I had a privilege to attend my third Microsoft SharePoint Conference in a row. I had a wonderful time at the SharePoint Conference 2011 for various reasons and here are the highlights of my trip and my take on the conference.
All of us over the conference were expecting some kind of announcements during Keynote. Although announcements of BCS integration in Office 365, new highest level certification MCA for architects were welcomed, many of us were disappointed by the key note. Jeff Taper had provided some hint during key note that they are working very closely with Azure team and heavy focus on UX for next version of SharePoint. Additionally, it’s worth to note that there were more jQuery sessions than Silverlight at this conference and it’s a testament of what future of SharePoint UX would look like.
As far as demos, there were two main demos of the key note. One was the capability of SQL Denali and live demo of failover of 14 TB database within fraction of seconds. It was bravest demo many of us have seen on live stage. Another demo was showcasing capability of SQL Azure, Windows Azure, and Office 365 and glimpse of SharePoint future.
Sessions and Technology Trends
Whenever I decide to go to the conference, I try to focus on specific topics. To me, conference is all about seeing trend for future and motivating yourself to steer your career in future direction. During SPC09, it was all about SharePoint 2010, IT Pro tracks, and Enterprise Search/FAST tracks. This year, it was all about custom development, cross-farm communication, UX trends, and Office 365. Looking at how Microsoft selected different sessions, I was surprised to see many sessions on Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Office 365, jQuery, branding, and focus on the SharePoint Development tracks. It means, windows Azure, Jquery/HTML5, and Office 365 would be future trend for SharePoint platform.
My favorite sessions among I attended were Andrew Connell’s Windows Azure and cloud applications (SPC410), Upgrading SharePoint Solutions and Features (SPC3995), Steve Fox’s Developing cloud based applications for SharePoint Online and Windows Azure (SPC276), Ted Pattison’s Developing SharePoint Apps with HTML5 and jQuery (SPC338), Cory Roth’s Extending SharePoint 2010 to customers and partners (SPC348), Chris O’Brian’s Application Lifecycle and Automatic Build for SharePoint Applications (SPC319), Phil Wicklund’s Data Access with Search API (SPC334), and Scott Hillier’s Step by Step Building Search Drivers Applications (SPC393)
First of all, any kind of conference is not all about learning and attending every single session. Networking is one of the most important aspects of any conferences. I wanted to meet many of my twitter friends and slalom colleagues from other offices. I believe I had achieved my goal at some level. I was able to meet other slalomers from the Seattle and Dallas office and had privileged to meet some of my best SharePoint buddies like Reza Alirezay, Fabian Williams, Tom Resing, and Clayton Cobb. As usual nice to see Kris Wagner, Asif Rehmani, Chris Geier, and Andrew Clark at various point of the conference.
Late Night Parties
Last but not least, SharePoint Conferences over the years has become great place for party junkies. If you like to party, sharepointers knows how to do it. Being close to Disneyland and amazing selection of restaurants, Anaheim convention center was great place for night owls. I was lucky enough to have Slalom colleagues to hang around with. It was wonderful week to learn by day and party by night.
Best of all, Microsoft is known for their Tuesday night party at SharePoint conferences and this year was unique – they had reserved Disneyland between 8-12 PM for sharerpointers and it was once in a lifetime experience. Walking around Disneyland with buffets, snacks, drinks, princesses, and mickey on the Disney streets with other sharerpointers was unique experience and unreal for Disney buffs. Personally, I had a great time riding Hunted Mansion and Space Mountain.
Next Steps and Future
During the keynote, Microsoft has announced next year conference will be in Las Vegas in November 2012. There are fair amount of expectations from current conference attendees that Microsoft will unveil some kind of vNext for SharePoint in next year conference.