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In my capacity as the technical practice lead for ExitCertified’s Cloud and DevOps training business, I get to attend a lot of conferences. Most of the largest vendors have a giant annual conference in places like Las Vegas or San Francisco that draw tens of thousands of attendees from around the world. In recent years, we have also seen the addition of smaller one- or two-day conferences in major global cities. Microsoft has adopted that approach with their Microsoft Ignite The Tour roadshow, which is making three stops in North America this year, and I went to the Toronto stop earlier this month to check it out.
As a cloud architect, I am much more familiar with AWS and Google Cloud, so I always jump at the chance to learn a bit more about new features in Microsoft Azure. And this free conference provided me with just that. There were more than 100 sessions on a variety of topics over the span of two days, but I concentrated on the Azure and DevOps tracks. I also attended a session on “What’s new with Microsoft Teams,” simply because our organization uses it, and it’s always a good idea to keep current on your everyday toolset.
Most of the sessions I attended were highly valuable, and I found the overall conference to be a good use of my time. The presenters I saw were both Microsoft employees and customers, and the presenter of one of the theater presentations I attended in the Expo had traveled from Israel to give a presentation on Azure App Service’s Deployment Slots.
As a bonus for attending the free conference, Microsoft offered all Ignite The Tour attendees one free Microsoft exam voucher, provided they met certain criteria. It’s a pretty good deal, especially considering it was a free conference. There are upcoming Microsoft Ignite The Tour conferences in Chicago (April) and a government-specific session in Washington, D.C. (February). Register soon, as they may fill up.
My final takeaway was that in these more intimate conferences, you can really take advantage of the time you have there to walk the Expo floor and talk to vendors about their products and services. They tended to offer less in the way of swag, but in turn, I actually ended up staying and talking to more of them instead of leaving once I got my free item.
While these conferences can offer bite-sized sessions on new topics, they aren’t really appropriate for learning a complex topic like Azure from the ground up. For that, you can’t beat the power of instructor-led training that incorporates hands-on labs. ExitCertified is a Gold Cloud Learning Partner for Microsoft, and I encourage you to check out our Azure and other Microsoft Training Courses.