Note: For those that attended Jaap and my session on Thursday, PowerShell Tips & Tricks for Exchange, and are looking for the scripts used in the demonstrations, they are available here.
Today I returned from one of the largest, independent conference on Microsoft technologies, as it is not sponsored by Microsoft. Sessions were spread over a 3 day period on popular topics as SharePoint, SQL, developer and Windows, as well as out beloved Exchange. In addition, the conference offered pre and post-conference workshops. The conference was held in the city of Las Vegas, a place which I hadn’t seen after I left it around 1996 when leaving something called Comdex. The estimated total of attendees was 1,400, of which around 100-200 attended Exchange sessions since people were free to switch between tracks.
With this being my first Exchange Connections, I must confess the community feeling and depth of contents were well-above expectation. Exchange sessions were not only presented by independent Exchange MVP’s and MCSM’s, but there were also sessions hosted by Tim McMichael and Wes Blalock of Microsoft. Greg Taylor, Exchange PM CXP, was also present, yet he was merely an attendee.
The Exchange track was kicked off by an plenary session for those interested in everything Exchange or related topics such as Office 365. The week was closed with a similar plenary Exchange session, wrapping up the week. It was also when the winners were announced of the trivia contest offered by sponsor ENow Software. Prizes included an Xbox One and $500 in cash.
When connecting with the community, you get a sense on the current opinion on the product and future plans. It was learned that the majority of the attendees are still running Exchange on-premises and a vast majority still runs Exchange 2007 or Exchange 2010. There were quite a few comments on product quality, mainly referring to the recent issues with Exchange 2013 Cumulative Updates resulting in Hybrid Configuration Wizard issues, issues with Exchange 2013/Exchange 2007 co-existence deployments, or more recently issues experienced when using Chrome with the Exchange Administrative Center.
Having experienced my inaugural Exchange Connections this year, I must say I am really looking forward to the next event as an opportunity to get in contact with the Exchange community while catching up with my Exchange MVP and MCSM friends. Meanwhile, the MVP Summit is next up on the agenda, so I hope I won’t have to miss them for long.
On a personal note, despite my luggage being delayed, I had a blast at Connections, enjoying all the opportunities created to meet up at receptions, dinners and the excellent Scheduled Maintenance party. I was also very pleased with my Huawei E5372, a MiFi device which functions as a mobile WiFi access point to route traffic to a mobile data provider at a fraction of the roaming mobile data costs. In the end, the amount of mobile data used after this week was rather low, which mainly can be attributed to the excellent WiFi facilities in Aria, the conference hotel. On a final note, a bit thanks to ENow for the personalized jersey. Several people attempted to pronounce my last name, and most came up with “The Rouge” which I find more than acceptable.
In addition to my wrap-up, here are some of the other Exchange Connections summaries: