Receiving 85 session proposals for Exchange Connections was a simply great outcome. The variety available created terrific pressure for selection as only 16 agenda were slots assigned originally for Exchange-related content. Fortunately, the nice folks who are running the conference have allowed us to expand Exchange Connections to cover 20 sessions plus 2 “special” sessions and a pre-conference seminar, so I’m pretty pleased about that.
Selecting 20 from 85 is always going to be a challenging task. In this case, the guiding principle was to focus on the practical aspects of deployment and management rather than discussions about product architecture and “how things should work”. When looking at the latest set of Office server applications, I think we are well past the time to debate the finer points of what features are supposed to do and more value is to be gained from figuring out how to use technology in real-life situations to solve business problems by adding value.
It was also important to select a good mix of sessions. To me, this means Exchange on-premises, Exchange Online, the wider Office 365, and products that Exchange interacts with such as SharePoint and Lync. It seemed sensible to concentrate on Exchange 2013 rather than Exchange 2010, if only because so much information is available about Exchange 2010 whereas we’re still in the process of formulating best practice for Exchange 2013.
After a lot of debate, the selected set of sessions are:
|Michael van Horenbeeck||Building a hybrid configuration with Exchange 2013 in (less than) 75 minutes|
|Michael van Horenbeeck||How-to: Load Balancing Exchange 2013|
|Steve Goodman||Exchange Online - Real world migration challenges and solutions|
|Steve Goodman||Exchange ActiveSync - Taming the beast|
|Loryan Strant||Apples to apples - comparing Office 365 to the competition|
|Loryan Strant||How does Microsoft secure my email with Office 365?|
|Sean McNeill||Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in the Real World|
|Sean McNeill||Hybrid and SSO Deployment with the New Office 365 (Wave 15)|
|John Rodriguez||Migrate to Modern Public Folders the Worry-Free Way|
|John Rodriguez||Troubleshooting Modern Public Folders: A DIY Guide|
|Mike Ireland||Notes from the field: Running a 500K mailbox on-premises Exchange deployment|
|Jaap Wesselius||Backup, Restore and Disaster Recovery for Exchange 2013|
|Jaap Wesselius||High Availability in Exchange - A recipe for success?|
|Paul Robichaux||Exchange 2013 Unified Messaging: Deep Dive|
|Paul Robichaux||Better Together: Integrating Lync 2013 and Exchange 2013|
|Jeff Mealiffe||The tao of Exchange 2013 Sizing|
|Jeff Mealiffe||Virtualizing Exchange 2013: Why not?|
|Tim McMichael||Managed Availability – Ensuring the end user experience|
|Tim McMichael||Exchange 2013 Site Resiliency|
CAS 2013 – Why it is 3 better than CAS 2010 and 6 better than 2007.
Getting the right mix of speakers is also important. You’ll notice that 7 of the 12 speakers are MVPs (5 are Exchange MVPs, 2 Office 365 MVPs). Being an MVP, I have a certain bias on this point, but I do think that it is important for MVPs to provide leadership within the community and sharing their knowledge at conferences like Exchange Connections is an excellent way to do this. Two of the MVPs are members of the “UC Architects” and I am delighted that some plans are bubbling to host a live UC Architects broadcast at Connections.
The MVPs are an international bunch and come from the U.S., U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, and Ireland. We live in a global world and knowledge knows no boundaries so it’s good that Connections is investing to bring the very best together. It's great too have authors such as Steve Goodman (iPhone with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010: Business Integration and Deployment), Jaap Wesselius (Exchange 2010 - A Practical Approach), Paul Robichaux (Microsoft Exchange 2013 Inside Out: Connectivity, Clients, and UM), and Loryan Strant (Microsoft Office 365: Exchange Online Implementation and Migration) in the speaker team.
We have four Microsoft speakers, all of whom volunteered to present. John Rodriguez and Tim McMichael work on the cutting edge within Microsoft’s support organization and will address hot issues of public folder migration and high availability. Again, these will be practical sessions that are firmly based on the problems that Microsoft support deals with on an ongoing basis. The two product group representatives are Greg Taylor and Jeff Mealiffe. Greg needs no introduction so I’m not even going to bother. Suffice to say that he will add value in his own inimitable way. Jeff is the “Perf Guy” and he’s going to discuss the important issues of sizing and virtualization for Exchange 2013.
Just to prove that we’re not unduly influenced by cloud vapours, Mike Ireland from HP has volunteered to come along and talk about how HP manages a 500,000-user on-premises Exchange deployment.
In addition to the 20 formal Exchange Connections sessions, Mike Pfeiffer, author of the Microsoft Exchange 2010 PowerShell Cookbook and co-author of the Microsoft Exchange 2013 PowerShell Cookbook will present a pre-conference all-day seminar titled "From Zero to Hero: PowerShell for Exchange Server Boot Camp" on September 30.
All in all, I think that Exchange Connections offers a terrific agenda. Some changes might happen between now and September as we tweak the schedule (and perhaps even liberate a few extra slots), but right now things are looking good and I am very happy with the team of speakers and the material that they plan to present.
To those who were not selected, I apologize. The choice was very difficult and not being chosen is no reflection on your ability or material. It’s simply that we didn’t have enough slots to accommodate everyone. Please don’t turn away from us as other conferences will come along in the future. There is always another session to present, even in Las Vegas.
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