Microsoft Ignite The Tour Johannesburg 2020

“Microsoft Ignite The Tour Johannesburg” took place earlier this year at the Sandton Convention Centre and to be frank we were not quite sure what to expect from Microsoft.

In the past the Microsoft Dev Days were simply amazing, where one would get ground-breaking insights into what the future held for us developers within the Microsoft space.

After completing our quick registration process, we made our way to The Hub, a central gathering spot that had a small expo, mostly representing the event sponsors. First impressions were that it was rather quiet and attendance seemed rather dismal to say the least. Nevertheless we made our way around The Hub area and took note of some of the theatre session spaces where live demonstrations would take place and of course, took a brief look at what the sponsors like Red Hat, Yealink and Cloudflare were offering. There was not much happening in The Hub so we made our way to one of the live developer sessions in the hope of finding something of interest.

We attended the session titled “Options for building and running your app in the Cloud” which covered some important points to consider when deploying a company website that must be accessed from multiple regions. Scalability and availability of a company website in multiple regions, with minimal setup and configuration, really made sense, especially when a website is a high traffic site, where speed and availability are of utmost importance. Making use of the Azure CDN (Content Delivery Network) to serve images from a central location was an impressive revelation, because managing multiple locations for your images could become a nightmare, especially so when multiple instances of a website are situated within different time zones! Clearly the use of CDN is a viable solution for hosting images, script files and more.

The session ended and suddenly, it was as if all the developers from Johannesburg had gathered in the convention centre. There were thousands of eager beavers making their way around, wanting to get their piece of the Microsoft pie.

We moved into the next session where they covered topics like AI and Cognitive Services before everyone started heading down to The Hub for lunch. The routine was the same and more breakout sessions were held throughout the complex during the course of the day.

Day two and we were still eagerly searching for that ground-breaking technology experience that we have become accustomed to from Microsoft that would be shared with the masses as they did back in old Microsoft Dev Days. Alas, there was nothing more than what seemed to be a major focus on marketing Azure and Office 365 to all and sundry.

The two sessions that really interested me in the end, were “Learning about building an Azure IoT Edge Solution the fun way” and funnily enough, “Out the DEV in Citizen DEVeloper with Power Automate and PowerApps.

These two technologies are definitely worth a mention. Starting with the latter, businesses that lack funds for developers to build apps that are simple, can now use logic and build apps using PowerApps. These are sufficiently robust to be released to the App Stores and with the use of Power Automate, can have workflow built into the backend to streamline processes. An example would be approving an order for release to a warehouse.

IoT as we know is making its way into our everyday lives more and more and IoT Central is a very clever little tech-stack that permits the management of IoT devices from a single user interface. I see this becoming a de-facto standard for IoT device management in the coming years.

Microsoft Ignite The Tour, serves its purpose as a platform to showcase Microsoft products and services with some insight into how developers can make use of the technologies. The Microsoft Dev Days though were a true “developer conference” and sadly Microsoft Ignite is not at the same level or as appealing to the “dyed in the wool” techie!

It is nonetheless well worth attending if you want to get a better understanding of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 products and services.

Author: Edward Whitehead, Senior Software Developer