Ignite 2018 — Connect, Learn, Explore

Microsoft organises various events every year to introduce its latest cutting-edge technologies and share the latest insights and skills from Microsoft and various organisations. Ignite is one of the most important events in Microsoft’s events calendar.

No matter what role you are in, technologist or business leader, Ignite provides you with substantial, relevant content tailored to your interests. Because every organisation is becoming technology-driven.

I was honoured to have been selected to attend Ignite 2018 in Orlando, Florida. This is a perfect opportunity to communicate with the experts directly and get inspiration from a variety of sessions. Ignite is a massive event with over 30,000 attendees and hundreds of sessions. I can’t possibly ingest all the news but as a developer, my focus was on popular developer tools and platforms such as Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, Azure, DevOps, Xamarin and Microsoft Graph, etc.

With the latest amazing developer tools and the Azure platform, we can achieve better productivity, a faster delivery progress, and more stable environments. Cloud Native Application is becoming more and more popular in modern software development.

Benefiting from the cloud

The first thing that impressed me is that Microsoft Azure has provided us with almost all the capabilities to support the infrastructure of our development, from the basic service such as App Service, Mobile Service and Azure SQL Database, to some forward-looking technologies such as Artificial Intelligence. Our challenge is to integrate these awesome tools and services to build and deliver powerful, fast, flexible and intelligent business system to our clients.

What does this mean? Modern development doesn’t only include creating the database, inserting or reading the data and showing them on the web, mobile or anywhere else. It also has the capability to help users to make decisions, which means it should be open, smart, and able to connect all the data it needs.

So that is why data is more and more important in for businesses today, but having the data alone is not enough. We also need the powerful tools to analyse it, get insights, then create value from the data. Microsoft provides us with a lot of amazing services/tools to help us do this.

For example, we don’t need to create complicated algorithms by ourselves, and we can take advantage of the Azure Machine Learning and ML.NET, which is a kind of Machine Learning Framework.

What I want to emphasise here is that Azure is open, so you can choose any Machine Learning Framework, including TensorFlow from Google. Everyone can get started to create an AI Bot to respond to requests from users in several minutes. It has never been so easy.

I highly recommend that everyone should learn something about AI. It might be immature at the moment, but it is the future. A good way to get started is Azure Cognitive Services. Following the documents, you can use Computer Vision to develop a demo in five minutes. If you would like to learn it systematically, here is an online course.

Continuous Learning

Another thing that I am very interested is that Microsoft announced a new learning platform. We all know there are various learning platforms that we can use, but I believe Microsoft Learn is a really good choice. It is free and provides a lot of options depending on your specific roles: Azure Administrator, Azure Developer, Azure Solution Architect or Business Analyst. You can learn step-by-step and get the achievements along the way. It also supports the online Hands-On Lab, which means if you need to operate an Azure resource, which is usually not free, you can create it using the Azure CLI that is running on the web page and it is free! The resource will expire after several hours but it is enough for you to complete the learning. The only ”payment” needed is your time.

Overall, it is really an amazing experience to attend Microsoft Ignite 2018. As an attendee, I enjoyed quite a few sessions focused on the new features of .NET Core platform and Azure. I talked with some Product Group members of Microsoft, such as Xamarin, ASP.NET Core and Visual Studio. It is a good chance to give them feedback directly.

In my role as MVP, I was in charge of a series of Hands-On Labs, which covered the technologies from Visual Studio, Xamarin, UWP to Azure AI, and App Service, etc. I really enjoy doing this because the most important characteristic of a Microsoft MVP being able to actively contribute to the tech community. I also met some other MVPs who are proficient with specific technologies and we shared our experience and discussed issues.

In addition, Microsoft announced another community named Diversity Tech that encourages everyone to be involved in the tech communities, no matter what gender, ethnicity, or race. I believe that helping the others is a good way to improve ourselves. You can join it now.

If you are interested in Microsoft Ignite 2018, please feel free to contact us or find online videos here. You can also view a summary of the Ignite content here.

Microsoft MVP / .NET, Azure Developer / Learner