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It’s Good to Have the Microsoft Exchange Conference Back
Twenty-six years ago, I attended the Microsoft Exchange Deployment Conference in Austin, Texas. I brought copies of Microsoft Exchange Server: Planning, Design, and Implementation, the book I’d written about Exchange 4.0 (Figure 1).
The book had been put together quite quickly based on experience of the beta version of Exchange 4.0 and some exposure to the final version released to customers. The conference was a great chance to glean some extra knowledge about Exchange and fill the gaps in the book. I don’t pretend that the 4.0 book was perfect, a fact that the then Exchange product manager Elaine Sharpe expressed to me rather forcefully. Elaine and I made up and she wrote the foreword to my Exchange 5.0 book.
Presenting at MEC
A year later, I presented at the first Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC) in San Diego, California. Compared to other MEC events, I have no real memories of that conference, but it began a relationship with MEC that’s lasted 25 years. MEC 1998 in Boston evokes strong memories of competition with Lotus Notes and some wild parties. I presented a keynote at MEC 2000 in Dallas (Figure 2) when Windows 2000, Exchange 2000, and Active Directory were the new kids on the block. It was a blast to speak to 8,000 people, even if I couldn’t see past the front row.
After a hiatus caused by Microsoft marketing dictats and an unfortunate focus on TechEd, Microsoft brought MEC back in 2012. The early days of Office 365 meant that MEC 2012 featured many discussions about mailbox migrations to the cloud. Two years later, the last MEC (in Austin), brought Flat Tony to the scene. Microsoft asked me for copies of all the books I had written about Exchange Server for a display at the conference. Microsoft embellished the display with a cardboard cut-out figure created by placing a photo of my head on top of a body from someone in significantly better shape (Figure 3).
Flat Tony survived MEC and the Exchange development group then took the figure on tour through bars in Austin. Eventually, the figure reached Redmond and subsequently turned up at a couple of MVP summits before meeting its end in Greg Taylor’s wood. Good times!
Sessions at MEC 2022
This week, I will present two sessions at MEC 2022, now renamed the Microsoft Exchange Community Airlift. MECA is a horrible acronym, so MEC will do. My sessions are:
- An administrator’s guide to the Microsoft 365 substrate (September 13, 10AM Pacific).
- Master the Graph for Exchange PowerShell (September 14, 11AM Pacific).
All sessions are run as Teams meetings and recordings will be available on the MEC website afterward.
In-Person Events are Even Better
Happy as I am to present at MEC 2022, I will be even more pleased to travel to Atlanta to attend The Experts Conference (TEC) on September 20-21. There’s nothing quite like an in-person event to get the creative juices going. TEC is close to being sold out, but I think some tickets might still be available.
TEC is a small event that’s quite unlike the large-scale Microsoft events in terms of access to speakers and subject matter experts. It should be a fun gathering. In particular, I’m looking forward to hearing from Alex Weinert, who always reveals some solid data about the current security landscape. His session at the RSA 2020 conference captured the reasons why basic authentication is so bad for email connection protocols. Speaking of which, Greg Taylor will be at TEC to tell people about the progress Microsoft is making in turning off basic authentication for Exchange Online. That should be a fun session. Meantime, I’ll talk about the challenge of mastering the many technologies that make up Microsoft 365. I might not have a perfect answer, but I have some views on the topic.
It seems like conferences are returning to some level of normality, which is nice. After MEC and TEC, the next conference on my list is the European SharePoint, Office 365, and Azure Conference in Copenhagen (November 28-December 1) where I’ll discuss how to manage Teams for success. At least, that’s what the session title says.
I plan not to attend Microsoft Ignite. I can’t get excited about an event that’s succumbed to the same marketing disease that afflicted TechEd. At least MEC allows independent experts to give their view about Microsoft technology, something that’s become much more difficult to do at Ignite because of the lack of speaking opportunities Microsoft makes available to non-Microsoft speakers. While Ignite remains on its current course, it’s just not attractive to me. But at least I have MEC and TEC to look forward to. Rumors exist that MEC 2023 will be an in-person event. That’s something even more pleasant to contemplate.
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