Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Looking Back at System Center Universe Europe 2015

Last week I had the opportunity to attend and present at my third System Center Universe conference in Switzerland and it certainly lived up to the hype as one of the best System Center and Microsoft Cloud focused events in the world.

The following is a run through of what I got up to during my time over there (I've used some of the photos below from the official SCU Europe Facebook page)

Update October 2015: I've added the links for the recorded video's to my own presentation and ones I attended into my post below and you can access the full library of videos as they come online from here. 

Day 1

The first day of the conference kicked off on the Monday morning with Marcel Zehner setting the scene for the week ahead and encouraging everyone to wave their glow-sticks (these were provided at each seat in the keynote room) during the country rundown!

When the giddiness subsided, we had some words from the conference sponsors before Microsoft's Sascha Corti took to the stage for his 'Internet of Things and Machine Learning' presentation. This was an interesting, humorous and very cool session where we got a glimpse into where Microsoft are positioning themselves to prepare for a future of all our day-to-day electronic devices being connected to the Internet.

When the keynote was over, I needed to head over to the speaker room to prepare and rehearse with my good friend and uber-geek Damian Flynn for our 'What's New in OpsMgr?' presentation.

After some last minute additions to the demo's and slide deck, we were ready to go on stage....

The hall we presented in was the same hall used for the keynote and it was massive....

but once we got going - it was hard to keep us quiet again...

When we were finished answering attendee questions at the end, I had to rush over to my second presentation of the day with Savision titled 'Are ITIL and System Center BFF's?'

This was a much more intimate and informal session that was hosted by Jonas Lenntun from Approved Consulting. I had the opportunity to join my fellow MVP friends Thomas Maurer, Kristian Nese and Robert Hedblom for this one and in it, we discussed the pro's and con's of implementing ITIL within the business alongside System Center.

The discussion was a worthwhile one to be had as presenters and attendees all chipped in with some great real-world examples of when ITIL works and when it doesn't.

Later that evening, we headed over to the uber-cool Bar Rouge for the speakers and sponsors party - which brought back fond memories of last years SCU Europe event ;)

Day 2

Being the sensible one of our gang, I didn't stay out too late the night before and after a Starbucks, was ready to rock for Day 2!

My first session of the day was titled 'Data center reporting and analysis using Power BI' and was presented by my MVP buddy Kurt Van Hoecke and Stijn Callebaut. This was an awesome session about how to leverage PowerBI to deliver top-drawer reports and dashboards for your System Center environments.

Next up was the 'Lessons learned from Real World Deployments of Windows Azure Pack' delivered by Michael Rüefli and Michel Lüscher. If you're using Windows Azure Pack, then I'd advise you to check out the recording of this session when it becomes available to hear some of the great tips and tricks the guys have to offer.

The last session before lunch brought me over to Ronny de Jong's 'Got your Hybrid Identity in 4 steps with Azure AD Connect'. This was a detailed and very useful presentation with some nice demo's on how to connect your hybrid identities using Azure.

After lunch we attended the very informative 'What's New in Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V?' presentation from Thomas Maurer and Carsten Rachfahl. These two guys have been working in the trenches of Hyper-V for years now and when they present on this topic, it's certainly one you don't want to miss. There were some really useful nuggets to be gleaned here and another one that you should download the recording for once it becomes available.

The penultimate session of the day was delivered by one of my favourite presenters on System Center - Pete Zerger - and his partner in crime Anders Bengtsson. Their presentation was titled 'Migrating from Orchestrator to Azure Automation' and was packed full with demo's and advice on moving your automation workflows from on-premise to Microsoft Azure.

Towards the end of this presentation, myself and Damian had to head down to the 'Ask the Expert's' area where we were scheduled to be on-hand to answer questions from attendees about monitoring and all things System Center!

To close out Day 2, after our Ask the Experts session, I headed over to the small gathering of SCOM dashboard enthusiasts who had come together in one of the side-session rooms to hear Richard South deliver his 'Squared Up: Whisky Tasting (and insider info…)' presentation.

The fact that this session involved everyone drinking small shots of whisky while getting the inside track on what SquaredUp are planning next had honestly nothing to do with this being voted my favourite session of the day........

Later that evening we had the attendee networking party - which was held in the conference centre and we helped ourselves to the free food and drinks while listening to the DJ and Beatbox artists do their thing!

Day 3

The final day of the conference kicked off for me with a refreshing presentation delivered by Sam Erskine and Lee Berg. This session was titled 'IT Pro to IT Scientist' and featured demo's using a mix of webcam's, Raspberry PI's and Intel NUC devices! A very entertaining session that had everyone laughing and learning at the same time.

After that, it was over to see two more good MVP friends - Stefan Koell and Stefan Roth do their thing on stage with their aptly titled 'Speed Dating SCOM - Make it Sexy' presentation. In this session the guys demonstrated over 30 different tools, tips and tricks to help you keep your SCOM deployments ticking over nicely.

The last session before lunch brought us into another presentation from the dynamic duo - Pete Zerger and Anders Bengtsson which was titled 'Deep Dive into MS Operations Management Suite'. Here, the guys took a dive into the lesser known areas of OMS and discussed things like automation, log analytics and on-demand recovery.

For the final slot of the day before the conference closing note, we decided to visit the many vendors around the exhibition hall to get the low-down on what they had to offer and we had some interesting conversations with some members of the MPx Alliance from NiCE, Comtrade and Veeam.

Closing Note and Announcements

It's a credit to Marcel and the team over at itnetX that they kept one of the most entertaining demonstrations until the final closing keynote speech - where they rolled in two souped-up Tesla's to the main conference hall!

Here's me and Stefan Roth checking out one of them....

As part of his closing demonstration, Marcel created a PowerShell module that enabled him to carry out basic tasks on the Tesla - things like starting it up, turning on the air conditioning, honking the horn etc.

From there, he created a management pack for SCOM to give him monitoring capabilities of the Tesla direct from System Center..awesome!

When Marcel finished with the super-cool demo's, it was time for Maarten Goet to take the stage and present his super-funny and awesome annual SCU Trivia Quiz - where essentially he's compiled a list of 20 questions (some easy, some really difficult!) and then hands out prizes to the audience for correct answers!

When the quiz ended, Marcel came back onstage to make some announcements - the first was the unveiling of the new MSCloudCommunity.com website - which has been created to bring together both speakers and user group communities that are focused on Microsoft System Center and Cloud technologies. This is an awesome idea and one which I'm registered as a speaker. I'll post more about this in the coming days though.

The final announcement of the day involved the location and dates for next years System Center Universe Europe conference.

SCU Europe 2016 will be held in Berlin, Germany next August!

This was probably one of the best conference closing notes I've attended in a long time and to finish off the evening, we all headed across Basel to attend the official Closing Party to unwind before the journey back home.

All-in-all - it was the best SCU I've attended so far and this conference just seems to get better and better each year. I'm looking forward to seeing how Berlin can top this one next time!

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