May 23 2019 04:19 PM - edited May 27 2019 03:43 PM
May 23 2019 04:19 PM - edited May 27 2019 03:43 PM
For the second year running, the Azure Sydney User Group organised the Azure Global Azure Bootcamp in Sydney and, for the second year running, I'm happy to say that it was a great success.
While last year's event was hosted at the Microsoft offices in North Ryde, this year, we had the opportunity to use the Reactor space in the city and this space is absolutely awesome!
Aside from the fact that it's totally free, the location, design, size is just perfect and lends itself very well to events like our Azure bootcamp. Add to this the awesome staff that are running the place, which focuses entirely on the IT community, and you have a great package that will make any event a success.
What's the Global Azure Bootcamp (or GAB for short)?
For those who are unfamiliar with the Azure Global Bootcamp, in a nutshell, it is a global (yes that means worldwide!) 1-day community driven free event that delivers deep dive presentations on various subjects around Azure.
Let's just stop here for one second to think about what the above means: once a year, on the same day, across 275 locations worldwide, people come to meet and listen to Azure Experts, and all this for free! It doesn't get much better than this if you ask me. Can you imagine what's required to organise such a global coordinated event?! In the spirit of "a picture is better than a thousand words", here are all the locations across the globe where the event took place:
The Australia/New Zealand (ANZ) bootcamps
Zooming in into our part of the world, there was 7 Azure bootcamps organised throughout Australia and New Zealand. There was one in every major city: Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Auckland and Wellington, so the Azure community was well represented :)
With almost 1000 registration in the region and close to 500 attendees on the day, it's fair to say that it has become one of the larger Azure community driven event.
While this post focuses on the Sydney event, here are a few highlights about the other bootcamps that took place in our region.
Most locations were giving away Azure Passes on the day so you could get started in Azure immediately, which was very well received from all the attendees. This, along with the labs that were organised was a great success as people could go sit in a room and put in practice what they just learned during a session.
It appears that all the Australian based events did suffer from lower attendance as, this year, the date fell in the middle of a long weekend. While the global organisers of the event have recognised this was a problem, it's is of course very hard to find a date that is perfect for all countries around the world.
It's worth mentioning that the Auckland bootcamp had the lowest dropout rate of the region with 102 attendees out of 140 registrations.
Driving this "no show" number down is going to be a focus for next year.
All in all, even with some small hiccups, the bootcamps in the region were a big success!
If you want more information or check out some pictures, here are the respective links for each cities
The Sydney bootcamp
This year, and for the first time, because we had this massive free space at our disposal at the Reactor, we were able to create two concurrent tracks of presentations, one focusing on the Developers, the other on the IT Pros.
Creating those tracks allowed us to show case even more some of the Azure capabilities: 14 sessions, from Azure Stack, Azure WAN and Azure Firewall firewall for the IT Pros, to LogicApps, IoT, Containers and cognitive services for the Developers, just to name a few.
Of course, all of this would have been impossible without the help of 14 Azure Experts who happily gave up their Saturday to come present to the community!
So, how did we go?
Well, for the geeks amongst us, let me give you a few statistics on the event first:
210 confirmed registrations, with a waitlist of 113... Not too bad :)
We did however have a lot of last minute dropouts as just a little over 70 people were present on the day. Although that's a fairly high percentage of "no shows", we had to remind ourselves that the event was held, not only on a Saturday, but it was also part of the Anzac day long weekend, which I'm sure a lot of people out there would have had the *slap on the forehead - oh no! I forgot about this* moment.
The feedback we got from everyone was awesome. To quote just a few: "fantastic content, well delivered", "too much food!", "I wish I could be in both tracks at the same time".
That last quote is the perfect Segway into mentioning that, aside from having the two tracks, one was actually streamed live on YouTube for everyone's viewing pleasure, so technically, you could have been in the two tracks at once ;)
You can still go view the developers track here
The Swag, giveaways, catering and sponsors
What would an IT event be without swag and giveaways?!
Well, we had both at the bootcamp this year..
Unfortunately, our official GAB swag didn't turned up in time for the event, but Simon Waight and the Reactor saved the day by donating some awesome t-shirts, polo shirts, as well as of course the mandatory stickers :)
If there is one thing I've learned in my years is that, absorbing information and extending your knowledge makes for hungry and thirsty people, so we couldn't let our guests go all day without providing some great food and drinks. Thanks to our sponsors Microsoft, Kloud Solutions and Vigilant.IT, no-one went home hungry! Awesome morning and afternoon tea, great lunch, and coffee flowing throughout the day made sure that everyone's tummy and palates stayed full and satisfied.
Finally, at the end of the day, one lucky person went home with an XBOX! Yes, you read this correctly, a free XBOX was won. Kloud Solutions had this great giveaway lined up for us.
Organising the bootcamp
You might ask what's required behind the scene to organise this type of event.
Well, a lot of emails, phone calls, time and coffee is definitely some of the ingredients we needed. From a local point of view, organising the event started with registering our interest with the Azure Global Bootcamp team. From there, once we confirmed that the Reactor could be used, the GAB team put us on the map and the fun began.
I won't go into all the boring details, but here are a few things Simon Waight, Sam Alavi and myself had to think about to organise the bootcamp: location, sponsors, food, drinks, coffee, call for speakers, schedules, live streaming, registration, lanyards, event marketing, etc.
Although it takes some time and effort, it is a lot of fun to see it all unfold in the front of your eyes and have a successful event where everyone, from the speakers to the attendees have loads of fun teaching, learning and networking.
Some challenges and lessons learned
Could we have done better or could we have done things differently? of course, there is always room for improvement...
Have you ever heard the phrase "when it rain, it pours"? It's funny how people all arrives in waves to get registered, there is never a constant flow. Instead, you sit there doing nothing for 10/15 minutes, and suddenly, within a minute, you have a queue of 10 people. I think some self-registration tablets will be a must next year, especially if the event grows.
Another big issue we were faced with was the percentage of dropouts. While I understand it's a free event and things come up, it's pretty hard to cater for such type of event. With 200 registered, what quantity of food do you order, knowing there is bound to be people not showing up. In our case, we counted on about 25% dropout, which is pretty standard and got it completely wrong, which meant we were well over-catered for the event.
I don't really know how to fix this or be closer to the mark when it comes down to estimating the number of people that will show up, but we have 12 months to figure it out.
We also decided to manage our registration through Eventbrite, which was great, but because our invitations went out through the meetup website on our usual meetup group, it was slightly confusing that people had to go to Eventbrite to register as opposed to use the meetup group as they always did in the past for our User Groups. Having one place to register is going to be a must for the next bootcamp!
And finally, the swag... as I mentioned earlier, it didn't get delivered on time, so we almost had a small catastrophe on our hands!
Since we didn't have a plan B, we made one up on the spot, but we got very lucky there, and luck is definitely not something we want to rely on to organise events like these.
To conclude this, I would like to thank everyone who participated in making this event a great success: The Global Azure Bootcamp organisers, all the staff at the Reactor, our awesome speakers, our sponsors and of course all the attendees.
And I will definitely say that we'll doing it again next year :)
Until then, happy Azure'ing