Today is the last day of The Experts Conference 2010. It’s really been a great conference and everyone I’ve talked with agrees. The overall impression is that this is a very targeted and focused conference, drilling down on Exchange, Active Directory, and Sharepoint. Much like a condensed TechEd for these technologies. I would say that the AD group was the largest, followed by Sharepoint and Exchange. Still, being that this is only the second year that David Sengupta has formed the Exchange track, there were a lot of Exchange experts here and I expect that number to grow next year.
Attendees I spoke with mentioned that this conference allows a lot more interaction and face-time with the speakers and other legends in the industry. The general concensus is that this conference is perfect for those who are targeted to one of these three technologies. The pace is fast and the sessions are sufficiently deep – most are 300-400 level.
This morning started with a panel discussion “Ask the Experts”. Panelists included Konstantin Rykin, Ross Smith IV (who told us there is a Ross Smith V), and Michael B. Smith. The session was lead by Exchange MVP and Quest sponsor David Sangupta. This was an open forum session where attendees had the chance to ask any questions about Exchange or get clarification from something they learned earlier in the week. This was a very well attended session, despite the wild party hosted by Ensynch the night before.
Next up was an excellent deep dive session on Sire Resilience in Exchange Server 2010 by Scott Schnoll. Here, we learned about Exchange 2010 DAG fail over (or, more correctly, switch over) and the mechanics behind the administrative experience. Scott also explained proper DAG and file share witness architecture for successful swtich over and switch back. Finally, he covered changes in Exchange 2010 SP1 that will prevent split brain syndrome and the steps that are being taken to cause a successful fail over when a delayed read occurs on the disk subsystem.
Brett Shirley (Borg 1 of 7) did another deep dive for What’s New in ESE 2010. I’ve never heard so much technical content in a session outside Microsoft. Brett walked through the changes that were made to the Extensible Storage Engine for Exchange 2010 to improve reliability and performance. Granted, none of his sessions had any practical information we could use, but how often do you get to see Exchange source code and have it explained to you by Mr. Squeaky Lobster.
After lunch, I attended the last session of the conference, Experts Guide to Authentication, ACLs and Attributes by Exchange MVP Nic Blank. This session explained how Kerberos authentication works (and can get messed up) in Outlook, the value of proper SPN records in AD, and other troubleshooting examples.
I was very impressed with the depth and detail presented in The Experts Conference. If you can attend only one conference per year and your job function pertains to Exchange, Active Directory / Identity Management, or SharePoint, I strongly recommend this conference. The hotel venue was great, the staff was friendly and supportive, and the sessions were very focused.