Noise-cancelling headphones and laptop woes

Reading the review of the Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones, I am reminded quite how good these headphones are.  The review goes into a level of technical detail that audiophiles will enjoy. All I can say is that I use these headphones every day and enjoy their capabilities very much indeed.

I bought my QuietComfort 20 (which also comes in a 20i variant for iPhones) last October as a replacement for a set of Bose MIE2 headphones (yes, I like Bose products), mostly because the MIE2 set is not particularly good in airplanes and other noisy environments. That’s not surprising because the MIE2 is not designed to cancel noise in the way that the larger model Bose QuietComfort 2 or 3. I used to carry an older-model headset with me when I was taking long-haul flights weekly but tired of the size of the sets. The fact that noise-cancelling capabilities were bundled into a smaller form factor seemed like a good thing and justified the expense.

Since then I’ve used the QC20 in airplanes and many other noisy environments such as alongside busy roads and in all cases I can say that the performance in terms of noise suppression is impressive. It’s meant that I have been able to turn down the volume of my Nokia Lumia 1020 (which I use to listen to radio and podcasts) while still being able to hear everything clearly.

The sole weakness I have found in comparison to earlier Bose in-ear headphones is that the more rigid wire between the headphones and the device that you use (like my Lumia 1020) is not at good in acting as an aerial for FM radio. This might be because the wire is better protected than before, which is a good thing as the wires on other Bose sets have a tendency to part near the earphones after a while. However, it does mean that I hear a lot more static than before when listening to the radio in any but optimum conditions.

I do wish that the battery lasted a little longer as it seems to expire at the most inconvenient time, probably due to my own incompetence at monitoring its use. Overall, the QC20 is truly worth the money if you want something that’s extremely portable, high quality, and guaranteed to make even the tinny sound of an aircraft sound system sound good.

It’s nice when technology works and not so nice when it doesn’t deliver as expected, which was the case when I bought an HP Envy 17-184nr laptop. I like big laptops, which I use as desktop replacements, and was very happy with the previous HP Envy 17 model. However, the Envy 17s are designed as consumer PCs and two years of hard work had made the 17 cranky and noisy (one reason to wear a noise-cancelling headset), so I decided to take advantage of some recent cost reductions to buy a replacement. The new Envy 17s come with fast CPUs, great 17″ full HD screens, and Beats Audio (whatever that means).

Typically, I remove the hard disk that comes with laptops and replace it with a high-performing SSD (in this case, the Samsung Pro Series 512GB) and some extra memory so that the laptop can easily handle running several virtual servers. I like the Envy 17s because they come with two hard disk slots and so went ahead and bought two SSDs for the upgrade.

However, I wasn’t impressed when I discovered that HP doesn’t include the SATA cable necessary to connect the second drive to the motherboard. Nor do they include the rubber fittings that keep the primary hard drive in place (and getting them off the standard drive is a pain). I guess not many people go ahead and upgrade their laptops so it’s reasonable for HP to assume that they can save a few dollars per laptop by cutting back on the extras. But it was unexpected  - and discovering the necessary parts isn’t easy, even if you examine the HP Envy 17-184nr manual carefully. On the plus side, the 17-184nr is easier to work with as only one screw needs to be removed (rather than 6 for the older model) to gain access to disk bays, memory sockets, and so on.

Oh well. It’s all working now and I’m happy with the performance of the laptop. But technology wouldn’t be technology if you didn’t have something to complain about, would it?

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What Microsoft needs to do to fix modern public folders

The amiable Kanika Ramji, program manager for Exchange public folders, might have gulped a little when she saw the packed crowd at the “Experts Unplugged” session covering Exchange’s longest-lasting and most-persistent collaboration technology at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) on April 1. After all, the Internet had buzzed with criticism after Microsoft revealed the scalability limitations that afflict modern public folders and much of the passion surrounding that issue had transferred into the room.

After the session I think Kanika was more optimistic because the discussion never descended into bickering and hostility. Sure, some strong words were said, but the net outcome of the session (which proved the wisdom of including this kind of interaction at MEC) was extremely positive. The development group went away with clear marching orders as to what should be done: fix the scalability problems, OWA support for calendar and contact public folders, and better management and reporting tools.

The discussion about scalability was interesting. Microsoft couldn’t but admit that the 10,000 public folder limit was ridiculous. Many people in the room represented companies with over 100,000 old-style public folders and hard questions were asked about how Exchange 2013 could have shipped without the scalability limits being known.

It’s hard to change a software architecture to something radically different. New-style public folders hold their content in public folder mailboxes instead of dedicated databases. There’s nothing wrong here because Exchange databases are very scalable and high performing. The issue is all to do with the public folder hierarchy and specifically, how updates have to be made to the primary copy of the hierarchy, which is automatically created in the first public folder mailbox in an organization (a good reason to get this aspect of your deployment correct).

In a busy public folder deployment, it’s quite likely that folder updates happen regularly. Each update has to be referred back to the primary public folder mailbox and then rippled out to all of the other mailboxes, each of which holds a copy of the hierarchy. The current model works well inside small deployments but runs out of steam as the number of folders (and therefore the likelihood of more updates) scales up. Microsoft set the current limit at 10,000 folders because they know that everything works at this threshold. Pass it and you run into increasing instability as the primary copy of the public folder hierarchy struggles to cope with inbound changes and the subsequent updates back to the hierarchy copies.

Microsoft says that they want to get the limit up to 1,000,000 folders. A reasonable amount of engineering effort and (possibly more important) test and validation will be needed to get them to that point. Until they do, customers who want to move large numbers of public folders to on-premises Exchange 2013 servers or Exchange Online in Office 365 will simply have to wait. No timescale was promised but reassurance was given that this is a top-priority work item. We shall just have to wait and see.

One thing is for sure. Microsoft understands that the credibility of their attempts to modernize public folders and to reassure customers, all of whom have used Exchange for a very long time, is at stake. They have to fix the scalability problems this time round. No other option exists.

And while Microsoft is working at improving modern public folders, perhaps they’ll also fix the other horrible flaw that exists in the implementation – the fact that if you lose the mailbox containing the primary hierarchy, no method is available to transfer responsibility for hierarchy updates to one of the secondary copies currently exists. That doesn’t sound like a highly available solution and it’s a huge and gaping hole in the current implementation. It’s funny how the passing of time and the pressure of real customer deployments exposes all the flaws in computer systems.

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Posted in Email, Exchange, Exchange 2013, Office 365 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exchange Unwashed Digest: March 2014

March 2014 saw a lot of preparatory effort for the Microsoft Exchange Conference in Austin, which took place at the end of the month. However, before we got to MEC, we had to cope with a late breaking bug for Exchange 2013 SP1 and some other stuff too… Here’s what happened in my “Exchange Unwashed” blog in March.

Exchange 2013 SP1 suffers late-breaking bug that affects third-party products (March 5): I felt so bad for the Exchange developers when a really late change in a couple of lines of XML code caused problems for third-party products that depend on transport agents to integrate with Exchange. Fortunately the fix is easy and I regard SP1 as easily the best and most stable release of Exchange 2013 to date.

EMS command logging reappears in Exchange 2013 SP1 (March 6): One of the features reintroduced in Exchange 2013 SP1 is command logging, which means that you can see the PowerShell commands executed by EAC as it performs actions. It’s good to see this feature back because similar features in the Exchange 2007 and 2010 EMC allowed administrators to come to grips with the syntax and use of PowerShell. I hope that they do something to remove the gratuitous use of GUIDs to identify objects like databases because it makes the output less useful. I think they might – at least, I heard at MEC that the conversation has started.

Apple releases iOS 7.1 – Exchange administrators applaud (or not) (March 10): This was really good news because nothing happened after the iOS 7.1 release reached iPhone and iPad devices that connect to Exchange with ActiveSync (EAS). The reason why is that it proves that the work done by Apple (to fix their code that calls EAS to communicate with Exchange) and Microsoft (to bulletproof Exchange 2013 and the latest builds of Exchange 2010 – and of course, Exchange Online – so that bad client behavior won’t affect the server) works. That’s something that we should applaud. And I do.

Exchange’s interesting document fingerprinting feature (March 11): Another new feature introduced in Exchange 2013 SP1 and another that I like very much. Basically the idea is that you can provide Exchange with examples of documents that contain sensitive information. Exchange creates a digital fingerprint for the document that can then be included as a data type that transport rules should check. A very good way to extend the DLP feature and one that I think will be very popular with customers.

Contemplating the RSS feed for Exchange Knowledge Base articles (March 13): Microsoft provides an RSS feed for new Exchange 2013 knowledge base articles (other feeds cover other versions). There’s lots of useful information to be mined from the feed, if only it wasn’t quite so repetitive.

Exchange message tracing extended to 90 days in Office 365 – what about the on-premises version? (March 18): Message tracking has always been part of Exchange and it’s a very useful facility because it helps administrators to answer the immortal question posed by users “what happened to my message.” Office 365 now allows you to track messages up to 90 days old and has a nice new GUI to help. It would be so nice to see this utility being provided to on-premises customers, don’t you think?

No warning about patch required for Exchange 2013 SP1 (March 20): As is well known, I hate chastising the Exchange development group. Unless there’s good reason to do so, of course. And so there was on March 20 when I had to point out that customers could be left in the dark about the need to patch Exchange 2013 SP1 for the pesky transport agent problem referred to above. But all is well now because Microsoft responded by updating the knowledge base articles, which is a reasonable solution to the issue.

Technology is so much easier when everyone shares their knowledge (March 25): This is kind of a mixed post. On the one hand, I used it to recognize some of the important contributions made within the Exchange community. On the other, I complained that some of my fellow Exchange MVPs could do a lot better in how they contributed. But I’m a grumpy old man and it’s OK to complain – right?

What to do (and what not to do) at the Microsoft Exchange Conference (March 27): The last post of the month set out my thoughts on how MEC attendees might approach the conference so as to make best use of their time. It will be interesting to see if anyone now comments whether the advice was any use. Of course, I think it was, but I could be wrong.

MEC has been and gone and we’re already well into April. Lots to write about keeps on appearing. It’s great to work with technology.

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The colorful side of MEC 2014: All the stuff that makes a conference

What can I say about the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) that recently finished in Austin? Lots of blogs and other comments have already been posted, including my assessment of the messages contained in the day 1 keynote, the splendor of the sessions delivered on day 2, and some closing thoughts on the most important messages coming from the conference.

But there’s always more to say. Like describing the colorful side of MEC, the side that compliments and balances the formal array of sessions and other carefully arranged events that populate the agenda. Here’s my take on the best stuff from MEC 2014.

Yammer: Microsoft is doing its best to convince people that Yammer is useful. And so it came to pass that all the MEC attendees were invited to participate in a Yammer something. Various made-up nouns are used to describe this like “YamJam”, none of which I understand. In any case, I gave it my best shot and duly emerged as a wonderful contributor to the yamming… Seriously, every technology has its place and its advocates like Christophe Fiessinger do their best to advance the cause. It will be interesting to see where Yammer ends up. I doubt I shall end up as a Yammer MVP!

Yammer stats from MEC

Yammer stats from MEC

Pillow and Skittles: The nice people who run the MVP program in Microsoft like to publicize the names and faces of the MVPs so that people recognize and know us. And so we ended up with our faces being plastered all over boards (pretty normal) and pillows and skittles. The pillows were the kind that you would only ever use at a technology conference and should never appear in a home environment. Microsoft VP and head of Exchange development Perry Clarke demonstrated the correct way to use the pillow, but I’m still not having one anywhere near me. As to the packets of skittles featuring beaming MVP faces? Well, the skittles were nice and the packaging was easily disposed. Enough said.

Warning: sleeping Perry can be dangerous

Warning: sleeping Perry can be dangerous

Best Session: An easy choice. Vivek Sharma did a fantastic job of explaining what happens behind the scenes to deliver Exchange Online at massive scale. The detail he provided about workflow processing, capacity management, reporting and analysis, and all-in commitment to keeping the service running added to the credibility of Office 365. You might have doubted Office 365 before this session, but not afterwards.

Session with most blank faces: Tim McMichael delivered an incredible session about the way that Exchange leverages Windows Failover Clustering to enable Database Availability Groups. I enjoyed it very much, but I noticed that many in the audience struggled to cope with the sheer amount of detail provided by Tim. He’s obviously an expert who positively wallows in the details of all things related to clusters.

Worse session: There was no worst session, at least not in those that I attended. The keynote ranks as the most disappointing session as its energy level, pacing, and delivery just wasn’t at the expected standard. Things weren’t helped by lousy audio in the ballroom, a surprising thing when professional audio technicians are available to tune the sound. Our “Experts Unplugged: Support Issues” session on Monday afternoon was afflicted by bad audio too. I was positioned on the right hand side of the stage and couldn’t hear Tim Heeney speak from the far left hand side. Nor could I hear many of the questions that came in front the audience. My bad ears or poor audio arrangements? I think the latter.

An evolving conference: Technology conferences can be accused of following the same old playbook year in year out. I think TechEd is certainly guilty of this practice. MEC tried some different things and the best evolution was the Experts Unplugged sessions. Some of these didn’t work because of poor audience participation (no questions) or the wrong set of experts. But those that did fairly sizzled with a cut-and-thrust between experts and audiences as questions were posed and debated. Small rooms and a mixture of talents on the panel appear to be the recipe for success here.

Cardboard Tony at the Exchange Museum

Cardboard Tony at the Exchange Museum

The walkabout cutout: The nice people at Microsoft asked me for a headshot the week before MEC. That headshot was duly Photoshopped onto a body that was 40 pounds lighter than reality and sporting a red velvet bowtie that I wouldn’t wear in a fit. But the cutout seemed to be a popular place for photos outside the Exchange museum (lots of good stuff to view there) and it was stolen at the end of MEC by some nameless (and shameless) product group members who took the unfortunate Tony on a tour of Austin. Each stage on the cutout’s progress was recorded photographically, including some interesting shots with members of the public who obviously thought that they were being filmed for some weird TV show. My cardboard friend ended up in the Old School Grill at the speaker party, where he joined the band. Latest reports are that he made a flight to Seattle and is now somewhere in Redmond. How appropriate!

Cardboard Tony in the Old School House bar

Cardboard Tony in the Old School Grill bar

Quizzes: Binary Tree and ENow Software both ran good quizzes at MEC. Binary Tree took their name and used it as the basis for binary code puzzles that people had to solve. I think many cheated and used online binary calculators to solve the puzzles but that’s OK. Many also used the InterWeb to check the trivia questions posed in the ENow Software quiz and four bright sparks ended up fighting it out for the $1,000 cash prize. I was invited to host the final round and delighted in asking five tough questions extracted from my treasure trove of Exchange trivia (otherwise known as rubbish long forgotten). The winner ended up with ten crisp $100 bills, but it was funnier to see the face of Maarten Piederiet, the runner-up, as he received 500 $1 bills to take home to Holland.

The final stages of the Enow quiz (credit: J. Peter Bruzzese)

The final stages of the Enow quiz (credit: J. Peter Bruzzese)

Meals and drinks: No one expects gourmet food at a technology conference and we were not disappointed at MEC. Any of the food I tried was rubbery, warmish, and basically awful. Nothing out of the ordinary there. I was disappointed at the inability of the caterers to provide hot coffee though. Any cup I poured was tepid brown ink. Uuugh.

Gifts: Many thanks to the nice people at SolarWinds who gave me a brand new xBox One because I was the top tweeter at MEC. I’m past the age when xBox gaming is really attractive and anyway, a U.S. device wasn’t going to function too well in Ireland, even if I paid the outlandish customs duty that the fine customs staff at Dublin Airport were likely to extract if I turned up with the xBox. So I gifted it to Greg Taylor of Microsoft for his kids. And Greg gave me his Dell Venue Pro, the gift provided to all MEC attendees – and appreciated by almost everyone. There seems to have been some problems with devices but that’s to be expected and the problematic Venues were quickly swapped, so all is well.

Logistics: Generally logistics worked extremely well and the organizers executed everything needed to deliver an impressive conference. The fact that no paper guides were produced puzzled some but then again, you don’t need paper when the conference web site is so good and you’re given a Windows tablet to access it and the OneNote notebook containing all the conference info. I liked this a lot.

Twitter: I tweeted a lot from MEC in a form of experiment for myself. I normally write down notes at a conference and decided to replace this with short tweets to capture essential information as I heard it in sessions (feel free to review my Twitter stream to see what you think). Like any other tool, it’s important to use Twitter the right way to be effective. I was happy that I captured information that is useful to me and seemed to be useful to others who consumed it. I apologize to anyone who was offended by the tone of some of the tweets, especially when I was under inspired by the keynote. As I said to Jeff Teper, social networking is a double-edged tool: when things are going for you, social networking acts as an accelerant. When things aren’t going so well, the same effect applies.

So that’s it – the unseen side of MEC, the bits that make conferences enjoyable events to attend. I also enjoyed meeting those who attended MEC in different roles – vendors (I know booth duty can be excruciatingly difficult at times), product group members (lots of new faces), other Microsoft employees (the support guys, consulting staff, and others), MVPs (a great bunch), and everyone else. You all made MEC. It was great.

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Posted in Cloud, Email, Exchange, Office 365, Outlook, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Exchange Oscars at MEC 2014

The Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) brings people together who are interested in Exchange and associated products. It’s a great gathering of talent and passion and it provided a suitable time to recognize people who have made contributions to the development of Exchange over the near and long term.

The Exchange product group and the Exchange MVPs came together on the evening of April 1 to have some fun and laughter over food and drink, to rehash old stories of versions long gone, features long cut or never shipped, challenging customers, experiences at past conferences, and generally chill out after day 2 of MEC. And then Greg Taylor acted as the master of ceremonies to distribute the “Exchange Oscars.” As usual (and as expected), Greg did an excellent job of introducing each award with some well-founded commentary.

Exchange MVPs had voted for members of the product group in several categories and the reverse had happened so that product group members voted for MVPs. The right people were recognized by their peers, which is always a good thing.

Happy Exchange Oscars 2014 recipients

Happy Exchange Oscars 2014 recipients

The two top awards were the Exchange Hall of Fame Oscars. Paul Robichaux was recognized in the MVP category along with David Espinoza from the product group. Both have truly made a long-term contribution to the development of Exchange and richly deserved the recognition. Others recognized were

Product Group:

  • Brian Day (most helpful PG member)
  • Jeff Mealiffe (best presenter)
  • Scott Schnoll (most wishes he was still an MVP)
  • Shawn McGrath (best tool – ExRCA)
  • Ross Smith IV (best EHLO blog post since last MEC)

Exchange MVPs:

  • Lee Benjamin (best at knowledge sharing)
  • Paul Cunningham (best code contribution)
  • Michael Van Horenbeeck (most promising MVP)
  • Ed Crowley (the “tough love” award)
  • Jeff Guillet (most influential blog)
  • Andy David (most active poster on various distribution lists)

It was a great evening that was well organized by Marissa Salazar and well attended by both the product group (many new faces were spotted) and MVPs. I think this event will become part of MEC tradition. Roll on the next MEC!

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SQL 2014′s link to Exchange 4.0

It was nice to read the memories of ex-Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Hal Berenson in a post about SQL 2014’s delayed durability feature. Like me, Hal used to work at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where he specialized on database engineering. He tells the story of prototyping delayed durability to fix some performance issues in Rdb/VMS in 1986. As explained in TechNet, delayed durability is accomplished by “transaction log records are kept in a buffer and hardened to disk when the buffer fills or a buffer flushing event takes place.” As it turns out, the prototyped code was removed from Rdb/VMS and never used in production.

The description of how delayed durability works should be pretty familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Exchange Information Store and the way that ESE, the database engine, handles transactions. Exchange captures information about transactions in the current transaction log and only commits them to the database when the complete transaction is available.

As Hal explains in his post, after he left DEC and joined Microsoft, he helped the Exchange 4.0 development team address some performance problems that they had in the Store. MAPI was the only client protocol in use at the time and MAPI just loves properties when it comes to processing email. Each adjustment to a property (and there could be 40 or more made to process a message) was an individual transaction with a subsequent impact on performance as each transaction was logged. Hal suggested that the ESE team use delayed durability and the problem was resolved. Exchange 4.0 shipped with the feature in March 1996.

MEC attendees can get the latest information about how the Information Store and ESE combine to deliver robustness and durability by going to “The Latest on High Availability and Site Resilience” at 10:45am on Tuesday. And if you’re at MEC, why not come along to my 8:30 session on Wednesday when I talk about the wonders of  Retention Policies. What could be a better start to the day?

I just love war stories like this. An idea that didn’t work out for a DEC product eventually helped to solve a major performance issue for Microsoft’s first enterprise email server and is now in SQL Server 2014. Time flies when you’re having fun…

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Posted in Email, Exchange, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tony Redmond’s Guide to MEC 2014 – Slicing and dicing the data

One of the worse things that can happen at a technology conference is to turn up for a session that you really want to attend only to find that the room is packed out and you can’t even get inside the door. It’s only slightly better if you can get in and then have to spend 75 minutes standing – or having your buttocks become steadily more numb as you sit on a hard floor.

The word on the street is that nearly 2,000 people will attend next week’s Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in Austin. The majority are paid attendees and the rest are Microsoft employees and speakers. Microsoft briefed MVPs and session chairs about MEC details on Wednesday and revealed that 91% of the expected audience come from North America. This doesn’t reflect the worldwide audience for Exchange, Lync, and Office 365 at all and underlines the case for a MEC-like event outside the U.S. (like the old EMEA MEC events held in Nice, France).

Breakdown of MEC attendees (source: Microsoft)

Breakdown of MEC attendees (source: Microsoft)

With such a crowd, you can bet your bottom dollar that some sessions will be absolutely packed. Perhaps it’s the prospect of hearing a truly compelling speaker who is master of their subject or maybe it’s because the subject matter is new and interesting. For whatever reason, there will be attendee traffic jams going into some of the rooms.

The conference organizers will do their level best to assign appropriate rooms for sessions. They are helped in that MEC attendees have been registering for sessions over the last week or so. That data is used to predict where problems might lie, such as small rooms being assigned to overflowing sessions or, conversely, large rooms (like the ballrooms) assigned to sessions where everyone could shake hands with each other in less than two minutes.

It’s horrible to be a speaker looking out at the empty masses of seats in a large room. Communication is impossible, words echo around the room, and audiences tend to drift away. I think the worst example of this that I ever saw was at a DECUS conference in San Francisco in 1993 where the organizers assigned a room capable of holding 700 people to a session that attracted just two. I think the session was about connecting Apple Macs to Digital VAXes, a topic that you’d imagine would attract a crowd in San Francisco. Alas, it didn’t, and the speaker duly gave up and came down off the stage to chat with the two attendees.

I’ve already published some posts to help guide you through MEC:

Now to help you take a more scientific approach to planning your MEC agenda, I’ve extracted the data that is available online (to registered MEC attendees through the “Event Hubb”) and done some slicing and dicing to identify different types of sessions. Hopefully this helps you to make sense of the 7 core content tracks, 99 sessions, and 130 presenters. Not all of the tracks have a session for all slots. For example, after the opening keynote, there are only four sessions during Monday’s 10:30AM slot and five in the 1:15PM slot. On the other hand, Tuesday’s 1:30PM slot spreads itself across nine sessions.

Note that MEC is not publishing a paper guide to sessions this year. The new approach is that attendees will receive a OneNote notebook containing all of the session information. Time will tell whether this idea finds favor with everyone.

At the time I extracted the data (10AM East Coast on Friday), approximately 1,250 attendees had registered their options on the site. The data are therefore likely to change as the remaining attendees sign up for sessions. The knock-on effect is that the numbers shown below could expand by 25-30% (my guess).  So far, the average attendees registered for a session is 160.

People might change their mind as a result of this information or when they get to MEC and discover the sessions that their friends or colleagues plan on attending. However, I think the data are sufficiently accurate to aid in planning. Have fun with the information!

 I want to attend the most popular sessions

Apart from the opening keynote, which is always packed out, the following are the top 10 sessions based on the number planning to be at each. Here are the top 10 MEC sessions to date. [Data updated as at Saturday, 3AM Eastern]

Monday 10:30 Exchange Server 2013 Architecture: mailbox and client access Ross Smith IV 589
Monday 14:45 Exchange Server 2013 Tips & Tricks Scott Schnoll 479
Monday 16:30 Experts Unplugged: Exchange Top Issues – What are they and does anyone care or listen? Jennifer Gagnon, Amir Haque, Shawn McGrath, Tim Heeney, Scott Landry, Nino Bilic, Tony Redmond (chair – MVP) 475
Monday 13:15 Ready, set, deploy: Exchange Server 2013 Brian Day 470
Tuesday 10:45 The latest on High Availability & Site Resilience Greg Thiel, Abram Jackson, Dmitry Sarkisov 378
Wednesday 10:15 Exchange Design Concepts and Best Practices Boris Lokhvitsky 373
Tuesday 09:00 Exchange Server 2013 Transport Architecture Khushru Irani 361
Tuesday 13:30 Exchange storage for insiders Matt Gossage, Todd Luttinen, Nathan Muggli 323
Tuesday 16:45 Exchange Server 2013 Virtualization Best Practices Jeff Mealiffe 323
Tuesday 10:45 Exchange hybrid: architecture and deployment Andrew Ehrensing, Ronil Dhruva, Tim Heeney 311

Some people always prefer to seek out the comfort of an empty or relatively empty conference room where you have a choice of seat and can spread yourself out. If that’s your thing, then you should include these ten sessions in your list. However, be aware that the last two of these sessions were added just recently and have not yet been seen by many attendees.I want to avoid crowds

Wednesday 16:45 Extending Data Loss Prevention For Your Business Brian Reid (MVP) 60
Wednesday 13:00 Experts Unplugged: EOP & Encryption (repeat) Levon Esibov, Asaf Kashi, Tamar Tzruya, Wendy Wilkes, Ori Kashi 56
Wednesday 10:15 5 Real Life Scenarios of Office 365 in Education Jethro Seghers (MVP) 56
Wednesday 13:00 Grab a Wrench – DAGs under the hood Tim McMichael 54
Wednesday 10:15 Experts Unplugged: Data Loss Prevention (repeat) Jack Kabar, Asaf Kashi 51
Tuesday 10:45 Apps for Outlook Evolved Andrew Salamatov 49
Tuesday 13:30 Achieving better business productivity using Apps for Office and Office 365 Pretish Abraham 49
Tuesday 16:45 Experts Unplugged: Exchange Extensibility Glen Scales (MVP), Krushru Irani, Pretish Abraham, Andrew Salamatov, Carolyn Liu, Jason Henderson 24
Wednesday 14:45 Making changes to Exchange Online at high scale Rudra Mitra, Gayarthi Venkartarman 17
Wednesday 10:15 Optimizing Exchange Online for efficiencies and snappy experiences Rudra Mitra, Pravjit Tiwana, Bob Samer 5

I want to hear about integration

Exchange sits at the middle of an ecosystem. Third party software is not usually featured at a Microsoft conference and that’s the same for MEC. However, here are ten sessions that deal with the topic of integration, whether it’s with servers like SharePoint and Lync, or with clients. There are a relatively small number of sessions in this category:

Wednesday 14:45 Integrating Exchange 2013 with Lync and SharePoint Bhargav Shukla (MVP)
Wednesday 16:45 Load balancing Exchange and Lync Server 2013 Bhargav Shukla (MVP)
Monday 13:15 Collaboration with Site Mailboxes: Exchange and SharePoint together Alfons Staerk, Shashi Singaravel

I want to hear about new technology

At this point in its lifecycle, Exchange 2013 is not “new technology.” But a conference like MEC always has a number of sessions where new technology is discussed. Here’s a selection of what you can find at MEC

Tuesday 13:30 Managing and Securing Mobile Devices using Exchange, System Center 2012 R2, and Intune Lawrence Novak, Michael Indence
Monday 10:30 Introducing The Future of Enterprise Social, Office Graph, and Codename “Oslo” Christophe Fiessinger, Cem Aykan
Tuesday 15:00 Introducing Groups Sangya Singh, Andrew Friedman
Tuesday 13:30 Introducing the Personalized Inbox: “Clutter,” People View, and Search Refiners Jim Edelen, Kutlay Topatan, Krish Gali, Tore Sundelin

I want to hear about High Availability

High Availability has been a huge success for Exchange since the introduction of the Database Availability Group in Exchange 2010. A number of good sessions associated with topics around High Availability are being given at MEC. Here’s my pick:

Tuesday 10:45 The latest on High Availability & Site Resilience Greg Thiel, Abram Jackson, Dmitry Sarkisov
Tuesday 13:30 Exchange storage for insiders Matt Gossage, Todd Luttinen, Nathan Muggli
Tuesday 15:00 Experts Unplugged: Architecture – HA and Storage Matt Gossage, Todd Luttinen, Nathan Muggli, Greg Thiel, Abram Jackson, Dmitry Sarkisov, Mike Crowley (MVP – chair)
Wednesday 08:30 The art of datacenter switchover Tim McMichael

I want to hear about Office 365

Of course, Exchange Online and Exchange 2013 on-premises share the same code base, so it is difficult to draw a line as to where Office 365 and Exchange begin and end. In any case, here are some Office 365 sessions that might interest you.

Tuesday 10:45 Exchange hybrid: architecture and deployment Andrew Ehrensing, Ronil Dhruva, Tim Heeney
Tuesday 15:00 Behind the curtain: How we run Exchange Online Vivek Sharma
Monday 16:30 Modern Public Folders Migration & Office 365 Siegfried Jagott (MVP), Kanika Ramji
Tuesday 09:00 Exchange Online Migrations Technical Deep Dive Ayla Kol, Ram Poornalingam, William Rail
Monday 14:45 Microsoft Office 365 Directory and Access Management with Windows Azure Active Directory David Brandt, Juno Luk
Monday 13:15 Getting Started with Office 365 Deployment Jeff Medford
Monday 16:30 Protect your Organization with Exchange Online Protection (EOP) Levon Esibov
Tuesday 13:30 Experts Unplugged: Exchange Online Migrations Ayla Kol, Juno Luk, Martina Grom (MVP – chair), Ram Poornalinham, Ronil Dhruva, Steve Daigle
Wednesday 14:45 Troubleshooting hybrid mailflow Vincent Yim
Tuesday 09:00 Engineers vs Mechanics – the evolving role of IT with Office 365 Jon Orton, Alistair Speirs, Jeremy Chapman
Monday 16:30 Exchange Online service security investments: you CAN and SHOULD do this at home Siddhartha Mathur, Raji Dani
Wednesday 13:00 Reporting On O365 Mailflow and Mailbox Data John Gargiulo, Mitchell Hall
Tuesday 15:00 Field Notes – Supporting Office 365 Customers Kamal Abburi
Tuesday 09:00 How to (remote) control Office 365 with Azure Martina Grom (MVP), Toni Pohl (MVP)
Wednesday 10:15 5 Real Life Scenarios of Office 365 in Education Jethro Seghers (MVP)
Wednesday 14:45 Making changes to Exchange Online at high scale Rudra Mitra, Gayarthi Venkartarman

I want to hear about Exchange clients

An email server is not much good without some clients. Here are the sessions dedicated to the many varied clients available to Exchange.

Tuesday 09:00 Experts Unplugged: Architecture – Client Access and Connectivity Greg Taylor, Jeff Mealiffe, Ross Smith IV, Venkat Ayyadevara, Jeff Guillet (MVP – Chair)
Wednesday 10:15 Outlook Connectivity: Current and Future Guy Groeneveld, Rafiq El Alami, Venkat Ayyadevara
Wednesday 14:45 Experts Unplugged: Outlook 2013 Peter Allenspach, Rafiq El Alami, Venkat Ayyedevara, Erik Ashby, Ronak Trivedi, Jason Henderson
Wednesday 14:45 Exchange Client Network Bandwidth Calculator v2 Neil Johnson
Wednesday 13:00 What’s New in Authentication for Outlook 2013 Venkat Ayyedevara, Erik Ashby, Franklin Williams
Wednesday 08:30 What’s New in Outlook 2013 Peter Allenspach, Ronak Trivedi
Tuesday 10:45 What’s New in OWA for Devices Greg Baribault
Tuesday 09:00 What’s New in Outlook Web App Paul Tischhauser, Eduardo Melo, Krish Gali, Mike Brickman
Wednesday 10:15 Experts Unplugged: OWA and Mobility Amit Gupta, Greg Baribault, Julio Estrada, Paul Limont
Tuesday 16:45 Introducing Document Collaboration in Outlook Web App Kip Fern, Joseph Masterson

That’s about the end of my ruminations on MEC sessions. I hope that everyone that attends MEC has a great time. I know I shall!

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Posted in Exchange, Exchange 2010, Exchange 2013, Office 365 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments