Update for the UC Roundtable at TechEd Orlando

I’m very happy to announce that I’m joining forces again this year with the Microsoft Certified Master: Exchange Program and F5 for the 5th Annual UC Roundtable!

 This is a great opportunity to meet and greet the Exchange MCMs and the Microsoft Exchange Product Group at Micosoft TechEd in Orlando.  Appetizers and drinks will be served, compliments of our friends at F5!

Bring your Exchange and Lync questions for a fun evening of discussions around both products.  MCM Program Manager David Bjurman-Birr will be there to answer questions about the MCM:Exchange program, as will others, like me, who have gone through the program.
Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com.  Formal registration details will be be going out soon to those who RSVP to me.
The location is not announced yet, but the date and time if the event will be
Wednesday, June 13, 2012.  6:00-8:00PM
RSVP now and mark your calendars!

Fifth Annual UC Roundtable at TechEd 2012 in Orlando

I’m pleased to announce the Fifth Annual UC Roundtable at Microsoft TechEd North America 2012 in Orlando, FL!

The purpose of the UC Roundtable is to gather Exchange and Lync MCMs, MVPs, product group members, admins, architects, and experts for a free-flowing discussion about issues, questions, and experiences related to Exchange and Lync Server.  If you work with Exchange or Lync you need to be here!

This will be an after hours event near the Orange County Conference Center.  Location details and dates are in the works.  And for those of you who attended the Fourth Annual UC Roundtable, I promise it won’t be here.  🙂

Please RSVP to jeff@expta.com for event details and location.  I hope you can make it!

4th Annual UC Roundtable

The 4th Annual UC Roundtable was a great success!  About 40 TechEd attendees who RSVP’d joined me, the Exchange Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) team, F5 Networks and the Exchange product group for an entertaining evening at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta.

F5 sponsored the event and provided a carving station, macaroni and cheese martinis (which were awesome), and a full bar.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  Thank you very much, F5 Networks!

At the Roundtable I was able to let everyone know that F5 is about to release there BIG-IP Local Traffic Manager (LTM) Virtual Edition (VE) for Hyper-V!  It’s in RC now and should RTM in about two weeks.  BIG-IP LTM VE allows you to virtualize your load balancers using the same highly configurable and scalable application found on on the BIG-IP applicance.  I highly recommend that you check out the free 90-day trial download when it’s available.  They already have a BIG-IP LTM VE for VMware avaialble.  It’s great to use for your Exchange or Lync test lab.

Among the attendees were three gentlemen from the University of Illinois, who are in the middle of a 30,000+ Exchange 2010 migration and Lync deployment.  They are going to replace over 34,000 copper phones with Lync soft phones and centralize their Exchange deployment.  Interestingly, they are using the same Exchange storage model that Microsoft uses internally — JBOD for database/log storage (70% DB / 30% Logs on 2TB SATA drives) running on Dell 610 and 710 servers.  They will be consolidating 30+ mailbox servers down to nine, including lagged databases.  Cool stuff!

Being a larger number of people this year, we broke up into smaller groups where we shared war stories, questions, and laughs.  It was good to see the MCMs and Exchange team mingle and interact with everyone.  That was a lot of talent and experience in one location!

Great conversations at the UC Roundtable

Michael Bender, Aubrey Moren, and Chris Haaker

Lars Eber, Scott Feltmann, Scott Ladewig, Claudia Perez, Sandip Vashi, David Carr, and myself

Me with the guys from the University of Illinois – Devin Gengelbach, Brent Tuggle, and Kevin Bird

Our hosts – The F5 Team!

Me and David Bjurman-Birr, head of the Exchange MCM Program

Next year TechEd will be in Orlando, FL on June 11-14, 2012.  I hope you can make it!

The (not really) UC Roundtable Pre-Con Event

“Join us now as we tumble down the rabbit hole and into a strange world in which sound and inner-vision is mutable and language is communicated in pure form.”

First, let me begin this story by saying that I will never have a career in event scheduling.  I’d love to blame this on my iPhone or third-party mobile device, but I can’t.  It was an amazing combination of coincidence and miscommunication.

As background, I am holding my 4th Annual UC Roundtable event this year at TechEd.  This is usually an informal get-together with Exchange and Lync Server IT Pros held at a local bar or other social location offsite.  This year, the Exchange Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) team asked if we could join forces with F5 Networks to bring all these groups together, along with the Exchange product team.  This event was scheduled for Wednesday from 6:00-8:00pm.

Through a tragic set of events, I was told Tuesday at 4:30pm that the event was happening THAT DAY, not Wednesday.  I couldn’t believe it, and asked repeatedly, “You’re kidding, right?!?”  I had to notify 38 people that the event was happening in 90 minutes.  Even so, almost everyone confirmed that they could make it, even on this short notice.  Thanks, folks!

When I arrived at the hotel where the event was being held, I found that the room was clearly not ready.  I checked with the catering manager who told me that the room was indeed booked for Wednesday, as I originally planned.  Now I’ve got 36 people and the Exchange product team showing up with no place to go.  The bar in the hotel couldn’t accomodate that many people in any sort of format that would work.

I got ahold of David Bjurman-Birr, the head of the Exchange MCM group, who happens to be staying at the hotel and told him what was happening.  He offered to have everyone come up to his suite for drinks.  I had no other alternative, so we did — all 50 or so of us.  Needless to say, it was more of a frat party than anything else.  David and Melissa were totally gracious and acted like this is nothing new, fixing hors d’oeuvres and drinks for everyone.  It was quite the spectacle.

Everyone still plans to attend the real UC Roundtable tomorrow evening.  I hope.