One Event to rule them all, One Event to find them,
One Event to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
Today, through Microsoft’s General Manager for Office, Julia White, Microsoft announced that there will be a Microsoft Unified Technology Event for Enterprises in Chicago next year, to be held in the week of May 4th. This new event is aiming at the current attendees of TechEd, Sharepoint Conference, Lync Conference, Project Conference (uh, what), the Microsoft Management Summit and our beloved Exchange Conference. It is also replacing those events starting next year, meaning RIP for events like MEC, SPC and TechEd. There is nothing mentioned regarding the faith of the related events held in non-NA regions, like TechEd Europe or TechEd Australia.
I consider myself lucky being able to attend the – what looks to be the last (again) – Microsoft Exchange Conference this year. Looking back at that event, thinking about setting, identity and depth, one can only hope for the best with this new monstrous event. After all, looking at recent attendance numbers and assuming there are some attendees visiting multiple of these events, adding recent numbers of TechEd North America (10k+), SPC (12k+), MMS (5k+), MEC (2,5k), LyncConf (0,5k) show the estimated attendance could easily go in the direction of 20,000+ attendees. That estimate is without representation from the related product groups and exhibitors. That is one big event.
With the next release of Exchange being announced for 2015, one could assume there are more products lined up for a common launch next year, similar to the Wave15 launch end of 2012 when Exchange 2013 was released together with Lync 2013, Office 2013 and SharePoint 2013. Though, I do not know the exact timelines of the non-Exchange products, so I could be wrong here.
An event of this scale event poses some serious challenges. That could be as elementary as transport or where to put that many people in the near surroundings of the convention center. Also, what sessions will be scheduled and at what level, given the mixed crowds of the generalistic TechEd and the more product-oriented deep-dive events like MEC. Companies sending delegations of their IT staff to these events may need to have drawings on who needs to stay back at home to keep IT running.
For people worried about the new unified event, Julia White tries to reassure people that the new format will be as ‘magical’ and ‘enjoyable’ as the individual events and it will even exceed them regarding ‘awesomeness’ and value. Meanwhile, Exchange fellows Tony Redmond and Paul Robichaux written up their own views on this change, I suggest you check them out as well.
Note that this site mentions McCormick Place as the event venue (thanks Mike Rigsby). It also mentions the event takes place from Monday until Friday:
The official announcements can be found here and here. More details will be made available around September.