Read my summary of all Ignite days:
This year I’ve decided to attend Microsoft Ignite, the largest Microsoft event for developers and IT people.
Ignite is a 5-days event (with another pre-event workshop day), that takes place in Orlando, FL.
So, how was the first day? Let’s see.
To be honest, Ignite is not a natural choice for a Software Architect.
There are other conferences in which software architecture takes a more central place, such as O’Reilly Software Architecture Conference, or QCon, and even NDC. But still, this time I’ve decided to go for Ignite, for the following reasons:
- In such a large event (more about it in a minute), there will be some content relevant to Architects.
- I’m now a Certified Azure Solution Architect (haven’t wrote about it yet, but I will…), which means I’m not only Software Architect, but also a Cloud Architect. One of my most popular posts discusses the differences between Software Architect and Cloud Architect, and one of them is that the Cloud Architect must be familiar with the various puzzle pieces that builds the cloud services. Ignite is one of the best opportunities to learn just that.
- I’ve heard a lot about Ignite, its size, its special atmosphere, and wanted to experience these first hand.
So, the decision was made, and I found myself in Orlando, FL, on Nov 3rd, after 3 flights, totaling 14 hours in the air.
So How Is The Event?
I intend to write a post dedicated to the logistics and planning of the event, but one thing must be said right now:
Ignite is big. Like, really big. Huge.
I’ve had my fair share of large events, with 2000, 3000, even 4000 attendees.
But Ignite is something else.
I’m not quite sure how many attendees there are. The website says 15,000, Satya in his keynote quoted 30,000, but you get the gist.
This event is massive.
And naturally, requires massive conference center.
So what did Microsoft do?
They opened Wikipedia, and looked for the largest convention center in the US.
They skipped the 1st place, because… reasons, I guess, and went straight to the second-largest convention center in the US – The Orange County Convention Center (from now on: OCCC).
And OCCC is really big. There is a shuttle that takes you from one side of the OCCC to the other. That big.
Take, for example, the dining hall:
What you see above is half of the smaller dining hall.
(BTW – apologies for the low quality photos. I’m a lousy photographer with a lousy phone)
But enough about logistics, let’s talk business.
So what did I learn in the 1st day of Ignite?
The keynote was performed by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO. Satya is a very strong proponent of the cloud, and naturally almost all his talk was about the cloud.
Some interesting topics he mentioned:
- Microsoft estimates the IOT market in the next years will grow to 50bn devices, transmitting 175ZB (that’s Zetabytes) of information.
- Announcement: Azure Arc. A very interesting offering that allows managing on-premise or cross-cloud resources using Azure managed service. For example, using Arc we can provision SQL Server on AWS the same way we do today on Azure. This offering breaks the barriers around Azure data centers, and provides accessibility to Azure services also for clients who don’t want to migrate to it. Great offering, with huge potential.
- Announcement: Azure Synapse. Big Data and Data Warehouse in a single resource, providing blazing fast performance analyzing petabytes of data. Can be used with structured and unstructured data. Will replace eventually Azure Data Lake and Azure Datawarehouse. The onstage demo was super impressive, demonstrating how a query that takes 11 mins on Google BigQuery, takes 9 secs (!) on Synapse. Definitely should keep an eye on it.
- Microsoft is moving towards autonomous machines, and not only with cars. Its AI offering takes part in some very interesting efforts in this field. Rise Of The Robots looks closer than ever…
- Announcement: Azure Quantum. The Quantum initiative (that caught headlines in recent days) is a combination of open hardware, open software, and simulation engine. All these enables many organizations to experience quantum computing without the very high upfront costs usually associated with it.
- Announcement: Power Virtual Agent and Power Automate. Two new friends in the Power Apps family, allowing building chatbots without any code. On later session there was a very impressive demo of these features, demonstrating even automation of a legacy Win32 app.
All in all, a very interesting and info-packed keynote, and a great starter for the day.
An overview of the various offerings and services around data management solutions in Azure.
In the session, the general availability of SQL Server 2019 was announced. It looks like in the latest version of SQL Server, Microsoft is trying to make it more than a database. SQL 2019 has a “Hub” capability, allowing it to query directly other databases (Oracle, Mongo and more), and integrate the results in a query that is executed against it. Interesting.
Hyperscale Postgres was annouced, which is basically an autoscale solution for Postgres DBs. From the demo it looks very easy to setup, and no downtime is involved, which is way better than the current situation.
Demo-packed session of the various capabilities of Cognitive Services in Azure.
Cognitive Services is a set off APIs exposing various ML & AI actions, centered around vision, speech, decision, language and search.
From my experience, Cognitive Search API is extremely easy to use. and I highly recommend to play with it.
Azure SQL Edge
In my POV, one of the most interesting announcement in the conference so far.
SQL Edge is a small-footprint SQL Server (less than 500MB), with full feature parity with Azure Managed SQL (which basically means it can do anything that does not require direct interaction with the underlying OS, such as reading files).
SQL Edge goal is to be used on edge devices (otherwise known as IOT) and handle and process the information recorded by them, before transmitting to the central storage (if threre is any).
Imagine a device on a jet engine, constantly monitoring the engine state. When an anomaly is detected, using ML algorithms (all on the device itself, OK?), an alert is raised and the data is streamed to a central DB for further analytics. This creates a huge potential for a lot of interesting uses.
There were some more, smaller and focused, sessions, but these are the major ones.
All in all, great first day. A lot of information, and lot of inspiration, a lot of partners, a lot of people, a lot of walking.
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