Microsoft Ignite The Tour has been and gone, And after a week or so of thinking about it, I believe it may be worth to write a post about my overall thoughts of the Conference.
What is Microsoft Ignite The Tour?
Microsoft, like many other Technology giants have an annual conference, displaying their latest and greatest technology and inspirational talks and techie sessions, This is Ignite for Microsoft. Every year, Microsoft show off the latest in their Hardware, Software and cloud tech at a giant conference centre normally in a major US city, previously this has been Florida.
Coming back to Ignite the Tour, This is a series of smaller technology conferences which run a similar course to their bigger brother, showing the latest in Microsoft Tech such as Azure, Microsoft 365 and the Surface line of hardware. The best thing about Ignite the tour is that it is ran at major cities around the globe, such as in London, which I attended last week. Thankfully, Ignite the tour is free to attend if you are lucky enough to grab yourself a ticket via Microsoft’s registration site. In my experience, I registered for this years event back in October/November last year, and they finally sent me a confirmation email a mere week before!
Excel London was the conference centre of choice for Microsoft at their London leg of the tour. The Excel Centre spans over a 100 acre site with its own Costa Coffee and numerous cafes and restaurants. Based in East London, its easy to get too via the London Underground and Overground DLR line to the conference centres own train station.
As it was my first technology conference and my first time at a conference centre this large, I was a tad overwhelmed with the scale of the place, comfortable shoes are definitely a need for getting around the centre and attending tech sessions.
I got to London a day before the event to get checked into my hotel and have a day of preparing for the conference. Thankfully The centre has numerous hotels and apartments nearby, so finding a hotel wasn’t an issue. The conference started early, around 7:30am on the Thursday. I got to the centre around 7:15 to complete registration and give myself an hour to get my bearings of the conference centre and to grab some free breakfast and tea.
I was glad that I got to the event a bit earlier than I originally anticipated, due to seeing the queues for registration after 8am, no doubt a few people missed the first sessions of the day that started at 9am.
With any Ignite The Tour or even the main Ignite event, there is a huge amount of technical sessions and break-out sessions from Microsoft Employees, Microsoft MVPs and third party companies. Thankfully there is a session scheduler based on the Microsoft Ignite website, that you can browse the events before you attend, and plan your days at the event, massively helpful. In hindsight, I would of scheduled less sessions and spent a bit more time speaking to members of the Microsoft community in the Hub breakout area, but also to give myself a break between sessions.
Along with the session scheduler, Microsoft host their own application specifically designed for Microsoft events, these can be used to view your sessions that you are attending and also keep up to date with any notifications from the event during the few days you are there.
The Hub is a central point for attendees to have a break from the technical sessions and relax. The hub contained numerous sections, such as a huge Microsoft Showcase, that provided info on Microsoft Learn, Microsoft Surface products as well as bits on what is done throughout the Microsoft Community. There are plenty of chairs and tables available around the hub area, where you sit and speak to other attendees, something I wish I did more of!
The Hub was spread across two floors, with the second floor containing the majority of third party vendors that have partnered with Microsoft for the event. This is where attendees could get the latest information on third party products such as the likes of Red Hat Linux, Sophos and others. Most of the booths here gave out free Swag such as Stickers and T-shirts, a special shout out for Red Hat for giving out actual Red Fedoras, aligned to their logo. (I did try to get one of these but they went in about 30 minutes of the conference starting)
Free Microsoft Exam Voucher
Something I didn’t know before attending Ignite the tour, Is that all attendees get a free Microsoft Exam voucher for attending. Something that is most welcome, considering I am currently waiting to take my AZ-300 exam, I will use my free voucher for AZ-301. Take a look at Microsoft MVP, Thomas Maurers blog post explaining how to redeem the free exam voucher: Free Microsoft certification voucher
Summarizing the event
Considering it was my first time at a tech event, I was pleasantly surprised at how I found myself with other attendees that where working on the same projects and technologies that I do on a day to day basis. The Microsoft community is something that Microsoft is proud of, and every person I spoke to at the event where friendly and answered any questions you had. Imposter syndrome is a big thing in the IT and technology industry, and at first I did feel like I didn’t belong at an event such this, but after having a brief walk around and speaking to other attendees, I felt relieved that I was somewhat on the same level as those attending.
I do regret not speaking to other members of the community and other attendees that I knew where attending before I got to London. But with the busy session schedule, and visiting the conference hub, It was difficult at times to have a spare 30-40 minutes to relax and speak to others for long.
I will definitely be looking at attending the same event next year, and will probably look at attending sessions around tech and subjects that I don’t really have knowledge on, as at this event I stuck to technologies that I had prior knowledge in.
See you next year London!