There were a lot of interesting vendors at Connections. I was extremely surprised to see how many of them were slanted specifically towards email products — I’d always thought this show was mostly Windows with a dash of Exchange. Some highlights:
- Paul already blogged about Newsgator’s server-side offering, so I won’t belabor the point except to say that I was impressed too. What impressed me the most, though, was that the nice gentleman at the booth looked up my blog and found out that it was already added to their list of feeds. I promised them a shout-out in return.
- Jim McBee (who is a heck of a nice guy) reckons that Cemaphore Systems should be in the running for a Best of Show for their forthcoming MailShadow 2.0 utility. This system promises to do a great job of providing realtime per-mailbox replication and shadowing.
- My personal favorite product of the show comes from the fine folks at Zenprise. Their application provides real-time analysis and diagnosis of errors in your Exchange organziation, including DNS and Active Directory. It auto-discovers your servers, checks their configuration, monitors their error logs, and samples their PerfMon counters. When it detects one or more problems, it can figure out which ones are symptoms of the real root problems and triage the problems, allowing you to focus on the core issues to fix. It’ll even give you step-by-step instructions on how to solve a particular problem. It integrates with KB articles and allows you to maintain a local set of knowledge about past and current problems. Best of all, it includes an auto-update service to allow Zenprise to push out new and updated rules — so it stays on top of issues and problems caused by new updates, or even those seen by other Zenprise customers. I just wish they had a full version for Active Directory, SQL Server, and Sharepoint. Good job, guys — and hurry up!
- Remember my run-in with Sendmail, Inc. back in January? Well, they had a booth at the show. At first I was just going to grab my swag (they had some good offerings, see below) and move on, but then they asked me if there was something they could help me solve and I decided “Why not?” So I told them the story above. To their credit, they were not happy to hear my story — there was a visible wince when I said “and I blogged about it” — and have promised to help make it right.
- HP’s storage solution easily qualified as the “loudest display” of the show. A rack full of drives makes noise no matter how you slice it.
- There were several low-end iSCSI storage arrays. 1TB of iSCSI SAN for $5,000 doesn’t suck.
I’ve got a whole pile of data sheets and business cards to go through, so I expect to have some good blog fodder over the next few months as I get a chance to read about and play with the various offerings.
Best vendor swag:
- Zenprise’s USB hotplate/mug warmer. Why I’d use this I have no idea, but it’s silly in a cool way. Not as silly as the Fundue USB fondue pot, but still silly.
- Sendmail’s USB reading light. A small lamp (three white LEDs) on a flexible metal neck, perfect for lighting up your laptop keyboard on that red-eye flight or other dark environment.
More Connections updates later!
[Edit 08 Nov 2005: In the interests of openness, I should disclose that my boss Paul is a member of the advisory board for Zenprise. However, I did not know that when I reviewed the product on the show floor and took notes to blog about it; in fact, Paul and I had never discussed this product before.