Top 5 Things I'm Looking Forward to at Exchange Connections

Next week, I'll be at the Exchange Connections conference in Las Vegas. As you might know, Connections is actually a series of co-located shows, so if you sign up for Exchange, you can also attend sessions from Windows Connections, SharePoint Connections, SQL Server Connections, and many other tracks. It's a gathering of IT pros and developers spanning many disciplines.

With such a full schedule, it's hard to know which events and which sessions to focus your time on. I can't necessarily answer that questions for you, but I can let you know a few of the things I'm most looking forward to. So here's my list of the top 5:

1. Monday's opening keynote on Windows Phone 7—Joe Belfiore, Microsoft corporate vice president and director of Windows Phone program management, will be on hand to open the show and talk about Windows Phone 7. We'll still be a week away from the new smartphone platform's availability in the US, but certainly excitement—and expectations—are high for this one. Can't wait to see what Belfiore has to say.

2. Getting to meet Paul Robichaux in person—I've worked with Paul now for well over 4 years. We communicate just about weekly on email; have had numerous phone conversations; and more recently have added Twitter and Facebook interaction to the mix. But in all that time, we've never managed to be in the same place at the same time: Next week, that changes. Look out. Naturally, I look forward to seeing our other authors and Exchange experts, as well.

3. Session on Cloud-Proofing Your Career—Paul Robichaux and Jim McBee will be presenting a session Thursday afternoon entitled "Making Good IT Business Decisions while Cloud Proofing Your Career." Most IT pros tend to resist or even fear cloud computing and one of the major reasons seems to be fear of losing their own job. Fearing the cloud won't keep it away—particularly when hosting companies are talking to your company's decision makers about how much money they'll save. Make sure you've got a plan for your career. Come to this session and see what a couple of experts can tell you about how to survive and thrive even if your business ultimately makes the leap to the cloud.

4. Celebrate the release of Microsoft Lync—Fred Studer, Microsoft general manager, Information Worker Business Group, and Shaun Pierce, general manager for Microsoft Lync Program Management, will give the Tuesday morning keynote address. Microsoft made the announcement yesterday that Lync had been released to manufacturing (RTM), with general availability and a launch event scheduled for November 17. Come and get a sneak peak at what Lync can do for your business communications. My big questions: Will it be any easier to implement than OCS?

5. Getting to meet Windows IT Pro readers and Exchange admins—The best thing about going to shows like this is the chance to talk to the real pros who work with Exchange and its related technologies on a daily basis. So if you see me around the show, please stop and say hi—I'll be the one looking like I don't know what I'm doing. Or you might find me in the expo hall at the Windows IT Pro booth. I'd loved to know what's on your mind.

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