My thoughts on the Microsoft Unified Technology Event

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that they are not doing the smaller, product centric events like Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) or LyncConf. They are switching to a Unified Technology Event which will be next May in Chicago. You can read the announcement here:

This news isn’t all that surprising, combining efforts has to be a great way to save money and more efficient from a planning standpoint.

I have to admit, I’m sad to see LyncConf go. I went to both years of it and thought it was fantastic. I hope the new event is as good and not just a re-invention of TechEd. A few reasons that I am disappointed the smaller conferences are going away:

First, when you went to the product specific conference, you had a common bond with everyone there from the get-go. You didn’t have to find out what they were there for, they were there for the same product you were.

Second, because the conference was smaller, you didn’t feel like such a small part in it. It’s easy to let yourself get lost in a large conference and not engage with other folks.

Third, the networking was awesome. The conference was small and intimate and it made it very easy to identify people you wanted to meet. A larger conference tends to drive people to cliques and can make it much more difficult to connect with others.

Things aren’t all bad though. Having several products at one conference is great for a general sysadmin who has to work with Lync, Exchange and Office365 everyday. That person might only have the ability to go to one conference and now can do so (just like before with TechEd). I view this more as a negative due to the fact that I am more specialized and I could have used an extra day at LyncConf to begin with, add-in interesting content from Exchange or O365 and I may have even more tough choices in which sessions to attend.

Also, as someone who works for a consulting firm, it will be tougher for us to send folks. With the separate conferences we could send two people to each and not take such a hit from them being gone. With the Unified event, we will probably only be able to send a small selection and then the rest miss out on the experience.

I hope Microsoft does a great job with the event and makes us all forget about the small, intimate conferences but at the end of the day, I feel like this just like your favorite band. It’s great to see them either way but the small club was a much better experience than the large arena.

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