What a fun week it was at Microsoft Ignite!

Wow, Microsoft Ignite is a something every IT person should attend! There were sessions on about every Microsoft product and an equal abundance of caffeine. There were many vendors and Microsoft employees representing their products. It was great being able to walk up and bounce ideas around with the Microsoft staff. Then, to top it off with the grand celebration at Universal Orlando Resort™! I have yet to tell my kids about the amusement park since it would break their hearts. I haven’t even talked about the rides with my wife, she was jealous when I told her before the trip, so you will get more scoop than she will.

Now, it is back to reality and time to go from Ignite to burn! I will take the energy I had from last week and keep myself on track to push the envelope. This comes from a saying that goes something like “The spark is the idea that Ignites the invention to Burn through obstacles.” I gave myself an action item to find the original quote. The idea is to follow through on what you start. With that notion, I wanted to share with you the progress I made on last week’s goals. I will review them in the order of impact. This will show how important they turned out to be and may help you set better goals.

Network with new people

I used FedEx 24 hour business card printing service to have business cards made the next day. I made sure the cards had my contact information with my name in a large font that stood out.

Next, I searched what others were saying on Twitter about the conference. This is where I made a great business connection with one of the conference speakers. It was a casual conversation where at some point he asked if I were presenting. I responded that I was not, but I wanted to work my way up to that level. He offered to meet me after his presentation and give me some direction. Look for a future blog post about who I met and what I learned!

The first day of the Microsoft Ignite conference I started a conversation with the person next to me while waiting for our bus to the convention center. When we arrived, we sat at a random table with our plates full of eggs and bacon, which was the same breakfast every day. While I was stuffing my face with bacon one of the session speakers sat at our table and had the oddest conversation with an annoyed Windows Phone user that could have used more coffee before engaging in conversation. The speaker was Mark Schramm, a specialist in Windows smartphone applications and artificial intelligence. He had the most patience with our decaffeinated breakfast companion and shared some entertaining bits about his experiences at the Ignite and Build conferences. He shared that his class was “Bots and brains: The Microsoft Bot Framework and Cognitive Services, better together”, which I immediately locked that session in with my calendar!

I had more connections that included conference attendees, vendors, speakers and Microsoft employees. I reached my goal of meeting 25 new people and continued this into the Little Rock Tech Fest where I connected with previous coworkers and new people.

Get to know my team better

I work on a team of five people that focuses on services for commercial customers where one of my teammates works at our company headquarters in a different state. My remote team member also attended the Microsoft Ignite conference and I wanted to get to know him better. During the week we were at different hotels and both made an effort to stay in constant contact during each day. We would often catch up at least twice a day in person to review what we had attended and what we were looking forward to next. During the week we talked about work architectural design questions and issues and would visit with vendors and Microsoft employees together. This was a great experience because we were working and learning together.

Later in the week, we headed out to Microsoft Ignite Celebration at Universal Orlando Resort™ theme parks to take in the free food drinks and rides. Yes, I said free food and drinks! We were able to walk up to any food vendor and have our fill of Nathan's hot dogs, Turkey legs, churros to name a few. They had tables set up with self-serve tacos and cold beer. We were all bunched up at the main gate and had our plan of running to the Harry Potter™ and the Escape from Gringotts™ ride because we knew everyone, some twenty thousand plus conference attendees, would be headed that way. We were determined to beat as much of the crowd as we could. Racing along the way we grabbed hot dogs, churros, and several cold beers. The wait was long but well worth it! Immediately after we headed straight over to get our Butterbeer™. After the mad rush through Diagon Alley™ taking in a much as we could we bounced from ride to ride until we were the last ones there.

Take the time to get to know your team and have fun doing it. This will enable the team to work better together and get more things done because you have improved your awareness of what each person is good at and what drives them as an individual.

Work on my MCSD certification

The first thing Monday I located the testing area where practice tests were available. Outside the classroom were Microsft employees that were explaining the updated certification paths and requirements. With their help, I was able to determine what I needed to focus on to achieve my certification.  I have passed over ten Microsoft certifications and wanted to complete the new MCSD: App Builder to test my knowledge and to be better able to promote the work my team does in Azure to the rest of the company. We are the only team in an S&P 500 global company that is using Azure, thus we want to be in the best position to help move the rest of the company forward. After reviewing the certifications paths and the exams required I realized the best certification for me would be the MCSE: Cloud Platform. This certification requires three exams that focus on Azure and covers a lot of development related to using the various Azure offerings like Web Apps, Functions, Table Storage and Service Bus. Then I would pursue the MCSD: App Builder and be able to complete that by passing two more exams due to the overlap in requirements.

I have passed over ten Microsoft certifications and wanted to complete the new MCSD: App Builder to test my knowledge and to be better able to promote the work my team does in Azure to the rest of the company. We are the only team in an S&P 500 global company that is using Azure, thus we want to be in the best position to help move the rest of the company forward. After reviewing the certifications paths and the exams required I realized the best certification I should obtain would be the MCSE: Cloud Platform. This certification requires three exams that focus on Azure and covers a lot of development related to using the various Azure offerings like Web Apps, Functions, Table Storage and Service Bus. Then I would pursue the MCSD: App Builder and be able to complete that by passing two more exams due to the overlap in requirements.

I focused on the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions 70-532 exam and took practice exams and reviewed the explanations for each question. While studying I was able to learn many important things that our team was trying to solve and one of my other conference goals of solving the monitoring os Azure Service Bus Topics as well. This is why I highly recommend studying and taking these type of certifications.

Later in the week, I attended a great Microsoft Ignite session on Architecture Azure Solutions 70-534 exam preparation presented by Mark Grimes where he provided a crash course on what the exam would cover. Along with these resources.  After reviewing the material and practice exams I knew I had more studying before taking the 70-532 exam. Although I did not achieve this goal I learned a lot and hope to help you learn how to become certified along the way.

Here are two great resources for the 70-532 exam provided by Brian Swagger.

  1. Ignite 2017 Cert Exam Prep: 70-532 Developing Azure Solutions
  2. Microsoft Virtual Academy Certification Exam Overview: 70-532

Be sure to check out Mark on Channel 9 too!

See my recent post about how to get free Azure training on Pluralsight!

Identify one work problem to solve

The purpose of this goal was to make sure I would provide some immediate tangible benefit back to my company for sending me to Microsoft Ignite. I was focused on how to improve our monitoring capabilities as it related to Azure Service Bus topics and Queues. While studying and reviewing the material for the certification exams I came across possible solutions. I followed up on what I read about in the exam preparation and had several in-depth discussions with Microsoft employees on the trade show floor. You will have to stay tuned for my special blog post where I will go over how we implement our solution!

Learn about AI and AR

In the Microsoft Ignite keynote address, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made it clear that the future will be in artificial intelligence (AI) and Microsoft will be making a big push to embrace and evolve their applications to incorporate it. With regards to augmented reality (AR), there was a demonstration on how Ford uses Mixed Reality (MR) to move through the early design process using the HoloLens platform. Beyond the keynote, I attended some sessions as I mentioned earlier. I have some plans on how I will incorporate AI and bots to streamline our team's tasks. So stay tuned for more information as this unfolds!

 

If you would like to learn more about Microsoft Ignite or anything I covered please send me an email. Be sure to check out the Sessions and Labs (To start a Lab click the title then the blue link "Launch Lab" under the title on the labs' main page.) from the conference.