Our Blog

where we write about the things we love



On Ignite NZ 2015, SP2016 and beer

Saying goodbye to my teary seven year old daughter is in no way my idea of a good start to the day. But on 1 September that’s exactly what I did. I was on my way to Wellington airport and a flight to Auckland for Microsoft Ignite NZ 2015. 

Day 1

Saying goodbye to my teary seven year old daughter is in no way my idea of a good start to the day. But on 1 September that’s exactly what I did. I was on my way to Wellington airport and a flight to Auckland for Ignite NZ 2015.

After a brief wrestling match, the check-in kiosk recognised the bar code in my phone (I’d saved a fraction of a tree by not printing my ticket) and provided me with a boarding pass. With nothing better to do, I picked up a novel (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Murakami [1]) and lost myself in it for the next hour before heading to the boarding gate and meeting up with the rest of the folks from Intergen.

On board, I had a window seat. Here’s a free tip: an hour of gazing down at total cloud cover between Wellington and Auckland is not interesting. At all.


Auckland, as foretold by my friends, was muggy and mildly depressing. Fast-forward now – airport, hotel check-in, Mexican [2] lunch and we’re now at the keynotes venue (which we’ve found despite my friend’s iPhone trying to misdirect us).

The keynote, as expected, revolved around the Windows 10 release. We’re told it’s a more personal and friendly operating system; like a super intelligent pet, it lights up as soon as it sees your face – and then does great stuff for you. Sounds interesting.

I particularly enjoyed a later session by Laura Butler discussing her career in Microsoft. Then Chris Ford from Pixar shared the sheer scale and processing power offered by Azure Batches – most impressive! Check out the keynote presentations here.


After the keynote presentations came BEER. Allow me to now draw a modest curtain around everything that happened from this point to “Eli, is it morning already – what happened last night?” (Eli was my roommate.)

Day 2

Day 2 started off with Getting Ready for SharePoint 2016 [3] by Elaine van Bergen from Empired. SharePoint 2016 is the first SharePoint designed with responsive UI and multiple platforms and screen sizes in mind. It looks to me like a SharePoint developer would do well to add AngularJS and similar frameworks into their armoury and also sharpen their CSS skills. 

Then came the enticingly named Sharepoint Deployment Automation With Powershell Desired State Configuration. Here Brian Farnhill discussed the xSharePoint resource pack, which can be used to automate SharePoint deployments, and how to manage the configuration beyond the initial deployment. I’m sure SharePoint infrastructure consultants will find this interesting.

Ten Things Every Office 365 Developer Should Know by Wayne Ewington held special interest for me. I worked with Wayne in 2011 as a newbie in SharePoint, and had to put on my best poker face when he said “ALL CODE IS EVIL”. Really, I thought? Are you serious! Now, having worked on a bunch of SharePoint migrations and served time in application support, I fully agree with him. But hey, SharePoint developers, don’t stop writing all that custom code. I love to remain employed.

The final session of the day, Public Speaking Skills for Quiet People by Michelle Dickinson, introduced a welcome non-technical air among all that heavy duty SharePoint stuff. It’s a must watch for introverts [4] of whom I am not one. Just because I met seven NEW people from Intergen, all of whom I have shared an office with for the last eight months and  have studiously avoided speaking to in all that time, that does NOT make me an introvert, OK?

Speaking of extroverts, I visited the booth Intergen at the end of the day and found it crowded with Halo fans. As we all know, playing Halo is definitely serious business and important for expanding your network.

Day 2 ended with MORE BEER.

Day 3

Azure Machine learning has always sounded interesting to me and A Journey into Azure Machine Learning gave a glimpse of what is possible with the abilities that are already built in. Impressive! And I have now been challenged by Jon van der Hilst to build an accurate data model that can predict the timely resolution of an app support case [5].

This was followed by more SharePoint sessions on Hybrid Search and Application Life Cycle Management. I reckon hybrid search can be powerful in multiple business scenarios because of its ability to surface documents and contents from a variety of sources with common relevancy rankings.

Today’s breath of fresh air came in the guise of Career Path Control by former burlesque dancer Emma Woods. WARNING: May contain some nudity!

Finally, day’s end. And more – well, you know by now.

Day 4

I got re-introduced to Cortana, the beautiful blue lady who all Halo fans know. I also discovered that her Daddy is, technically, Bill Gates (thanks to the presenter asking her, “Who is your daddy?”). Cortana’s speech recognition ability is simply awesome. Also cool is that any developer can build Cortana’s abilities into their own app. Imagine asking your phone to open the garage door (“Cortana, I’m ho-o-o-me”) or switch on the lights (“Cortana, I think it’s a bit dark in here!”). Geek nirvana if you ask me.

Then there was HOLOLENS. Although we only got to see videos, the speaker was persuasive indeed. Imagine playing Halo using HoloLens, he purred, or watching a movie as you’re in the kitchen cooking while also having the recipe for your dish displayed on the wall beside you. So persuasive was he, that I am now convinced my happiness depends on buying a Hololens as soon as I can afford one. (Anyone interested in purchasing a nice house in Wellington?)

All too soon it was day’s end, and the end of Ignite 2015. But the news wasn’t all bad, as this also signalled Time For a Few Farewell Beers.


Ignite New Zealand 2015 featured a healthy mix of nerdy, good and great speakers, and every speaker had something interesting to offer. Of all the words I heard, these by Laura Butler are the ones I loved the most: “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future, and it sums up New Zealand very well. A country of 4.6 million people, one two-thousandth of the total world population, and an enormous impact on the world.”

I know that it holds true for Intergen too. A small company with big dreams and truly big achievements.


Sessions I attended or wished to attend.

  1. Microsoft Ignite New Zealand Keynote
  2. Public Speaking Skills for Quiet People [M316]
  3. SharePoint deployment automation with PowerShell Desired State Configuration
  4. Meet Cortana - Using Voice Recognition in Your Apps
  5. Introduction to Cortana Analytics
  6. Javascript on mobile - Cordova less of a (phone) gap than ever
  7. Ten things every Office 365 Developer should know
  8. Career Path Control - Warning: May contain some nudity!
  9. A journey into Azure Machine Learning with R
  10. Application Lifecycle Management for SharePoint and Office365 app development
  11. Office Developer Patterns & Practices – 0-100kph and beyond
  12. Next Generation Hybrid Search
  13. So You Want to Present at Ignite...
  14. Torment Your Colleagues with the 'Roslyn' .NET Compiler Platform
  15. Avoiding the on-premises SharePoint Train Wreck
  16. Converting SharePoint on-premises applications to Office 365
  17. Beer

[1] I finished this novel over the weekend and loved it. Murakami is a gifted practitioner of magical realism.

[2] Someone who shall remain nameless ordered lasagne. In a Mexican restaurant.

[3] I couldn’t find recordings of sessions from Day 2 onwards in the Channel 9 site. Links to all the other sessions that I attended or wanted to attend are listed above.

[4] I would love to give this presentation in Intergen as soon as I build up the courage, which I hope to in the next few weeks or months. (Did I really say that? God!)

[5] So far we have only got ourselves access to the Neocase backend database. (We’ve been busy, ok?) Results – if any – will be published if we deem them relevant and suitable for public consumption.

Posted by: Sreejith Sukumaran, Intermediate Developer, Client Service Management | 30 September 2015

Tags: Microsoft Ignite

Related blog posts

Top Rated Posts

Blog archive

Stay up to date with all insights from the Intergen blog