At our last user group meeting we discussed the inevitability of the cloud in IT and what that would mean for the future of IT Pros. One thing we all agreed on was that knowing PowerShell was probably the best investment of time right now for hope of having a meaningful job down the road (and heck, really today). It was also rather clear that for most attendees, we still have a hard time just doing today's job and continue to look for help via our user group and conferences. Microsoft Ignite came up and few seemed interested in attending. Why not?
Ignite is seen more as a crowded marketing show where a search shows 91 sessions listed for System Center (but that is a cloudy list) with crowded hotels and daily busing in needed. But we have so many better options today:
- MMS is right here at the Mall of America this November.
- IT Dev Connections is in Vegas this September.
- System Center Universe (SCU) will be broadcast from Dallas this February.
Each conference is on track to repeat around the same time and location each year so attendees can plan on making at least one and budget for them in advance.
These smaller conferences give attendees a better chance to network with others. With SCU, you can attend a user group broadcasting it in your area so that you can talk about the sessions you just saw with the rest of the group and go over common issues and ideas. And SCU is free. So you have no excuse not to go. Even if you have no local group you can watch from home or work. The speakers there are all the top speakers out there. MNSCUG plans to simulcast SCU next week.
I went to my first Connections conference last year in Vegas and was surprised how well it went. Smaller rooms and a crowd not too spread out from System Center. In fact, many of the CM sessions bore me simply because the product hasn't changed much over the past few years, so I found myself drifting into SQL sessions (something all System Center products rely on). They were great. There should be a good 80-90 System Center sessions this year. And the Aria is just a gorgeous hotel!
And then there's my favorite: MMS. It's right here at the MoA. It's just 3 days, but very long days. Early risers can start with birds of a feather sessions and sessions can start as late as 6pm (some with beer served!). Small rooms and many great speakers where "attendees don't get lost in the crowd." Feedback for the 1st year was overwhelmingly positive. An evening party plus the mall and a great bar right at the hotel make after hours mingling with others easy and fun. No busing to a convention center, no long lines, no crappy catered food. We've also revised Henry Wilson's old comparison doc as it might help get you funding. And MMS sessions from 2014 are still up to give an idea of what 2015 sessions should look like. And we just got word that our dates should be Nov 9-10-11 this year.