May 8, 2015

MS Ignite Day 4 Recap

I was delighted to spend the day in various sessions and roam around the expo floor. Lots of great partners and vendors present. However, I'll freely admit - in eight years of attending TechEd I had never attended the closing celebration until this year - because my seven year old is a big Fall Out Boy fan. Turned out to be a conference highlight! I stood on the first row fence line to the stage for three hours to get some amazing shots of my son's favorite band and it was a blast. Met several very nice fellow "parentally enthused" dads (and one mom) that were similarly positioned for optimal viewing. During our extended stay, we got to discussing key value props of several of the technical tracks being presented at the conference. Got to do some fun free consulting for two different folks that had different use cases for staying on prem or considering Office 365. It was great to see varied perspectives and enthusiasm for the business and technical realities facing organizations today. In related news, I did attend several great sessions today which have a direct impact on my team's current projects:

Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer - updated and improved with fantastic tooling enables organizations with lots of, um…"legacy" websites (read, poorly written) to migrate to IE 11 and stave off the end of support for all previous versions of IE which happens in January of next year. Enterprise Mode allows you to quickly diagnose and define policies for rendering sites in legacy modes of IE while still being able to take advantage of the latest and greatest (and supported) features. Very useful for Office 365 customers. One of the great metrics shared in the session: IE 11 running in Enterprise Mode is 10X faster than running IE8 in native mode. Yes, you read that right - you can IMPROVE your end user experience and maintain site compatibility by moving now to IE11.

Advanced Exchange Hybrid Topologies - Slalom, as worldwide partner of the year several times over for Office 365, gets the craziest, nastiest, most complex Office 365 migrations there are. Attended a great session today that validated our internal best practices of when and why Exchange migration customers would choose to go hybrid. Also got some new guidance for our internal teams concerning the imminent (read by end of next month) general availability of Azure AD Connect and Microsoft Identity Manager for managing complex multi-forest single tenant Exchange upgrade goo (that's the technical term).

Protecting VMWare and Bare Metal servers with Azure Site Recovery - easily my favorite session of the day, it continues to fascinate me at how exceptional this new Microsoft is with competitors. I understand that it suits the company's goal (Azure consumption), but the reality is, this new openness is such a welcome change from the "embrace and extend" mantra from the past. Working directly with VMWare, Microsoft has been able to create a guest based replication toolset that allows for continuous data replication to Azure for VMs providing the opportunity to use Azure Site Recovery as a company's secondary data center, complete with advanced tooling and reporting to help automate and streamline DR and BC tests, live failovers, application consistent parity (huge!) and of course, real disaster recovery. The demonstration used Azure's brand new Azure DNS (which has been sorely lacking in the Azure portfolio for some time giving AWS with its Route 53 solution a huge lead) to live failover from an on prem SharePoint environment on VMWare to a SharePoint environment running in Azure. Stunning!

It's a lot to take in. The major themes from the week are definitely Mobility, Security and Openness. I love it all! Looking forward to seeing everyone next year at Ignite 2.0. Apparently it's in Chicago again, so hopefully they will work out the iced tea and food quirks. :) Happy Nerding!