Highlights from Microsoft’s TechEd 2014 Conference

ClipTraining’s CIO, J. Peter Bruzzese, brings back notes and pictures from his week covering TechEd 2014 in Houston.

What an interesting week! I’ve been in Houston, Texas for Microsoft’s biggest conference of the year for IT Pros and Developers. My week has been filled with bumpy plane rides to and from Houston, early breakfast meet-and-greets, press meetings, one-on-one chats and one vendor sponsored gathering after another until the wee hours. Exhausting, but informative…and fun.

I met up with my assistant Trish Grencer right after registration (thanks for the cup of coffee to wake me up!) and our starting point was the Keynote address with Brad Anderson. What was really interesting here were the number of announcements revolving around Windows Azure and the LACK of announcements revolving around anything on-premise. Everything was cloud and it was clearly stated that this is now a cloud-first, mobile-first world. Note: To see the top 5 Azure releases and soon-to-be new features check out my article on InfoWorld entitled “What’s new in Microsoft Azure”.  There were some quick demos of elements already announced at other events like a Cortana demonstration at one point and a set of demos from Julia White about new features with Office 365 and Office apps for iPad (which was great because she is one of my favorite speakers).

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You can watch the whole Keynote right here: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2014/KEY01#fbid=

After the keynote we had a mini press event moderated by Joey Snow which allowed us to ask a few questions. I asked about the high pricetag of Azure from a small business perspective and it was explained that it’s not a 1 to 1 replacement of an on-premise server to a cloud-based server. You are also saving money on the maintenance, HA (high availability) and DR (disaster recovery) side, the electricity, etc. and so it all adds up and equals out. Perhaps, although I believe the cost could come down a bit based on what I’m seeing from the Azure calculator when looking at smaller business deployments.

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It was nice to run into other Exchange MVP’s on the Expo floor. Here I am with Bhargav Shukla (KEMP) and Paul Robichaux (Dell). Bhargav is holding up an Xbox with Titanfall, which is an incredible game they featured during the Keynote. Apparently for every user that joins they get their own VM Server spun up for them in Azure. (Seriously, click the link above and watch the little movie that plays.) KEMP Technologies was giving this away at their booth.

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Back in the Press Room I spent some time with folks like Jeff James, Jeff Hicks, Mary Jo Foley, Mary Branscombe, Brien Posey, Ed Liberman and others. The Waggener Edstrom folks took really good care of us. I also had a chance to see my friends David Davis and Kasia Lorenc!

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I saw folks I’ve known for years including Loretta Yates and Greg Wiegand from Pearson, as well as Jeremy Moskowitz, who informed me of some great new releases from his company PolicyPak like PolicyPak Preferences and PolicyPak Cloud. And I was even able to pick up an advanced copy of the latest book in the Jeff Aiken based series from Mark Russinovich called “Rogue Code” which he says is even better than the first two. (Due out May 20th)

There were many gatherings at TechEd. Enjoyed the Krewe party (always the place to be) and the Armadillo Palace gathering. Went to a Petri author meet and greet and then a dinner for authors of the site. Exciting new things coming from the Petri folks. One of the coolest parts of the week was going to a “Bowling with Woz” gathering with Fusion-IO. It was here that I finally got my chance to meet Steve Wozniak (aka “Woz”).

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Even better than that, Heather Fitzpatrick from NASCAR (as well as a ClipTraining instructor) was asked to bowl with Woz!!! Can you believe that? One of three chosen to bowl with the Woz! And he gave her a bowling pin with his signature on it! That was awesome.

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One gathering was at the Houston Aquarium (Microsoft knows how to throw a good party) where I was able get a tour by none other than Scott Schnoll, Senior Content Developer on the Exchange Server Team. We spent a long time hanging out with this tiger Nero (who was absolutely amazing to watch).

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TechEd may sound like a week long meet-and-greet social event but there are sessions too! Unfortunately I just didn’t have time to attend any (good thing Trish goes to sessions) and this year I wasn’t presenting (I at least go to my own sessions… typically) but with the Microsoft Exchange Conference being in Austin last month I gave a session there and so only had to focus on covering this event as a journalist. Needless to say it left me with a lot of time on my hands to be a bit of a social butterfly spending time with my friends from Mimecast (including Jules Martin and the Mimecast crew, who are great to hang out with at any event), Gary Eimerman and the team from Pluralsight, and a host of other people.

TechEd 2015 is rumored to be in Orlando Florida next year. All the fun, without a crazy bumpy plane ride? Looking forward to it!

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 2:20 am

Categories: Microsoft, TechEd

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