TechED 2014 Review

May 20, 2014 at 5:33 am in TechED by mikeresseler

Another TechED show is finished. Place to be this year was Houston for the annual IT Pro conference in North America. It was a show with high expectations for the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) fans out there since MMS got cancelled this year and Microsoft integrated it into TechED.

The question for many of us was: Will there be the same value in TechED as there was in MMS?

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

Let’s start with the keynote. Brad Anderson, corporate VP took stage (I’m not going to discuss the fact that Satya wasn’t there while he was at build conference…) and presented about their mobile first, cloud first strategy. A few very interesting items passed the revue such as:

A great write-up is done by Jeff James here: http://www.petri.co.il/teched-2014-microsoft-cloud-first-mobile-first-strategy.htm

A lot of the keynote kind of got lost on me… Brad talked a lot for the developer and BI side of the audience and that’s where you loose a guy like me…

One of the feelings I had after the keynote, was that Microsoft isn’t interested anymore in the IT Professional and only cares for developers. I know it isn’t true (at all) and I wasn’t the only one with that feeling. I was about to write how important the IT Pro is and remains in the future but Aidan Finn beat me lengthy to it and made a MUST READ blog post on it for every IT Pro: http://www.petri.co.il/it-pro-perspective-of-teched-2014.htm

But I the end, a keynote is nothing more than a keynote. While it might be a good start for a conference, certainly when they announce things, it is nothing more than that. The real value comes from sessions, networking, the expo floor and last but not least… the parties…

Let’s start with the sessions

The MMS folks had high expectations for this show. After all, MMS is dead and it is merged in TechED. Will we have the same content of a MMS show or will it be more marketing sessions? Looking at the agenda in advance didn’t promise much good (although Microsoft had promised lots of content). Not too many sessions about management… But I changed my mind during the week. Yes, there were not that much sessions on system management, but the quality and presenters delivering the sessions were good to outstanding. As a TechED veteran (lost counting how many times, I should count my bagpacks to know…) systems management sessions on TechED were normally rather weak and that is not abnormal considering there was MMS. Now there wasn’t, and the level of sessions went up. I will keep pushing with Microsoft to have more sessions on these topics, but I was more than pleased to see that the level was good! And of course, the advantage of less sessions also meant that I learned a few other things that didn’t had to do with Hyper-V or System Center…

Networking

Again a big difference between MMS and TechED. There are two reasons for that.

Reason 1: the venue

MMS was in Las Vegas (and I hate Las Vegas after 16 times being there…) but everything was in the same hotel. That means networking from 7 am in the morning till … somewhere in the night. Tiring, but pleasant. TechED is a larger conference, held in Houston this year with lots of hotels being far away (45 minute bus drive for some of us…). So the amount of networking went down in the evening and the atmosphere isn’t the same

Reason 2: Different crowd

The MMS crowd is the MMS crowd. The TechED crowd is a mixture of diferent type of IT people. That means that I wasn’t talking hypervisor and system management the entire time, but also discussed messaging tools, BI and much more. Is this a bad thing? Not really, I learned quite some things from talking to people and I honestly enjoyed it. It’s true I spent less time with my system center circle, and that’s less fun, but I came home with different views and opinions

Expo hall

Note: I work for a vendor that had a rather large booth out there, so my opinion might be a bit biased about the expo floor… Comparing it to MMS is not possible for me. This expo floor holds so many different vendors in different areas that it is impossible. But I did love this years expo floor since I saw a lot of MMS vendors come to TechED. I hope they had a great experience and that it continues. I took the time (which was easy since there was always a nice gap for lunch, allowing many people to take their time on the expo floor) and had a good time investigating new products, new versions and just discovering new companies. From our own booth, we saw large crowds (and not only for the swag) and our engineers working on the booth had long days of delivering demo’s, which is of course, what we want Smile

Parties

MMS was always known for his after-hours parties and TechED seems to be going the same direction. Every day you had the possibility to party. The only downside in my view is that most interesting parties were all at the same day. Maybe MSFT should contact all vendors upfront if they are going to host a party and make a better calendar. The only bad party in my vision was the closing party in the Minute Maid Park stadium which was as boring as it could get. But that might be just me as an European that kind of has a different vision on partying Smile

Conclusion

TechED was this year a rather good experience for me. Yes, I needed to adapt to the fact that MMS doesn’t exist anymore, and that the amount of sessions on hyper-v and system center will be lower, but as long as the quality is high, I’m good with that. Different way of networking also, and I believe it is in my advantage for knowledge and meeting new, interesting people. Parties enough, and while I am not a fan of some type of parties, sometimes sleeping a bit more during a conference is also good…

Can Microsoft change a few more things to make it better? Sure, and for that, they just need to grab the outreached hand of the community…Just talk to the guys from Hasmug about their 5th-day event: http://www.hasmug.com/te14d5/. This event was a good addition to TechED and needs to be continued…