Experts Live Europe 2023

I spoke at Experts Live Europe last week and this post is a report of my experience at this independently run tech conference.

Experts Live

I cannot claim to be a historian on Experts Live Europe (I’ll call it Experts Live after this) but it’s a brand that I’ve known of for years. Many of the MVPs (Microsoft Valuable Professionals) and community experts that I know have attended and presented at this conference for as long as it has been running. It started off as a System Center-focused event and evolved as Microsoft has done, transitioning to a cloud-focused conference covering M365 and Azure.

Previously, I never got to speak at Experts Live. When it started, I had mostly fallen off the System Center track and didn’t feel qualified to apply to speak. Later, as the conference evolved and our interests aligned, I was always booked to be on vacation abroad when the conference was running so I didn’t apply. This was a sickener because the likes of Kevin Greene and Damian Flynn raved about how good this event was for speakers and attendees.

This year, that changed and I applied to speak. I was delighted to hear that I was accepted and was looking forward to attending.

The organisation changed a little, but the central organiser, Isidora Maurer, was still at the helm. I knew that this would be a quality event.

Experts Live is a brand that has expanded and now includes local events across Europe. I’ve been lucky to speak at a couple of those over the years.

Prague 2023

This year’s conference was hosted in Prague, a beautiful city. I’ve spoken in Prague before but it was my usual speaker experience: fly in – taxi to the hotel – speak – taxi to the airport – fly home. This time, because flights home were a little awkward, I was staying an extra night so I could experience the city a little bit.

The conference center is just outside the city centre and the hotels were just next door. Many of the speakers booked into the Corinthian Hotel, a nice place, which was a 2-minute walk across a bridge or through a train station.


I arrived at the conference center to register on the last day, about 40 minutes before I was due to speak in the second slot. I registered quickly and was told to go upstairs. I did – and the place was a ghost town. I was sure that something was wrong. Whenever you go to a tech event, there are always people in the hallways either on calls or filling time because they don’t like the current sessions. I found the speakers’ room and did my final prep. Then I went to the room I was speaking in next, and it was packed. All of the rooms were packed. Almost no one was “filling time”. I’ve never seen that and it says a lot about the schedule organisers, the sessions/speakers, and the attendees’ dedication.

Another observation – that my wife made afterward while looking at event photos on social media – there were a lot more women at this event than one will usually see at other technical events. The main organiser, Isidora, is a well-known advocate for women in IT and I suspect that her activities help to restore some levels of balance.

My Session

My session was called “Azure Firewall: The Legacy Firewall Killer“. In the session, I compare & contrast Azure Firewall with third-party NVAs, while teaching a little about Azure Firewall features and demonstrate a simple DevSecOps process using infrastructure-as-code.

Credit: Carsten Rachfahl, MVP

I had a full room which was pretty cool and there was lots of engagement after the session – throughout the day!

I attended sessions in all but one slot, catching the end of Carsten Rachfahl’s hybrid session, Didier Van Hoye’s session on QUIC, Damian Flynn’s Azure Policy session, and Eric Berg’s session on Azure networking native versus third-party options. All were excellent, as I expected.

It has been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to attend technical sessions – the pandemic suspended in-person events for years, I can’t focus on digital events (for several reasons), and Microsoft Ignite is a marketing/vanity event now 🙁


The after-party featured some lovely snacks and drinks with some light-hearted entertainment. It was short – understandably – because many people were leaving straight away.

Entertainment for the evening was hosted for the speakers: we gathered at 19:00 and were taken on a riverboat tour where we had a few drinks and dinner while enjoying the city views in the warm autumn evening. It was quite enjoyable. And maybe, just maybe, many of the speakers continued on in various locations afterward!

Wrap Up

Experts Live is a very well-run event with lots of content spanning multiple expertise areas. I love that the sessions are technical – in fact, some of the speakers adjusted their content to suit the observed technical levels of the audience while at the event. In 2024, if you want to learn, then make sure you check out this conference and hopefully if I’m accepted, I’ll see you there!

Speaking Today At Global Azure Virtual (ONLINE)

I am presenting at 14:00 UK/Ireland, 3PM central Europe, 9am Eastern US in the Global Azure virtual/online Bootcamp. You can find the link to the session here on Day 3. Here is the session information that is missing from the event site:

Trust No-One Architecture For Services And Data

Security is always one of the top 3 fears of Cloud customers. In The Cloud, the customer is responsible for their network security design and operation. This session will walk you through the components of Azure network security, and how to architect a secure network for Azure virtual machines or platform services, including VNets, network security groups, routing tables, Private Link, VNet peering, web application gateway, DDoS protection, and firewall appliances.

Webinar – Getting More Performance From Azure VMs

I will be doing a webinar later today for the European SharePoint Office 365 & Azure Community (from the like-named conference). The webinar is at 14:00 UK/Irish, 15:00 CET, and 09:00 EST. Registration is here.

Title: Getting More Performance from Azure Virtual Machines

Speaker: Aidan Finn, MVP, Ireland

Date and Time: Wed, May 1, 2019 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM CEST

Webinar Description:  You’ve deployed your shiny new application in the cloud, and all that pride crashes down when developers and users start to complain that it’s slow. How do you fix it? In this session you’ll learn to understand what Azure virtual machines can offer, how to pick the right ones for the right job, and how to design for the best possible performance, including networking, storage, processor, and GPU.

Key benefits of attending:
– Understand virtual machine design
– Optimise storage performance
– Get more from Azure networking

Global ONLINE Azure Bootcamp

On one day every year, community members all across the planet get together at local events and host/attend sessions on Azure; this is the Global Azure Bootcamp. It’s been running on a Spring Saturday for years, and this year it is on April 27th.

Unfortunately, Microsoft Ireland wasn’t able to provide a venue so it looked like there would not be a local event in this part of Ireland. While I was at the recent MVP Summit, I threw out the idea of running an online version of the Global Azure Bootcamp … a Global Online Azure Bootcamp. The MVP Lead for UK& Ireland, Claire, loved the idea, ran off to the organisers of the global event, came back and said “do it!”.

So I did … I reached out to the speaker community and … was blown away by the response. So much so, that this will be a truly Global ONLINE Azure Bootcamp with content for all timezones:

  • We’re starting at 09:00 Perth/Bejing time
  • Finishing at 17:00 Seattle/Los Angeles time

The idea is that sessions will be pre-recorded and made available online on a scheduled basis on April 27th. That means anyone with Internet access anywhere on the planet can join this instance of the Global Azure Bootcamp – some of the presenters will actually be live-presenting elsewhere that day!

The content spans many tracks: dev, infrastructure, devops, data, AI, governance, security, and more. There really is something for everyone that is interested in Azure.

You can learn more here on the official event site.

This event has no sponsorship and it’s all be organized at the very last second. So here’s my ask:

Hopefully we’ll see (so to speak because we don’t have tracking) you there on the day!


Cloud Camp 2018 – It’s A Wrap!

Yesterday, Cloud Camp 2018, run by MicroWarehouse and sponsored by Microsoft Surface and Veeam, ran in the Dublin Convention Centre here in Ireland. 4 tracks, 20 (mostly MVP) sessions, 2 keynotes, and hundreds of satisfied attendees. It was great fun – but we’re all a little tired today Smile

Photo by Gregor Reimling

The message of the day was “change” and that was what I talked about in the opening keynote. In nature, change is inevitable. In IT, you cannot accept change, you’re pushed aside. Business pressure, security & compliance needs, and the speed of cloud make change happen faster than ever. And that’s why we had 20 expert-lead breakout sessions covering Azure IaaS, Azure PaaS, productivity, security, management & governance, Windows Server 2019 and hybrid cloud solutions. The conference ended with renowned Microsoft-watchers Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott discussing what the corporation has been up to and their experiences in covering the Redmond giant.

We had a lot of fun yesterday. Everything ran quite smoothly – credit to John & Glenn in MWH and Hanover Communications.

After the conference, Paul & Mary Jo hosted their Windows Weekly podcast from Dogpatch Labs in the IFSC.

And then we had a small after party in Urban Brewing next door, where one or two beverages might have been consumed until the wee hours of the morning Smile

Picture by Gerald Versluis

Thank you to:

  • MicroWarehouse for running this event – Rory for OK-ing it and the team for promoting it.
  • John and Glenn who ran the logistics and made it so smooth
  • Hanover Communications for the PR work
  • All the breakout speakers who travelled from around Ireland/Europe to share their knowledge and experience
  • Kartik who travelled from India to share what Azure Backup are up to
  • Paul & Mary Jo for travelling from the USA to spend some time with us
  • Alex at TWiT for make sure things worked well with the podcast
  • Everyone who attended and made this event possible!

A Twitter competition with the #CloudCamp18 tag was run – a winner will be selected (after the dust settles) for a shiny new Surface Go. At one point the #CloudCamp18 tag was trending #3 for tweets in Dublin. Now I wonder what will happen with #CloudCamp19?

My Microsoft Ignite Strategy

Microsoft Ignite is running from Monday 24th until Friday 28th in Orlando, Florida, next week. Here’s how I plan to consume from this conference.

Why Am I Attending?

There are two answers to this question, depending on what you mean by the question.

Why would I care to consume content from Ignite? That’s simple – Ignite is a cornerstone event in the Microsoft calendar for techies. If you work with business software from Microsoft, then this is when the big stuff gets announced, and this is the best opportunity to learn from the product groups. Even as an MVP, I have a unique opportunity to interact and learn from product groups, but they focus a huge amount of effort on this particular week. The breadth of content is huge – over 1000 sessions covering almost every aspect of enterprise software from Microsoft. In this era of constant change, it’s foolish not to try to keep up. The real question should be – why would I not want to learn at Ignite?

As for the second interpretation of the question: why attend Ignite when every session will be live streamed and available to download within 48 hours? The realities of life are that if I’m around at the office, or even working from home, the phone will ring, the email will ping, and I won’t get a chance to focus on the content. I have a young family, and at night, they come first. Attending the conference gives me a chance to focus. It’s a few days away, but the value carries over for at least the next year, and beyond.

Note Taking

I always take lots of notes at Ignite – long-time readers of my blog know this because my notes are posts on this site. I open Live Writer and start typing as the speakers are talking. You’d be amazed how often I end up googling my own articles!

If you’re not a blogger, then I’d recommend opening OneNote and taking notes for each session. If work sent you, consider sharing the notebook with your colleagues. If you’re part of a team that is attending, then cerate a shared notebook, split up and attend different sessions – you’ll exponentially grow the organisational learning and value from the conference.


I don’t get any real value from the opening keynote. It’s all too airy-fairy and marketing speak for the general news media. For me, the meat starts immediately after the opening keynote. For the last few years, there have been “breakout keynotes” straight after the Satya Nadella session. That’s when the likes of Jeff Woolsey (Windows Server) and Scott Guthrie (Azure) flood us with news and features. As with the last few years, I will be attending lots of Azure sessions. And if it’s like last year, almost every session will have additional announcements. There’s no “how to” learning here, it’s more of a “what’s possible” learning experience – I can figure out the “how to” at home once I know what to look for. To be honest, “how to” learning doesn’t work when there’s only 60-75 minutes and you cannot do hands-on.

I typically only attend the 75 minute breakout sessions. Scattered about the hallways and expo hall are the theatre sessions, which are where most of the non-Microsoft speakers are talking. These are typically 10 minute sessions. There’s some value here, but the nuggets are so small, and the timing doesn’t work for me – this is the sort of thing I can get from a blog post or a YouTube/Channel 9 video. But that’s not true for everyone – some of the theatre sessions had massive crowds last year – bigger than many of the breakouts.

Hands-On Labs

My calendar is filled out with breakout sessions, but I often change my planning based on my gut feel for what’s being presented. Sometimes a track is dull, sometimes the same speakers are doing the same content 3-4 times but with different session titles, sometimes I hear of something exciting that I didn’t expect, and sometimes I hear about a great session that filled out but is being repeated.

When I first attended TechEd Europe, one of the best learning experiences I had was in the hands-on labs (HOLs). This gives you a chance to try things out in a sandbox environment. I haven’t done this in years, but I could be tempted to try out some AI, data, or Kubernetes labs if there are any.


I’ve got friends in this business that I only ever see at conferences. MVP Kevin Greene only lives 20-30 minutes from our house but I see him a handful of times per year – we have pretty full family/work lives. I enjoy meeting up with Kev, Damian Flynn, ex-MVP and now Azure CAT John McCabe, and a bunch of other MVP and Microsoft friends that I’ve met over the years, and even some folks that I know over social media. There’s plenty of opportunity to be social at Ignite. Tuesday is party night (watch out for invitations), but most evenings Microsoft has a “mini-party” in the expo hall – which is also a great place to learn. And of course, there’s the conference closing party on Thursday night in Universal – the Hogwarts ride is pretty cool, Spiderman is fun, and Hulk looks damned scary (it would make me puke but my eldest daughter did it 4 times in a row) – Rip Ride Rocket looks worse!

Say “Hi!”

I will be easy to identify. I’ll be wearing a Cloud Mechanix T-Shirt.


Be sure to say “hi”; I don’t bite … often Open-mouthed smile

Lots of Conference Stuff Coming Up

A busy few months are coming up. Work on Azure, etc, with MicroWarehouse continues to be extremely busy, Cloud Mechanix continues, and that’s all before some speaking that I’m doing.

Evolve, National Conference Center Birmingham, UK – September 10

I’ll be presenting my “Azure PaaS for the Server Engineer” session at this community event. PaaS can be scary for server people – imagine a world with no servers! Not so quick! It turns out that this stuff isn’t so alien and our role is increasing, not shrinking in the dev side of Azure. Join me to learn more.

IP Expo Europe 2018, EXCEL London, UK – October 3-4

At this conference, I will be representing Altaro. The session I’m doing is a new one called “Solving the Azure Storage Maze”. Azure storage offers a confusing variety of storage options, and figuring out up from down can be mind boggling. My plan is to make this easy for people, boiling it down to a few simple questions/choices.

European SharePoint, Office 365, Azure Conference Copenhagen, Denmark – November 26-29

This event is pretty big, but historically it’s been a SharePoint thing so those outside of that community don’t know of it. I’ll be talking about getting more performance from your Azure VMs, including planning, implementation, and management.

Microsoft Ignite 2018, Orlando, USA – Sept 24-28

I registered to attend Ignite yesterday. I did not apply for any speaking positions. Speaking at Ignite is a buzz, but I do lots of speaking. The obligations of that are required of speakers in the expo hall are too much for my liking. I’d rather be a normal attendee that makes the most of the Monday-Thursday content. This year, I will be doing lots of Azure, but I’ll also be trying to catch up on Windows Server. Ideally, I’d have a time turner at this conference, but no one has invented that yet.

Cloud Camp 2018, Convention Centre Dublin, Ireland – Oct 17

I’m one of the organisers behind this event, sponsored by MicroWarehouse, that will feature expert community speakers (mostly MVPs) from around Europe. An opening keynote will set the scene for 20 breakout sessions across 4 cloud, productivity & security, and Windows Server 2019 & hybrid tracks. And then a closing keynote with Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott will wrap things up. It’s going to be quite the show!

Call For Speakers – Cloud Camp, October 17th

My employers, MicroWarehouse, are running a community event in the Dublin Convention Centre on October 17th. Cloud Camp is a tech event, with four tracks covering:

  • Azure Infrastructure: Virtual machines, storage, networking, etc
  • Azure Platform: Web Apps, Containers, etc
  • Productivity & Security: Office 365, EMS, etc
  • Windows Server 2019 & Hybrid: Windows Admin Center, virtualization, clustering, storage, networking, private cloud, etc

UPDATE: We have enough submissions on Office, Intune, and M365 overviews. We need more on Azure IaaS and Azure PaaS. But we really want sessions on Windows Admin Center, Windows Server 2019, and data protection using Azure Information Protection & Client App Security.


Samuel Beckett bridge and Dublin Convention Center – Daniel Dudek,

We’re looking for speakers from around Europe to fill the slots. Expenses are being covered:

  • Flights
  • 2 nights accommodation – the nights before and after the event
  • Tickets to the event

If you’re interested in speaking then please submit your bio and session proposal(s) here.

Q&A Webinar with Ben Armstrong (Microsoft/Hyper-V)

Altaro are hosting an “AMA” webinar where you will get the chance to ask your burning questions to Ben Armstrong (previously known as The Virtual PC Guy), Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, and one of the brains behind Hyper-V … and thus the platform of Azure!

if you’ve ever wondered where some of my uber-detailed posts on odd little hyper-V details came from … it was from Ben. He’s got tonnes of stories, lots of info, and this shouldn’t be missed if you have the chance to tune in.

Speaking at Cloud & Datacenter Conference Germany in May

Lots of air miles this year! I will be travelling to Hanau, Germany, to present at the CDC Germany conference, which is running May 15-16.

About The Conference

If you are not familiar with this conference, it’s a professionally run Microsoft-centric event with expert speakers from around Europe (and further) talking about on-premises and cloud technologies, and aimed at attendees from the DACH (German-speaking) region. The speakers are mostly MVPs, who are known for their expertise in their chosen areas, and are veteran speakers/trainers. For example:

  • Dider van Hoye & Carsten Rachfahl are both Cloud & Datacenter Management (Hyper-V) MVPs known for their knowledge of virtualization, storage, and networking.
  • Martina Grom is a well known Office 365 MVP
  • Thomas Maurer, also a Hyper-V MVP, has been doing lots on containers and Azure Stack (on-premises Azure)
  • Dr. Benny Tritsch, MVP, is the best RDS person I know
  • Jan Kappen (MVP), along with Carsten, is the best at Storage Spaces Direct (Hyper-V hyper-converged infrastructure) there is in Europe.
  • Tudor Damian (Hyper-V MVP) is the go-to guy for Linux on Hyper-V – that’s why Microsoft have him at their booths!
  • Florian Klaffenbach, ex MVP but now working at Microsoft, knows more about connecting to Azure than anyone else I know.

And that’s just a small sample of the speakers.

The Content

The cloud & on-premises content is balanced to reflect the attendees. There’s plenty of on-premises content because that’s where people are, but there’s also lots of cloud content because migrations & deployments are happening or have happened.

My Session

I will be presenting a session called “Azure PaaS For The IT Pro”

Does the phrase “platform-as-a-service” scare you? Do you want to hit back or scroll to the next session in your browser? If so, then this session is for you! Aidan Finn, an IT pro, has been learning about Azure’s platform for developers. If you come to this session, you’ll learn what these services are, why your business or customers might like them, why you might like them, and why PaaS isn’t the end of the IT pro.

Why You Should Go

Why should you go to this conference? To be honest, you’d be dumb not to! Microsoft doesn’t run big conferences in Europe anymore, and there’s never been a greater need to learn … and re-learn. My career is defined by relearning and adapting to the changing environment. Cloud changes at an incredible pace, and now we see the semi-annual channel bringing this rate of change to on-premises. Those who refuse to learn and adapt will become redundant to needs – a threat to their employers, even! Those who want to excel and boost their careers – they will decide that learning is important … and where else are you going to find a collection of expert speakers & trainers than an event like Cloud & Datacenter Germany?

Register Here