Tony's surprising session choices for IT/DEV Connections 2015

Tony's surprising session choices for IT/DEV Connections 2015

It’s amazing how time goes by quite so quickly. Another IT/DEV Connections is on the horizon (September 14-17 at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas). Scot Hiller and I have built what we think is a pretty good set of sessions for the enterprise collaboration track. Scot is a SharePoint kind of guy but that’s OK. He tolerates my mild Exchange bias and we prove that in the new world of Office 365 you really have to be more broadminded if you’re going to take advantage of the software that’s now available.

The cloud stuff is clearly important but it’s also critical to remember that the vast majority of those using Exchange and SharePoint still quite happily connect to on-premises servers, a fact that many seem keen to overlook in the headlong rush to embrace the vapor. So when we built the collaboration track, we kept this nugget in mind and think that we have enough value in the sessions to satisfy everyone’s taste. Well, as much as any technical conference can do. And if we disappoint, Las Vegas is always available to pick up the slack.

Last week I was challenged to identify the “top sessions” for someone to attend. Of course, this is an opportunity to fall into the trap of offending all of the speakers that I don’t care to mention. So I decided to do something different. You’d all expect to me to point to the sessions on Exchange and Exchange Online and trumpet them as being the best thing since sliced bread, but I won’t do that. Instead, I’ve selected some sessions that those in the Exchange camp might not normally attend because of the value I think lies in these talks. Here goes.

Everyone will be at my 9:15am session on Tuesday when I discuss my view of the world of Exchange, but just in case you get weak and need to understand SharePoint, you could do worse by going to listen to Microsoft’s Bill Baer speak about “The Evolution of SharePoint and SharePoint 2016”. Why? Well, if you’re going to live with Office 365, you’re going to use SharePoint because it provides the storage behind many important Office 365 features like Office 365 Groups, the Video Portal, OneDrive for Business, and so on.

Tuesday at 3:30pm sees Scot Hiller discuss “Using Graph Query Language with SharePoint Online”. The logic here is that the Office Graph captures a huge amount of information from applications across Office 365, some of which is surfaced through the Delve application. It’s good to know how the fundamental underpinnings of technology work.

At the same time, there’s an interesting session called “Writing Secure Authentication Code with OAuth2 and the Office 365 APIs” by Ted Pattison. Microsoft is busily pumping out new REST-based APIs for different parts of Office 365. Even if you never intend writing a single line of code, understanding what’s possible might guide you in making better decisions about how you use Office 365. Ted has a companion session “Developing with the Office 365 Unified API” at 10:15am on Thursday.

On Wednesday at 9:15am, the session “Building Next Generation Portals for SharePoint and Office 365” is being given by Bob German. The Office 365 Video portal is one example. The Infopedia (think KM) portal discussed at Ignite is another. Anyone moving to Office 365 should understand how to leverage the full breadth of the service and these portals have some nice technology behind them. If you can’t make this session, a similar (but probably less code-heavy) session called “Office 365 Portals: A New Way to Work” by Benjamin Niaulin (of Share Gate fame) takes place at 1:15pm the same day.

11am sees “Classification and eDiscovery with Exchange and SharePoint 2013” by Chris McNulty. Now, I know that eDiscovery is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s an important topic to master if you work inside an industry governed by compliance regulations. Microsoft has done a lot to increase the compliance functionality across both Exchange and SharePoint (in fact, the teams driving these features now take a view across both products), so this seems like a good opportunity to learn about the current state of the art.

I know Exchange admins have different views of Yammer, some of which are pretty hard line. Yammer isn’t for everyone and it is not a silver bullet to make people within companies collaborate better. But it has its uses. To find out more, go to “Yammer Sustainment: Evaluate, Adopt, and Iterate” by Michelle Caldwell at 1:15pm on Wednesday.

There’s lots of good stuff at IT/DEV Connections 2015 and participants are not constrained in the sessions you attend. I hope that some of the Yammer folks come and sit in on Exchange sessions to discover that email really isn’t all that bad and that the SharePoint folk enjoy sessions like “Office 365 Groups: What You Need to Know (the Exchange Perspective)” given by MVP Justin Harris at 8:30am on Thursday (that should cure a few hangovers from the Wednesday night parties). The point is that you need to be curious and expand your technical horizons to remain successful.

I think you’ll find a lot of goodness at this year’s conference, all delivered with an independent air and no brown stuff emitting from bovines.

Follow Tony @12Knocksinna

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