Wrapping up Ignite 2016

Ignite 2016 is once again behind us, farewell Atlanta!  Our team again travelled to Ignite to try to see as many sessions as possible, meet as many people as possible and have a good time while doing so.

This year Ignite was held in Atlanta and we arrived a day or two early to get over jetlag and get the lay of the land.  To be honest (and apologies in advance to Atlanta natives) we were not as enamoured with Atlanta as say Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles, New York or Chicago mainly because finding good bars and a buzzing nightlife wasn’t as easy.   We walked from the convention center to Buckhead, where we were told the good bars were, and well it was a very long walk.  We caught an Uber after walking nearly 7 miles and realising we still had 3 miles to go!  Buckhead was ok but not really what we were looking for.  We did try to book in a Segway tour at the start of the week, but everything was booked up so we didn’t get a tour until pretty much our last day.  On the tour we saw some nice areas but unfortunately too late for us to take advantage of them.

The Ignite event itself is huge, with around 23,000 attendees and well over 800 sessions, so there was plenty of choice and unfortunately plenty of clashes.  Needless to say the Fitbit got a good work out while walking between sessions.  The overwhelming number of sessions did come with some problems.  The first being that there were inevitable clashes, of course you can watch them afterwards but who has a spare few hundred hours…?  The second being the mix of 20, 30, 60, 75 and 90, minute slots made it pretty complex to schedule in the sessions you wanted and the third was that a number of sessions were hard up against each other time wise and with it taking 10-15 mins to walk from one end of the venue to the other you couldn’t get to the next sessions as it would be full by the time you got there.  The food was pretty average, although having take out boxes meant that you could at least go to another session while eating.

So what did we learn…

  • The Outlook and Exchange teams have been working on totally re-architecting the sharing of calendars, where essentially a synced copy is kept in each delegate’s ost/mailbox
  • The Outlook mobile apps on iOS and Android use an Azure based service to translate a proprietary protocol to REST based APIs into the service
  • Over 90% of all customers are still using Exchange On-Premises.  There was no clarity over what customers meant, was that seats, mailboxes, businesses, etc. but still a staggering number of on-premises installations
  • The AAD Connect team along with the Exchange team are considering ways to completely remove reliance on on-premises Exchange attributes
  • The problem of school/work versus Microsoft account is actively being worked on to try to alleviate the identity pain felt by some customers
  • Anti-Virus is easily overcome by even a half savvy hacker.  Windows 10 Enterprise addresses a lot of these, although I’m sure Paula J has already found ways around some of those 🙂
  • Security in Windows is not that strong, with passwords for users as well as service accounts able to be retrieved within minutes if not seconds, however Windows 10 Enterprise Credential Guard along with standard (read free) solutions can help mitigate some of these attacks
  • UK Data Centres have come online and are available to select in order to keep data within UK&I.  These are going to be used by the likes of Ministry of Defence so good enough for the military!
  • German Data Centres are coming online as a special case where these data centres are totally disconnected from the rest of the Office 365/Azure data centres and wholly managed by t-Systems within Germany.  So whilst it runs the Microsoft code-base it is subject 100% to German law only
  • Azure adoption is growing fast and the complexity of the entirety of Azure is a bit overwhelming.  New features like vnet peering have come in to help make things easier to architect.
  • Operations Management Suite is a fantastic toolset covering security, monitoring and automation (including patching and DR)
  • Enterprise Mobility and Security allows for a much tighter control on mobile devices and BYOD with conditional access, data containerization and selective wipe
  • Microsoft Cloud is the most complete solution in the market place based on the total number of Gartner leader quadrants obtained
  • Businesses like Accenture are moving towards cloud at a fair rate of knots, 60% of their infrastructure at the moment and expected to reach 80% within 12 months
  • Microsoft Exchange and Sysinternals both turned 20 this year

All of the sessions were recorded, and like I said it is over 800 sessions, so hundreds of hours of fun!  Although ironically they’re placed on Google’s YouTube… :o)

Next year Ignite will be help in Orlando!  We will definitely be there again in order to keep up with the latest changes, the future vision from Microsoft and to catch up with colleagues and friends from around the world

Twan van Beers

Twan is a senior consultant with over 20 years of experience. He has a wide range of skills including Messaging, Active Directory, SQL, Networking and Firewalls. Twan loves to write scripts and get deep and dirty into debugging code, in order to understand and resolve the most complex of problems.

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