Every year in September, right after the summer holidays, there is an unofficial start of a new “work season”. For some this unofficial start moment comes a bit earlier, for others a bit later. Some even say their work season lasts the entire year… But that’s besides the point. The fall traditionally also heralds a myriad of tech conferences, each fighting for a moment in the spotlights. With Microsoft’s massive Ignite conference moving in from May, this year’s “conference season” promises to be exceptionally busy.

I’ve always liked going to conferences. Although content is important, having the opportunity to talk to peers and interact with the speakers (experts) is something I’ve learned to value more and more with each conference I attended in the past.

This year, I’m lined up to speak at a bunch of conferences again. If you have read some of my previous announcements, you’ll notice that I’m speaking at a pretty much the same conferences as before. Continue reading to find out why!

Microsoft Ignite (Atlanta, US)

This mastodon is simply one you cannot ignore if you are working with Microsoft’s products. It’s Microsoft’s only tech conference in NA (and by extension Europe, since Ignite will most likely not make it there). Ignite is the successor to TechEd, albeit at a much larger scale. There is a huge amount of sessions and, although perhaps not always the most deep-technical, it is a great way to learn what’s happening in Microsoft-land. It’s also a great way to gauge what is important in the world, and what Microsoft’s priorities are. If you were still wondering, it’s all things cloud!

Another interesting nugget is the partner expo area. Pretty much every partner that means something in the Microsoft ecosystem is present. Often, conferences like this are used to make a splash with a new product, or service and it’s interesting to roam the expo floor, talk to new vendors and catch up with the ones you already know!

Last but not least, Ignite is one of the few conferences where a lot of Microsoft’s PMs and engineering folks are present. Although some speakers have the tendency to lock themselves up in the speaker room, a lot of the PMs and engineers are out there to talk to you at one of the many booths that Microsoft has lined up.

This year’s edition has sold out, so you will have to miss out on the social interactions. Luckily, Microsoft will be uploading the sessions shortly after they took place so you won’t have to miss out on the content.

Just like last year, I will be presenting a duo-session with Timothy Heeney on how to migrate to Exchange Online using a Hybrid Exchange deployment. If you haven’t seen one of our sessions before: Tim is a great speaker and brings heaps of fun on stage. If you are planning to migrate, in the process of migrating or if you are a consultant that helps customers to migrate, you definitely don’t want to miss this session!

IT/DEV Connections (Las Vegas, US)

This is, without a doubt, my favorite conference of the year. If not for the location (Vegas!), it’s because of the feel of the conference. It’s much, smaller than Ignite which gives the conference the feel of a (large) user group meeting. Whereas Ignite is a great opportunity to mingle with Microsoft employees, IT/DEV Connections is probably the best place to talk to the independent experts who implement Microsoft’s solutions and have to deal with all the problems that might (or might not) come from doing so. In my experience, the content presented at this conference is no-nonsense, marketing-agnostic, real-world, and hands-on. You’ll learn how things work (or don’t), and not only hear how things are supposed to work.

This year too, I am lucky enough to be presenting two sessions. If you haven’t signed up and are looking for a conference to go to: this is it! If you hurry, you might even be able to benefit from a last-minute discount they are currently offering!

Unity Connect (Haarlem, NL)

This is somewhat a “new kid on the block”. Although it’s not the first time the conference is organized, it’s the first time it’s done at this scale. The organization has made a tremendous effort to create an excellent lineup, and let me tell you: they have! Of all conferences on the EU mainland, this is one of the few I would recommend in a heartbeat. I know most of the speakers presenting, and each and one of them deliver the most captivating and interesting sessions you can find around. Given that it’s closer to home (for those in the EU, at least) it might just be a not-to-miss opportunity if you haven’t been able to go to Ignite or IT/DEV Connections! If you haven’t registered, you can use “SPKMICH10” as a discount code during registration and get 10% off the price!

UK UC Day (Birmingham, UK)

This year is the second time the conference is organized. I believe it started out as a (large) user group event, but it was surpassed by it’s own success. Last year’s edition was just overwhelmingly great. There were a ton of people, sessions – albeit shorter than the usual 75 minutes – were filled with heaps of stellar information and the location (+ organization) was nothing short of impeccable. This, too, is a conference I highly recommend, and it’s only a short flight away for those coming from the EU mainland! And you know what’s even better? It’s entirely free!

I hope to see you all there!