I'm in soggy Seattle at the MVP Global Summit, and, like so many of my fellow MVPs, it seems appropriate to keep some kind of daily journal – you know the form – let you know how fortunate I am to be on a big Microsoft freebie, and how unfortunate you are to, er…, not be…and, of course, get a bit of name-dropping in as well.

The first round of name-dropping has nothing to do with the summit.  A week ago I was at the Microsoft Architect Insight conference at the Celtic Manor outside Newport, Wales.   The Celtic Manor is famous for golf and is the venue for the 2010 Ryder Cup.   It is also famous, these days, for software architects working on the Microsoft platform.   This was the second year of the conference, and SolidSoft, having attended last year, was a co-sponsor of the event this year.   The conference started with a keynote from Merlin Hay who, later in the bar, entertained a group of us with his views on hereditary peerage and 'breeding' (what else – he is the 24th Lord Erroll!), and, more seriously, provided some interesting insights into the way that political decision-making happens at a national level.   Later that evening, the SolidSoft team had the pleasure of a couple of hours with Ivar Jacobson, one of the 'three amigos' (the gentlemen responsible for UML) and an early advocate of component development.  Perhaps the best thing was that, instead of deep discussions on the applicability of agile methodologies in enterprise integration, we instead talked love, live and the pursuit of happiness.   Hey, we do have lives!   I enjoyed the final plenary with Ivar, Jack Greenfield (the software factory guy) and Colin Bird sharing their collective insights and views on a range of architecture and methodological subjects.

It was nice to briefly meet Ed Gibson again.  Ed is Microsoft's Chief Security Advisor in the UK, and always a great pleasure to talk to.  I was also glad to, oh so briefly, catch up with Planky (Steve Plank) from Microsoft who fronted a series of sessions on security and identity management.   Well done to Matt Deacon and Daniel Nissel who made the whole event happen.   It was good to see my old colleague, James Saul, and I enjoyed his session on real world architecture (I left the heckling to Andrew Rivers 😉 ).   Most embarrassing moment was parading the SolidSoft corporate train set (don't ask!) in front of rival companies' stands.   The train set did fulfil its role, though, as a talking point around RFID, and Simon Holloway did a great presentation on the subject at the end of the conference.   Thanks to Andy James for keeping the SolidSoft team on the straight and narrow, and well done to Pam McClelland who fronted the SolidSoft stand.

The conference, itself, was very worthwhile.   Software, infrastructure and enterprise architecture covers very wide territory.   Real effort was made to focus the conference on a range of architectural issues, and to capture the collective wisdom of the delegates.   I have personally never attended an IT conference that was so interactive, and hope that this aspect is continued and built on in future years.   Listening to discussions on issues like the development of IT skills in higher education or the effective presentation of enterprise architectures to business stakeholders took me into unfamiliar territory which broadened my horizons and provided food for thought.

Well, that’s a lot of name-dropping from the Welsh event.   Now back to Seattle.   Today was the first day of the conference, and has mainly been a matter of registration and networking.   However, things really got underway yesterday evening when a group of BizTalk MVPs got together at Kells, an Irish pub in downtown Seattle.   Mike Woods, the BizTalk Server Senior Technical Product Manager, was there, and he surprised us by paying for the meal – thanks to him for that.   I had already spent a pleasant couple of hours with Gregory Van de Wiele in the hotel bar (mainly drinking orange juice, honest), and Kells provided the opportunity to meet a whole lot of people I know via their blogs – Alan Smith, Paul Somers, Jon Flanders, Brian Loesgen, Romualdas Stonkus, Jon Fancey and Evangelos Hadjichristodoulou.   We were amused by the live Irish music – roughly equivalent to several rounds of 'Old MacDonald had a farm…' sung with Irish accents.   We eventually decided to head off to the relative quiet of one of the hotels where we discussed all the things we would like to raise with the BizTalk product team while we are here.

Today, after registration, I attended the expo.   It was nice to see Lorna Williamson, our UK MVP lead.  I still need to introduce myself to Akim Boukhelif who I saw from a distance.   Much to my delight, I ran into Mick Badran.   I've know Mick for ages, but haven't seen him since he moved back to Australia four or five years ago.   He now has two kids and a thriving business based on BizTalk and MOSS training and consulting.   Fantastic.   I always felt Mick and I saw technology from a similar perspective, and after all this time we soon fell into sharing development experiences and violently agreeing with each other.   His story about a client whose $AU700,000 BizTalk project turned overnight into a $AU10,000,000 BizTalk project was horrifying, but somehow sounded familiar.  Romualdas joined us after a while, and he and I got some late lunch.  Romualdas is Lithuanian and works closely with Microsoft in that corner of Europe. 

This evening, Microsoft hosted various regional dinners.   The EMEA dinner was well attended, and buzzing.   After a couple of hours the EMEA BizTalk MVPs decided to gatecrash the Americas dinner, which meant walking past or through the APAC and Japan regional dinners.   I am therefore in a position to authoritatively state that, of the four groups, it was the EMEAns who clearly were in the lead in terms of party spirit, despite being uniformly jet-lagged.  The other regions have some catching up to do.