The UC Architects episode 37 now available!

Even though it’s only been a couple of days that we released episode 36 – “Live @ MEC”, we proudly announce the release of our latest episode: “episode 37 – don’t MEC my Heartbleed“.

In this latest installment, Steve, John, Michel, Stale and myself talk about a myriad of things including some random thoughts on the Microsoft Exchange Conference, the recently disclosed Heartbleed vulnerability and latest improvements in the world of Hybrid Exchange deployments. Stale also started a new feature called “using Lync like a Lync PRO” in which he will reveal a very handy tip on how to better use Lync. Make sure you don’t miss it!

Don’t let the length of the show (almost 2 hours!) scare you, it’s filled with tons of great info!

Talk to you soon!

Michael

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This was MEC 2014 (in a nutshell)

As things wind down after a week full of excitement and – yes, in some cases – emotion, MEC 2014 is coming to an end. Lots of attendees have already left Austin and those who stayed behind are sharing a few last drinks before making their way back home as well. As good as MEC 2012 in Orlando was, MEC 2014 was E-P-I-C. Although some might state that the conference had missed its start – despite the great Dell Venue Pro 8 tablet giveaway – you cannot ignore the success of the rest of the week.

With over 100 unique sessions, MEC was packed with tons and tons of quality information. To see that amount of content being delivered by the industry’s top speakers is truly an unique experience. After all, at how many conferences is the PM or lead developer presenting the content on a specific topic? Also, Microsoft did a fairly good job of keeping a balance between the different types of sessions by having a mix of Microsoft-employees presenting sessions that reflected their view on things (“How things should work / How it’s designed to be”) and MVPs and Masters presenting a more practical approach (“How it really works”).

I also like the format of the “unplugged” sessions where you could interact with members of the Product Team to discuss a variety of topics. I believe that these sessions are not only very interesting (tons of great information), but they are also an excellent way for Microsoft to connect with the audience and receive immediate feedback on what is going out “out there”. For example, I’m sure that the need for some better guidance or maybe a GUI for Managed Availability is a message that was well conveyed and that Microsoft should use this feedback to maybe prioritize some of the efforts going into development. Whether that will happen, only time will tell..

This edition wasn’t only a success because of the content, but also because of the interactions. It was good to see some old friends and make many new ones. To  me, conferences like this aren’t only about learning but also about connecting with other people and networking. There were tons of great talks – some of which have given me food for thought and blog posts.

Although none of them might seem earth-shattering, MEC had a few announcements and key messages; some of which I’m very happy to see:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication and SSO are coming to Outlook before the end of the year. On-premises deployments can expect support for it next calendar year.
  • Exchange Sizing Guidance has been updated to reflect some of the new features in Exchange 2013 SP1:
    • The recommended page file size is now 32778 MB if your Exchange server has more than 32GB of memory. It should still be a fixed size and not managed by the OS.
    • CAS CPU requirements have increased with 50% to accommodate for MAPI/HTTP. It’s still lower than Exchange 2010
  • If you didn’t know it before, you will now: NFS is not supported for hosting Exchange data.
  • The recommended Exchange deployment uses 4 database copies, 3 regular 1 lagged. FSW preferably in a 3rd datacenter.
  • Increased emphasis on using a lagged copy.
  • OWA app for Android is coming
  • OWA in Office 365 will get a few new features including Clutter, People-view and Groups. No word if and when this will be made available for on-premises customers.

By now, it’s clear that Microsoft’s development cycle is based on a cloud-first model which – depending on what your take on things is – makes a lot of sense. This topic was also discussed during the Live recording of The UC Architects, I recommend you have a listen at it (as soon as it’s available) to hear how The UC Architects, Microsoft and the audience feels about this. Great stuff!

It’s also interesting to see some trends developing/happening. “Enterprise Social” is probably one of the biggest trends at the moment. With Office Graph being recently announced, I am curious to see how Exchange will evolve to embrace the so-called “Social Enterprise”. Features like Clutter, People View and Groups are already good examples of this.

Of course, MEC wasn’t all about work. There’s also time for fun. Lots of it. The format of the attendee party was a little atypical for a conference. Usually all attendees gather at a fairly large location. This time, however, the crowd was shattered across several bars in Rainey Street which Microsoft had rented off. Although I was a little skeptical at first, it rather worked really well and had tons of fun.

Then there was the UC Architects party which ENow graciously offered to host for us. The Speakeasy rooftop was really amazing and the turnout even more so. The party was a real success and I’m pretty confident there will be more in the future!

I’m sure that in the course of the next few weeks, more information will become available through the various blogs and websites as MVPs, Masters and other enthusiasts have digested the vast amount of information distributed at MEC.

I look forward to returning home, get some rest and start over again!

Au revoir, Microsoft Exchange Conference. I hope to see you soon!

Blog Events Exchange Exchange 2013 Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 Office 365

Why MEC is the place to be for Exchange admins/consultants/enthusiasts!

In less than a month, the 2014 edition of the Microsoft Exchange Conference will kick off in Austin, Texas. For those who haven’t decided if they will be going yet, here’s some reasons why you should.

The Value of Conferences

Being someone who frequently attends conferences, I *think* I’m in a position I can say that conferences provide great value. Typically, you can get up-to-date with the latest (and greatest) technology in IT.

Often, the cost for attending a conference are estimated higher than a traditional 5-day course. However, I find this not to be true – at least not all the time. It is true that – depending on where you fly in from – Travel & Expenses might add up to the cost. However, I think it is a good thing to be ‘away’ from your daily work environment. That typically leaves one less tempted to be pre-occupied with work rather than soaking in the knowledge shared throughout the conference. The experience is quite different from a training course. Conferences might not provide you the exact same information as in a training, but you’ll definitely be able to learn more (different) things. Especially if your skills in a particular product are already well-developed, conferences are the place to widen your knowledge.

On top of that, classroom trainings don’t offer you the same networking capabilities. In case of MEC, for instance, there will be a bunch of Exchange MVPs and Masters who you can talk to. All of them very knowledgeable and I’m sure they won’t mind a good discussion on Exchange! This could be your opportunity to ask some really difficult questions or just hear what their opinion is on a specific issue. Sometimes the insights of a 3rd person can make a difference…!

It is also the place where all the industry experts will meet. Like I mentioned earlier, there will be Masters and MVPs, but also a lot of people from within Microsoft’s Exchange Product Group will be there. What better people are there to ask your questions to?

Great Content

Without any doubt, the Exchange Conference will be the place in 2014 to learn about what’s happening with Exchange. Service Pack 1 – or Cumulative Update 4, if you will – has just been released and as you might’ve read there are many new things to discover.

At the same time, it’s been almost 1.5 years since Exchange 2013 has been released and there are quite some sessions that focus on deployment and migration. If you’re looking to migrate shortly, or if you’re a consultant migrating other companies, I’m sure you’ll get a lot of value from these sessions as they will be able to provide you with first-hand information. When MEC 2012 was held – shortly before the launch of Exchange 2013 – this wasn’t really possible as there weren’t many deployments out there.

Sure, one might argue that the install base for Exchange 2013 is still low. However, if you look back at it, deployments for Exchange 2010 only really kicked of once it was past the SP1 era. And I expect nothing else to happen for Exchange 2013.

As a reference: here’s a list of sessions I definitely look forward to:

And of course the “Experts unplugged” sessions:

I realize that’s way too many sessions already and I will probably have to make a choice which ones I will be able to attend…
But the fact that I have so many only proves that there’s so much valuable information at MEC…

Great speakers

I’ve had a look through who is speaking at MEC and I can only conclude that there is a TON of great speakers. All of which I am sure they will make it worth the wile. While Microsoft-speakers will most likely give you an overview of how things are supposed to work, many of the MVPs have sessions scheduled which might give you a slight less biased view of things. The combination of both makes for a good mix to get you started on the new stuff and broaden your knowledge of what was already there.

Location

Austin, Texas. I haven’t been there myself. But based on what Exchange Master Andrew Higginbotham blogged a few days ago; it looks promising!

Microsoft has big shoes to fill. MEC 2012 was a huge success and people are expecting the same – if not better – things from MEC 2014. Additionally, for those who were lucky enough to attend the Lync Conference in Vegas earlier this month, that is quite something MEC has to compete with. Knowing the community and the people behind MEC, I’m pretty confident this edition will be EPIC.

See you there!

Michael

Blog Exchange 2013 Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 News Office 365 Uncategorized

MEC 2014: March 31st–April 2nd in Austin, Texas!

Just a few moments ago, Microsoft announced the official dates and location for the next version of the Microsoft Exchange Conference or short MEC.

This time, MEC will be held in Austin, Texas from March 31st to April 2nd. More information will probably be made available through www.iammec.com over the course of the next weeks and months.

While 2014 might seem very far away, it doesn’t hurt to start planning ahead of time. So, don’t hesitate! Go up to your boss and ask permission to go! I, for one, will definitely be there!

Hope to see you all there,

Michael


image courtesy: the internet

Events Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014

This was the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2012

MEC 2012 is over and I’m already feeling nostalgic about it…!

The conference, or actually unconference as it was named by Michael Atalla during his opening keynote was – at least for me – one of the best conferences I attended… ever!. Although there’s still room for improvement, the new style that focused on having more interaction between the audience and the speakers was definitely a huge success. Instead of having sessions where you’d be lectured by the speakers, they wanted to create more interaction between the audience and the speaker. In fact, some speakers relied on the audience to ask questions: it was nice to see that some speakers didn’t even bring any PowerPoints slides with them!

Originally, I was planning on doing a general recap of the content at MEC but I found out that fellow UC Architect Michel de Rooij “beat me to it” and already did a very good job summarizing the content. In fact, did you know that  Michel didn’t have the opportunity to visit MEC? Instead, his recap fully relies on the content that the Exchange product team released along with the information you could find on Twitter (#IamMEC). When you think about it, that’s pretty amazing! At some point there were even cross-session interactions happening! I can tell you this: the Exchange community is very alive and kicking!

MEC was also the place where I (finally) had to opportunity to meet some of my UC Architects colleagues in real life. Although we didn’t spent as much time together as we had hoped for, we had some very memorable moments like the one in the picture. “The UC Architects, joined by Distinguished Engineer Perry Clarke” ~ a picture taken by Tony Redmond!

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Now, I first have a few days vacation planned here in the US, but expect to see some new articles when I get back as there’s much, much to talk about! Until later!

Michael

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Attending the Microsoft Exchange Conference

As you might’ve guessed by now, I’m one of the lucky guys who gets to attend the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Orlando, FL.

Over the past few days, I have seen lots of people post their agendas online, which made me think that I perhaps should also start building one. Although, that was the plan. I didn’t take long before I figured out that building an agenda wasn’t really going to work out for me… I mean, have you seen the session list? It’s huge! And there’s really lots and lots of great content. So instead of trying to fit everything in, I’ll just take the sessions as they come. I’ll definitely let you know how that worked out… Smile

Anyway, I arrived yesterday and was lucky enough to bump into a whole bunch of Exchange-people heading to MEC. Throughout the conversations I had, it was getting pretty clear that getting value from MEC isn’t really about the sessions or content, it’s mostly about the community and the contacts itself.

Not only I have been able to talk to some of the veterans like Tony Redmond, Jeff Guillet but also got to meet lots of new people. It doesn’t need any explanation that I’ve already had lots of interesting conversations about Exchange and other stuff.

It’s a pity to realize that some people, who definitely should’ve been here, weren’t able to make it or even worse, couldn’t get their employers convinced to send them. My thoughts especially go out to some fellow UCArchitects like Steve, Michel, Mahmoud and Johan! I hope that MEC will stay for the next few years and that employers who refused to send some of those guys start realizing the real value in the conference: socializing.

As a matter of fact, you should read the following blog by Tony Redmond; some rather interesting thoughts about the conference…

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that those who weren’t able to make it will at least be able to virtually attend the conference. If you’re not already following me (and other members of the community), start doing so today! I’m pretty sure you’ll get loads of info through blogs/twitter/…

Cheers,

Michael

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