This is my recap of Microsoft’s Management Summit 2011. This posting was initially written on March 25th, but I had not enough time yet to post it earlier. Here we go: I am in the very last session of the Microsoft Management Summit 2011 event in Las Vegas. This Microsoft centric event is a great resource to get in-depth information on specific Microsoft products. Examples are System Center Configuration Manager, Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and more. Anyone who is deploying Microsoft System Center related products should definitely plan on going to this event (happening on an annual basis).
The audience or better the attendees provide a great mix of people from all over the world. As an example I was sitting down for a self-paced lab session and the guy next to me was from Germany. Since I am fluent in German we started talking for quite a while. I also met people or heard languages from all over the world. Sure, the majority of the 4,500 attendees came from the US, but this is an international event. The majority of the attendees seem to be men, but there were many women, too. A great sign that information technology is a field for both genders. Ok, what I am saying now might be a little controversial, but usual stereotypes about geeks and certain IT personnel certainly apply to specific percentage of the attendees. I am not going into more detail as I personally live by the motto that everyone can decide how they live and what their lifestyle is.
For my hotel I actually chose a hotel away from the Las Vegas Strip. The Hampton Inn & Suites down south in Henderson is a good location to stay. Very affordable, centrally located, well maintained. The surroundings are residential and so I found plenty of opportunity to sneak out for a daily run either early in the morning or at the end of a long day.
The MMS event was held in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino at the south end of the Las Vegas Blvd. The convention center inside this hotel is huge and just getting to the session rooms required long walks. While I actually liked it (I like to exercise), for many other people this was a definitive negative issue. The Mandalay Bay Convention Center was a good location in regards to infrastructure, food, and overall location.
The sessions at the Microsoft Management Summit were mostly great. The weakest session I went to was an instructor-lead lab and after that experience I changed my schedule and the remaining sessions turned out to be very good. I concentrated on Virtualization (Hyper-V) and System Center Operations Manager (Ops Mgr/SCOM) related sessions. Session length varied between 45 to 75 minutes. Speakers were mainly Microsoft Employees from all over the world. The main speakers I really enjoyed listening to were Edwin Yuen, Peter Meister, and Elden Christensen, but the other speakers were great, too. I just happen to remember these speakers as I a) went to more than 1 session of each speaker and b) these speakers covered stuff that really applied to me.
The Expo and Partner Shows
The event also had a 3 day Expo associated with it. The Expo was interesting, but in the end the vendors are trying to sell you something. Not that anything is wrong with that, but it was kind of sad to see that some companies failed to also have some technical staff on site for questions that required more than just sales knowledge. A product would be much more of interest for me if I can talk to someone who is very technical. One company showed a new product and you could tell that the developer was the main driver – the product was missing a good GUI and the sales people really failed to provide the benefits of the product. A waste of my time and their own. Don’t go to this event with a product that is a) not ready and b) without having good information.
Having bought a ticket to this event you automatically received breakfast and lunch except on the first day. Overall the food tasted good, but I would have liked to see more healthy choices. While there was some salad choice, it could have been more. Veggies were available, but they looked a little over-cooked and not as fresh as they could have been. But overall, providing food for 4,500 people is a challenge and in general it was Ok to Satisfying. Plenty of soft drinks and coffee were available the entire time + beer and wine for the evenings when events were scheduled.
The Microsoft Management Summit is definitely worth going to. Lots of information and great opportunity for networking. The value an admin or Microsoft Partner can get from this event is huge. The location (geographical and venue) were well chosen. The price for the event is not cheap, but not super-expensive either. I am definitely looking forward to this event in 2012 again.