TechMentor vs Tech Ed

On Twitter, @bbnetman asked this question:

“How does TechEd differ from TechMentor?”

I attended Tech Ed back in 2007 and 2008, but I have never been to TechMentor. I was afraid to reply in a tweet and send a wrong answer, so I decided to do a little research.

First of all, Tech Ed is Microsoft’s premier annual conference. It is not only held in North America, but also in Europe, India, the Middle East, Africa, Japan, Latin America, China, New Zealand and Australia. And, for the most part, it is run by Microsoft. I met a lot of Microsoft employees by going to Tech Ed. I also got to hang around with fellow MCT’s in the MCT lounge.

TechMentor is run independently from Microsoft by 1105 Media, Inc. which also publishes magazines and web sites such as Redmond Magazine, TechNet Magazine, and Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine Online. TechMentor is held twice a year – Orlando in the Spring and Las Vegas in the Fall. Since TechMentor is run independently from Microsoft, you may get to see some non-Microsoft content. For example, at TechMentor, Greg Shields, the conference chairman, is teaching several sessions on VMware. But, there will also be Microsoft employees leading sessions, such as MS Principal Technology Architect Laura Hunter and MS Senior Evangelist Yung Chou.

One other difference that I am looking forward to seeing at TechMentor is size. At Tech Ed, there are thousands of people. When Tech Ed is held in Orlando, it is held at the Orange County Convention Center, which has two very large convention centers. Tech Ed takes up one of those convention centers. The vendor area is almost a small city by itself. Lots of vendor swag to carry home, too. Tech Ed is so big, Microsoft is able to reserve a whole Universal Studios theme park for the conference party. (That was pre-Harry Potter, of course Smile)

I am expecting TechMentor to have a smaller group, numbering in the hundreds. It is being held at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, and not at the largest convention center in the county. This means that the sessions will also have smaller groups where you can get your questions answered. One of the TechMentor activities that I am looking forward to happens on Tuesday night. Dine Around Dinner is where attendees will break up into small groups and meet at a restaurant within walking distance for dinner. It will definitely be an atmosphere for networking.

So, having not attended a TechMentor conference yet, those were the differences that I could come up with. Since I live in the Orlando area, I like that TechMentor is held here every year. However, I cannot say that one is better than the other. I thoroughly enjoyed the times I had at Tech Ed. But I am also looking forward to experiencing TechMentor next week.