This year’s IT/Dev Connections was a different sort of event for me. First, it was held at the Aria Resort which was an entirely better experience then past venues. Notably the WiFi worked pretty darn good—perhaps not perfectly, but way better than the hotels we’ve used in the past. Plus, the hotel was new and everything worked and was nice—a good change from older hotels like the MGM or Mandalay Bay. Those were big changes, but an even bigger change was that instead of presenting a bunch of technical sessions, I spent the majority of my time talking with the attendees. I came away with a lot of interesting information that I thought I might be interesting to you.
Excellent SQL Server Panel Q&A
First and foremost, everyone I talked to was very happy with this conference. A standout may be the number of what I’ll call MMS refugees that came to the event. Many of the attendees came for the System Center coverage that was so notably absent from this past year’s TechEd and the former Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) conference. IT/Dev Connections is now the premier event for technical hands-on System Center information.
IT/Dev Connections tracks provided deep hands-on technical information. And the SQL Server panel was chock-full of SQL luminaries providing answers to all sorts of attendee questions. The "Ask the SQL Server Experts" panel included:
- Tim Ford
- Rafael Salas
- Allen White
- Argenis Fernandez
- Andrew J. Kelly
- Tim Mitchell
- Jes Borland
- Grant Fritchey
- Mickey Stuewe
- Steve Jones
- Jason Strate
- David Klee
Windows Server 2003 Still Prevalent
Some of the discussions I had revealed a lot about where companies are at today from a wide variety of topics ranging from Windows Server 2003 to the cloud. One interesting, but somewhat unexpected, points that came out was how prevalent Windows Server 2003 still was. Almost all of the attendees that I spoke to were still running Windows Server 2003 somewhere—mostly not by choice. There was an almost universal wish to upgrade the aging operating system. However, vendor application concerns were the primary barrier. The OS was running old applications and the vendor of those applications didn’t support the newer operating systems.
Azure and the Cloud
Azure and the cloud were another interesting point. Everyone pretty much was aware that the cloud is growing and while some are using it, others said they never will. Interestingly, and perhaps understandably, the attendees were very focused on Azure and not at all on what other cloud providers might offer. I think this was primarily due to the fact that most IT/Dev Connections attendees are strong users of the Microsoft stack. Amazon had almost no traction for the vast majority of people I talked to. Even so, Azure wasn’t what you would call a shoe-in.
There were two main areas where people were using Azure—and no it wasn’t for the IaaS functions or the hybrid disaster recovery (DR) capabilities like you might think. Instead, they were using Azure first for hosting external websites and for SharePoint. Generally speaking, SMBs are more accepting of Azure and the cloud than enterprise are. Although attendees from Enterprise level organizations had better knowledge of Azure capabilities, they were less inclined to use Azure. For them cost, security, latency, and compliance were huge concerns. Maybe two out of every 10 people were using Office 365.
Tour of Private Cloud Data Center
As a wrap up to the event, Sean Deuby, Amy Eisenberg, Jayleen Heft, and I joined Alan Sugano on a tour his private cloud data center facility in the Super Nap location in Las Vegas. These data center facilities far exceed any private center that I have ever visited. Physical security was amply evident in the armed guards and row of assault rifles in the reception center.
Inside the facility resembled the insides of something from Star Wars. There were multiple massive facilities all full of every type of computing equipment imaginable. The site with filled with blue lights, highly secure mantraps separated each facilities, and an advanced cooling system separated the hot and cool air. Alan speculated that if this site went out, an eighth of the Internet worldwide would go down—it’s that big.
Ability to Crossover Between Technical Tracks
One of the big bonuses that the attendees really like in the the IT/Dev Connections conference was the ability to freely crossover between tracks and learn about all of the topics that interested them. It was great meeting all the people there, and hopefully, we’ll get a chance to meet you at next year’s conference.