Phew! We’re done with the Exchange 2010 Maestro seminar in Anaheim and have come to the end of our mini-series. Paul Robichaux, Brian Desmond, and I are fatigued and worn from the experience but the two seminars have been tremendously rewarding in terms of the passion and knowledge we’ve seen in the attendees and the way that they’ve responded to our presentations, even if we just can’t keep on schedule.
There’s so much new stuff for us to talk about in Exchange 2010 especially now that SP1 is available. The folks moving from Exchange 2003 have had a real challenge to take in everything we’ve talked about in 16 hours (in Boston) or 18 hours (in Anaheim) of lectures. The people running Exchange 2007 had less to cope with because PowerShell wasn’t a complete mystery to them, but they’ve had to work hard too.
The design workshops were the big success of the seminar. We gave attendees a prototype Exchange 2003 organization and asked them to take the role of consultants coming in to advise the CIO of the company as to how best to deploy Exchange 2010. They had an hour to put the information that we had provided during the seminar into practice and generate a high-level deployment approach in the form of a PowerPoint deck (classic consultant 101 material). They then submitted their findings to Paul, who selected a couple of plans that we then had the teams present to the CIO. Paul alleges that I was able to snap into character of a grumpy, impatient, and rude CIO all too readily, but I think I simply performed to specification. This time round we had Brian act as the Chief Architect of the customer so that he could ask some pointed technical questions of the teams. All in all, a valuable learning exercise that reinforced the theory presented in a very practical sense.
Looking back at the experience gained over the two seminars, we know we can do better in future. We think that the errors have been eliminated from the presentations but they are still too long. Effort has to be expended to rationalize the content and smooth the flow before we present another schedule.
The labs were our biggest concern. Running virtual machines off an external SATA drive was never going to be fast and we were not surprised to learn that some attendees thought that the labs were too slow. However, our perspective is that the labs are not tied to the seminar as they can be taken away and done wherever and whenever the attendee chooses. Experience from last week is that attendees are installing the virtual machines on “real” servers instead of laptops and are using the lab systems as the basis for their own test environment. The takeaway nature of the labs has proved to be extremely valuable and I won’t ever attempt to run labs on systems that are constrained to only being available during an event whether they run on servers that are trucked in for an event or over the network to some remote facility. In fact, given the network fallibility that we have experienced in the hotels during the last two weeks, I can’t see how it makes sense to rely on network-based labs for an event like this.
Work over the weekend to create a more comprehensive lab guide/cheat sheet generated a document that attendees found invaluable. We should have done this for Boston as having the answers close at hand gave attendees the confidence that they could always complete the labs by having a quick peek at the answers if they ever got stuck.
We’re now thinking about plans to run additional seminars in 2011. Neither Paul nor I want to become professional “seminar bunnies” who are constantly on the road delivering seminars. We both have other things to do – Paul has a day job and I’ve got other interests to pursue, not least my rugby activities. We’re thinking about running no more than four seminars across the whole of 2011 with maybe two in the U.S. and two elsewhere. Being European, I think it would be nice to offer a seminar in a major European city such as London or Paris. We need to sit down and talk with our partners (Penton) and sponsors (Microsoft, HP, and perhaps others) to determine the best combination of audience reach, commercial reality, and dates.
Some attendees asked us to expand the event from three to four days. Given the amount of material to present we will certainly have to look at this proposal. It would certainly be easier on both attendees and presenters. In any case, stay tuned for more information as I will post updates in this blog as the situation evolves.
Faux pas of the day: I referred to “killing lingering orphans” during my Mailbox Replication Service session yesterday. This obviously refers to the automatic removal of orphan mailbox move requests (ones that miss either the attributes stamped on the mailbox in Active Directory or the request item inserted in the system mailbox of the target database). However, when the phrase came out of my mouth it just sounded wrong. Was I recommending the immediate dispatch of unfortunate orphans who had lingered in their orphanage for too long? I think not, but the audience wasn’t too sure and Paul has announced his intention of getting some t-shirts made with “killing lingering orphans” on the front. We should be able to sell them on eBay for tons of money.
Name of the day: Brian Desmond is much younger than either Paul or myself. He’s smart enough to be able to do just about anything you would want to with Windows and he looks very much like some of the photogenic geeks featured in Microsoft’s latest Windows 7 “I’m a PC” ads. Brian has therefore been renamed “I’m a PC”.
I’m now off to take United from LAX to ORD and then pick up the Aer Lingus overnight flight to Dublin to arrive there on Friday morning. Jet lag and sleep should then occupy me for the next few days.