It’s that time of year again – Microsoft Ignite is finally here. It is one of the biggest tech events of the year and we are very excited to be attending.

This year we are sending Andrew Roberts , Technology Director – a software engineer to trade, Andrew has over 25 years’ experience delivering systems across manufacturing, engineering and commercial industries. He has lead dozens of large and complex Dynamics AX ERP and CRM implementations that cover multiple sites with hundreds of users.

Also attending is Damian Grech, Senior Developer in the Applications team.  A .Net developer by trade with 10 years experience as a certified ScrumMaster and MCSD: App builder, Damian has experience with all things applications including big data, e-commerce and travel booking engines.

We asked them a few questions ahead of the conference.

What is Ignite?

Andrew: Ignite is Microsoft’s largest annual technical conference.  It spans all of Microsoft’s products and services, and has a mixture of content covering existing technologies – how to get the best out of them, as well previews of newly emerging products.

What makes Ignite so special?

Andrew: For me it’s the speakers.  Many of the sessions are presented by the lead engineers involved in the design and creation of the products so you really do get the inside story on where things are going.  This is mixed with a strategic view from senior Microsoft executives at the keynote sessions.

Damian: You can find sessions available for any platform you might be interested in, and they are all delivered by leaders in the area. For a techie like me, the expo itself is an experience like no other where you can look at and use some of the latest products developed. I’m looking forward to try the HoloLens and products built around the Seeing AI which is used by people with poor vision.

Where is Ignite held?

Damian:  It changes every year but this year its at the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando, sunny Florida.

What are you hoping to get out of it?

Andrew: The mixture of technologies covered is great.  My main area of focus is Dynamics – so I can keep up to date with recent developments and what’s coming there, but also take the chance to fit in some sessions on other related technologies such as Azure and Power BI.

Damian: First of all, attending sessions held by leaders of the technologies we work with and hearing directly from them about the products and future direction. Events like this are also great for networking to and learn how other partners and companies from all around the world tackle challenges which we face here at Incremental.

Have you ever been to Ignite before?

Andrew: I’ve never been to Ignite but I’ve been to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (forerunner to Inspire) which leans more towards the sales side than the technical side.  I’ve also been to Convergence  and the Dynamics Technical Conference but these were specifically Dynamics events, so not quite so wide-ranging.

Damian: I’ve been to it when it was still called TechEd, back in 2013 – but never had the opportunity to attend since they changed it’s name to Ignite.

What Sessions are you planning on going to and why?

Andrew: The main keynote session is a must and is sure to be packed (the event is a sell-out).  I’m going to as many Dynamics sessions as I can fit in as the product is so wide, so there’s always something new to hear.  The sessions I’m really looking forward to are a couple of sessions that crossover between Dynamics and AI / BI as I think this is a really exciting area with a lot happening right now.

Damian: Surely the keynote session by Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. It’s a must and nobody should miss it! Then, I’m planning to attend sessions around Microsoft Bot Framework and Azure Machine Learning to learn more how these technologies can help businesses on their day-to-day processes.

Are you expecting any new releases or announcements?

Andrew: There’s bound to be something, but who knows – Microsoft keeps its cards pretty close to its chest.  When I went to the Dynamics Technical Conference in February 2016, the first version of Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations was released at that event.

Damian: We are living in the era of data, so definitely looking forward to the new versions of SQL Server 2017, which will be the first version of SQL Server on Linux and Azure Cosmos DB, Microsoft’s entrant in the emerging competition to field multi model databases.

What is the Microsoft Ignite Celebration?

Andrew: On the Thursday night, we have the Microsoft Ignite Celebration.  Microsoft has booked the whole of both Universal Orlando resorts for us for the entire evening.  We recently had our first Incremental Group away day, and there was a bit of a Harry Potter theme with, if I’m being honest, some pretty ropey Harry Potter costumes.  It will be interesting to see how the pros do it.

Damian: I’ve never been to Universal Orlando before, so definitely looking forward to the experience of Microsoft Ignite Celebration. I can’t think how Microsoft could top it!



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