Exchange Connections - Calling all speakers

IT Connections takes place in Las Vegas, NV from October 1 to 4 (pre-conference workshops are scheduled on September 30). Exchange Connections is one of the sub-conferences and I am very happy to report that I am its conference chair, meaning that I get to have lots of fun working with speakers to create a compelling agenda full of high-quality sessions. Given the demise of "The Experts Conference (TEC)" following Dell's acquisition of Quest, Connections is the only major independent conference that covers topics like Exchange in depth. 

I have been involved in organizing many events in the past, but this is the first time that I am working on a public conference. The challenge is obvious – people have so much information available to them today via blogs, articles, and other information posted on the Internet (not to mention books and magazines) that the “old” reasons to attend conferences (to find out undocumented information, share best practice, and gain a better understanding of technology) seem to have eroded.

I don’t actually accept that this is the case. I think that a conference can be a great place to refresh your batteries by plunging into technology in a way that is impossible when you are in the office and coping with day-to-day operational tasks, especially when sessions are practical and focused on solving problems that occur in real-life deployments rather than bland overviews or marketing-hyped opportunities to drink deeply of a product’s Kool-Aid. The vitality and passion for information exhibited by good conferences allow much better understanding that any causal reading of TechNet or other web-based information, good as those sources undoubtly are. Because, at the end of the day, it all comes down to people – those who come to the conference and those who present.

The first task is to persuade the good and the great within the Exchange world to come and present. I’ve reached out to my MVP colleagues working with Exchange and Office 365 to invite them to submit sessions covering Exchange (on-premises and online), integration with SharePoint and Lync, and hybrid interoperability. Suggested topics include:

  • Exchange high availability
  • Exchange migration (to Exchange 2013, to Office 365)
  • Leveraging PowerShell for Exchange automation (cmdlet extension agent, reporting, automating common tasks, etc.)
  • Site mailboxes and modern public folders
  • Hybrid co-existence with Office 365
  • Compliance (eDiscovery, auditing, DLP, etc.)
  • Leveraging third-party products to solve problems (for instance, reporting, compliance, etc.)
  • Unified Messaging
  • Controlling ActiveSync devices
  • Public folder migration
  • Integrating Exchange and Lync
  • Client management (for example, how to avoid problems the next time iOS messes with ActiveSync)

I’ve received a great response from my colleagues and I anticipate that the MVPs will form the core of what should be a very strong speaker line-up at Exchange Connections.

Anyone can submit a session for consideration. MVPs are not the only source of wisdom when it comes to Exchange and related technology and we would love to have some new faces at the conference. In fact, if you aspire to become an MVP, presenting at a major conference is a very good way to prove your credentials to Microsoft when they assess you as a candidate.

If you would like to propose a session, please visit the session proposal page and provide:

  • An active session title that describes exactly what attendees will learn from your session. Something like “Avoiding common pitfalls in DAG management” (not that there are any pitfalls in DAGs, of course).
  • A one paragraph abstract that describes in detail what you will discuss during your session and the value the attendee will get out of attending that specific session
  • A biographical statement and headshot photo. (Clearly we’d like to know a little about your experience and background, but only the relevant details please!)

We need two session ideas from each speaker. I know that it can be hard to come up with a great idea for a second session (we all have one good session in us), but speakers need to deliver two sessions to make the conference economically viable and to allow us to pay you a $500 fee (per session) for cover some of the time that you’ll spend creating your material. In addition, your hotel stay will be paid and you’ll receive a conference pass to allow you to attend any session in IT Connections. All in all, it’s not a bad deal.

May 14 is the deadline for submissions and over 30 proposals have already been submitted covering Office 365, Exchange 2013, Exchange 2010, and Lync. I look forward to seeing session proposals flow in and to working with speakers to deliver a great conference in October.

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On-premises and cloud-based Microsoft Exchange Server and all the associated technology that runs alongside Microsoft's enterprise messaging server.

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Tony Redmond

Tony Redmond is a senior contributing editor for Windows IT Pro and the author of Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press) and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Inside Out: Mailbox...
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