New Year, New Training Opportunities for Exchange Server Admins

We're at the start of a new year, and that seems like an excellent opportunity to focus on education and training. In fact, I think it's always a good idea! January just gives an impression (almost certainly false) of a clean and open slate, ready to be filled with things I want to do, instead of things I have to do. So it's a good time for delving deeper into the world of Microsoft Exchange Server.

So, to get started, a couple days ago I attended a virtual conference, Exchange 2010 SP1: Under the Hood, which just so happened to be put on by Windows IT Pro. The main draw of the event, of course, was the three sessions on Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1. Brian Desmond offered a session on using the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) with the changes and additions from SP1, and a session on the ins and outs of high availability through database availability groups (DAGs). In between, Steve Bryant gave a detailed account of setting up and managing Personal Archives on Exchange 2010 SP1.

Now, if you missed the live event, the good news is that these sessions are still available for on-demand viewing. And they're free. Visit the Exchange 2010 SP1: Under the Hood website to get access. Windows IT Pro puts on many events such as this as well as web seminars and more elaborate in-person events—like the Master Class that Tony Redmond and Paul Robichaux taught in two cities last fall. Check the Events page on our website http://www.windowsitpro.com/Events.aspx to see what upcoming events might interest you.

Completing the virtual conference experience for Under the Hood, you could also interact live with representative from sponsors ENow, Iron Mountain, Neverfail, Sherpa Software, and Thawte, as well as download white papers, case studies, or other resources the vendors had to offer. You can still get the downloads in the Exhibition Hall section of the virtual conference, although the live interaction is no longer available.

As a second educational event, yesterday I went to a lunchtime seminar sponsored by storage vendor NetApp on the topic of "Advanced Storage Solutions for Exchange 2010." Most of the presentation, given by NetApp's Exchange specialist, Jennifer J. Edgell, focused on best practices and gotchas in setting up a highly available DAG environment. Edgell spoke from experience in many deployments of all different sizes—and was refreshingly candid in saying that a solution from NetApp might not be the best way to go if Exchange's own native failover could work fast enough in your environment. This free event also featured a complimentary lunch at an outstanding steakhouse—hard to beat!

Many vendors offer events such as this one; check the websites of vendors you like doing business with to see if anything is being hosted in a local city—and if not an in-person event, they probably have a web seminar or online demo they'd be happy to share with you. Will you get a sales pitch along with the presentation at these vendor-hosted events? Sure. But I have to say in the case of this NetApp event, the sales pitch was really muted—the value in the presentation alone made attending worthwhile. Not to mention that, yeah, I found out about some storage solutions that can work really nicely with Exchange's native architecture.

It might only be January, but it's not too early to look forward to spring and conference season. If you follow Tony Redmond's blog, you'll already know that he's doing a keynote address at the spring edition of Microsoft Exchange Connections, which is taking place March 27–30 in Orlando—and he's taking suggestions for what to talk about! It's been a couple years since there's been a spring Connections, or one in Orlando, so those of you who have been avoiding Las Vegas for the fall shows might have reason to get out and meet your peers in the Exchange community—and get tons of in-depth content on Exchange Server and related topics given by top experts in the field.

Finally, there are two new Connections conferences coming to Las Vegas in April, Mobile Connections and Cloud Connections. Somebody in your organization suddenly needs a mobile app developed? Or you're tired of fearing what happens if your company makes the decision to move messaging systems to the cloud and want to learn how to bolster your career in such an environment? Well, these shows are for you. Co-located with Virtualization Connections—meaning you can attend sessions from all three conferences for one registration fee—these events take place April 17–21 at the Bellagio.

Clearly there's a variety of learning events out there—some you can do from your desk, others that require travel; some you can attend for free, others that require budgeting. I hope you'll take the opportunity the new year brings and resolve to further your career through training and educational opportunities.

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