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Here we go again

June 9, 2008 Comments off

TechEd 2008 is this week, and once again I’ve been able to talk the powers that be into letting me attend.  Really looking forward to it, even though it’s in Orlando again where it’s in mid-90’s for heat and humidity.  Thank goodness all this stuff is inside!

First up is a full day demos on Windows Server 2008.  Tomorrow we get a keynote from Bob Muglia, MSFT VP of Server and Tools Business Unit (Bob was actually on my flight from Seattle).  Then it’s non-stop breakout sessions, labs, community group meetings, etc.

I’m a total geek – and I’m in heaven!

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Great view!

June 16, 2007 Comments off

When I was still at TechEd in Orlando last Friday I had the opportunity to see the Space Shuttle lift off.  Some of the guys from my office skipped a few sessions on the last day of the conference to head out to the cost for a good view.  I didn’t, but I still got to see the show from about 45 miles away.

IT WAS AMAZING.  Definitely something burned into my memory for the ages.  We saw the craft from shortly after liftoff,  through booster separation, and until the then-tiny spec of light disappeared.  It was so awesome to actually see the rope of fire coming from the engines.

Here are a couple of pictures courtesy of folks who posted pictures to Flickr that are pretty close to what we saw.  Click on each picture to link to the original up at Flickr.

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I was probably standing about 50 feet from where this photo was taken, so this is the best example of what we saw during liftoff.  This picture was taken after the solid rocket boosters burnt out as the contrail just dies out.
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 Later in the evening the contrail morphed into an amazing display.
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A couple numbers

June 8, 2007 Comments off

13,000 – number of attendees, vendors, etc. at TechEd 2007

22 – number of acres the main show floor is, all under 1 roof.  This does not include the breakout rooms in the north/south wings attached to the main floor area.

Categories: Microsoft, TechEd

TechEd day 4

June 7, 2007 Comments off

One more day down – one more to go.  It was a pretty good day in all.  The biggest thing for me was that I won a Microsoft Zune from the Microsoft TechNet Webcasts/Podcasts group.  And because I was actually standing at the booth when my name was drawn (multi-day drawing from everyone who registered at their station) I got two bonus prizes: a Zune Home Kit to dock the device and hook it up to my home stereo, and a Zune Car Kit (car charger and FM transmitter).  YAY ME! 

I’m loading the device right now, so I’ll let you know what I think later.  30GB should hold all the music I have on my laptop right now, which is most of our library.  I’ll have to put some videos on there to watch on the plane!

I also attended a session presented by Laura Chappell entitled “The Network is Slow”: Identifying the Cause of Slow Network Communications.  Check out Laura’s site at www.wiresharku.com.  Laura is fun and engaging, and if you ever have a chance to see her.  She teaches about analyzing network traffic in a way that my wife would understand.  Great session!

Other sessions today included three sessions on Exchange Server 2007.  The first was on storage design, and the presenter was not very good.  He had the wrong room number so was late getting going, and was very flustered … he never really settled in.

The third session of the day was on high availability on Exchange 2007 and E2K7 SP1.  LOTS of new information about features and enhancements coming with SP1, and demos of a number of HA scenarios.  The audience was really into the session and there was a lot of applause.  SP1 features a new feature called Standby Cluster Replication.

SCR can work ON TOP of CCR or LCR or a regular stand-alone server to ship logs to a third server and have the content replayed there. The SRC replica DOES NOT use Windows Cluster Service, so there are no dependencies on network subnets, etc. The activation of the other server is manual and you’ll need to rehome mailboxes to the other server name, but you can pre-script that re-homing with PowerShell and just have someone run it when the big rock falls from the sky. This gives you SITE RESILIANCE from Exchange without a nasty cluster configuration that’s geographically stretched. WOOHOO!!!

The fourth session was also about Exchange 2007 disaster recovery scenarios, and how to leverage all the different design options based on your business needs and requirements.  Sounds bland, but it was another great session.

The day finished off with a trip over to Universal Studios Orlando to, as it turns out, get rained on, have a decent chicken and ribs dinner, and then walk around with the thousands of other TechEd attendees.  Myself and a couple other guys from Ascentium didn’t stick around – not our cup of tea to wait in long lines for stuff.  I’m VERY glad my family didn’t come out to go to this with me … they wanted $109 for 4 hours in the park (with open bar and free food).  No way was it worth the $$.

Tomorrow is the last day.  I’ve really enjoyed this trip, but I miss my family.  It will be good to head home on Saturday.

TechEd day 3

June 6, 2007 Comments off

OK – I was officially out way too late last night.  I was dragging today.  Blah.  At least I made it to breakfast at the convention hall though.

Session 1: PowerShell Scripting for Exchange 2007.  WOW!  I’m actually pretty excited about how much you can do from a command line to manage Exchange 2007.  The ability to make mass modifications in a scripted fashion will revolutionize how IT pros manage Exchange.  A month ago it took a coworker the better portion of a day to go through hundreds our user accounts and remove an email address for a specific domain from all but a handful.  Could have been done in a couple minutes with PowerShell.

Session 2: Top 10 Enhancements in Windows Server 2008 Failover Clustering.  Sounds sexy, doesn’t it?  I thought it was a great session.  They’re continuing to improve on a critical enterprise component of the server platform.  I’m most happy to see them completely overhaul the management interface.  HURRAY!

Session 3: Microsoft Forefront Security for Exchange.  Seems like they’ve done a good job upgrading the Antigen product.  I look forward to running this in our environment, especially since CA doesn’t feel like supporting Exchange 2007.

After that?  I skipped the late afternoon session (I can get the info online) and the evening session (nothing I wanted to go to anyway) and went back to the hotel to sleep.  I feel SO much better now.

I was hoping to walk across the parkway to Disney Downtown Marketplace and get a good dinner and do some gift shopping.  Unfortunately the weather decided to break the Florida drought with a long train of thunderstorms and downpours.  So I slept some more.  Another night of bland hotel food.

Better luck tomorrow … or Friday.

TechEd day 2

June 5, 2007 Comments off

Day two was another long slog through the world of technology.  I didn’t sleep well last night so I got a bit of a late start and missed breakfast.  BUMMER!  Needless to say I didn’t have much energy for the day.

The first session I went to, though, was great.  It was an overview of the new version of Office Commuications Server 2007, which is essential corporate instant messaging, presence, and voice/video.  SWEET!  Very excited about this product and how companies can leverage it to collaborate across multiple sites.

I then hung around the Technical Learning Center area where all the Microsoft product teams have stations.  I scoped out some more info on Exchange 2007, OCS 2007, and some of the components in Windows Server 2008.  I really like the “Server Core” concept that allows you to deploy a small footprint OS and only turn on the services you want (IIS, DHCP, DNS, DFS, AD, etc.).  This will be quite handy for virtual machines and remote office boxes.  I asked if they saw this as a code base for Windows Server appliances, and got a resounding yes.  Cool.

I also sat in on a session about what’s new in Windows Mobile 6 and a showcase of a number of different device formats.  I’m still not impressed.  They’re sluggish and just not clean when it comes down to the UI and responsiveness.  Blackberry still has the market beat.

Speaking of Blackberry I stopped by their booth in the Partner Expo.  The new “Curve” device has launched!  It’s perfect!  Hopefully I can score one while I’m here.  If not I’ll get one before too long.

After a quick lunch and a trip to the wrong end of the convention center (this place is HUGE) I sat in another Exchange 2007 session, this time on migration and co-existence between 2003 and 2007.  Gleaned a few tidbits, but I don’t really like the presentation style of the guy doing these core Exchange sessions.  Oh well.

I sat in on Steve Riley’s lecture on “Making the Security Tradeoff: Be Secure or Get Work Done.”  What an amazing session.  Quite eye-opening on how to make wise and sane security policy decisions (don’t say no just for the sake of saying no – something I’ve long believed) and how to communicate with business leaders about security topics in ways that make sense to them ($$$).  Pretty cool stuff

I then went to a crappy session on Microsoft’s Virtual Machine Manager (you need to read more than the slides buddy!).  Didn’t get much out of this one at all.

Later in the evening, after a jaunt back to the hotel for dinner, I sat in on a “Birds of a Feather” session entitled “The Physical Datacenter in a Virtual World.”  This was a great discussion of how virtualization is impacting datacenter architecture design at all levels, from power/cooling to networking to load balancing to high availability to backups and recovery.  Awesome session.

I capped off the night with a trip over to Universal Studios City Walk area where a couple TechEd sponsors had rented a club for the evening (last night too).  Had a couple beers with a coworker from Portland and critiqued the musicians (who were all conference attendees who hopped up on stage and played).  It was …. loud.  That’s all I’ll commit too publically.  🙂

Okay – I need to get up in 5.5 hours.  Oye vay.

Will have to get some gift shopping in tomorrow for my daughter and her best friend, who just got a new baby sister this evening!  Congrats to B & C, and little R!  Welcome Melissa!

TechEd day 1

June 5, 2007 Comments off

What a long day.  My body is totally confused as to what time it is since I’ve had 6 hours of time change in 4 days (Maui is 3 hours later than Seattle in the summer, and Orlando is 3 hours earlier than Seattle).

My first major conference keynote was … unimpressive.  I really didn’t learn anything and there were no major announcements.  I guess that’s why neither BillG or SteveB were here.  They had Christopher Lloyd in to reenact his role as Doc from the Back to the Future movies.  He and Bob Muglia even arrived on stage after the opening movie in the DeLorean from the movies.  Cool!  But the humor was forced and not too funny.

The theme of the opening was to not delivery visionary speak because nobody believes it anymore.  Microsoft took a few shots at themselves parodying earlier efforts around online authentication and business process methodologies that never went anywhere.

As for the meat of the 90+ minute presentation?  It left me hungry.  Still no commitment to get Hypervisor (kernel-level virtualization in Windows Server 2008) out any sooner than 6 months after Windows Server 2008 goes RTM.  And that RTM is still only talked about in generic terms as “late this year”.  I figure Hypervisor won’t be around until TechEd next year.  I’ll have to return!  🙂

I attended sessions on Microsoft’s virtualization strategy and Exchange 2007.  The former was a bit more high level than I was hoping … and the others in attendance seemed equally put off.  The Q&A session got a bit nasty around frustrations with licensing.  But I learned a few things that should help out in the future.

The Exchange 2007 session was about planning for deployment.  Honestly I knew most of what was presented because I’ve been keeping up with the Exchange Team Blog.  Nice to feel well informed!  I’m still not sure how I want to deploy E2K7 in our environment at Ascentium as we have a few options as to the mailbox server architecture and how to best position ourselves for the future (one datacenter site now with a second in the future).  I’ll have to corner someone on the expo floor.

The best session of the day was Steve Riley’s discussion about security in the datacenter of the future.  His main point is that these days it makes sense to treat every client access mechanism as unsecure and to focus on protecting your data, not your network or devices.  Pretty cool ideas expressed here that I’ll have to follow up on at some point.  Steve’s perhaps my favorite tech presenter and I’m going to both of his other topics this week too.  I can’t wait to explore these ideas further.

I also got a chance to hammer someone from the Windows Mobile group about my issues over the years with their platform that never seem to get fixed.  I was polite (I have witnesses) but in the end the rep (a marketing guy) had to admit that I have valid grievances.  I’m not crazy … hurray!

I did some other stuff too, but since it’s taken over 24 hours to get this post from draft to finished, I think I’ll stop here.  🙂