Microsoft Ignite 2019: Day 1
I'm here at Microsoft Ignite this week and am really excited to hear the new announcements for Windows Server and learn about Azure, Microsoft 365 (and Teams) and more! I'll be posting a daily update here with the highlights of the day and my personal experience.
Satya Nadella opened the conference with a keynote at 9 AM that lasted a couple of hours and was full of announcements for a variety of Microsoft offerings including Azure Stack HCI, Microsoft 365, and Surface devices. The line to get into The Hub (where he was speaking) was full within a half hour of opening, so I opted to view the keynote from the ballroom where the Microsoft 365 keynote would be held after Nadella's speech. They started off with an Azure and Microsoft Teams-themed Jeopardy game with three Microsoft employees which kept the audience occupied while we were waiting for the keynote.
Then, Nadella's talk began promptly at 9 AM and included segments from various Microsoft employees for more specific details on each product. The presentation was very neat because each speaker spoke from their station in the Hub via video feed instead of having everyone speak on the same stage.
A few of the things that stood out to me the most included the hybrid Azure servers (including one that is small enough to fit into a briefcase), a laser-etched piece of quartz glass that held a backup of the entire original Superman, and a preview of the new Surface Neo and Duo devices that Microsoft will be releasing next year.
Microsoft 365 Corporate Vice President, Jared Spataro, holds a Surface Neo
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella holds a quartz glass backup disk containing the original Super Man film.
Before the afternoon sessions began, I took some time to explore The Hub, the exhibit hall for all of this year's vendors. The Surface section was particularly interesting to me because Microsoft is very clearly trying to show off the upgradability of the new Surface Laptop 3 with a full disassembled layout of Surface Laptop 3 parts.
The new version can be disassembled to allow replacement of the internal SSD. I asked the engineer at the booth if the battery was also a replaceable component, but unfortunately, he said it was not. Based on my examination of the disassembled Surface Laptop 3, I think iFixit will discover a way to replace it though, even if it is not a supported repair by Microsoft. Regardless of how many components are actually user-replaceable, it is an amazing feat that a technology company can create a laptop with replaceable parts in 2019 while still maintaining the slim form factor that most users expect from their laptops.
Afternoon sessions: Windows Server 2019
The afternoon sessions were the part of the day that I was looking forward to the most. I attended two Windows Server 2019 sessions which outlined the new features of Server 2019, most specifically about Windows Admin Center and how Windows Server integrates with Azure HCI.
Microsoft announced the release of Windows Admin Center 1910 today with the most notable new feature being the ability to create Azure HCI clusters between two servers within Admin Center itself. The process seemed quite seamless in their demo, and the point of Admin Center seems to be its ability to automate administrative tasks down to a few clicks. One of the most interesting features to me was Azure File Sync's integration with on-premises storage. Windows Admin Center allows you to setup Azure cold storage to offload less-frequently used apps from your on-premises file servers so that more space can be freed for more important use cases. One user case was cited where their 50 TB storage capacity was basically turned into a 100 TB storage by offloading files to Azure. Microsoft claims that the end user will never notice the difference since the most used documents continue to stay on-prem for faster access.
After the final session completed, I headed back over to The Hub for nachos and beer at the Welcome Reception. I took advantage of the Microsoft Store's 20% discount on literature plus $5 off coupon and purchased all three Microsoft Press books for the MCSA 2016 exam which I'm currently studying for. I can't wait to go through these when I return home.
Finally, I attended Orin Thomas' session on the top 5 new features in Windows Server 2019 which was a great way to cap off a day focused on Azure and Server 2019.
I really enjoyed the first day at Microsoft Ignite and am looking forward to the rest of the week. One thing that has really struck me so far is just how massive this is. Compared to the 2000-2500 attendees at SpiceWorld, Microsoft Ignite is much bigger with an announced sold-out crowd of 29,000 people this year. But the bigger size also means a lot more great informative sessions and great opportunities to network with other attendees, so I can't wait to get my day started tomorrow. Stay tuned for updates on Day 2!