Microsoft Ignite: Why I Attend

By | October 13, 2016

As someone that lives and breathes Microsoft Unified Communications day in and day out, I get asked why would I attend Microsoft Ignite? Being an Office Servers and Service MVP (AKA Skype for Business MVP), I have an NDA with Microsoft and usually have a chance to preview items on or before being published to the public Roadmap (https://fasttrack.microsoft.com/roadmap). Also I get the privilege to spend a week with the Microsoft Product group in November during the MVP Summit.

So why would I attend Ignite? You have to realize that I spend the majority of the year testing and playing with preview bits/features and maintain that NDA I talked about prior. So for me honoring that agreement is priority and figuring out what is released, public preview or TAP can be a bit tedious to track. So to be safe, I only talk about what I see working with clients. But when Ignite rolls around, it’s a flood gate of items that I’m able to now talk about.

You have to come into Ignite with the understanding that chances are you will not see many of your desired sessions live. This is due to scheduling conflicts, distance to travel between rooms that are booked back-to-back, session popularity, lunch, networking with others focused in your areas of interest and Expo floor time. I tend to pick sessions based on the speaker(s) and those in the product team that might be sitting in the first few rows of the room vs. topic. Some of the best info can be a single line on a slide or a quick statement from the Presenter during the session or Q/A time. The hunt for these Easter Eggs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_egg_(media)#Software) is why I attend Ignite.

Just a handful from Ignite 2016:

  • Persistent Chat (pChat) is in “Sustained” mode, means no new development or features. So much for the first class citizen status from Lync Server 2013… (http://www.justin-morris.net/microsoft-lync-server-2013-preview-available-today-whats-new/)
  • Something to be announced in the next few months to provide pChat like features in the cloud. Won’t talk about what was leaked, but you could check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XWDMhbN9oo
  • Session Details Preview for Skype for Business Online in Oct. Already blogged about at: http://realtimeuc.com/2016/10/sfbo-session-details-preview/
  • CQD.lync.com will be enabled by default for Skype for Business Online soon.
  • Event Zero technology assets to be preview early 2017 for Skype for Business Online.
  • Many MAC items (General Availability in Oct, Microsoft Auto Update, Ability to use internal mobile site, hard requirement on SSL CRLs, Snooper support). Would recommend you check out: https://johnacook.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/so-you-say-hate-the-lync-2011-mac-client/
  • Skype for Business Network Assessment Tool (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=53885) which leverages the Skype for Business Anycast IP of 13.107.8.2 (World Wide VIP for Media Relay).
  • Cloud PBX Auto Attendant and Hunt groups to preview in Oct.
  • Trusted Application SDK to preview soon: http://blog.thoughtstuff.co.uk/2016/10/connect-your-service-to-conversations-skype-for-business-trusted-application-sdk/
  • Cloud PBX Auto Attendant and Hunt groups are built using the new Trusted Application SDK.
  • Cloud PBX custom dialplans and extension support on the Roadmap.
  • Azure voicemail to transcribe in 15 languages.
  • Skype Meeting Broadcast to release language transcript soon. Wonder if Klingon will actually be included?
  • Video Based Screen Sharing (VBSS) will still maintain RDP signalling to speed up failback and once failed to RDP, will not fail forward back to VBSS.
  • VBSS very dependent on client graphics drivers, contact support when having issues vs. disabling VBSS. Lots of issues reported with HP Elitebooks.
  • Adoption Content Directory (includes templates, videos, portal, quick start guides and more…) : aka.ms/sfbrolloutkit
  • Talking with Chris and Tim the night before they released their Skype for Business Custom Sizing Calculator: http://emptymessage.com/?p=269
  • Offline messages use history spooler and client to Exchange EWS, no Front End involved. Requires that Conversation history be enabled and working.
  • New UDP ports to be added in Skype for Business Online Edge (3479,3480,3481). My guess is they’re consuming too many sockets off the 3478 UDP port.
  • WebRTC still planned for future in Trusted Application, Web App and looks to be enabled in the MCU and Mobile.
  • Sure you can enable Skype for Business pinless pstn conference activation (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt691535.aspx) but recommended not to do so.

As for the Expo (https://ignite.microsoft.com/Expo#fbid=iIj5ns4nnNQ you can spend hours wondering around and still somehow miss companies with a booth listed on the index you have interest in. Try not to fall into the giveaway/free pen trap at booths you have no interest in as you will be fielding calls and spam for weeks after the event. Veeam wins the prize for first to contact me after Ignite 🙂 And no I didn’t win a Surface, Xbox or motor bike.

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