • Azure –  Platform, Infrastructure and Apps – everything Azure. 
  • Office365 groups –morphing the face of how we look at SharePoint and the way we work.
  • Flow – Logic Apps – Power Apps – handing the dev power to the business and moving day to day productivity mobile with limited effort.  Push a business process workflow to a mobile in a few easy steps. 

Steven Russell – Consultant, CD&I WLG

My highlight was being able to head along to 2 or 3 sessions hosted by Microsoft subject matter expert Michael Niehaus around Windows 10 deployments. This is a topic which I deal with at Intergen on a day-to-day basis. I had a burning question, and I was able to take the opportunity after a session to ask Michael in person. The knowledge and professionalism held by the presenters at Ignite inspire to take what you have learned, and apply it in real world deployments and consultation.

Posted by: Katy Sweetman, Marketing Director, Empired Group | 07 November 2016

Tags: Microsoft Ignite, Personal Development

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