On January 10th and 11th, Beanfield Metroconnect and Megaport joined thousands of Microsoft customers and enthusiasts at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for Microsoft’s annual conference roadshow, Ignite | The Tour. The Ignite conference series evolved from Microsoft’s long-running TechEd conferences. First introduced to companies, developers, and fanboys in 1993, this conference tour is probably the longest running education and product roadshow in the cloud space.

Around 2013 the Microsoft business model began shifting from on-prem to a cloud-first recurring revenue model, and naturally, TechEd evolved to compete with the now massively attended AWS Re:Invent conference series. The local version of Ignite gives Canadians an opportunity to view the same breakout sessions and training boot camps available in Orlando from the very same instructors, product managers, and evangelists. That continuity between Ignite and Ignite | The Tour is probably the major differentiator I see for the Microsoft event series.

Shane Gunter who joined me for the conference will follow up with his experience and perspective as a first-time conference attendee and new initiate to the cloud world; so I will keep this short and sweet by only covering the network focused sessions and breakouts we thought would be most valuable to our customer and reader base.

Key Breakouts & Sessions:

1. Azure Networking Basics — FUN20

This session was an excellent networking intro for companies starting their journey into the cloud. Phoummala Schmitt outlined for cloud rookies how applications and services all communicate with each other in Azure, and how that data traverses the internet and back to your on-premise networks. This session covers everything from VDCs to Regions including a high-level overview of Virtual Network Peering, Site-to-site VPN, Azure ExpressRoute, and the recently announced Azure Front Door now in preview.

You can check out the session content in its entirety on the Microsoft TechCommunity site.

2. Transforming enterprise network connectivity in a cloud-first world — BRK3452

Our favourite session from the conference was BRK3452 presented by Paul Collinge. In this session, Paul illustrates how Microsoft O365 is driving a shift of data, services, and applications from the corporate network into the cloud and how modern enterprise networks will need to evolve to maintain the same quality of service.

The session is available in its entirety online on YouTube, where Paul demonstrates a network quality test and deep dive into the problems a traditional network approach has with cloud services that every architecture and infrastructure team will benefit from watching. Paul was kind enough to stick around and chat with Beanfield about the session and listened to some of our local customer success stories with Office 365 peering.

You can check out the session content in its entirety on the Microsoft TechCommunity site here.

3. Planning and implementing hybrid network connectivity — HYB10

Last but not least, Anthony Bartolo’s session covering hybrid cloud network connectivity provides vital insights on planning and implementing a secure enterprise hybrid networking architecture in Azure. Anthony covers in detail; Site-to-Site VPNs, ExpressRoute, as well as how to strategically deploy firewalls, network security groups and marketplace appliances to protect resources and workloads spanning both sides of your hybrid network. The session presentation also provides details on the exciting new announcement of Azure Virtual WAN services, an Azure network connectivity model that will likely replace legacy Site-to-Site VPN services for businesses without options for private connectivity. 

You can check out the session content in its entirety on the Microsoft TechCommunity site here.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft’s local version of Ignite delivers a ton of incredibly valuable content. Anyone interested in attending the global Ignite conference, but unable to make the trip, can undoubtedly count on Ignite | The Tour to provide all of the benefits of the full event, without the live blockbuster keynote announcements or the after-session networking parties. Beanfield Metroconnect and Megaport will be attending most of the Microsoft partner and developer summits this year, so look out for our crew if you’re travelling to Ignite or Inspire.

About the Author:

Daniel Simmons is the Director of Cloud Strategy at Beanfield Metroconnect, a cloud product manager, cloud evangelist, and a solution architect for cloud and data centre services. Daniel has spent the past year overseeing the launch of the Beanfield and Megaport partnership with the goal of bringing multi-cloud connectivity to every office building in the city. He lives in Toronto with his partner and dog.