MEC 2014

So now that MEC 2014 is done I wanted to talk about some of the things that Microsoft presented at the conference. First off the idea that MS was going to change the Cloud First mentality was quickly put to bed. New features will continue to be deployed and tested in O365 before they are pushed down to the on-Prem version. The second big item is that MS is pushing harder than ever on Social and Social Integration in O365 and Exchange. The third big push was Mobility, the Office for IPad was released last week and this week Office Web App for Android was released!

There was tons of great content presented at MEC 2014 but those three were repeated over and over.

So first off lets talk about the Cloud First mentality that MS has. They are able to quickly and easily introduce small incremental changes into the O365 services that enables them to not only keep up with the Jones' but to be an innovator in the space. MS was adamant about not building features that will be cloud only, all of the features will be introduced into the on-Prem version with future releases but only time will prove the veracity of this statement.

By being cloud first MS can deploy changes much quicker and with a better success rate since they own all parts of the system. They don't have to test 5 million different test scenarios to ensure compatibility the way it does with the on-Prem versions. Yes, Yes, I know people complain about the "bugs" in updates and services packs, but Microsoft's argument is still a valid one, they are able to introduce new features into O365 much quicker and with more regularity than with on-Prem so expect this to continue.

Yammer, Yammer, YAMMER!
Social and Social Integration was a big part of the Conference messaging. The un-official MEC drinking game was to take a drink every time a presenter said "Yammer". If you played this game you won't remember anything after the first 30 minutes of any day!

The upcoming upgrades to O365 that will integrate many of the Yammer feeds into the OWA client are nice and definitely a step in the right direction. Yammer was used extensively during the conference and it's nice but the problem is that I don't want or need another communications client. The prevailing sentiment at MEC was the same: Yammer is great but don't make me use another client! Give it to me in Outlook or not at all.

Codename Oslo and Office Graph are two neat new features being rolled into O365 that attempt to make sense of the large amount of communications data that we all deal with on a daily basis and try to keep you updated with things that you need to know. A great quick overview can be found at the Garage Series:

There were quite a few Sizing seminars and a couple of the big points were that the CAS role requirements have changed when using MAPI/HTTP and that a new version of the calculator has been released to support it:

A pretty funny twitter fight ensued when MS reiterated that they do not support NFS storage in any way for Exchange, and this includes NFS datastores in VMware. Many in the NFS camp decried the MS stance and claimed that there is no reason that NFS cannot be supported. However MS justified the ban on non-block level storage by citing numerous issues that can be encountered when deploying on NFS and backed it with support case examples. The fight really was around NFS experts throwing around "facts" and claiming numerous installations on NFS as reasons that it should be supported. The issue comes down to:
Does NFS work with Exchange? Yes.
Is it Supported? No.

You should think long and hard when running in an unsupported mode. If you want to run unsupported go for it but you better know it inside and out.

The number of tips, tricks, and recommendations are simply too numerous to list here. Many of the sessions are up on the Mymec site and will hopefully be available to the public soon. As soon as I hear of them being publicly available I'll let you all know.

This was my second MEC and it's an amazing time. The ability to geek out over Exchange with some of the best talent in the industry is not to be missed. If you can ever make it to a MEC...GO!

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