I’ve been attending Connections events for years, mostly since the demise of the late lamented Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC). While MEC was an official Microsoft conference and so benefited from the Microsoft marketing muscle and access to engineers and program managers, it eventually foundered on the twin rocks of a competing TechEd and event and a lack of funding, not to mention the lack of support given by engineering groups for non-U.S. events.
In any case, Connections has provided an interesting meeting place for the Exchange community since the demise of MEC. While mostly still a U.S.-centric event (I believe that conferences will be announced for Germany and the U.K. to run sometime in summer 2011), the numbers of people who attend Connections has gradually grown over the years. Many people regard Connections as a place to go to feel the pulse of the Exchange community as well as having the chance to meet folks with high reputations in the field such as Paul Robichaux, Jim McBee, Michael B. Smith, Mark Minasi, Kevin Laahs, and Kieran McCorry. Note that I don’t say how these reputations were earned – that topic is worth a separate session at Connections.
I am signed up to do a keynote at Spring Connections 2011 in Orlando, FL. I’ve done a reasonable number of keynote talks at conferences over the years so getting up and talking won’t be a problem. The real challenge is determining content that will be of interest to the thousand or so people who typically come to a keynote. Sometimes Microsoft makes the problem go away by releasing a new version of Exchange – everyone is interested in listening to an assessment of what’s good and what’s not so good in a new version.
If a new version isn’t on the horizon, the sessions tend to be more commentary in nature. A review of best practice is usually well accepted as are sessions that offer solid frameworks for deployment, implementation, and support. Because the session is a keynote, the content has to stay at a reasonably high level – the conference sessions do a great job of diving into the weeds and providing the detailed tips and techniques that attendees need to get their job done.
Seeing that we are in the fallow period between releases of Exchange (Exchange 2010 SP1 contains a lot of new stuff, but it’s not a major release), I think that it’s time for a session that focuses on the major roadblocks that companies face as they plan for Exchange 2010. I’ve done some thinking about this and have concluded that there are six major areas that almost every company encounters:
- What considerations need to be taken into account when a migration to Exchange 2010 is considered?
- What clients should I use?
- Does the DAG really deliver high availability for Exchange?
- What new hardware do I need?
- What’s the impact on third-party software? (a lot of people are concerned about their investment in third-party archiving or compliance software)
- Should I factor Office 365 into the equation?
Of course, every company will have one or more topics that are specific to their own circumstances and need to be dealt with before a migration to Exchange 2010 is possible. But you can’t cover every single question that might arise in sixty minutes or thereabouts so the list presented above seems to cover a wide audience (based on what I am hearing).
I’m curious as to what people would include in the list or what they’d like to hear discussed. The floor is yours…