Microsoft Ignite: What To Expect As Event Goes Virtual

Microsoft Ignite is an annual conference for developers and IT professionals presented by Microsoft.  It always offers opportunities to hear from Microsoft experts, MVPs and community members, including many who are experts helping to fuel the innovation around Microsoft Teams growth. With 1000+ sessions every year Microsoft Ignite is sure to have something for everyone. Before we dive into what you can expect once you get there, let’s go through a few logistics.

When & Where?

A whole lot of change is in store for this year’s edition of Microsoft Ignite, which runs Sept. 22-24. This change is in no small part because of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on enterprise partners and customers all over the world. The company has decided to cancel all in-person events until at least the middle of 2021 and will conduct this year’s conference virtually.

So instead of more than 25,000 attendees made up largely of developers and IT professionals, Ignite 2020 is free and open to all. That means potentially a huge audience tuning in online to watch announcements and discussions about hardware, partnerships and other new projects. But it also means there’s no opportunity to meet in person with vendors or potential partners who are typically in attendance, which is always the added benefit of a large annual conference.

There is even more mystery and speculation surrounding what to expect for this year’s all-virtual version of Ignite. The Microsoft events leading up to the conference are very focused on management of Microsoft Teams, which reflects the emphasis the company has put on the collaboration platform to take advantage of the shift toward remote work caused by the pandemic.


What To Expect

Here at Vyopta we are especially interested in everything that will be announced and discussed around the Microsoft Teams growth. With our recently-announced full support of the platform offering some of the most detailed data usage and call quality for Teams users, there is plenty to keep an eye on with Teams-related programming at Ignite.

Kamalina Czerniak, Vyopta’s senior manager of product marketing, said she expects a heavy focus on artificial intelligence and user experience in the announcements coming out of Ignite this year. With companies gradually moving workers back into the office in socially distanced situations there is likely to be lots of reliance on collaboration tools and equipment, which will make it important to have maximum interoperability given the growth of Microsoft Teams in the wake of the pandemic.

“When companies are starting to go back to the office they’re going to start to use video endpoints more in the office. That actually is good for us at Vyopta because it creates more of a mixed vendor marketplace with interop platforms that would connect Microsoft Teams with other things we’ll be able to monitor,” she said.

“So there may be more announcements around the ecosystem with interoperability and integration with other platforms for endpoints and hardware coming out. I would also assume there would be announcements from the other vendors related to interop and endpoints like Cisco and others… with interop and the ability for Teams to be used with other platforms that will let the ecosystem grow a little bit more.”

While collaboration is anticipated to represent a larger portion of Microsoft’s focus at this year’s edition of Ignite, it’s likely that announcements around devices will be what steals the show. Beyond that, it’s tough to get more specific on what to expect at Ignite.

Jaiganesh Lakshmisundaram, Vyopta’s senior manager for product management, has represented the company at previous gatherings for Ignite and said hardware tends to be the programming component that gets the most attention because it lets Microsoft’s partners grab some of the spotlight.

“The collaboration portfolio is just a tiny aspect of everything Microsoft is involved in, and within the collaboration portfolio the one they spend the most time and energy on is around devices,” he said. “That broadens their marketing and lets them leverage other vendors, so they do that more than talking about new features. I think this year we’ll see a lot of focus on the hardware side.”