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Microsoft Ignite AU 2017 – A Recap

I have just returned from a 3,200km round trip to the Gold Coast to attend the yearly Microsoft Ignite conference (formerly known as Tech Ed). I had only done that drive once before, in the opposite direction, and this time I took the family along. Normally you would fly this distance, so it was a great opportunity to see a tiny bit of the enormous country I live in.

Route to Ignite

It is a long drive up there, but at least we had some great places to stop on the way. It took us two and a bit days to do the drive, but the breaks were just bearable.


Enough about the journey. This is a recap of the return of Microsoft Ignite after more than a year off the events calendar. If you aren’t familiar with Microsoft Ignite Australia, it is the premier Australian Microsoft event of the year, traditionally held on the Gold Coast in Australia. It is of course a very corporate event, but it does showcase all the latest and greatest in the world of Microsoft. Most of the great Aussie speakers in the space are there and the content and quality is always top notch. I do enjoy going there.

The event spans four days with a keynote on the first day this year presented by Scott Guthrie. Not surprisingly there was a lot of content on Microsoft Azure, as that is the main product being pushed. There was some very interesting parts as well on Docker integration of container services. With the new version of Visual Studio 2017 you can do “one click deployments” to a Docker container. Of course it is never that simple, but it looked very compelling when demonstrated.

On the Tuesday afternoon it was time for the first of my three talks. I had teamed up with my good friend Alex Mackey to do a talk on how virtual, augmented and mixed reality is impacting the world today. It was a high level talk with tons of examples, and even bigger number of questions from the audience and a great deal of amazing jokes. No, really.

Packed room

On Tuesday night was a networking event for all attendees, including speakers and exhibitors. If you don’t go to many conferences, these networking events are the best part of any conference. Meeting as many people in your space as possible and making an impression on the ones you want to continue to talk to is super important. As a freelancer, I get all of my work from people I know in my network.

My two other talks, one on more advanced HoloLens development and a soft skills talk, were on the Thursday. Both talks were received well, even though I had a few “demo fails”. Especially my “Force Awakens” talk is always extremely well received and lots of people approach me afterwards either face-to-face or via social media. It seems there is a real interest in improving quality of life, which is also why I decide to offer mentoring services.

The party which is traditionally on the Thursday night at the event was this time held at the convention centre. You could play Xbox on a ginormous screen with three others, do some sumo wrestling, fly drones, play laser tag and eat one of the many different kinds of food on offer. It was an interesting concept, although slightly disjointed. It worked well and seemed to be a hit with attendees.

Entertaining nerds

Friday was the last day and had some great sessions… I hear. Unfortunately, I had to drive back to Melbourne on Friday morning, so I didn’t get a chance to see any of them. Best part was that my good mate Orin Thomas got the #1 talk of the conference. So well deserved.

For me the event was a success. I got to hang out with great friends, meet new ones, talk lots of HoloLens, go to Movie World with the family, enjoy the Gold Coast and deliver three great talks. I hope to be back next year.