Another Exchange Connections event has come and gone. As nice as the venues are, I really wish the spring Connections events weren’t in Orlando — the town itself is spread out, limiting how easy it is to get out of the event venue for a couple of hours and go do anything on your down time. I was lucky enough to get direct flights to and from Orlando, thus limiting the amount of horsing around I had to do in airports, but the flights are correspondingly longer. consequently, even though I managed to snag an aisle seat in an exit row on my flight back (with no one in the center seat), I awoke today with a killer migraine, a lovely parting gift from seat 15C.
The other thing I lucked out on this year was getting to do all of my sessions on the same day. That may sound like a lot of work — and it is — but there’s a large amount of mental energy I have to invest in getting ready to go up on stage and present, so only having to do that workup once (and sustain it for the day) actually ends up being easier on me. Here are the slide decks for my presentations, along with comments:
- EXC16: DCAR with Exchange
I received an interesting comment from several of the attendees at this session, which was that they were not originally going to come to this session because the acronym DCAR meant nothing to them. I know that few people in this industry use it other than Paul and I, so I need to see what I can do about that.
Key take-away from this session: as far as Exchange 2007 comes with out-of-the-box functionality aimed at discovery, compliance, archival, and retention, you still need third-party software to do a proper job of it — and you need to consider these activities all as facets of the single larger task of messaging data management. Thing I learned from this session: my job gives me the luxury of examining these types of tasks and looking for the bigger picture, but the people who work to keep production environments running don’t often have the time. I need to not be afraid of talking about things I think are “obvious,” because they may be coming from a new perspective some of my attendees don’t get the chance to share. In return, they share their experience and perspective with me, which helps me better fine-tune my message for others.
- EXC17: 10 Tips to Make Your Exchange Server a Good Net Neighbor
This was a nice small session, the perfect wrap-up for the day, although I wonder if attendance was hurt slightly by the fact that it was the last session of the day. Nevertheless, I think there were some good questions and discussions, and I’ve definitely got some ideas for future blog posts (and possibly magazine articles).
Key take-away from this session: you can significantly enhance the reputation your domains gather by thinking about how your Exchange organization interacts with the rest of the Internet and making some appropriate changes.
Thing I learned from this session: so much of our understanding of email best practices in the end comes back to a fundamental understanding of proper DNS theory and operation — a subject that far too many admins do not have adequate grounding in. Especially in the Windows community, DNS tends to get treated as a black box, and someone who learns how Active Directory integrates with DNS may not learn that some of the assumptions AD makes about DNS are only valid in the context of an AD domain.
- EXC18: Iron Chef: Using Powershell with Exchange 2003
Definitely the one that took the vast majority of my mental prep time; I hadn’t realized when I proposed this session what a challenge it would be. On the other hand, I’m glad I did it, and I’ll be breaking it down into a series of detailed blog posts in the coming weeks.
Key take-away from this session: cmdlets make things so much simpler, but once you’ve got your data in a PowerShell object you can still do some amazing stuff in a very small amount of script.
Thing I learned from this session: logistics are everything in the success of a presentation; the problems I had with my demos came not from the scripts, which I was re-writing until an hour before the session, but from my last-minute decision to run the slides off the provided machine and run the demo scripting off my laptop. As a result, my practice run (which involved switching in and out of an RDP session) was useless and the attendees kept having to remind me to switch the screen to the right machine. I’m just glad they seemed to take it in good humor.