What to Expect at Microsoft TechEd Europe 2014

On October 28th, we’ll see the beginning of the end of a Microsoft legacy: TechEd Europe 2014 (TEE14) running in Barcelona, Spain, is the very last TechEd event before it is replaced by Microsoft Ignite, which takes place May 4-8 in Chicago, USA. Will anything interesting happen in Barcelona? I think so, as you’ll read here.

TechEd Europe 2014 Overview

TechEd Europe is being hosted in the Fira Barcelona conference center in Catalonia in north east Spain, famous for the architecture of Gaudi and Camp Nou, the massive stadium and home of FC Barcelona, a huge football (soccer for American readers) team. The pre-conference sessions are running on Monday 27th, and a keynote kicks off four days of breakout sessions, instructor-led labs, hands-on labs, and exhibitions.
What do you get at TechEd? It’s a huge breadth of materials that give you an opportunity to learn about Microsoft enterprise solutions from experts, be they community members or leaders from the Microsoft product groups. You can learn a lot in a short amount of time, try the products out, find third-party solutions that enhance Microsoft’s systems, and network with your peers. If you feel like it, you can even sit some certifications at a 50 percent discount. And there might even be a chance of a party or two breaking out!
That keynote will be on 8:30 AM local time (that’s 7:30 UTC, which is normally five hours ahead of EST). There are two headline speakers, Jason Zander, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Azure and Joe Belfiore, the Corporate Vice President of PC, Tablet, and Phone. The keynote will be streamed live and will be available to stream for the rest of the day, and then will also be made available to download 24 hours later. As usual for TechEd, a series of foundational sessions on Tuesday will dive a little deeper into the keynote content, and set the stage for the breakout sessions that make up the bulk of the content for the rest of the week.

What to Expect

A keynote gives you a strong indication of what to expect during the week of a conference. Not surprisingly, Microsoft Azure and enterprise usage of Windows 10 are going to be the focus of the two speakers. I’m hoping the balance is good; there was a lot of negativity towards the Azure-centric content of the TechEd North America 2014 keynote.
A trip through the session builder also tells you what to expect at TechEd Europe. There are over 100 Azure and over 50 Office 365 sessions. But there is more to TechEd Europe than the public cloud; In the past few days, more and more Windows Server and System Center vNext and Windows 10 sessions have appeared in the catalogue. Embargoes on features and content are slowly being lifted, so we can rest assured that TechEd Europe is truly a hybrid cloud conference with a generous mixture of on-premises and in-the-cloud sessions.

Attending TechEd for the First Time?

If this is your first — and last — Microsoft TechEd, my advice is that you bring a laptop with a great battery, and get yourself started with a note taking tool, such as OneNote or Evernote. You’ll want to take a lot of notes, share them with colleagues, jot down questions, and take the unique opportunity to meet the speakers/product group members at the product booths or at the Ask The Experts meet up.
Use the schedule builder to plan your sessions. Remember that you can check multiple sessions in each time slot if you cannot make your mind up yet. The keynote and the foundational sessions give you a chance to figure out what sessions you really need to go to. After that, I recommend finding sessions and labs that cover topics that will either enhance your career or might be of value at a later time at work. I’ve picked up a lot of additional knowledge in this way that went on to change my career path.

My TechEd Europe Plans

I will be attending a lot of Windows Server vNext and Azure sessions in Barcelona. I’ll also try to attend some sessions on System Center. The beauty of TechEd is that you can download any session from Channel 9, 24 hours later. Therefore I prioritize the sessions that I might have questions on, and I download the other sessions when I get home.
This TechEd is a special one for me – I will be presenting at the Microsoft conference for the first time. My session is on Wednesday morning, where I will talk about the lesser known features of Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V and show people how use what is already there to solve today’s problems.
I will be writing about TechEd Europe while I’m there, as will some of my other colleagues from Petri.com. Author Peter De Tender will be there, as well as Russell Smith, who will be attending TechEd Europe as an official member of the media representing the Petri IT Knowledgebase, so he’ll probably have plenty of insider information to report, so watch this space!