My Notes from TechEd North America 2014

Greetings from Houston, Texas! TechEd North America 2014 is over, I’m exhausted. The things seen, lessons learnt, people met and travelling done leaves you in need for rest. Here’s my highlights, or key takeaways as some might say, of Microsoft’s premier technology conference for IT Professionals and Enterprise Developers.teched2014_skyscrapers

Keynote by Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President, Windows Server and System Center Program Management, took the stage for the opening Keynote speech. I was looking forward to this as last year’s keynote was such a show full of product announcements and entertainment. This time it was all about the Cloud, product announcements for Azure, no on-premises product updates. Impressing stuff coming to the Microsoft Cloud, though. Having said that, the keynote left me somewhat disappointed.

Breakout Sessions

The breakout sessions are the core of any technology conference. This time around at TechEd, great content, as expected. I tried to compile a diverse schedule, including the rock stars of course, deep dives in familiar topics, some all new out-of-comfort-zone stuff and some general IT management sessions. Here’s my TOP 3 in no particular order.

  • Mark Russinovich and Mark Minasi on Cloud Computing (Mark and Mark and the Funky Bunch) by Mark Russinovich and Mark Minasi
    The Marks threw a session to a full house talking about the cloud and things related to it. It was an entertaining discussion with lots of humor, but it also included some relevant topics about the Cloud Era that’s looming upon us.
  • The Real-World Guide to Upgrading Your IT Skills AND Your Infrastructure, Part 1 & Part 2 by Joey Snow and Rick Claus
    A really good set of sessions targeted to an audience of IT Pros who are still trying to wrap their minds around the whole cloud stuff. Check them out, lots of demos included.
  • Various sessions from Microsoft IT on how they manage their enterprise environment with System Center products and Intune. It’s always nice to hear it from the horse’s mouth how the self-produced dog food tastes like. 🙂

Hands-on labs and Certification

I managed to make some time to explore and do some of the Hands-on Labs provided by holSystems. The labs were available for TechEd attendees only for the duration of the conference. The labs were available every day until 9 pm, which was nice. To my surprise the labs were current, meaning that they included material only available on the latest versions of the Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 update and System Center 2012 R2.

Practice exams were also provided free of charge. Those were a disappointment. No exams for any of the MCSE tracks. The new MCSA level exams for Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 were covered and as a bonus, tons of Server 2003 and XP exams…what!?

I also took a shot at the free of charge exam (70-409 – Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center) and came out with a passing score, nice.

TechExpo

I’m not a big fan of the whole exhibition stuff as it seems to be just a huge sales pitch. I took the time to browse every booth, got a few answers to questions I had in mind (as there are also the technical reps present) and a bag full of swag and T-shirts.

teched2014_closing_party

Spare Time

I also had some time to check out Houston, do some shopping, have a few Texan Burgers and stroll around downtown. Not much to see in this city, though.

Sum-up

To sum it all up, all in all, great content, nice venue, tasty food, good times.

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