Hello TechEd NA!

Today I landed in *rainy* Orlando to attend my 9th Microsoft TechEd.  I know it’s my 9th because this year marks the 20th anniversary of the conference and alumni were given a button to write in how many years they’ve attended.

I couldn’t remember the exact number I’d been to offhand, so since I had to look it up, I’ll list them out here for those of you who’ve been attending along with me.  Perhaps we should have a 9-year veteran meetup!

2012 – Orlando, FL
2011 – Atlanta, GA
2010 – New Orleans, LA
2009 – Los Angeles, CA
2008 – Orlando, FL
2007 – Orlando, FL
2006 – Boston, MA
2005 – Orlando, FL
2004 – San Diego, CA

I have to say that my favorite locations so far have been San Diego, Boston and New Orleans. 

Finally, here a two quick tips for those of you who are first timers. 

1) If you feel like you must leave a sesson, don’t try to race to another one in the same time slot.  Either network down on the event floor or in the community areas, or stick with your first pick and find that one nugget of good info to take away.
2) Do not try to attend a session in every available slot of every day.  You will burn out by Wednesday and I will recognize you in the lunch line by the information that is suddenly dripping out of your ears.

TechEd 2011… Come and Gone!

Time sure flies when you spend nearly a week in conference-land!  I had a great time at TechEd in Atlanta this year, I spent a lot of time catching up with other Microsoft MVPs, staff and favorite vendors as well as making some new friends.  I also had a great time talking to other attendees about Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) during my session and in the Technical Learning Center during the week.

I didn’t catch as many sessions as I hoped to this year, but you and I can check out the recorded sessions at MSDN’s Channel 9.  I caught some sessions on Exchange 2010, but missed one on transitioning to Exchange 2010 because the room filled right before I arrived!  That will be on my to-do list when I return to the office next week for sure.

Next year, TechEd returns to Orlando in June.  Bring your walking shoes, as always.

TechEd 2011… Here I Come!

Are you gearing up for TechEd 2011 in Altanta, GA?  If so, I hope to see you around!

This year, I’m not only looking forward to attending some of the sessions and events, but I’ll also be presenting on MDOP.  If you want to check out some the tools in the MDOP and see some demos, be sure to add “WCL311: Solving Common IT Pro Pain Points with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack” to you schedule.

Other things on my schedule this year are spending some time working the MDOP booth in the TLC area, hitting several of the Exchange 2010 sessions and enjoying the “Women in Technology” luncheon.

I’ll miss out on the Attendee party this year, but I expect it will be a great way to unwind after a packed 4 days of learning and networking.

Surviving TechEd

TechEd 2011 is drawing near, so I thought I’d share my personal list of “Rules to Survive TechEd”. Perhaps they will help you this year in Atlanta or at another multi-day conference you might have coming up.
  1. Register Early; Your Hotel is Key – Unless you have some special requirement or reason to stay at a particular hotel, you should register as early as possible so that you can pick a hotel within what you would consider walking distance to the conference center. I hate being at the mercy of the shuttles every morning.
  2. Prepare to Walk a Mile in Your Shoes – Most conference centers are large sprawling venues, last year TechEd spanned over a mile within the New Orleans Conference Center. Wear comfortable shoes and expect to get some exercise.
  3. Food and Beverage – Conference fare varies from year to year and location to location and it’s not always the highlight of the event. While some previous TechEds provided a hot breakfast and lunch, that’s not always the case. Also, depending on the contract of the venue, you may not find the soda brand of your choice provided. So you might have to make other arrangements or be flexible. The reality is that no matter what food is provided, not everyone is going to be happy.
  4. Know Where You’d Like To Be (but don’t expect to be everywhere) – Every year I as I work on building my schedule, I find that I want to be in several sessions at the same time or attend a session in every possible time slot. With over two dozen learning opportunities during the course of TechEd, my brain is simply on track to seize up and crash if I don’t pace myself. Take advantage of the content that will be posted online post-conference and skip a session or two. It’s amazing what a little down-time can do for you.
  5. Don’t Jump Sessions – It’s annoying when you have multiple sessions to choose from in one time slot and the one you decide on is a dud. However, don’t try to run over to your next pick. By the time you walk to the session, you’ll have missed a good portion of it and will likely not get as much out of it as you’d hope. Either stick with your first pick (since you’ll likely find at least one “jewel” to take away from it) or bail and take that time to hit a TLC or community lounge area – you might find an answer to a burning question there instead.
  6. How Much Swag Do You REALLY Need? – Seriously, a dozen vendor T-shirts? That flying pig? Another plastic thingamabob that glows green? I managed to get to the conference with only carry-on bags and I like to save those checked baggage fees for something other than branded pens and blinking buttons. Until vendors start bringing a stash of shirts smaller than an XL, I’ll keep swag collection to a minimum.  I prefer taking away new ideas for implementing technologies in my work or making new contacts for future conversations.
I’m looking forward to another great conference full of networking and learning opportunities.  If you don’t pass me tearing from end to end between sessions, look for me at the MDOP booth in the TLC.

Get What You Need from TechEd 2011

If you are planning on attending TechEd 2011 in Atlanta this May, don’t wait until the schedule is set to wonder if there will be sessions that strike your fancy.  Take a few minutes to weigh in with the Session Preference Survey.
I’ve attended TechEd for several years now and really enjoy the sessions and opportunities to connect with other systems administrators. It’s great to hear about other people’s experiences with Microsoft technologies and software. Sometimes there is so much information, I have trouble keeping up with the events schedule!

Can’t decide if you want to go or need to convince your boss?  Check out the rest of the TechEd website for what to expect and some resources for making your case.   Maybe I’ll see you there!

My TechEd Session Wish List

Had a great time at TechEd this year, do not get me wrong. But like all the other conferences of the past, there is often too much good stuff to get it all in.
This year, just about all the breakout sessions are available online. While some may think this reduces the value of actually attending the conference, I disagree. The more intimate sessions, like Birds-of-a-Feather and the “Interactive” style sessions were not recorded. So when I could, I attended those sessions over the traditional breakouts, chatted with Microsoft experts in the TLC areas, or spent time networking with others in the Expo and Community Lounge.
If I could have tailored TechEd to fit my schedule and I had more than 4 days, here are the sessions I would have attended. I did get to a few of them during the conference, they are marked with a (*). Since it will probably take me a while to view all the ones I missed, if you caught one of these and it’s especially good or bad, comment and let me know!
Management Track
MGT314* – Technical Introduction to Microsoft System Center Essentials 2010
Office & SharePoint
OSP314* – Microsoft Outlook and Exchange 2010: Better Together Overview
OSP208 – Microsoft Office 2010 for IT Professionals
OSP203 – (SharePoint) Designing Governance: How Information Management and Security Must Drive Your Design
Security, Identity & Access
SIA333 – Useful Hacker Techniques: Which Part of Hackers’ Knowledge Will Help You in Efficient IT Administration?
SIA230 – Why Security Fixes Won’t Fix Your Security
SIA306 – Night of the Living Directory: Understanding Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory Recycle Bin, Undeletion and Reanimation
Unified Communications
UNC303* – Upgrading from Microsoft Exchange Server 2003/2007 to Exchange Server 2010: Tips, Tricks and Lessons Learned
UNC307* – What’s New in Archiving, Retention, and Discovery in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1
UNC201 – Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1: An Overview of What’s Coming
UNC306 – Going Big! Deploying Large Mailboxes with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 without Breaking the Bank
UNC203 – What’s New in OWA, Mobility, and Calendaring in Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1
UNC301 – Microsoft Exchange Server 2010: Sizing and Performance – Get It Right the First Time

Virtualization

VIR310 – Networking and Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V: Deployment Considerations
VIR403 – Virtualization FAQ, Tips and Tricks
VIR316 – Remote Desktop Session Host vs. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Smackdown
Windows Client
WCL304 – Best Practices Guide to Managing Applications
WCL205 – Windows 7 Deployment Tips from Early Adopters
Windows Server
WSV208* – Best Practices in Architecting and Implementing Windows Server Update Services (WSUS)
WSV333 – DNSSEC and Windows: Get Ready, ‘Cause Here It Comes!
WSV201 – 10 Hot Topics Every IT Admin Needs to Know about Windows Server 2008 R2
WSV303 – Death of a Network: Identify the Hidden Causes of Lousy Network Performance
WSV301 – Administrators’ Idol: Windows and Active Directory Best Practices
WSV307 – Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

Developer Tools, Languages & Frameworks DEV211 – Microsoft Professional, Master and Architect Level Certifications: Notes from Those Who Have Conquered and Lived to Tell the Tale

Notes from TechEd

Hope all the TechEd attendees have been enjoying themselves – I know I’ve been busy racing from one end of the conference center to the other. Turns out that the conference center is about 1.5 miles long and TechEd is spread throughout a mile of it. And it never fails, the next place I have to be is always the furthest point from where I am the moment before.
So far, I’ve been concentrating on sessions around Exchange 2010, so look for some Exchange and Outlook related posts as soon as I get a little bit more time to get everything I’ve been learning straight in my head.
This morning I’m starting out with a session on some technology that’s pretty critical to most systems administration – WSUS. I know it’s time for me to review and potentially adjust how we monitor and update computers in the office and I’m hoping this WSUS session will help move those tasks higher up on my project list.

Check out the IT Grand Prix to TechEd

Start Your Engines! The IT Grand Prix is coming!
Four teams of Microsoft Certified Professionals are revving their engines! From June 1 through June 4, 2010, they’ll race from Washington D.C. to TechEd 2010 in New Orleans, where the winning team will award a $10,000 check to the charity of their choice.
Along the way, they’ll overcome challenges and help local non-profits. But they need your help: pick your favorite team, join their virtual Pit Crew, and help them meet the challenges they’ll face during the race by solving on-line challenges to earn points for your team. It’s your opportunity to help four great causes in a way that only MCPs can.

Register for an online Pit Crew today – I’m on the Red Team, but all four teams are racing for some great causes!

On the Tech Radar: Upcoming Events

Looking for some technology events for your calendar in the upcoming months? Here are a few that you might want to check out.
Start out April with the regular Pacific IT Professionals meeting on April 6th. Hear from Neustar about their Webmetrics and UltraDNS solutions. Also, PacITPros will also be having a special TechDays event on Computer Forensics on April 12th. Sign up soon to secure your spot!
A one day Windows Intelligence event is being held in Burlingame on April 26th, hosted by QuickStart Intelligence and Microsoft. Technical tracks include Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 and Virtualization, Exchange and Office.
On June 10th, the Microsoft and Citrix will team up and come to San Francisco to talk about desktop virtualization. Other cities and dates are on the schedule from now through June as part of the 2010 Virtualization Summit.
Finally, don’t forget some of the multi-day events, which are always a lot of fun – the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas (April 19-23) and TechEd in New Orleans in June.