Goodbye TechEd, Hello Ignite

Microsoft Ignite

In case you haven’t heard, Microsoft finally pulled the curtain back this week and revealed the name of the new conference that is replacing TechEd in 2015.  The Official Microsoft Blog revealed the name with a definition of the word “Ignite” with emphasis on the third meaning listed:

Ignite: verb \ig-ˈnīt\

: to set something on fire

: to begin burning

: to give life or energy to someone or something 

If you had “Microsoft Ignite” in the megaconference name pool (we really should have done that for real), you’re the big winner. In truth, I think we’re all winners here, because I quite like the name.  I had been concerned when Microsoft sent out a survey about possible names with a list of choices that ranged from lackluster to horrific.  I felt better about the prospects after the Roundtable in Chicago, when they shared with us the criteria they used to select the name (without actually telling us the name). I’m happy to report that I think they nailed it.  It’s simple, dynamic, and appropriate for what is supposed to be the beginning of something bigger and better than we’ve seen before.  Microsoft often seems challenged when it comes to naming, but kudos to the folks who worked on this one.

Yes, it’s a name recycled from Office training (Ignite Online) and the Office partner launch (Ignite Plus), so extra points for you if you recognized that.

Beyond the name, however, the even bigger news was the list of speakers we’re going to hear from at Ignite.  At the top of the list was the keynote speakers, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. During the last two Roundtable events, we said over and over that IT Pros wanted to hear from Satya in person, and it’s good to see that they listened.  Obviously the move to a single super-sized conference makes it easier to justify the CEO’s presence, but Id’ like to think that our repeated calls for him to speak didn’t hurt either. I have to tip my hat to Michael Bender who was especially vocal (and correct) in making the case.

In addition to Satya, other speakers include Brad Anderson (Corporate VP, Enterprise Client & Mobility), Julie Larson-Greene (Chief Experience Officer, Applications and Services Group), Dave Campbell (Chief Technology Officer, Cloud & Enterprise), Joe Belfiore (Corporate VP, PC, Tablet, and Phone), Peggy Johnson (Executive VP, Business Development), Chris Jones (Corporate VP, OS Services), and Gurdeep Singh Pall (Corporate VP for Skype). I’m not sure whether all of these people will be making appearances during the keynote, or if we’re going to have multiple keynotes (think an evolution of the foundation sessions from the last couple of years at TechEd).

The other entries in the conference calendar are as follows:

  • Convergence 2015 in Atlanta (March 16-19 ) “where business leaders gather to explore solutions”
  • //Build in San Francisco (April 29 – May 1) “where developers will hear the latest about our platform strategy, technologies and opportunities”
  • Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Orlando (July 12-16) “where top Microsoft partners come together to network, drive business growth and identify new profitability opportunities”

Looking at those dates, you’ll see that Build and Ignite are back-to-back, so anyone who was planning on attending (or covering) both events is going to have a busy two weeks.

Oh, one more thing… Registration is open now.  You can head over to the new Microsoft Ignite site and register today. The full conference will set you back $2,220 this year, but if you register before December 11, you can knock $300 off and get in for $1,920. As in previous years, a limited number of academic passes are available. Faculty and staff pay $1,220, and students get the best rate of only $995.  I registered the first day as is my custom, to make sure I get one of the academic passes, and there was mysterious mention of an Ignite Plus Pass, “a variety of passes to enhance your Microsoft Ignite experience.” No word on price or what exactly these passes will get you, but I’m intrigued.

The only bad part of the announcement was it meant I had to go grab the domain name and @IgniteCountdown Twitter handle. Thankfully I was at my desk at work when the announcement broke, so I was able ot take care of that right away. I would have been annoyed if someone had grabbed those ahead of me. I’m not sure why they would, but you never know.

Lastly, I , along with the rest of the Roundtable, had the pleasure of meeting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel while we were in Chicago last month.  Landing the Ignite conference was a big win for the city, and you can watch the Mayor’s press conference announcing the event here.