Last Exchange 2010 Maestro event swings into view

Paul Robichaux (Marine, Cajun, and soon-to-be potential private pilot) and I first started thinking about running an Exchange 2010 training event in early 2010. The idea was to have an intense three-day course that allowed us to explore the complexities and delights of Exchange 2010 at a depth that is not usually available with training other than Microsoft's Certified Master course. Putting together an event became an excuse for Paul and I to talk about the parts of Exchange that we really like (in my case, the Store and DAGs, for Paul it must be RBAC and Unified Messaging). Some would say that we talk too much and seeing that we twitter on for about twenty hours over the three days, there may be a fair case to argue. However, we like what we do and the event became the Exchange 2010 Maestro series, which we organize in partnership with Penton Media.

The Maestro team is completed by Brian Desmond, another MVP and author of the most respected book Active Directory: Designing, Deploying, and Running Active Directory, Fourth Edition. Brian came on board to be our lab master and increased the average IQ of the team a tad. We thought that a top-notch lab master was necessary because we wanted to provide attendees with realistic lab scenarios based on a set of virtual machines. Brian's done a good job of creating and explaining the labs and I think that the VMs are very valuable because they can be taken away (we provide them on a USB drive) and used after the course as the basis of a test environment.

In any case, we've run three Maestro events to date in Boston, Anaheim, and San Diego. Boston was memorable because a cockroach launched an assault on Paul from his hiding place deep in a hotel sandwich. Boston was also problematic in that we discovered all the places where we needed to improve material, both presentations and lab directions. Anaheim's highlight was being inspired by being so close to Mickey's World, meaning that attendees had a place to escape to whenever they felt a happiness deficit. The Sheraton Anaheim was actually a very nice place to run the event and provided an excellent level of service. However, San Diego proved to be the best location and we really enjoyed the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. All the content, catering, wireless communications, and various services came together to make it a great event.

We've also had great support from sponsors including Microsoft, HP, and Binary Tree. HP brought an HP 5000 Enterprising Messaging System along for people to kick its tires in San Diego. Unfortunately HP forgot to bring a power cord so the HP 5000 had to impress with bare metal. The other highlight was Binary Tree's presentation on their software to assist in Exchange migrations. Too often sponsor speeches are dry, boring, and far too long. This session was concise, focused, and just long enough to get the Binary Tree message across.

The good news is that the event is gradually getting better and better as our jokes improve and the content matures. The bad news is that the event we have scheduled for October 26-28 in Greenwich, CT, will probably be the last Exchange 2010 Maestro event that we shall run. There are a few reasons for this. First, the events are hard work and take enormous effort from both the Maestro team and the folks who support us at Penton to make happen. Second, it's becoming increasingly difficult to schedule the events in a calendar that's crowded with personal and professional events. Third, Exchange 2010 has been out in the wild since August 2009 and is now a well-known and understood technology. There are many excellent books available, including this gratuitous plug for  Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Inside Out and other resources for people to consult, including the huge amount of product documentation available through TechNet and many blogs. Finally, it might be time for a new challenge for the Maestro team. Thankfully Microsoft is of enormous assistance as it continues to pump out new technology to talk about, so we have plenty of options to choose from.

Paul and I plan on running a one-day workshop designed to help people to prepare for Exchange 2010 the week after Greenwich at the Fall Exchange Connections event in Las Vegas. Although it's inevitable that we will talk about some of the same topics that we cover during a Maestro event, the constraints of time mean that we will have to focus on the practical elements of preparing a plan to deploy Exchange 2010 rather than having the luxury of being able to talk in depth about Exchange 2010 technology.

So if you'd like to come to the last three-day Exchange 2010 Maestro event to give Paul, Brian, and myself some challenges relating to your deployment of Exchange 2010, think about coming to the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Greenwich, CT on October 26-28. All we can promise is a lot of information - and maybe some fun too.

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