The UC Architects Podcast Ep36

UC2We’re glad to announce the availability of episode 36 of The UC Architects podcast, recorded live at the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 in Austin, Texas.

This episode is hosted by Michael Van Horenbeeck who is joined by Dave Stork, John Cook, Paul Cunningham, Serkan Varoglu and Michel de Rooij. Special guests are Greg Taylor, Brian Day and Jeff Guillet. Editing was done by Andrew Price.

Topic discussed in this episode are taken from sessions held at the Microsoft Exchange Conference as well as well as input from the audience. They are:

  • Favorite moments at MEC
  • Yammer
  • Exchange and Office social interaction features
  • OWA for Android
  • OneDrive for Business and Exchange
  • Sizing Guidance
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • On-premises vs. Hybrid vs. Cloud
  • Managed Availability
  • NFS Support
  • Questions from the audience

We are extremely proud the session made it to the Top 15 of the sessions held at MEC.

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More information on the podcast including references and a link to download the podcast here or you can subscribe to the podcasts using iTunes, Zune or use the RSS feed.

About
The UC Architects is a bi-weekly community podcast by people with a passion for Unified Communications; our main focus is on Exchange, Lync or related subjects.

MEC 2014 Wrap-Up

imageAfter enjoying some days off in Austin, Texas, after the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 ended, it’s now time to wrap-up the event. As this was my first MEC, I have no reference but from what I heard from others who attended the MEC 2012 in Orlando, this MEC was in one word EPIC. I cannot disagree with that qualification. The event took off with what might be called a false start in the form of a somewhat uninspiring key note and substandard food, but instant enthusiasm was achieved by the hilarious Taylor/Espinoza video and Dell Venue 8 Pro giveaway. What followed was incredible quality contents and a level of interaction was beyond expectation, making this a near-perfect event.

imageThe conference featured over 100 sessions, making it impossible to catch everything with some time slots even set for 9 parallel sessions. Luckily, the sessions can be downloaded (script) by registered MEC attendees, which might explain the success of the unrecorded Unplugged sessions. Being free format, those sessions allowed for some nice Q&A between audience and panel members consisting of Product Group members, MCMs, MVPs or other SMEs.

imageThe UC Architects session on the last day in a final slot drew a bigger audience than expected, as it was parallel with one of the assumingly popular Unplugged : Exchange Top Issues session, hosted by Tony Redmond. Then again, we got Greg Taylor, Brian Day and Jeff Guillet on the show and several MSFTs were also in the house. The impact of the session’s high “sit back, relax and enjoy” factor can also not be ruled out. Nevertheless, great crowd and some great feedback after the event making it a potential recurring submission, especially on such a difficult last day/last slot where people are exhausted.

imageThe city of Austin has proven to be a perfect host for such events, much like New Orleans was during TechEd North America last year. Everything was at walking distance and Austin’s lively nightlife, especially 6th Street, proved to be excellent for getting together with old and new friends outside of MEC social activities like MAPI Hour and the Attendee Party at Rainy Street. The reception and treatment by the friendly folks of Austin also contributed greatly to the positive experience.

imageA special shout out to ENow for hosting an excellent UC Architects party at the Speakeasy. With the venue located on the rooftop, it was really amazing as it offered a nice Austin nightly backdrop while enjoying the party. The turnout was incredible, with even Julia White (GM Office) and Michael Attala (Director Office Product Management) making their presence. The party was a real success and it looks like its going to be repeated as the Scheduled Maintenance registration website now mentions TechEd, Houston TX.

Some take-aways from the conference:

  • Exchange development is clearly a cloud-first strategy. Emphasis was added that cloud-first should be seen from an innovation point, as it can implemented faster due to the high level of standardization. This especially benefits OWA users directly as Outlook users need to wait for client updates. For example, Office Graph (the new container for self-learning social features such as ‘Clutter’ and ‘Groups’), will become available on Office 365 first, OWA first.
  • Yammer started to make sense. During the conference, you could interact through Yammer for the session you were attending and you were able to follow the presentation via ‘Second Screen’ functionality, showing slides as they were presented. Beyond this, people seemed to ignore Yammer, which perhaps could also be attributed to the contests on Twitter.
  • Using OneDrive for Business allows for storing attachments online (e.g. Office 365) while providing links to the attachment in the original e-mail, somewhat similar to Remote BLOB Store (RBS) in SQL Server which allows you to store BLOB  externally, outside of the main database.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication and Single Sign-On is coming to Outlook 2013 for Office 365 this year and Exchange 2013 on-premises next year.
  • Updated Sizing Guidance to accommodate for for MAPI/http impact on the CAS role (+50% CPU, but still lower than Exchange 2010) but also a cap on the pagefile sizing when using more than 32 GB of memory (maximum 32,778 MB).
  • With the introduction of MAPI/http will become the preferred protocol instead of Outlook Anywhere.
  • Outlook WebApp for Android is coming (no ETA) with all the nice features of a dedicated app like OWA for iOS, like selective wipe.
  • Clear statements on NFS not being supported to host Exchange databases. I repeat: NFS is not supported.
  • Emphasis on installing .NET Framework 4.5.1.
  • Recommendation to deploy 4 database copies, including 1 lagged copy, using a File Share Witness in a 3rd location.
  • Lots of well attended sessions on Office 365 Hybrid solutions, which shows a rise in the interest. However, during the UC Architects session, a vast majority of the audience indicated they are still (and will be) running Exchange on-premises.
  • Lots of attention for the Public Folder migration and the 10,000 folder limit raised its ugly head a few times. However, it has Microsoft’s full attention and they are working on it and are targeting a next boundary that will lie somewhere in the 1,000,000 region. However, still many customers with over 1m folders, so there was some discussion on that.
  • Lots of feedback on making troubleshooting Managed Availability easier. Since it’s a task of lookups and cross-checks between Exchange and Event Viewer a.o., being a DevOp I start to think in terms of developing a useful tool. I put that on my To Do list, so hold on until MS comes up with something or I find some decent time to develop tooling, whichever comes first.
  • Some requests for creating an interface for Edge Transport role as not every admin can be expected to have PowerShell skills. Same rule applies here as for the Managed Availability tool: duly noted until when time permits or MS comes up with something.

imageAfter MEC, I joined my colleagues for a shopping spree in Round Rock Premium Outlets and enjoyed hiking in McKinney Falls State Park were we were taken on a free, unsolicited but very welcome tour by a friendly local. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and Saturday saw a formal closing of the trip with the return flight to Amsterdam.

A big thanks to Microsoft for this well-organized, excellent event and the Exchange PG, MVPs and MCM/MCSMs and everybody attending for contributing. It makes me really proud to be part of this family as an Exchange MVP and I really look forward to the next MEC. Thanks everyone!

PS: In addition, here are additional write-ups by some Exchange fellows:

Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 Countdown

imageThe one conference people involved with Exchange and related technologies are looking forward to is now only one week away, the Microsoft Exchange Conference. In fact, this will be the first MEC(*) I will be attending and I am really looking forward to it. Apart from attending sessions and joining discussions that I am sure will be interesting, conferences like these means catching up with peers, some I have not had the pleasure of meeting them in person yet.

With over 100 sessions crammed in a 3 day conference, you can imagine picking sessions is not an easy task, depending on your experience and knowledge you wish to attain. For those still in doubt on which sessions to attend to, Exchange fellow Tony Redmond wrote a helpful list of recommendations here and followed up today with an overview of the MVP sessions here. As you may or may not know, MVPs are recognized people from the community offering independent real-world experience and insights.

Apart from all the learning opportunities, there will also be festivities and parties. I’d like to bring to your attention one of these parties, the ENow sponsored UC Architects party at the rooftop of the Speakeasy on April 1st (no joke). You can request a pass at  http://schedulemymaintenance.com but be quick because the number of passes is limited. To increase your chances, should drawing be required, make sure you listen to The UC Architects episode 35 for a special promo code.

Like with conferences I have attended before, I will be tweeting noteworthy information from the event. If you want to receive MEC-wide information, I suggest you monitor the official hashtag, #IAmMEC.

*) Pronounced by many as  [mek] but according to this Geek Out with Perry – MEC Edition video, Microsoft pronounces it as [em-ee-see]. However, this is insignificant compared to the discussion on how to pronounce Azure.

MEC 2014 Update: Sessions & Speakers

mec2014logoA quick heads-up for those still in doubt whether to visit MEC or waiting for session information after which to decide on attending or not. MEC is the premier global event for Microsoft Exchange and Office 365 professionals and the 2014 edition will be held in Austin, Texas (USA) from March 31st to April 2nd, 2014.

The first sessions and speakers of the Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 – or MEC for short – have been announced. According to the announcement, there is more to come so make sure you follow MEC’s official Twitter account at @mecconf.

MEC is a chance to get in-depth information and learn from real-life experiences on Exchange and anything related. It’s also a chance to meet people from the Exchange product group and the majority of your Exchange rock stars – presenting or attending (like me).

There are still tickets available. When you want to attend, you can register here.

MVP Global Summit Wrap-Up

Today is the day I returned from my inaugural MVP Global Summit 2013, the one often being tagged the November edition as there were two summits this year. Apart from some discomforts like back issues and jetlag, the summit lived well up to my expectations of being the place to meet fellow (Exchange) MVPs, engage product groups and with regards to the contents presented or discussed (which for obvious reasons I can’t disclose as they are under NDA). Only thing I can mention on the sessions is that the last panel discussion was hilarious as the MVPs turned it into a drinking game where all MVPs took a sip of their beverages when a PG member mentioned “That is great feedback” or “Yammer”. Epic.

The summit was well organized, hotels were great and relatively close to each other and transportation frequent from the hotel to the summit locations on Microsoft campus. Evenings were filled by regional or global events for meeting people or catching up while enjoying food and drinks. The closing party was held in the Seattle Aquarium with great people, good food, music, the Bumbys, caricature drawing, seals and a ferris wheel. And for some reason, all my evenings always ended up with the Exchange and Lync MVPs at the infamous Joey’s. Good times.

MVP Global Summit 2013 UCA

Being one of The UC Architects contributors, I got to meet some of the fellows in real life, like Michael van Hoorenbeeck, Serkan Varoglu (and the missus), Pat Richard, Ståle Hansen, Tim Harrington and Tom Arbuthnot. Other people I got to meet or catch up with - I’ll probably forgot a few – were people like Jeff Guillet, Jason Sherry, Paul Robichaux, Magnus Björk, Siegfried Jagott, J. Peter Bruzzese, Justin Morris, Norbert Klenner, Johan Delimon, Didier van Hoye, Peter de Tender, Ken Lasko, Damian Scoles and Martina Miskovic; the latter two being a first time MVP as well, like myself.

Provided I get re-awarded in October and depending on when it wil take place, I am really looking forward seeing my old and new friends again at the next summit. But first things first, I hope to catch up with some of them at MEC 2014 in March/April, 2014. For now, a big thank you to the MVP Award program, the MVP Global Summit organization, my MVP lead for Benelux and Nordics, William Jansen, and last but not least the product groups for providing great content, interaction and finding time to engage with MVPs.

Note that while I was at the summit, Microsoft announced that Exchange 2013 Service Pack 1 is set for early 2014. It will be part of cross-product SP1 release, as Office 2013 SP1 was also announced for the same timeframe. Major changes to expect in Exchange 2013 SP1, besides the usual fixes and improvements, are support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and Edge server role; the latter being especially of interest to shops who want to standardize on Windows Server 2012 R2 as they will then be able to deploy all Exchange roles using the same OS.

MVP Summit November 2013

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With receiving the MVP Award in October comes one of the benefits I’ve been looking forward to, should I ever receive it: the opportunity to attend the MVP Global Summit. My employer understands the value of these events and gave their approval, as it takes a week out of my busy schedule. So on November 17th I’ll be on my way to Seattle–Tacoma International Airport for my inaugural MVP Global Summit.

The event is held in Bellevue and at the Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington State, from November 18th to November 21st. The previous MVP Global Summit held in February, 2013, was attended by around 1,400 MVPs; worldwide there are around 4,000 MVPs in around 90 countries.

It will be great opportunity from a learning as well as a networking perspective, as you not only get to participate in in-depth sessions on the current and future versions of your product, but also get to meet the other “rock stars” and Microsoft employees from Product Groups as well.

Unfortunately, the event and all disclosed information or discussions are under strict NDA, so don’t expect me to post or tweet anything disclosed at the event.

For those MVP readers also attending the summit, see you there!

TechEd NA 2013 UC Sessions

TechEd NA 2013Yesterday was the last day of the TechEd North America 2013. It was my first visit to TechEd North America and it was a great; I not only got to meet lots of interesting people in real life, the sessions were also excellent. The hosting city of New Orleans contributed a lot to the total experience with friendly people, nice music and the Cajun kitchen.

Now, for your convenience I put down a list of all UC related sessions; note that you can find an overview of all TechEd NA 2013 sessions here.

Exchange

Lync

Office 365

MEC 2014 announced!

A quick heads-up for the ones which didn’t receive the notification via e-mail or social media: Microsoft announced the next Microsoft Exchange Conference is going to be held in April 2014:

savethedate[1]So block your agendas and plan those budgets or submit requests to management for 2014 early!

TechEd Australia 2012 sessions

With the TechEd Australia 2012 event behind us, recordings and slide decks of finished sessions are becoming available online. Here’s an overview of the Exchange-related sessions:

Lync related sessions:

Note: Not all sessions are available online yet but I expect they will be at a later time so check back later.