A day in the life of TechEd North America 2012–An Aussie Perspective!


As you know in my previous post I headed off the TechEd North America on a fact finding mission as content owner for TechEd Australia 2012. This is photo2012_7something we do every year to see how the US event is run, how they approach content and to recruit speakers for our local event. This year’s event was spread over 4 days at the Orlando Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. It was the 20th Anniversary for TechEd NA so there were plenty of celebrations going on throughout the event including a huge 20th anniversary cake! My highlights of each day are below along with the cool stuff I found out along the way.photo2012_8

Fun Facts

What would an update be without some facts. 8 seems like a good number so here we go!

  1. 90 chefs working 24x7 to feed 10,000 geeks!
  2. 40,000 slices of bacon.photo2012_33
  3. 9000 kilos of deserts.
  4. 8 x 15.25 meter trucks to haul in all the technology to run this event!
  5. 800 sessions and hands on labs.
  6. Attendees will walk an estimated 48 kilometres during the event!
  7. Over 700 Certification exams taken with Windows Server 2012, Windows 8 and Private Cloud exams topping the list.
  8. During the event 35,994 tweets that included the official msteched hashtag.319381_10151669271543484_1094866303_n

  Sunday – Pre-Day

The first day or Day 0 as pre-day’s are often called is the day for registration, pre-conference seminars, workshops, certifications and hands-on labs. And it's the day for most of us that travel from overseas to try and get over our jetlag. I went along and registered with a mate of mine and it was a relatively painless process. I documented this in my previous post. This day is also a good day to get a feel for the lay of the land and where things are. If you haven’t been to a big event such as this before it can be pretty overwhelming so you are well served getting your bearings and just spending some time walking around the venue. This also serves a great purpose for our local Australian event. It’s a chance for me to walk around and see what works and what doesn’t. We use this information for how we layout our WP_000242own event and it’s always useful. I took around 350 photos throughout the event which is a great way to learn about what works and what doesn’t.

Monday – Day 1

Day 1 is the day to start getting into it and it all begins with the keynote session. The keynote at TechEd should set the tone for the entire event and this year’s keynote certainly showed what the focus was going to be on. Cloud OS – the new era was the focus of the day 1 keynote and Satya Nadella, President of the Server and Tools Business set the scene for this ground breaking release in Windows Server 2012. He talked about where we have come in the last 20 years and where Windows Server 2012 is going to take us in the Cloud Era. He emphasized that the change is a chance for us as a collective community to ‘reinvent’ ourselves and how we add value to the business. I’ve been talking about this on the recent IT Camps I’ve been doing lately around the Microsoft Private Cloud.

He then went into talking about Windows Server 2012 and how our Bing front-end servers are already powered by the Release Candidate of Windows Server 2012. This is cool because we are betting our own properties on this new cloud OS. On the OS itself he highlighted four key areas.599991_10151626815308484_1118885620_a

  • Scalable and Elastic –64 nodes and 4000 VM’s per cluster, 64 Virtual Processors and 1TB of memory per VM, and NIC teaming out of the box!
  • Always Up Always On – Cluster Aware Updating, Storage Spaces, and complete VM mobility!
  • Share Resources – Hyper-V Network Virtualization, Resource Metering and QoS and Storage Virtualization and thin provisioning.
  • Automated and Self-Service – Over 2400 new Powershell cmdlets, build in standards management.

Then Jeff Woolsey got up and showed some really cool demo’s focusing on the sheer scale of Hyper-V in this release. He showed 985,000 IOPs using an industry standard tool called Iometer. He showed 4k random IO with a queue depth of 32 with 40 threads. These kind of demo’s really show the scale that Windows Server 2012 is delivery and is something we’ll be looking at for TechEd Australia 2012. He then showed Offloaded Data Transfer or ODX which is a storage feature allowing you to leverage ODX capable devices to increase copy operations. He was able to show a 10gb file being copied in 10 photo2012_35seconds! Pretty cool stuff! Finally he showed one of my favourite new features in Windows Server 2012; Hyper-V Replica. It was a great way to close off what was a real cool set of demos.

Then Mark Russinovich came up and showed the new Virtual Machine role in Windows Azure and the new portal that was recently released. He then tied it all together with the integration of System Center 2012 App Controller and Windows Azure. It really showed our end to end story.

The rest of the keynote focused on the next generation of apps that we will all be dealing with in the future. This was the developer piece of the keynote where Scott Guthrie showed building a mobile application using the new Release Candidate of Visual Studio 12. Not being a developer I kind of switched off a bit but I do realise how much we will have to be aware of how these new apps are developed and how they will be deployed in the enterprise.

The rest of the day was focusing on going to sessions and I focused on 300 level sessions and mainly sessions on Windows Server 2012. What stood out for me on day one was networking changes in Windows Server 2012 and the sheer scale that we are going to be operating in. Truly inspiring stuff that left me with many ideas for TechEd Australia 2012.

The day was capped off with the welcome reception on the showcase floor. This was a chance to relax with a drink and see some juggling and magic shows as well. Good way to unwind at the end of the day.


Tuesday – Day 2

Day 2 began with another keynote which this time focused solely on Windows 8 and what the new client operating system is going to mean to windows8_1consumers and enterprises. They had to have a second keynote because there is so much going on with Windows 8 that it had to have it’s own keynote. This was all about how we are reimagining Windows on the desktop. Antonie Leblond discussed how we are doing this and showed some really cool concept apps. What really stood out for me was we are building Windows 8 for the billion people that already use Windows and for the next billion people that will use it. It’s a bold new bet with a radical change to the UI. They spent a lot of time going through the new UI which I’ve showed to customers many times on my Samsung Series 7 Slate. They focused on touch and how that works. keyboard and how it works great with that and mouse input; including track pads on laptops.

The 2 features that stood out to me was Hyper-V on Windows 8 and Windows to Go. These 2 features are big for enterprises because now we will have a very solid Hypervisor in the client and an alternative way to deploy Windows using a USB key. I’m going to do a future blog post on that topic soon.

The rest of the day was back into session on Windows Server 2012; this time focusing on the new storage features such as SMB 3.0, Hyper-V over SMB and the new management capabilities.

I came away again blown away by the number of new features in Windows Server 2012. I was coming to the conclusion that we could do our entire local TechEd on Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 alone but that would not be fair to the other content out there. I was beginning to see just how big a year this year was going to be for Microsoft.

Wednesday – Day 3

As you get to the later stages of any of these types of events your brain starts to turn to mush from too much sugar, partying and sitting in rooms with geeks. Plus the heat in Florida didn’t help either. I was trying to hang on and go and see more content on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. I managed to get to some sessions on the Hyper-V Extensible Switch. It’s really cool because it allows you to extend isolation and security capabilities into your virtual networks. I went to a few more sessions on Windows Server 2012 and then wrapped up the day with my photo taking exhibition.

I spent 3 hours taking photos of all the exhibitor's booths on the showcase floor. It’s great way to get a layout of the floor and gives us heaps of ideas on how we will build out our showcase for our event. Below are a couple of my favourites.


 The Nokia Stand


The Private Cloud Lounge


The Lego Datacentre was way cool! It was a model that the Office 365 guys had done by some Lego engineers to build a replica of our Cloud datacentres out of Lego! It was so cool and great way to have the cloud conversation and how our datacentres work.

Thursday – Day 4

By day 4 I was pretty spent so didn’t get to that many sessions but I did get to one of my favourites of the event. It’s called the Optimized Desktop Deployment Jeopardy Game Show. This is a fun session all about desktop deployment but delivered in a game show style. But don’t let that fool you. It’s one of the best ways to get deep technical information on DISM, BCDBOOT, ACT, Windows AIK MDT and everything focusing on desktop deployment in Windows. It was my last session for the event so a good way to end.

All and all it was a hectic week but an enjoyable one. I learned a lot; got a bunch of ideas for our own TechEd event in Australia and managed to catch up with some old friends. What more could I ask for!?

And finally check out this video about how TechEd North America gives back to the local community and some of the other stuff I didn’t mention. See if you can spot me in this video!


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