As many of you know, I have been involved with Microsoft conferences for a long, long time. I'm a founder of the Microsoft Management Summit, a social community lead for TechEd, and speaker for many additional conferences over the years. So, I have a lot of experience in being able to identify when a good conference comes along.

Since joining Windows IT Pro several months ago, I've taken responsibility to ensure that the IT/Dev Connections event evolves this year. It's going to be the same fun, highly technical event many of you are familiar with, but this year (and going forward) we are ready to build Connections into one of the more monumental destinations for IT Pros to learn and interact.

If you just take a moment to look through the posted content, you'll see something extraordinary, and something that I'm really excited about. Connections provides something for everyone, covering SQL Server, development, SharePoint, Windows, Exchange, and all flavors of the Cloud. You can spend the week at Connections targeting your forte technology, but also jump tracks and learn new things to help bolster your professional life. I don't know of too many conferences that can boast so much diversity, yet still be as highly targeted as it is. You can take the week's schedule and tune it completely so that you get ultimate benefit, and your employer gets a polished, technically renewed employee on your return. Connections is content delivered by your peers so when you return to the job, you can make an immediate impact and resolve all the glaring issues that you've been facing for months. It's also designed to be laid back and informal – a place where you can talk directly with speakers and industry leaders, ask questions, and resolve any inquiries you have before moving on to the next session.

Again, I know conferences, and the way Connections is shaping up, I am extremely excited to be part of it this year, and even more so in the future. I won't lie, the Microsoft Management Summit is still my favorite conference, but to be frank, that community has had to work extremely hard over the years to keep Microsoft focused on what attendees actually want. Connections is different in that way. Connections' true value is from the sessions that are given by leaders working in the trenches, sharing their knowledge and expertise in a way you won't find done at a Microsoft event.

IT/Dev Connections is from September 30 through October 4, 2013, at the Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas. The meat of the conference is Tuesday through Thursday, leaving Monday and Friday full with pre and post workshops.

Register here:  IT/Dev Connections Registration

So, now I've given my spiel about why I think Connections is the destination for anyone needing an event that can be trusted for value. Earlier, I posed the question of "why would you attend?" to several of our folks here at Windows IT Pro. They came up with some really good answers, so I thought I'd share their thoughts.

Here they are…

"I think one major reasons to attend DevConnections is that we provide extensive independent content on Microsoft technologies. When you go to a Microsoft conference, you can expect some of the technical content to be slanted to help bolster Microsoft’s mantra and mission. But when you go to DevConnections, you’ll find industry experts who don’t aren’t afraid to point out some of Microsoft’s flaws from an IT or developer perspective." - Blair Greenwood, Assistant Editor


"I would go to IT/Dev Connections because for SharePoint people it’s a more intimate experience than attending a massive, 5,000-8,000-person SharePoint conference. This means you can focus in and really absorb the best sessions from SharePoint gurus such as Dan Holme, Scot Hillier, and Asif Rehmani. Plus, SharePoint admins and devs don’t work in a vacuum—and with IT/Dev Connections you can bring along your Exchange and Windows admins or your Web devs, too." - Caroline Marwitz, SharePoint Content Manager


"For me, similar to what Caroline said, it's a way to sit down in a more intimate setting than something like TechEd, and get to know and learn from the "celebrities" in the field. It's at once in a lifetime intensive learning opportunity and a way to get personalized insight from the best minds in IT/Dev. Plus, Las Vegas offers a rare opportunity to consume In-N-Out Burgers." - Jason Bovberg, Senior Editor


"By attending SQL Server Connections, SQL Server pros are able to meet and learn from the industry experts they have come to follow and respect. SQL Server community members consistently report that Connections allows them to learn the skills needed to meet the increasing demands placed on SQL Server performance in the workplace." - Jayleen Heft, Editorial SEO Specialist


"Speakers are actually people who work in the trenches every day and will be covering not only the latest technologies, but also setting up, maintaining, and troubleshooting the tools that you use every day. The topics are determined by attendee needs not what the industry thinks is needed." - Megan Keller, Editorial Director


"DevConnections’ material really focuses on what these professionals need today, not tomorrow, or ten years from now." - Blair Greenwood, Assistant Editor


"The ability to cross tracks if you need to know a little bit about SQL Server or SharePoint or Exchange, etc. is a huge value for any event. And, if attendees decide to cross tracks, they'll hear from the best resources in each track. What other conference can you attend and hear from people like Paul Thurrott, Mary Jo Foley, Johan Arwidmark, Jeff Gilbert, Mark Russinovich, Keenan Newton (SharePoint), Dan Holme (SharePoint), Greg Taylor (Exchange), Mark Minasi (Windows), Itzik Ben-Gan (SQL Server), Stacia Misner (SQL Server), Miguel de Icaza (Developer), Rachel Appel (Developer), Daniel Egan (Developer) at the same event?" - Megan Keller, Editorial Director

IT/Dev Connections is from September 30 through October 4, 2013, at the Mandalay Bay, in Las Vegas. The meat of the conference is Tuesday through Thursday, leaving Monday and Friday full with pre and post workshops.

Register here:  IT/Dev Connections Registration