Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that TechEd Australia 2014 is going to drop the format of a few days in one place and instead run as a two-day event in each of Sydney and Melbourne.
As the comments on my blog post about the chance indicate, community disgruntlement didn't take long to follow the skimpy announcement. Many seasoned attendees of TechEd Australia look forward to the event. Yes there's drinks to be had, but the new contacts made with like minded people, be they locals, folks from interstate or international speakers, is highly appreciated.
To people who like the current TechEd format, the change feels like betrayal. Many are devotees of Microsoft technologies - sometimes by choice, other times by situation. Either way, they look after Microsoft technologies for most of their working days, and this event is seen as both a reward for the last year's work and a chance to taste new technologies to get some always-needed training.
Microsoft have so far have only given the reason for this change as to 'increase accessibility'.
Someone in a very good position to know - NOT a direct Microsoft employee - has hinted to me there's more to it than that.
The big thing for Microsoft Australia this year will be the launch of the local Azure data centres, based in Sydney and Melbourne. This is no secret, and was announced roughly a year ago here. The go-live for these datacentres is expected to be in late 2014.
TechEd Australia has been pushed back a month from its usual September slot and is planned for Sydney and Melbourne. Microsoft also says it has further sessions planned around Australia in early 2015.
The Azure data centres in Australia will have cost Microsoft many bags with dollar signs on them.
What better way to remind people about this investment than to turn TechEd Australia into an Azure fest?
The last few years have seen a greater focus on Microsoft's cloud offering, and for Australians one of the biggest deterrents was having data stored in the US or Singapore, along with the higher latency that distance brings.
Events in Sydney and Melbourne to show off data centres there would be a great way to show off Azure in the best network conditions.
The sessions for early 2015 look like a way to address smaller businesses who would be happy to attend an event in their local capital, butwho don't have the sort of budgets to fly their one or two person IT team off to something seen as a junket.
So, with only two days in Sydney and Melbourne for the conference, will there be room for anything more than Azure discussions? Since it's less likely international speakers will come for the shorter events, maybe this is the angle Microsoft have to take. Get local people interested and informed about their latest investment, and convince them to take the jump to Microsoft's Azure. ®