It was not too bad.
My first TechEd is over and overall it was an interesting experience. In some ways, my expectations were met. In others, they were not.
I was told it was big, I was told that the pace was go-go-go from dawn till late at night, I was told that it might be overwhelming. It was.
I didn't expect the state fair atmosphere of the exhibit hall. Unlike previous conferences I've been to, such as Windows Connections, some of these dudes had their microphones out and were calling out a continuous patter about their product line. There were rumors of a magician, and I saw one vendor representative showing how he could read attendees' minds. Young women accosted me and demanded I take their gift of a vendor t-shirt. It felt sort of like walking into Nogales, Mexico, from the American side back in the 1990s when I was a student in Arizona, only there was no one at TechEd calling "Missie, missie, my blankets are better than K-Mart, cheaper than sears!" Thankfully.
I also didn't expect to see so many fit attendees. The stereotype of the computer conference is that a majority of the attendees don't feel that physical fitness is important. Well, I people-watched while trying to decipher my interview notes in Building B and I can tell you that IT is shaping up. Nicely.
I was surprised at the focus on Visual Studio products during the keynote, and the pro-developer feel. But looking back at Microsoft TechEd 2001, I saw that admins were even then not the only focus. In fact, as I started to surf around looking for info about Microsoft's conference from ten years ago, I began to reflect on the differences between then and now.
THEN: Microsoft TechEd 2001: Company Announces Availability of Mobile Information Server, Demonstrates Content Management Server, and Takes SQL Server Past 1 Billion Dollars, demo of a site called xbox.com, announcement of Visual Studio.Net Beta 2 availability.
NOW: Microsoft TEchEd 2011: Company emphasizes The Cloud; announces new features and enhancements to its enterprise infrastructure and cloud solutions and new capabilities to help businesses optimize applications for their workforce and increase worker productivity:
- Windows Azure AppFabric, a cloud middleware platform that helps developers rapidly develop, deploy and manage cloud applications for the Windows Azure Platform
- new enhancements to Microsoft SQL Azure including integration of import and export features in the management portal
- Systems Center Orchestrator, an IT process automation platform that orchestrates workflows across systems and tasks
- a beta for Forefront Endpoint Protection 2012, offering real-time reporting and alerts, as well as role-based access controls
- new Windows Phone 7 features including security and search enhancements in Microsoft Office Outlook Mobile, out-of-the-box support for Microsoft Office 365 for access to Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online and Microsoft Lync Online, and Microsoft Lync 2010 Mobile for Windows Phone
- Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V support for Linux-based CentOS for customers who run mixed-environments consisting of Linux and Windows to have the choice to consolidate on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
- Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 SP1
- Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit providing data and analysis on IT infrastructure for planning migrations of existing software to a virtualized or cloud-based environment
- Windows Identity Foundation (WIF) v3.5 Extension for SAML 2.0 Protocol
NOW: You're a dork if you don't put your smart phone on vibrate. Most attendees have at least one electronic device with them, maybe more, and check Facebook, email, or IM frequently.
THEN: Attendee blogs complain about meals on flights, crowded flights.
NOW: Standard operating procedure for flying involves no meals, even tighter airplane seat real estate, and various stages of disrobing in security lines, not to mention being pulled out for extra screening if you're elderly and have metal hips, or if you're elderly in a wheelchair, or if you're dark/male/foreign/foreign-looking/good-looking/unlucky.
THEN: Bill Gates does a keynote.
NOW: Jason Zander and Robert Wahbe do keynotes. Who?
Then: Atlanta was hot, sticky, uncomfortable in June.
Now: Atlanta is cold, windy, uncomfortable in May, until the last day when the sun comes out.
I'm glad I got to go to TechEd. I met a lot of great people, learned about a lot of great products, and am excited at the amount of creativity out there in the third-party products that inhabit the Microsoft Biosphere.