As I sit down to write about everything that happened today, I realized that I need to take better notes throughout the day. This morning started off with a mediocre at best “continental breakfast”. Bagels, muffins and toast was basically the entire spread. Oh, and my buffet line was missing cream cheese and I couldn’t find any to save my life so I gave up and forcefully ate half my bagel plain. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not one to normally complain about minor details like this, but I believe the masses on twitter summed it up best by pointing out that people paid a lot of money to be here and a bowl of fruit or some Nutri Grain bars probably wouldn’t break the bank Microsoft.
Since breakfast didn’t take long to force down, I ended up waiting with a conglomeration of people outside the exhibition hall ready to stampede into the keynote as soon as the doors opened. I ended up about four rows back on the right side of the stage. No need to throw elbows or sprint for this keynote. A band opened up first, playing a few songs before Bob Muglia (President, Server and Business Tools) took the stage. The first thirty minutes or so felt very “forced” to me. It was pretty obvious that Bob was nervous and I can’t say I blame the guy. I can honestly say before today’s address I had never heard his name.
The content of the keynote focused heavily on cloud computing. For those that signed in on Sunday, we were greeted with fair warning due to all the Windows & SQL Azure marketing banners. I’m left with mixed feelings about cloud computing. I see a business case for moving certain things to the cloud, but all the hype that everything will be cloud based in next few years makes me curious if this is just the latest “slap bracelet, slinky,pog, yo-yo” trend to sweep the technology industry. Did I just date myself with that statement??
The rest of the keynote was relatively uneventful less the OCS demo hiccup (granted the product is still in technical preview and what’s a keynote without a glitch or two?) I wasn’t left with the “go get em” attitude I thought I would have after a speech to a room of 5,000+ Microsoft groupies.
Three “foundation” sessions took place immediately after the keynote. I attended one entitled “IT Infrastructure from the Desktop to the Cloud” (you feeling that nudge about this cloud thing too??) Some cool things were demoed in this session but honestly the whole thing was again too scripted for me. Please, just act normal in front of the audience… It bodes well for a presenter when his/her audience feels they are at the same level and can relate. It just felt gameshow-e to me.
Next came lunch. I was VERY impressed with the food and the short wait to get it. The size of the lunch hall is just insane. It’s a real sight to see thousands of people eating together at the same time!
My next session was titled “Wiretapping Kung Fu: Becoming a Network Analyst Guru”, presented by Laura Chappell. Boy was this session a treat! Laura is the exemplar of a good presenter. She was funny, down to earth, and unscripted which is just what I was in need of after this morning. The session was packed with useful, relevant information and left me wanting more. She has a book in print right now www.wiresharkbook.com which I’m inspired to buy and read at some point.
Oh, remember how I commented on the wifi in yesterday’s post? Well it appears that even with right equipment and prior preparation the network just couldn’t keep pace with demand. At one point during the afternoon the Internet blacked out completely even on the kiosks setup for attendees to access CommNet for session information. For whatever reason my iPhone had full reception on 3G but I couldn’t make any calls or access the data network at all. I can’t say for sure why but I’m imagining it may have had something to do with the thousands of people in one spot, attached to the closest 3G tower. Nothing like your communications being completely isolated from the rest of the world while at a technology conference!
The next two sessions I attended were on Forefront Identity Manager. While informative and very technical in nature, I’m really left with nothing that interesting to write home to the wife and kids about. I am glad to see the amount of deep level of technical sessions offered.
This evening was the partner expo & technical learning center reception. The promise of free food, drinks, and vendor goodies drew a decent crowd.
I made an effort to visit a few vendors I had never heard of before and stopped to chat at the MS learning center a bit but ended up leaving within an hour. Let me just stop here for a second to step up on my soapbox about something I saw that bothered me tonight. Several vendors found it advantageous to hire a few “spokesmodels” to draw in the crowd. I’m sure these girls had no idea what it was they were selling, they were simply being paid to flirt with the crowd and draw people in so the sales folks could swoop in with the RFID readers and capture contact information. I thought that type of marketing was over and done with. What is this, the 80’s? Seriously, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that any individual sucked in to a booth by this type of marketing isn’t likely a great sales lead anyhow. If I’m interested in your product or service, I’m going to come talk to you – ugly sales staff or not. Just staff your booth with knowledgeable, friendly folks.