Posey's Tips & Tricks

Looking Ahead to Ignite 2016

With the direction Microsoft has been going under Nadella, look for third-party partnerships to be a big theme at next week's show.

With Microsoft Ignite taking place next week, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about my expectations for the event. As was the case with last year's Ignite conference in Chicago (and the TechEd conferences before that), I think that the big story is going to be the opening keynote.

Those of you who attended Ignite last year will no doubt remember the grueling opening keynote that went on for about three hours. Those who endured last year's keynote will be happy to know that, according to this year's posted agenda, the Keynote is only scheduled to last for an hour and a half (Microsoft is scheduling a separate innovation keynote). I think that the keynote will probably focus more heavily on announcements and recent news, and be less demo-heavy than last year's event.

Of course this raises the question of what we can expect Microsoft to talk about during the keynote. The most obvious topic of discussion is certain to be the Windows Server 2016 release, which is being timed to coincide with the Ignite conference. Even so, I don't think that Windows Server 2016 is going to end up being the conference's central theme.

Maybe it isn't official, but I have been going to TechEd / Ignite since the '90s, and one thing that has held true over all of these years is that each event seems to have a central theme. One year for example, the primary emphasis of the event was cloud everything. Another year the emphasis was knowledge worker collaboration. Yet another example occurred at the peak of the dot com crash, where the theme was clearly doing more with less.

So what can we expect this year? Like I said, I'm not even sure that the event themes are anything official, but my guess is that this year the major focus is going to be multi-platform everything.

At one time, Microsoft events were almost entirely Microsoft centric. Those events were where you would go to learn about Microsoft operating systems, Microsoft applications, Microsoft hardware and all things Microsoft. For a period of time, I think that approach made sense. Microsoft was the dominant player in many areas, so having events that focused almost exclusively on Microsoft technologies made sense.

As with everything else in IT however, the status quo changes over time. One of Satya Nadella's greatest strengths is that he recognizes that Microsoft is no longer the only game in town. Rather than attempting to steamroll its competitors, as was the practice during the Gates years, Nadella seems to prefer coexistence. I am not saying that one approach is better than the other, but I will say that Nadella's approach is well suited to the current state of the industry.

My guess is that this year's Ignite event will focus heavily on Linux and open source. After all, Microsoft is building its own flavor of Linux, and has even gone so far as to make PowerShell available for Linux. Never mind the fact that Docker runs on Windows Server 2016.

There are plenty of other examples of areas in which Microsoft has embraced competitors. Take iOS and Android, for example. Microsoft not only licenses some of its Office apps for use on iOS and Android, it has gone so far as to bring Cortana to these platforms as well. These are just a few examples of areas in which Microsoft has ventured into what would have previously been considered to be hostile territory. I am guessing that we will be hearing about more of these types of cross platform strategies at the conference.

I also wouldn't be surprised if Satya Nadella spent a few minutes during the opening keynote discussing some of Microsoft's more recent tech acquisitions. For example, Microsoft purchased LinkedIn earlier this year. I for one, would love to hear more about what Microsoft plans to do with LinkedIn and other recently purchased tech companies.

Oh, and it might be a bit off topic, but there is one other thing that I am looking for at this year's Ignite conference. Being that Ignite is scheduled to coincide with the Windows Server 2016 release, I am hoping that Microsoft will take the opportunity to provide some sessions and / or hands-on labs that are designed to firmly establish best practices for working with some of the new features such as containers and Nano Server.

So those are my predictions for the conference. I will be at Ignite for the first couple of days of the event. Please feel free to stop me and say hello if you see me there. I enjoy meeting the people who read my posts.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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