Ryan Williams, Cloud Solutions Architect 

It’s the last day of Microsoft Ignite 2019 and what a week! As I sit in the airport after a slightly earlier finish (2pm today instead of the usual 6pm), waiting for my flight home, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on my first experience of this immense event. 

So, what is Microsoft Ignite, for those that have never heard of it or been before (I’m sure there’s someone)? Microsoft Ignite is Mecca for Microsoft tech-lovers. It lasts for 5 days and for the last few years has been hosted at the Orange County Convention Centre in Florida. Microsoft fully book out this 7,000,000 sq ft1 Convention Centre (whose west concourse is half a mile long!) and receive around 26,000 attendees annually. 

Over these 5 days, Microsoft make their biggest product release announcements, showcase their vision for the future and run hundreds of breakout and workshop sessions. Sol-Tec has already written some blogs on the hot topics coming out of Microsoft Ignite this year, so do check out our Azure and Microsoft 365 highlights here. 

This blog is all about me! My techie perspective and my experiences as a first time, Microsoft Ignite attendee. 

The first question I want to address, is why I was so was so desperate to get to Microsoft Ignite! What can I say? I am evangelical about IT. Since the age of 8 I’ve been obsessed by computers and their inner workings. Leaving college, I went straight into a career in computing. I started out as a support engineer fixing desktops PCs, laptops, printers etc. The operating systems running on these devices were, more often than not, Windows-based and so for the majority of my working life, I’ve been immersed in Windows Server and Microsoft Azure. This early career direction, coupled with my passion for technology, has effectively made me the Microsoft fanboy I am today. 

So, we have established my passion, but why the drive to attend an event like Microsoft Ignite? With my passion comes a huge hunger to receive information first and from the source. Microsoft Ignite, the biggest Microsoft technical event of the entire year, is literally like Christmas day for me. I am the kid jumping up and down on their parents’ bed at 5am, begging to go downstairs and open my presents. 

What have I gained from Microsoft Ignite? I’ll try to keep this bit short, but I’d probably describe my current state as SHOCK AND AWE – the amount of innovation, products and services they are delivering to their customers is overwhelming. I have gained knowledge on new services like Azure Arc and existing & evolving products like Azure Stack and Windows Virtual Desktop. I’ve had the opportunity to engage with Microsoft product and engineering teams and get first party answers to questions that aren’t easy to come by on community forums. Attending workshops has allowed me to get hands on with products and services that simply aren’t at my fingertips day-to-day, like migrating an on-premises RDS environment into Azure and migrating to Windows Virtual Desktop. The learning opportunities are huge with an exam prep session being run on nearly all role-based exams that Microsoft has to offer. As an attendee of Microsoft Ignite, I was also given a free exam voucher to further test and prove my knowledge and to qualify as a Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate. 


As part of this blog I’d also like to say a massive thank you to my employer Sol-Tec. Sol-Tec share my enthusiasm and passion for technology and is focused at ensuring its customers benefit from this passion by supporting, developing and honing the expertise of its employees. I have felt driven by Sol-Tec since joining the team and the opportunity to attend Microsoft Ignite really did underline Sol-Tec’s ongoing commitment to my development. This in turn means Sol-Tec’s customers benefit from cutting edge, high quality services driven directly by our knowledge and expertise of the very latest Microsoft technologies out there. 

So, in summary? At the end of my inaugural trip to Microsoft Ignite, I leave an over-excited techy….. I am that boy on Christmas day who can’t wait to get stuck into all of his shiny, new, toys!  However, the fun doesn’t end there. Pre-registration is open for Microsoft Ignite 2020 (I have already registered) and you can continue to watch all the sessions from Ignite 2019 on-demand. Microsoft also run a cut down version of Ignite that tours the globe called “Microsoft Ignite – The Tour “. You should also check out where and when this event is taking place – it’ll at least give you a flavour of the experience I’ve had in Orlando. 

I’m also feeling very ready to share my enthusiasm and impart my knowledge of Windows Virtual Desktop at our first webinar on the topic this Friday morning. Find out more about the demo I’ll be running on our “Desktop in the Cloud” registration page.