Posey's Tips & Tricks

My Predictions for Microsoft Ignite

Look for Azure, advanced AI and Microsoft's growing love for Linux to be focal points at this year's conference.

One of the fun things that I do with my column each year is to try to predict what we might expect from Microsoft Ignite (being held this year at Orlando, Fla., Sept. 25-29). Although I attend a number of IT events each year, Microsoft Ignite (and TechEd before that) is the one event that I never miss. Over the last couple of decades of attendance, I have seen a lot of changes, and it is fun to watch the conference continue to evolve, and to make predictions about what the evolution of both Ignite and Microsoft itself might look like.

The first prediction that I will make is that this year's conference will see the largest crowds yet. Since its inception, Microsoft Ignite has always drawn large crowds. Those who attended last year's event will recall that the keynote address had to be held in a large arena. And of course who can forget the crazy long lines at the attendee party in Chicago? Even so, I am predicting even larger crowds this year.

One of the reasons for this is that the IT industry seems to be on something of an upswing. More importantly, however, there is some empirical evidence to support my prediction. I booked my hotel room for Ignite back in February, and even at that time most of the hotels near the convention center were already sold out. Furthermore, Microsoft's list of attendee hotels seems to be longer than it has ever been. I could be wrong on that one, because I didn't exactly count the number of hotels that Microsoft is using, but the list seems to be far longer than it has been in past years.

As far as the technical content goes, there are a few different marketing messages that I expect Microsoft to try to convey to attendees. First, I think that this year's event will be very heavily focused on developers. I am basing this prediction on a few other smaller Microsoft events that I have been to lately. A Microsoft MVP event in Orlando back in June, for instance, focused almost entirely on developers even though a significant percentage of the attendees were not developers. Based on my own personal observations, this seems to be part of a larger trend.

Of course this raises the question of why Microsoft would be focusing so heavily on developers. This leads to my third prediction. I think that one of the biggest marketing messages that is going to come out of Ignite will be that Azure should be the default platform for running any workload. Microsoft has invested heavily in Azure, and workloads that are running on Azure create a revenue stream for Microsoft, so of course Microsoft is going to try to convince attendees to run all of their workloads on Azure. I think this is also why Microsoft has been working so hard to reach developers lately. They want developers to create Azure first applications.

My fourth prediction is that Microsoft is going to make some big Linux-related announcements. I don't know what those announcements will be, but Microsoft has been working hard to embrace Linux. After all, Windows now includes a Bash shell and supports Docker containers. Many of the recent enhancements to Hyper-V have also focused on Linux. I just can't help but get the feeling that Satya Nadella would love to phase out Windows in favor of a new Linux OS.

Obviously it would not be feasible for Microsoft to abandon Windows, at least not any time soon. But I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Microsoft announced that it was releasing its own Linux distribution. Even if Microsoft doesn't go that far at Ignite, I am betting that there will be some significant Linux-related announcements, and that Microsoft will create its own Linux distribution eventually.

Finally, I am predicting that Microsoft will pick up where it left off at last year's Ignite conference by spending more time talking about the work that it is doing on AI. AI is one of the major tech trends of the moment, and Microsoft needs to convince its customers that its AI solutions are better than those being offered by competitors.

So there you have it. These are the things that I think that Microsoft will probably focus on at Ignite, along with discussions of why its platforms are the best choice for keeping your data secure.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 16-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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