I had no plans to write the story of my US road show experience, but thought it was a great 1 week experience and I wanted to capture the moments before it vanishes from my memory.
Initially I was not really looking forward for this trip. There is going to be lot of travel, staying in new places and flying out pretty much every night. But it eventually ended up as one of my best official/social travel experience. It’s kind of an eye opener to understand the culture and life style of living in US to some extend. Just a word of caution, this is not going to be technical, more of my diary about the week.
LHR to CLT, May 5th
My flight was at 7am in the morning from Heathrow to Charlotte via Chicago. I didn’t realize I booked such an early morning flight, the airport is roughly an hours drive or train journey from my place. That means I should start roughly about 4am to reach the airport at 5am. There were no early morning trains and I was not sure whether taxi will be available such early on a Sunday morning. Called my regular cab driver Colin, and he happily accepted to come and drop me at that time. I didn’t have enough sleep on Saturday night, just preparing to make sure everything is in place while I’m going to be away. I slept for an hour during the taxi drive.
The flight was on time and I reached Chicago. During the journey I completed reading the book “To Sell is human, by Daniel H. Pink” I normally don’t transfer in US, in the past I missed my connections twice due to strict immigration. This time I didn’t have a choice, since there are no direct flights to Charlotte. As soon as I landed I rushed through the queue, and luckily cleared the immigration in 20 minutes. I had roughly 2 hours waiting time in Chicago, I picked up a new book “Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg” from the airport.
There were no problems with the flight and I reached Charlotte by roughly 4:30pm local time. Michael Stephenson and Tord Glad Nordahl were there already, Kent Weare and his friend Luciano joined us bit later. We had some interesting talks, few drinks. Michael, Tord and me decided to go to the cinema near by and watched Oblivion. It was really good movie, but due to lack of sleep previous day, I was pretty much half-asleep during the show.
Microsoft BizTalk Boot Camp, Charlotte, NC – May 6th
We took the shuttle to Microsoft Charlotte office, roughly 10 minutes drive from the hotel. Mandi Ohlinger (who is currently working as Technical writer for BizTalk Server and Windows Azure) is the main person who arranged the event. I know Mandi very well for few years now, and we are in constant touch throughout the year discussing about MSDN BizTalk Developer centre, BizTalk Documentation content, problems in the field etc. I had great opportunity to meet lot of people from various parts of the world. I have known some of them virtually for many years through blogs, emails etc and this event gave me the opportunity to meet them in person.
Kent Weare presented an interesting topic about BizTalk2013 and Cloud proposition, show casing some of the new adapters that shipped with BizTalk 2013. He put a very interesting demo utilizing BizTalk, Service Bus, SAP system, Windows 8 application with Notification Hub show casing the real potential of what you can achieve joining all these technologies together.
Michael Shea from Microsoft, based in Charlotte who currently work as PM for some of the BizTalk diagnostics tools like Terminator, MBV, PTracePlus etc demonstrated some of the capabilities of BizTalk Azure VM’s (IaaS). Instead of the normal demonstrations using the Azure management portal, he showcased creating and managing BizTalk VM’s using PowerShell, and there as a lab exercise during the day.
Todd Uhl who currently works as premier field engineer (PFE) for Microsoft wrapped up the day with an interesting session about various tools (Message Box Viewer, PAL, etc) they use on the field at customers site. I was very pleased to hear Todd mentioning about BizTalk360 few times during his talk.
Finally we wrapped up the day with party at Mac’s speed shop, great opportunity to get together with lot of people in BizTalk area, understanding the way they use the product, use cases etc. I absolutely love talking to people, knowing their pain points and see if we can address some of them in BizTalk360.
Microsoft BizTalk Boot Camp, Charlotte, NC – May 7th
Tord Glad Nordahl started the day with his famous BizTalk Throttling presentation, followed by another presentation on BizTalk Tracking. Both the session were well respected and audience were very engaged and lot of conversations during the talk.
Michael Stephenson followed Tord, with his presentation about various methodologies you can use to test your BizTalk applications. He introduced some interesting concepts like using Spec Flow and Fakes framework for BizTalk Testing.
After lunch, Mandi Ohlinger demonstrated some of the new stuff that’s going to be released as part of Azure/BizTalk, most of her talk were under NDA and you’ll hear more about it from Microsoft in few months time.
Finally to close of the Boot Camp, we had a Q&A session having Kent Weare, Michael Stephenson, Mandi Ohlinger, Tord Glad Nordahl and Michael Shea
That evening I flew to Dallas for my following day presentation.
BizTalk Server Partner Road Show, Dallas – May 8th
There is lot of momentum at the moment in the BizTalk server space, everyone is so excited about the new release of BizTalk Server 2013. We partnered with Neudesic and QuickLearn in US to do series of BizTalk Server road shows and as part of that I was in Dallas presenting a session on BizTalk360.
Eric Leaseburg from Neudesic (previously Microsoft) presented the introduction and what’s new in BizTalk Server 2013 session. If in search of Eric’s name, you’ll find references going all the way back to BizTalk Server 2004.
Sergio Compean from Neudesic followed Eric with his session on some of the new Azure/BizTalk stuff, most of them are under NDA. They put together a nice demo showcasing some of the power of what’s going to come in the platform.
I presented BizTalk360 to the audience showcasing the benefits and how customers can enhance the value of their BizTalk Server investment. There were lot of interest in the product, even some of our partners are surprised by the amount of stuff we covered in BizTalk360. For us it’s great advantage to mingle with the people and always get some valuable feedback for the product.
John Gallaway followed my presentation showing importance of having a good BizTalk training.
After the event we had lunch with Neudesic Dallas team, I had my flight to Huston in the evening. John Gallaway from QuickLearn was also heading to Houston and he was going to drive. He offered me to join him on the road trip. I never been on long distance road travel in US, so I decided to travel along with John. It was about 4 hours drive and we discussed lot of things during our travel, mostly tech related, and also about various things like National Highways, the numbering system, Truck drivers, etc. It was very interesting conversation. We reached Houston around 6pm and I took the taxi to stay with one of my close friend Abhilash Shanmugan (ex BizTalk Server MVP and now Regional Director for Neudesic – Connected Systems in Houston) and his family.
BizTalk Server Partner Road Show, Houston- May 9th
Abhilash Shanmugan did the first presentation on What’s new in BizTalk Server 2013 with some new views on Azure Service Bus offering and some use cases for these technology to work together to make some hybrid on-premise and cloud stuff to work together. He answered lot of the questions raised by audience. Very engaging audience and quite deep conversations.
Balaji Laxman and Shankar followed Abhi, with the demonstration showing some of the new Azure/BizTalk stuff that’s coming in few months time. Most of their content are under NDA and the audience had the privilege to look into some of the internal stuff that’s coming soon. They put together some nice demos showing some near real world use cases for the technology.
I did the presentation highlighting the power of BizTalk360, how the current challenges faced by BizTalk server customers can be addressed using BizTalk360. I demonstrated how you can setup monitoring for your environment in less than 10 minutes using BizTalk360.
At this point my official trip is over, I decided to spend rest of the week in US with my close friend from my school days who is living in Austin. He picked me up from Houston and we drove all the way to Austin that afternoon and reached around 7 pm.
Austin Trip, May 10 -12
We present BizTalk360 in various countries across the world and whenever we visit a country I personally make it a habit to stay bit longer and explore the country. I also use it as a re-energising technique to boost your energy before you come back to work.
One of the great things about BizTalk MVP community is, we are all very close. Stephen Thomas (BizTalkGurus.com) lives in Austin along with his wife and son and we arranged to meet up for dinner during my stay. I introduced my close school friend Pradip and his family to Stephen Thomas family and we had an excellent time together at Austin.
On Sunday I flew back to London, Stephen Thomas was on the plane with my till Dallas and he headed to NYC for his regular work and I came to UK the following morning.
It was such a great experience meeting various people, various places (I never been to any of the cities I visited this time before), making new friends, meeting virtual friends, etc. I’m glad some time writing this, I can revisit it in the future and walk through the memory lane.