This post was originally published here

 It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from attending the 1st ever Microsoft Ignite conference, it was held in Chicago and had around 23,000 attendees and heaps of really good sessions.

I think probably one of the biggest issue with IT currently is keeping up with the rate of change, this is one reason I really enjoyed attending Ignite, it gives people the ability to catch up on lots of different technologies in a short period of time, even though your brain feels like it is filling up within the 1st day or so of a week long conference. It never fails that when I am getting ready to attend an event like Ignite, I start creating my schedule and as always I have 4 to 5 session I want to attending at the same time, this year it was the 9:00am slot on both Tuesday and Wednesday that have 5 different topics that I wanted to attend, but the good thing about Ignite is that the session are recorded and available to view after the event.

Here are my highlights of the sessions I attended:

Windows 10 / Windows Server 2016

  • Universal Apps – really think this technology will help developers deliver better cross device support and I am looking forward to start working on a couple of pet projects that I have had in the back of my mind for several year.
  • Domain Joining machines to Azure Active Directory – with some of our recent BizTalk Integration projects we have create BizTalk Server environments in Azure IaaS, to do this with BizTalk it required a virtual machine running as a Domain Controller, this feature of being able to join machine to an existing Azure Active Directory will simply and extend the capabilities of BizTalk Server running in Azure IaaS.
  • Windows Hello – I have always been a believer that strong authentication is a must, I have seen too many cases where it was not. Windows Hello with both facial recognition and enhanced finger print recognition will go a long way to making strong authentication quick and easy.

API Management

  • PowerShell and C# SDK Preview – though this was only talked about a Ignite, since returning from Ignite it has been release, this is help strengthen the DevOps story around API Management
  • Policy Expressions – As with many of the Azure Technologies, API management keeps adding to the capabilities and feature at a feverish pitch.
  • Control Flow Policy –
  • Self-signed backend certificates – probably does not effect many production scenarios but this helps heaps with your dev and test scenarios with API Management
  • Source Control with GIT – the API Management team has exposed the API Management instance as a GIT repository so you can use commands to both import and export you API definition and configuration, again a big win for DevOps with API Management

TFS / Visual Studio Online Build.Preview (or sometime referred to as VNext.Build)

  • Task Based Build – Yes, no more fighting with XAML (XAML based build workflows are still their if you have them), I am very impressed with this new engine, I was able to do in just a few hours what had taken me days to do in XAML. It has now been enabled on Visual Studio Online.
  • All Task Base Build Task Source on GITHub – So if you like one of their task, but want to do a bit of customisation for your particular environment, you have access to all of their code.  I have plans for a couple of custom tasks around the BizTalk Deployment Framework.
  • XCopy build agent install – I the past you needed a build server for each team project collection, now you can have a single build server (in my case BizTalk) for a number of team project collections.

Release Management

  • Web Based – No more thick client / server to install, it is going to be part of Visual Studio Online
  • Integrated with VS Online – so when do a build you can then kick off deployments to your dev/test environment and even those higher environments with a nice approval structure
  • Same Client as Build.Preview – Leveraging the work done on the XCopy deployment for the Build.Preview agent, the release management uses the same agent.

Azure Stack

  • Run Azure on your own hardware – a feature that lots of people have been asking for, the previous Azure Pack did some, but Azure Stack has most of the Azure features.

SQL Server 2016

  • Changed from 2015 to 2016 – There are several products that have been changed from 2015 to 2016, from what I can tell, related to Windows Server 2016, BizTalk has also been changed to 2016
  • MSDTC support for AlwaysOn Availability Groups – Hopefully with this feature and BizTalk 2016 we will no longer have to rely on Log Shipping for BizTalk Server DR

Azure Service Fabric

  • Can run Azure Redundancy on you own hardware – One of the great features of Azure is that for storage you get 3 copies and for virtual machines and several other services you get 3 copies of you instances so if hardware fails you don’t notice, they have opened this up for people that want this kind of HA on their own hardware, thus removing a lot of those requirements for large clustered infrastructure servers, the recording of these session is very informative.

API Apps / Logic Apps

  • Heaps of changes since Preview Release – Again like many of the Azure products, heaps of changes in the 6-8 weeks since it was released into preview and many more changes coming before GA (sometime this summer (US))
  • Some ALM, with more coming – they have shown how to export your Logic Apps with a PowerShell command and then create a project in Visual Studio to update/change and deploy back to Azure
  • Market Place – they have talked about having different levels of Market Place and for many Enterprise Customers, this is going to be very helpful, having a Enterprise Market Place where other developers in your Enterprise can discover and reuse your API Apps and Logic Apps

There were many other session at Ignite 2015, so please go to and view the session that you are interested in

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