Last week, Australia’s Gold Coast was overrun with Microsoft Ignite backpacks and bright orange lanyards. The packed technical event ran from Feb 13-17, bringing together IT Pros, developers, customers and vendors. In total Microsoft Ignite Australia brought in thousands of excited attendees.

Timing is everything

February seems like a strange time of year to have a Microsoft Ignite conference, but Australia’s date shift to their summer months seems to have worked. Usually held towards the end of the year, the delay to the USA Ignite 2016 event and lack of availability of the Gold Coast venue caused the Aussies to skip a 2016 event altogether. Feedback from the floor last week is that the February date saw the attendees more energised. We’ve generally had a Christmas break and we’re into the new year with enthusiasm. It also works well for our financial year planning, with July 1st being the start of financial year for most Australian businesses. This gives us time to update and adjust any budgets based on all the cool things we heard at Ignite.

Topics and tracks

There really was something for everyone this year, with the tracks consisting of Cloud, Architecture, Data and Analytics, Innovation, .NET, Productivity, Datacenter and Infrastructure Management, Windows and Open Source. Yes, open source, including Linux, Docker, Jenkins and Node.js! Far from being a week of ‘death by PowerPoint’, you could go along to an interest group meetup, try an exam or lab in the learning zone or catch a 20 min ‘Hack’ talk during one of the breaks.

Being a Cloud-focussed sys admin, I gravitated towards Azure and Office 365 topics, in particular Office 365 Cloud PBX, Cloud App Security & the Office 365 E5 Security Capabilities.

The Expo

Australia’s Expo hall was well represented by different vendors without feeling like it was overwhelming. It was also the place for eating or hanging at couches & coffee tables in an open ‘speaker lounge’ area available to all.

US talent – local experience

It may be far away from the USA, but Microsoft Ignite Australia started strong with an opening keynote by Scott Guthrie and finished with an inspiring closing keynote by Dona Sarkar. We were thrilled to see Charles Sterling, Christope Fiessinger, Steve Nguyen & Angus Florance make the trip over (as well as others). The schedule was complemented by the local knowledge of Australian and New Zealand Microsoft staff and MVPs, including our own local celebrity Troy Hunt (of Have I been Pwned?).

My thoughts

Overall, it was a very well run event full of great content and approachable speakers. I could do with an extra 3 weeks off to watch the sessions online that I missed. It was great to hear product updates and real world stories and advice relevant to our market. Like any conference, meeting up with people from across Australia (and overseas) in the one place at the same time was invaluable. As well as presenting two sessions of my own, I volunteered some time to help out at Microsoft’s Office 365 stand so I got the chance to meet new people and answer their questions. I’ve come home exhausted, but so very excited for the things we can do with the products coming out from Microsoft.

The links

Watch the recorded Microsoft Ignite Australia 2017 recordings on Channel 9:

Watch Orin Thomas’ top ranked session on the 30 terrible habits of Cloud & Server administrators:

Register to receive information on the next Microsoft Ignite Australia event (date yet to be decided):

Watch Sonia’s digital transformation session with Paul Woods:

Watch Sonia’s session on Making SaaS part of your IT strategy: