Microsoft has trimmed its conference calendar for 2015.
Frank X. Shaw, corporate vice president of communications at Microsoft, announced Ignite, a unified enterprise technology that combines several individually held events. "For the first time ever, we're putting under one roof the education, vision and guidance for the full spectrum of our enterprise solutions," he wrote in an Oct. 16 blog post.
Ignite will be held on May 4-8, 2015, in Chicago's McCormick Place Convention Center. It will essentially take the place of the Microsoft's Management Summit, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project and TechEd conferences. May 4 is Star Wars Day, reminded Shaw, before encouraging attendees to check out the progress being made on the construction of the Lucas Museum (named after Star Wars creator George Lucas) while they are in town.
"We're going to cover it all, across cloud infrastructure and management, big data and analytics, productivity, unified communications, operating systems, mobile devices and more," said Shaw. Microsoft staffers will be more accessible to attendees than in the past, he said.
"In addition to hundreds of sessions, technical training, hands-on labs and opportunities for certification, we're making it a priority to give attendees direct access to hundreds of Microsoft engineers and executives," he added. "Our top gearheads and thought leaders will be there in force, ready to step down from the podium and get into the weeds with you."
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will deliver a keynote address. Also taking the stage will be Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of the of the Enterprise Client and Mobility division; Julie Larson-Green, chief experience officer of the Applications and Services Group; and Dave Campbell, chief technology officer of Cloud and Enterprise; and others.
Past conference-goers will notice a major change, suggested Shaw. "We're rewiring what a Microsoft enterprise tech conference is and does, from how you will plan your week ahead of time, to how you'll use social media to get the most out of the event, to how you'll enjoy the city of Chicago."
During an Oct. 16 press conference in Chicago attended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Julia White, general manager of Microsoft Office, described the upcoming event as "an incredibly important time and place" that is expected to attract more than 20,000 of the company's partners and business customers.
Further underscoring the importance of the event to the software giant, White said that "over half of Microsoft's revenue actually comes from our business technology—actually well over half—and is growing at double digits. So our business technology area is an incredibly important and strategic part of the Microsoft Corporation all-up."
For the first half of 2015, Microsoft's newly streamlined conference schedule includes Convergence 2015 in Atlanta (March 16-19) and Build in San Francisco (April 29-May 1), before culminating in Ignite. The Worldwide Partner Conference returns on July 12-16, 2015, this time in Orlando, Fla.