Top Tips for Microsoft Ignite

03 Feb 2017

When I was a lad, Microsoft Ignite was called TechEd and it was part of a suite of conferences; there was one for the IT Infrastructure crowd, all servers and operating systems, and one for the developers, all curly brackets and semi colons. We'd sit and listen as the great and the good from Microsoft and their partners talked us through each new technical revolution. You know, like, plug and play, WINS and PowerShell. We'd see a PowerPoint 95 slide of a BackOffice box shot and be wowed by so much capability on just a handful of shiny disks.

Image Microsoft BackOffice
(Microsoft BackOffice Server 4.5 - includes Windows NT Server 4.0 SP4, Internet Information Services 4.0, Microsoft SQL Server 7.0, Microsoft SNA Server 4.0 SP2, Microsoft SMS 2.0, Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 SP2, Microsoft Proxy Server 2.0, Microsoft Index Server 2.0, Microsoft Transaction Server 2.0, Internet Explorer 5.0, Microsoft FrontPage 2000, and Microsoft Visual InterDev 6.0)


I'll be honest, my first TechEd was in the UK, in Bournemouth in the mid 1990s. I was a NetWare guru back then and went to see what all the fuss was about. By 2001, the venue had switched to mainland Europe and I attended just about all the events that happened to be in Barcelona. But not as a delegate. By this time, I'd jumped ship and was a fully paid-up member of the Microsoft fan club. You would have found me either on the Microsoft Learning stand, in a session, or in a bar, one hand on my wallet, on the La Rambla.

I still readily invest the time and the money in attending Ignite as an exhibitor, although I switched sides again six years ago, moving to Australia. Now you'll find me either at the DDLS stand, in a session or in Moo Moos across the road.

I've been lucky in my career to attend a lot of conferences, from business-focused events from Cisco and Microsoft, to more hands-on sessions such as Ignite.

This year Microsoft Ignite runs from 14 to 17 February 2017 on the Gold Coast. So I thought I'd share some of the approaches I use to make sure I get the most out of Ignite.

  • Today, now, plan, plan, and then plan some more. Check the Ignite website for late breaking news and session details. Put sessions you MUST attend in your diary.
  • Start the conversation early. You have a LinkedIn profile, right? Why not, it's a Microsoft product after all. Share your journey with your connections. You may be surprised who else is attending (and want to meet or avoid them as appropriate).

Picture LinkedIn Ignite

  • Start the conversation early part two. Are you on Twitter? Check out who is saying what before and during the event. Contribute. I'd suggest as a minimum you check out @MSAUIgnite, #MSAUIGNITE, @GaryDuffield, and @DDLSTraining.
  • Don't, as I did recently, forget clean socks, laptop, and phone chargers.
  • Remember there is more to life than sessions, PowerPoint and swag collecting. Check out the social and networking opportunities. Make a point of checking out the community lounge periodically. Some of the best conversations happen here.
  • Think about taking some business cards as you'll meet a lot of interesting people. I'm still in regular contact with people I met at TechEd in the early noughties. Is Gerry O'Brien reading this?
  • Other than absorbing the speakers wisdom, what else can you do there? For example, did you know about Monday MeetUp Madness or the option to swat up on those exams you have been meaning to take? I think my Microsoft friend Sarah Arnold is looking after these.
  • Try not to miss the keynote or lock note. Kicking things off this year is Scott Guthrie - find him on Twitter as @scottgu.
  • Popular sessions fill fast. Get there on time or be prepared to stand at the back or be forced to slip next door to the session on data analysis of the migration of tree frogs with SQL.
  • Visit the exhibitors. Honestly, we love to chat, often have swag to give away and won't always try and sell you something. The nicest people are on the DDLS stand. That is a proven fact.
  • Swag is great. When I moved to Australia I threw away 402 stress balls, 97 light up yo-yos, 187 256Mb USB memory sticks and a wardrobe full of unused WordPerfect t-shirts. (Ok, they were worn.) Perhaps be selective or buy another suitcase - there is a shopping centre across the road.
  • The M & Ms on the DDLS stand will keep you going all day. I love the green ones.
  • The beer can flow freely at Ignite. It's easy to go overboard. Been there, done that. These days I can't function at 7am after a night road-testing Corona. If you do go overboard, don't lose your badge. They are usually expensive to replace.
  • Continue the conversation after the event on Twitter and LinkedIn. Remember to connect to people you have met. Sometimes it's as much about who you know as what you know....
  • Use what you learn. That way you might get to go again next year.

DDLS looks forward to seeing you there.

Gary Duffield