It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from attending the 1st ever Microsoft Ignite conference, it was held in Chicago and had around 23,000 attendees and heaps of really good sessions.

I think probably one of the biggest issue with IT currently is keeping up with the rate of change, this is one reason I really enjoyed attending Ignite, it gives people the ability to catch up on lots of different technologies in a short period of time, even though your brain feels like it is filling up within the 1st day or so of a week long conference. It never fails that when I am getting ready to attend an event like Ignite, I start creating my schedule and as always I have 4 to 5 session I want to attending at the same time, this year it was the 9:00am slot on both Tuesday and Wednesday that have 5 different topics that I wanted to attend, but the good thing about Ignite is that the session are recorded and available to view after the event.

Here are my highlights of the sessions I attended:

Windows 10 / Windows Server 2016

  • Universal Apps – really think this technology will help developers deliver better cross device support and I am looking forward to start working on a couple of pet projects that I have had in the back of my mind for several year.
  • Domain Joining machines to Azure Active Directory – with some of our recent BizTalk Integration projects we have create BizTalk Server environments in Azure IaaS, to do this with BizTalk it required a virtual machine running as a Domain Controller, this feature of being able to join machine to an existing Azure Active Directory will simply and extend the capabilities of BizTalk Server running in Azure IaaS.
  • Windows Hello – I have always been a believer that strong authentication is a must, I have seen too many cases where it was not. Windows Hello with both facial recognition and enhanced finger print recognition will go a long way to making strong authentication quick and easy.

API Management

  • PowerShell and C# SDK Preview – though this was only talked about a Ignite, since returning from Ignite it has been release, this is help strengthen the DevOps story around API Management
  • Policy Expressions – As with many of the Azure Technologies, API management keeps adding to the capabilities and feature at a feverish pitch.
  • Control Flow Policy –
  • Self-signed backend certificates – probably does not effect many production scenarios but this helps heaps with your dev and test scenarios with API Management
  • Source Control with GIT – the API Management team has exposed the API Management instance as a GIT repository so you can use commands to both import and export you API definition and configuration, again a big win for DevOps with API Management

TFS / Visual Studio Online Build.Preview (or sometime referred to as VNext.Build)

  • Task Based Build – Yes, no more fighting with XAML (XAML based build workflows are still their if you have them), I am very impressed with this new engine, I was able to do in just a few hours what had taken me days to do in XAML. It has now been enabled on Visual Studio Online.
  • All Task Base Build Task Source on GITHub – So if you like one of their task, but want to do a bit of customisation for your particular environment, you have access to all of their code.  I have plans for a couple of custom tasks around the BizTalk Deployment Framework.
  • XCopy build agent install – I the past you needed a build server for each team project collection, now you can have a single build server (in my case BizTalk) for a number of team project collections.

Release Management

  • Web Based – No more thick client / server to install, it is going to be part of Visual Studio Online
  • Integrated with VS Online – so when do a build you can then kick off deployments to your dev/test environment and even those higher environments with a nice approval structure
  • Same Client as Build.Preview – Leveraging the work done on the XCopy deployment for the Build.Preview agent, the release management uses the same agent.

Azure Stack

  • Run Azure on your own hardware – a feature that lots of people have been asking for, the previous Azure Pack did some, but Azure Stack has most of the Azure features.

SQL Server 2016

  • Changed from 2015 to 2016 – There are several products that have been changed from 2015 to 2016, from what I can tell, related to Windows Server 2016, BizTalk has also been changed to 2016
  • MSDTC support for AlwaysOn Availability Groups – Hopefully with this feature and BizTalk 2016 we will no longer have to rely on Log Shipping for BizTalk Server DR

Azure Service Fabric

  • Can run Azure Redundancy on you own hardware – One of the great features of Azure is that for storage you get 3 copies and for virtual machines and several other services you get 3 copies of you instances so if hardware fails you don’t notice, they have opened this up for people that want this kind of HA on their own hardware, thus removing a lot of those requirements for large clustered infrastructure servers, the recording of these session is very informative.

API Apps / Logic Apps

  • Heaps of changes since Preview Release – Again like many of the Azure products, heaps of changes in the 6-8 weeks since it was released into preview and many more changes coming before GA (sometime this summer (US))
  • Some ALM, with more coming – they have shown how to export your Logic Apps with a PowerShell command and then create a project in Visual Studio to update/change and deploy back to Azure
  • Market Place – they have talked about having different levels of Market Place and for many Enterprise Customers, this is going to be very helpful, having a Enterprise Market Place where other developers in your Enterprise can discover and reuse your API Apps and Logic AppsAzure App Service: The New Cloud Integration Platform

 

There were many other session at Ignite 2015, so please go to http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015 and view the session that you are interested in