Preparing the content for Maestro round 2

This week Microsoft held the 2011 MVP Summit, which Tony ably summarized here. I wasn’t able to attend, which is a real shame, as seeing my MVP peers and the many Microsoft Exchange team members who come to the summit to teach, debate, and gather information from and with the MVPs is usually one of the highlights of my year. However, despite the fact that Tony, Brian, and I were not able to sit down together, we are still making good progress on developing the revised content for the 2011 series of Maestro events.

For the 2010 event’s, we focused on covering Exchange 2010 SP1. We are continuing that focus for the 2011 event, even though common sense tells us that SP2 will likely be forthcoming sometime this year. Microsoft has not said anything publicly about the release schedule for, or the likely contents of, SP2, so it doesn’t make sense for us to try to include it in our planning. What we can do, however, is refocus on some areas of SP1 that have proved to be particularly interesting from a technical standpoint or particularly challenging for people who are deploying Exchange 2010.

For my part, that means rethinking the way we approach the material covering the client access server. CAS is a complicated topic. There’s just no getting around that fact, but based on feedback from attendees and the kinds of questions I see posted in online fora, I think we can do a more focused job of covering the things that people have the most difficulty understanding. This is especially true for people who are migrating from Exchange 2003, which is a much less complicated client access story. (Having said that, I am not planning on stealing Greg Taylor’s elephant jokes. I don’t have the accent for it!)

I also want to change the approach I take to RBAC to include more demonstrations; we’ll probably also revamp the RBAC lab a bit. Although RBAC is a tremendously useful feature, it really does require some experimentation and hands on usage to really make it click for most people.

Finally, although I am pretty pleased with the way the unified messaging coverage stands right now, I would like to include some more demos and labs. With that in mind, I will be approaching a few hardware vendors to see if we can get them to loan us some demo hardware. Ideally, I would like to have an optional lab for UM that has students set up an UM topology that allows them to experience the thrill that comes when the phone rings and you hear “Welcome to Exchange unified messaging.”

Once we finish wrangling over the exact contents of the course, we’ll post an updated agenda on the Penton registration website. We’ve also followed the lead of practically every other company and event in the entire world and set up a Facebook page for the 2011 Maestro series. I hope that we will see attendees who have registered and people who are considering it congregate around this page to share comments and feedback. For events like this, when the attendees get a chance to communicate before the event, increases the value to them by increasing the interpersonal connectivity of their time in the classroom. (That is one of the major advantages of the way the MCM Exchange training is currently done, something which I will have more to say about in a future post.)

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