It was a very full day today. Unfortunately, the big story to start off the day was the complete disappearance of hotel internet access.
MMS Bible Study
I personally always look forward to the MMS Bible Study led by Jarvis Davis. There were over 20 geeks in attendance this morning, and a great discussion was had about 1 John 1:1-4 and what “fellowship” means (quite approriate for a small gathering of believers pursuing that very thing). It was a great way to start the day, and I always seem to bump into the other attendees throughout the day.
Unlike the last time at the Mandalay, the keynote wasn’t in the hangar but rather in the concert arena. We came in to rockin’ beats from DJ Joey Snow, a Microsoft employee, which helped set a more fun atmosphere.
As usual, the keynote was packed with all sorts of information. It took on a slightly different tone this year in the absence of a product release, but the theme from the last couple years continued to progress: it’s all about the cloud. Big props to Microsoft for doing live demos for cloud-based services, but when the entire Mandalay Bay hotel complex dropped its internet connection that led to an almost half hour delayed start (which just gave us more time to enjoy Joey Snow). It was rather frustrating (or comical, depending on your point of view) to see everyone scrambling for bandwidth and internet access. Little did we know this would be a recurring theme throughout the day.
As Brad Anderson later revealed, the demo team had actually brought all of their demos up using their Nokia phones. That…was pretty cool.The keynote showcased several cool implementations of seamless integration between local and cloud based service…like remote storage with the speed of direct attached…and impressive streamlining of infrastructure management…such as rehydrating thousands of VM’s in a matter of minutes.
Now, for a conference that has been so heavy on Configuration Manager over the years, this keynote almost gave the feeling that the ConfigMgr days are numbered. I don’t personally believe this to be the case simply because so long as you have corporate owned systems on a local corporate network you will need a management platform for them. Because you don’t want to have two separate management platforms for owned and BYOD assets, I expect to continue to see ConfigMgr enhanced to cover both areas. That said, I have to agree that there wasn’t much for a ConfigMgr guy like me to get excited about.
The theme continued…no internet access. Connecting to the conference wireless was fine, but internet access was very spotty and nearly worthless most of the time. Every now and then somebody would get access, but mostly we all just gave each other a hard time about not being able to access anything. On top of that, there initially were no power strips at the tables to use for charging up your laptops or phones. This was particularly aggravating for me as I’ve been playing “power ninja” in order to keep my Samsung Galaxy S3 usable for more than half a day. I normally don’t have too much of an issue with battery, but with the screen constantly on due to tweeting and the camera being used to snap lots of pics it doesn’t last long. I was down to 40% battery by the end of the keynote, so I pilfered some electrons from the power strip feeding the printer in the lounge. They did eventually bring out some power strips…I’m just not sure why they weren’t set up earlier.
The Expo Hall opened for the first time at noon. In advance of the Welcome Reception (and myITforum party button mad dash), this was a chance to swing through and meet this year’s crop of vendors. Oh, and pick up swag. LOTS of swag. In particular, you can make up for the places Microsoft fell short this year by picking up 8GB USB keys from Veeam (instead of the 1GB key in the Micrsoft bag) and a BDNA water bottle (essential for hydration).
I love the Expo for the simple fact that you get to meet people who make their living working with, enhancing, and augmenting the System Center products. They take great products and make them better, and they take different (sometimes competing) approaches to solving real problems. Sometimes it may seem like a burden having to suffer through sales pitches and demos, but I see it as just another area of conference content. Some of the best in depth conversations I’ve had at MMS were with vendors. So go get your swag…but take some time to talk to these folks. You’ll be surprised what you come away with!
This afternoon was a Microsoft Partner Only session for the Cloud Analysis Tool, conducted by Yoav Land (Microsoft Director of Cloud & Optimization Strategy). I’m including this not because I got to go and you didn’t (believe me, it was tough to miss the MVP Panel session), but for the sake of those who may not realize how many other things go on outside of the regular breakout sessions. There are many private sessions for Microsoft partners as well as other sponsors and vendors. Some of these you get invited to because you work for the company you do, but others may be simply because you took some time to talk to these companies and express genuine interest in their products and services. These sessions are an opportunity to get focused time with particular products and offerings, and they aren’t the type of sessions you can just watch the video on a week later. Many are not even recorded, and they offer an opportunity to interact with experts in a close setting.
I was seeing tweets as early as 3:30pm that people were already lining up outside the Expo Hall for the 5:30pm opening of the Welcome Reception (aka “Running of the Bulls” dash for the myITforum Party buttons).
After the initial insanity, we were free to enjoy the Welcome Reception, ending the day’s formal events. Of course, this is Las Vegas…so we had to head out and spend some time socializing.
But those details are better left to legend…