Despite this being the ignaugural year for Ignite, to me, it's another year of TechEd which I have usually enjoyed the last several years. Typically this is where we get a glimpse of what is to come, maybe even some larger then life opportunities. This year however seemed greatly different and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure why.
Initially I thought maybe because it was in my home metro area. As nice as that may seem to some navigating, Chicago is a chore on a good day. For instance, I'm in the suburbs, the first day the 40 mile drive took over 2 hours. The second day I used public transportation. That means an hour and 10 minute train ride, 7 block walk to the green line, finishing that up with a 10 minute walk to McCormick place. All in less then 2 hours and not nearly as frustrating as the traffic. Compare that to waking up at the hotel and a 5-10 minute walk, it's almost nicer to travel. And don't get me started on the cabs... Just check Twitter on that front. Oddly enough as crazy as they are us locals drive like that to stay alive so we are some what used to it.
Commuting aside, it didn't feel much better while I was there either. The lines always seemed longer then normal to me, and finding where you needed to be was just as difficult. Nothing like waiting in line for 20+ minutes for food to then ask yourself what is this crap. Normally the lunches have always been somewhat foreign, but only because they were suppose to represent the local cuisine. The quality of the food was always pretty good. Not this year, the food was horrible, and that assumed there was still some by the time you got to the pick up line. Combine that with it not even being close to the normalcy of what is available in Chicago. We have some great local only chains, and not one brought in for lunch, but there was fried pickles?!?
There was some good. I thought the keynote was good. I found it great to see Microsoft adapting to the industry instead of trying to bend us to their will. For that I have to give a lot of credit. The upcoming changes with Windows and Office 365 are great improvements.
There was also a few good lectures outlining things such as Nano Server and powershell. However those were from the usual suspects who are always great. Compare those lectures to the "Deep Dive, ask the experts about Oulook" session and you can see where the contrast comes. Here we had some brilliant minds but the only answer we heard the whole time; "it's on the road map, don't know when".
That seemed to be the theme in any of the questions I had or heard during my time at Ignite. This became increasingly frustrating. They show some great things, have some good new products but no answers. Now I do understand if they start outlining time frames that it sets an expectation. However we are all reasonable people and if it was laid out that we are hoping to have this then or here is the priorities so when you see this you know that is next. Referring us to a road map that is online and doesn't mention 75% of what is in the discussion isn't exactly helpful.
My wish, is at events like this to realize that no matter how great things are "going" to be, and no matter the hard work being put in, we are the boots on he ground. In order for us to plan projects, keep the business at bay waiting for the great solutions from Microsoft coming down the pipe, we too need to be able to set expectations. As good ole Jerry McGwire would say, Help me help you!