Welcome to the Real World

Sometimes it's easy to lose touch with reality. For proof, look no further than the continued popularity of Las Vegas or "Friends," both of which portray contrived environments that bear little resemblance to what most of us experience in daily life (well, except for people who work in casinos, but I digress).

How do you stay grounded and connected with the realities of messaging administration and management? By escaping to Fantasyland, of course! By Fantasyland, I mean Orlando, Florida, home of this year's Microsoft Exchange Connections conference (collocated with Windows Connection 2004--visit http://www.winconnections.com/exc/ for more information). Like many other Exchange Server administrators, I miss the messaging focus of the old MEC events. If you do too, pack your bags and get ready for 3 days of power messaging knowledge. The conference is quickly growing into a MEC replacement, and this year's registrations are double last year's, despite the pounding Orlando took during hurricane season.

This year's topics are a nice mix of new and old. Some presentations update and extend key topics from this year's US addition of Microsoft TechEd, whereas others are brand new. Some session highlights:

- Exchange guru Tony Redmond is giving the Wednesday morning keynote session "Microsoft's Messaging Challenges." This follows Steve Riley's keynote about defending against social engineering. I highly recommend both sessions.

- My coworker, friend, and fellow Microsoft Exchange Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Missy Koslosky will have a session modestly titled "Exchange Scripting for Mere Mortals." She'll be joined by several other Exchange MVPs, including Dustin Smith, who'll speak about maintaining Exchange Server 2003 in a multiforest environment, and Scott Schnoll, who'll give an in-depth session about Exchange 2003 clustering.

- For those of you planning a migration from Exchange Server 5.5, Kieran McCorry will present sessions about lessons learned from site and server consolidation projects moving from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003. Missy will also weigh in with a session about best practices for Exchange 5.5-to-Exchange 2003 migrations.

The exhibit floor will also be a good place to find neat stuff. Be prepared to see a few surprises from vendors whose names you'll immediately recognize. (Of course, there will be free swag, which never hurts.)

I'll be speaking pretty much all day Wednesday. I'd love to meet you, so come by and give me a reality check if you're in town. Otherwise--make plans now for next year!

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