I don’t really know why I made the effort, but I registered for Microsoft Ignite (November 2-4). The point is, I hate virtual conferences with a vengeance. User-organized events and those which make a real effort to deliver practical, experience-based, real-world knowledge (like TEC) are honorable exceptions. Unhappily, Microsoft Ignite isn’t in either category.
The problem with Microsoft Ignite is that it’s too heavily influenced by the marketing imperative to deliver good news about Microsoft technologies to IT Pros. I can tolerate this for an in-person event when the constant barrage of happiness about the Microsoft cloud and the joy of hybrid work is offset by meeting people who know how technology really works. I enjoy listening to product developers when they present in-person too. It’s much harder to escape questioning in real life when attendees can buttonhole speakers. The questions are more insightful and useful when asked without the benefit of a Teams or Zoom call.
I hope this Ignite is the last virtual iteration. I know there’s value in these events for people who can’t travel to the U.S. to attend a conference, but this need is satisfied by making session recordings available online. In any case, let’s hope that we can all enjoy the madness of an in-person Ignite in Orlando in November 2022 (not that I know the location or date of the conference).
Microsoft 365 Sessions
Coming down off my soapbox, and with no idea about what Microsoft means when they talk about Office being “a new interactive canvas for creators,” here are the topics I will keep an eye on, based on the 445 sessions currently available in the session scheduler. Invariably, Microsoft releases more sessions as Ignite approaches.
Teams: Shared channels will be the big announcement as I expect Microsoft to say that this long-awaited feature is generally available. Tune into the Seamless collaboration with Microsoft Teams Connect session, and pay special attention to how external federation works between Teams tenants and the policies you need to deploy to make shared channels work.
Apart from shared channels, I expect a bunch of announcements about new Teams devices. Ilya Bukshteyn is worth listening to on this topic.
SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business: Based on publicity for the session schedule, Microsoft is focusing heavily on Viva (Connections, Topics, and Insights), Microsoft Lists, SharePoint Syntex, and improvements made to Microsoft Search. Given the profusion of sites created by Teams, I’ll be looking out for news about better and easier management. I’m not sure if I’ll find much. No doubt Jeff Teper and his supporting cast will have an interesting demo-rich session to interpret.
Exchange: It’s curious that one of the two basic Office 365 workloads has no leader who sets out the product’s vision and direction in the same way that Jeff Teper does for SharePoint. Exchange seems to be meandering through life, which might be the way that products go after 25 years of use. For Exchange Online, expect more details about the removal of basic authentication for email connectivity protocols as the countdown proceeds towards October 2022. Security problems have dominated news over the last year for Exchange Server, so it will be nice to hear what Microsoft is doing to help those who want to run on-premises servers (not always the best choice) to stay secure. The new Exchange Emergency Mitigation Service probably needs the oxygen of publicity to make sure that administrators know the service exists and how to configure it to mitigate against threats.
Stream: I hope Microsoft gives details of how the migration will happen from the old Azure platform to SharePoint Online. Microsoft has already moved Teams meeting records, complete with support for features like search for words spoken in meetings using transcripts and auto-expiration for meeting recordings, but there’s a bunch of existing content which must be migrated. Microsoft plans to talk about how their recent Clipchamp acquisition will add value to video in Microsoft 365, so that might also be interesting.
Microsoft Graph: I’m looking for more information about how Microsoft expects to operate the charging and consumption model for the Teams Export API and if they plan to apply this model elsewhere, notably in Exchange after the expected future deprecation of Exchange Web Services.
There’s enough content in Ignite to keep technologists occupied for several months. Quantity is not the problem. It’s quality and diversity (i.e., opinions and guidance from outside Microsoft) where Ignite suffers. Let’s hope that Microsoft addresses the problem in 2022 at an in-person event.