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TechED 2014 Review

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…

TechEd NA and TechEd Madrid: What to see

8:22 am in TechED by mikeresseler

Introduction

It has been a great week being at TechEd NA in New Orleans. I had to be there to deliver 2 presentations (see later) but I was of course very anxious to learn about all the new stuff that is coming with System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Yes, for those who were living at another planet last week, the new release will be named R2 which is a difference with the name of the release of the Windows 8.1 release. And there was a lot to learn and explore this week for sure!

Below you find an overview of all the different sessions you much watch when you didn’t had the change to visit TechEd NA.  However, if you are going to go to TechED Madrid, then don’t watch the sessions but have a look at this list and use it to plan your agenda.

Let’s start with the first session of the event (pre-conference not included).

The Keynote

Brad Anderson (@inTheCloudMSFT) delivered the keynote and it can be watched here:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/Key01#fbid=gadmougCguJ

Besides driving with a nice car on stage and a very funny bond alike start movie the keynote showed us quite some stuff that needed to be checked out.  My attention was drawn and I needed to check some stuff out.  Unfortunately, as it is always at a conference, it is quite impossible to see all the sessions that you want to explore so I will have to spent some time on the TechEd NA Channel 9 site to see more presentations.  Luckily I am one of those that will go to TechEd Europe in Madrid also so that will give me the possibility to see some more sessions :-)

Let’s start with the list of sessions about Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2

Start off with What’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2 to get general information. This session will give you a quick overview of all the interesting new improvements and then you can select deep-dives on the different topics where you want to learn more from.

Some of the sessions that I have seen or that are still on my wish list:

Windows Server Work Folders overview – my corporate data on all my devices: As a road warrior and home worker I have multiple (read LOTs) of different devices that I use to do my work.  Because I never visit the corporate office I’m not even connected to the domain. Work Folder capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 will give me the capabilities of having my files on all of my devices.  And IT will still be sure that it is done securely and has control over those files. This is pretty cool technology and I can’t wait to see this in my environment! (PS: for the deep-dive on this topic: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/WCA-B332)

Hyper-V – What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2: This session is worth at least a blog post (probably multiple) on its own. Ben Armstrong (@virtualPCGuy) delivered this session about all the new stuff in Hyper-V. And there is a lot of new and cool stuff coming.  Watch my words and start learning… Virtual Machines Gen2…

What’s new in Window Server 2012 R2 Networking: Many improvements have been made in Windows Server 2012 on the networking level and R2 just goes further. If you work a lot with these capabilities than this is the sessions to get you up-to-date with the enhancements (and then afterwards you can start investigating in-depth more :-))

Continuous Availability: Deploying and Managing Clusters using Windows Server 2012 R2: If you have clusters today then you will probably have clusters in R2. This session show you the updates in R2

System Center

Yep, there was a lot of good content on System Center and many of it was delivered by MVP’s and people that are actually in the field. Here is a list of good sessions:

Mission: IT Operations for a Good Night’ Sleep by Walter Eikenboom (@wwwally). A good session for those who want to take component monitoring to LOB monitoring.

Effective Capacity Planning of Your Infrastructure Resources with Microsoft System Center 2012 – Operations Manager Reporting by Gordon McKenna. A session on capacity planning with Operations Manager, SharePoint and the Datawarehouse

 

PowerShell

Windows PowerShell Unplugged: A session delivered by Jeffrey Snover (@jsnover) and this is a session that you must watch if you are a beginner at PowerShell or even already an advanced user. I love PowerShell and work with it on many occassions and this is just one of these sessions that teaches me how to learn and use PowerShell. I take benefit of this one every day

Advanced Automation Using Windows PowerShell: After seeing previous version you quickly will want to go further with PowerShell. Don’t rush too fast but the moment you feel confident in PowerShell then take this session and take the next step.

Key Metrics and Practices for Monitoring Virtualization Platforms by Raymond Chou (@exotrinity) and Alec King. If you want to know more about the metrics you need to monitor mixed environments than this is the best place to start.

Monitoring and Managing the Network and Storage Infrastructure with Microsoft System Center 2012 – Operations Manager by Maarten Goet (@Maarten_Goet). Yes you can monitor more than servers alone. Find out more here about monitoring your storage and network stack.

Tips and Tricks for Creating Custom Management Packs for Microsoft System Center – Operations Manager by Mickey Gousset (@Mickey_Gousset) is a good session if you want to start creating your own management packs.

And of course: Introduction to System Center 2012 R2

Upgrading your Private Cloud

For those who are totally convinced of the new technologies that are heading our way… Upgrading your Private Cloud with Windows Server 2012 R2 is probably something for you :-)

Last but not least!

I also did some presentations so here are the must-see (:-)) sessions:

Managing Multi-Hypervisor Environments with System Center 2012

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager and Veeam: Better Together

As you can read, there is a lot of good stuff and I will be digging in to the catalog the next 2 weeks to start scheduling my sessions that I want to see in Madrid.

For more information on TechEd Europe:

But there is more than learning and working alone… At TechEd NA we had the possiblity to buy a Surface PRO and RT for a very sharp price and I took that possibility with 2 hands. Now let’s hope that we get the same opportunity in Madrid. I would watch this space and get your money ready :-)

http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/TechEd and http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/TechEd/Special-Surface-Offer-for-TechEd-Attendees-via-Microsoft-Retail-Store#fbid=OQulHhLXnf6

Have fun

Mike