Microsoft Ignite 2022 was held October 12-14 at Seattle Convention Center and it was a full hybrid experience with sessions being streamed live to a global audience as well as being presented live on stage. You could feel the energy and welcoming feeling when arriving at the convention center for the first time. All the people in blue shirts and big signs were leading the way to the conference and it felt really good to be in an in-person event again.
The conference was situated on many floors and the venue's appearance ranged from the main stage, and focus sessions in separate rooms to more leisure sessions in one of several Pods in the largest area, The Hub. In each corner of The Hub, there were also Hang Out areas where three sessions were held simultaneously. To participate in the sessions, you just picked up audio receivers and listened to the session that interested you.
And of course, there were chances to win fine prizes. The Surface team showed their latest hardware and had a raffle each night with chances to win some new Surface devices. Unfortunately, I did not win any though, would have loved to bring a Surface Pro 9 home.
The five digital imperatives for business and organizations
Before the conference five main themes for this year's Ignite were presented:
- Optimize your business
- Automation & AI
- Re-energize and empower your workforce
- Developers, achieve more
- Protect everything
These themes mapped well to the imperatives Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella presented during Ignite's opening keynote. The keynote focused on the five digital imperatives for business and organizations to achieve more with less:
- Migrate to the cloud
- Empower fusion teams
- Unify data and apply AI models
- Collaborative business process
- Prioritize security
Pro tip! If you don't have time to watch the full 42 minutes keynote, you'll find direct links to selected parts of the keynote here.
The new hybrid reality
Collaboration through Teams and other parts of the Microsoft 365 was a central part of the fusion teams talks and the new hybrid reality. But hybrid didn’t end with people, it also included the journey from on-prem to cloud, edge to cloud, and multi-cloud scenarios. Solutions include management through Azure Arc, Intune, and data lineage through Azure PurView.
AI was everywhere and in many facets
- Developers: GitHub Copilot is a good example of AI used by developers. Similar functionality has been added to low code scenarios such as the Power Automate suite as well as enabling a user to phrase intent in natural language and get a starting flow set up.
- Enterprise: Pre-built AI models to be used out of the box or with slight adaptions were used extensively. One good example is the form recognizer that can be trained.
- AI professionals: R language support in Synapse, SynapseML library updates (including .NET support), and a new PyTorch container.
- And to end with something almost scary (you have watched Terminator, right?) – code that writes itself, debugs itself, and then corrects itself until a good result has been achieved. Click here for more information.
Top three sessions of Ignite 2022
Here are my three personal favorite sessions from Ignite 2022.
Inside Azure Innovations with Mark Russinovich
Mark Russinovich, CTO and Technical Fellow of Microsoft Azure is first an inspiring speaker and secondly delivers always good content and news for us. This session showed a plethora of innovations that are being done within Microsoft, some that soon will be available and others that will take some more time (like Quantum computers).
A very interesting part for me personally was the Confidential computing art which also had its own dedicated session. Confidential computing will enable more sensitive or regulated workloads to be hosted on Azure without fear of Microsoft (or the US Government) being able to retrieve your data. This is very important for example for Swedish government agencies who hesitate to go to the cloud due to Cloud Act and Schremms II. Click here to watch the session.
The Industrial Metaverse
Being very skeptical of Metaverse, visualizing walking around in a virtual world and saying hello to other avatars doesn’t seem fun, productive, or useful at all. But Judson Althoff’s session about Industrial Metaverse was something else. Focusing on Industrial Metaverse (as opposed to Consumer or Commercial) made more sense to me.
The Industrial Metaverse was all about closer connections to the digital twin concept, making digital versions of physical assets and having them interconnect or influence each other. Big companies, like international energy company Equinor and car manufacturer Mercedes, are already using the Industrial Metaverse. In some cases, more traditional screen oriented but also experimenting with VR. Click here to watch the session.
Deep dive into Dapr.io and Cloud Native Architectures
Donovan Brown is one of those speakers who I choose to listen to just because they are holding a session. He’s always presenting interesting stuff and doing it extremely well too. This session at Ignite was a deep dive into Dapr.io so he showed a lot of features, how to use them and how it enables developers to write microservices more easily. And he also got the time to tell that some of his code running on Dapr.io was actually running in space. Click here to watch the session.
Would I go to Ignite again if I had the chance?
Definitely! Meeting people face to face gives you more energy, but the online experience was great as well. So, a good second best would be to have scheduled conference time online and enjoy it live from home, office, or from a local side event such as the one in the UK.
For a complete list of sessions, visit the Ignite home page and watch and learn! All sessions contain videos, links to Microsoft Learn, and related sessions.
And if you’d rather like to read about the new things that were presented at Ignite, the Microsoft Book of news is a good start. It’s an extensive one-pager containing all the major announcements made at Ignite.
Cloud Solutions Architect and Azure Tech Lead at Knowit