Spring in Chicago - Ignite 2015It’s still spring time here in Chicago, but it’s also time for Microsoft’s first ever all-in-one product conference named Ignite.  Throughout the rest of this week, I’ll do my best to share with you insights from the day, and highlight innovations or other content I thought was interesting.

What is Ignite?

This Ignite conference is the first (but not last I’m sure) time Microsoft is taking most of all of the other individual product conferences and bringing them all under one roof.  These include TechEd, Exchange, SharePoint, etc.  Content and information is being shared across all 5 days this week, ranging from the normal breakout sessions to hands-on lands, ask the experts sessions with the product teams, exam preparation and certification testing, live-streaming from Channel9, community theaters and of course the expo center.  New this year also is the MyIgnite mobile app, providing the same experience from the web to your mobile device with maps, session info, your customized saved calendar and other goodies. 

WP_20150503_16_07_35_ProToday starting with the keynote from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella lays the foundation and theme for the rest of the conference, as well as share Microsoft’s vision for the upcoming decade.  Then the rest of the days “double-click down” as they say into deeper dives breakout sessions, some technical and some not.  WP_20150504_07_43_49_Pro

Before I go further, let’s look at Ignite by the numbers:

  • Over 23,000 attendees!
  • The preparation and infrastructure took 11 days and 11 semi-trucks of equipment to setup
  • Over half a million calendar invites downloaded from the MyIgnite tool
  • During the keynote 5,000 of the 22,000 attendees were live tweeting, 500 were posting to Instagram

Can't touch thisA quick shout out to the fine folks over at Fpweb for letting us hang out and enjoy some great company at a Chicago Cubs game on Sunday.  Thanks! 

On another side note, check out the dj!

The Keynote

ignite keynote

The keynote started off with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella giving his vision for Microsoft and its Mobile First | Cloud First paradigm.  Then Joe Belfiore delighted us with demos of the latest builds of Windows 10 including Microsoft Edge (formerly Project Spartan) and other improvements with UI and security, and collaborating with Delve.  Joe passed the baton to Gudeep Singh Pall who talked about how Microsoft is reinventing productivity and the importance of team productivity.  After a quick demo of the new features with Surface Board and Skype for Business, Brad Anderson talked about the Intelligent Cloud and how Microsoft is treating security in this ever-changing digital age.  In the evening closing keynote we heard from all the innovations and upcoming projects from Microsoft Research.

KeyNote Takeaways

Let me quickly share my highights / takeaways. 

  1. From the top down, Microsoft is about EMPOWERMENT.  Empowering people to do and achieve more, to ignite that spark inside of them to help light the way and ignite the future through innovation.  Microsoft’s mission – to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.  It’s not about the individual as much as each individual working as a team to a common goal like a beehive.

  2. CONTINIUM – this is a new concept / feature in Windows 10, that really stretches the user experience across mobile devices.  This can provide the ability to dock a small tablet or even a mobile phone to a keyboard and monitor, and start using it as a business computer running the same apps, in the same way.  In Windows 10, there’s one code base.  As Joe put it repeatedly “It’s the same code”.   

  3. The user is mobile, not the device.  Remote users shouldn’t be 2nd-class citizens in your organization, and their mobile connectivity shouldn’t be either.  A mobile device, if left alone, doesn’t move anywhere.  It’s the user that switches between their mobile phone, to tablet, to desktop, and so on.  To this end, your thought process should be about making sure the experience is the same no matter the device.  The universal app model in Windows 8 and Windows 10 will help make this easier, giving automatic screen adaptability. 

SharePoint 2016

SharePoint 2016 blog authoringNow as you may or may not know, I work in SharePoint most of my days.  So of course I had to attend the initial session for SharePoint 2016 and roadmap discussion.  38% of all SharePoint seats are in 365, and 80% of fortune 500 companies use SharePoint on-premise.  With SharePoint 2016, they are mainly focusing on:

  • Innovations from the cloud to on-premise with cloud-inspired infrastructure
    • 2016 will be the first time they shift to where the cloud defines the on-premise functionality
  • Make it easier to migrate from on-premise to the cloud
  • Add new target experiences in Next-Gen Portals like the new Delve People Profile, Office 365 Video and other UI improvements
  • Compliance

A couple exciting features I saw were:WP_20150504_14_12_53_Pro

  • Zero downtime patching – based in the cloud, and updates happen without users even knowing or downtime
  • Stability – SharePoint 2016 will be the most robustly tested platform of any version of SharePoint ever
  • Big improvements with Hybrid scenarios, really bridging the gap between cloud and on-premise

Release schedule

Microsoft plans to release a SharePoint 2016 beta 1 by Q4 2015, with a release date of around Q2 2016. 

I think that does it for day 1.  There are lots of exciting things to come, stay tuned!  Be sure to follow Curtis Hughes and C5 Insight as we live tweet throughout the week!