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Top Exchange and Office 365 Sessions to Attend at Ignite

Image of Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM
Michael Van Horenbeeck MVP, MCSM
Microsoft Ignite 2015 sessions

Ignite, Microsoft's largest technical conference this year, is less than two weeks out. If you haven't started planning your session schedule, now would be a good time to do so.

One thing is for sure: It will be a busy week! With almost 800 sessions covering a variety of technologies, it will be hard to choose what sessions to attend, and you’ll undoubtedly have to make some hard choices. And we all know that choosing means losing...

A nice bonus, however, is that all sessions will be recorded. The recordings should be available online within approximately 48 hours after the session, which will give you a nice alternative to the in-flight entertainment on your way back home!

The recordings not only give you a chance to go back and review session content or take a look at content you might have missed. They also help you avoid overdoing it during the week. Lots of people tend to run from one session to the other, trying to cram in as much as possible. While the main purpose of the event is probably to attend sessions and learn about new technologies, having the opportunity to talk to peers and experts from around the world is equally, if not more, beneficial.

Instead of going from session to session, take some time to inhale all the additional activities the conference has to offer. The partner expo area is usually a good place to walk around and bump into people. Microsoft always has plenty of experts helping out at their booths, and many other vendors do, too. If you have any questions or unsolvable problems, that’s typically the place to go for answers.

Most of the sessions at Ignite are geared toward the cloud. Of course, this shouldn't come as a surprise because Microsoft has been “pushing” its cloud-related technologies for a while now. However, this doesn't mean that on-premises customers are completely left out in the cold. In an article on the EHLO blog, Microsoft already announced it will be revealing more information about Exchange 2016, and it looks like you'll have an opportunity to learn more in these sessions:

  • Meet Exchange Server 2016 (Jon Orton, Karim Batthish and Kip Fern)
  • Deploying Exchange Server 2016 (Brian Day)
  • Exchange Server Preferred Architecture (Ross Smith IV)

Of course, there are many more sessions than the ones listed here. After browsing through the session list, this is what I came up with for on-premises Exchange sessions:

  • Automating Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 Configuration with PowerShell Desired State Configuration (Michael Hendrickson)
  • Exchange on IaaS: Concerns, Tradeoffs and Best Practices (Jeff Mealiffe)
  • Exchange Storage for Insiders: It's ESE (Lin Chen, Matt Gossage and Todd Luttinen)
  • Making Managed Availability Easier to Monitor and Troubleshoot (Jay Cotton and Stephen McComas)
  • Under the Hood with DAGs (Tim McMichael)

 There are tons of hybrid and Office 365 sessions that are worth attending, too:

  • Office 365 Network Performance Troubleshooting (Paul Collinge)
  • Advanced Exchange Hybrid Topologies (Timothy Heeney and Tim Thomason)
  • Modern Authentication for the Office 2013 Clients (Jono Luk and Shweta Vaidya)
  • Exchange Hybrid: Make Office 365 Work for You (Timothy Heeney and Michael Van Horenbeeck)
  • Device and Data Protection with Mobile Device Management in Office 365 (Astrid McClean and Bryan Keller)
  • Microsoft Office 365 Groups Deep Dive (Christophe Fiessinger, Sam Koppes and Venkat Ayyadevara)
  • Behind the Curtain: Running Exchange Online (Perry Clarke and Vivek Sharma)

Next to the more technical sessions, Ignite is a great opportunity to catch up on how technology is best put to use. There are way too many sessions to cover, but if you're interested in catching up on some newer features in Exchange and Office 365, these sessions will definitely be worth your time:

  • Collaborate on Files and Information within Office 365 Groups (Andrew Haon and Eric Zenz)
  • How to Decide When to Use SharePoint and Yammer and Office 365 Groups and Outlook and Skype (Kanwal Khipple and Richard Harbridge)
  • Break Down Organizational Silos and Gain New Insights with Office Graph and Office Delve (Gary Danoys and Steve Nguyen)
  • Tame Your Inbox: Clutter in Office 365 (Kumar Vekateswar) 

I also spotted some non-Exchange sessions, which can prove very valuable when dealing with Office 365, more specifically, with everything related to identity management:

  • Taking advantage of Identity capabilities in the Azure Pack (Marc van Eijk and Shriram Natarajan)
  • What's New in Active Directory Domain and Federation Services in Windows Server vNext (Samuel Devasahayam)
  • Extending On-Premises Directories to the Cloud Made Easy with Azure Active Directory Connect (Andreas Kjellman and Jen Field)

Internal Microsoft speakers will host most of the sessions. However, many Exchange MVPs will also be present at the conference, giving you the opportunity to talk to them and gain a more independent view on what's happening with Exchange and Office 365 right now. You will find some MVPs are hosting their own session or taking part in one of the many "unplugged"-type panels as well. Exchange MVP Tony Redmond created a handy overview that contains a list of the MVPs and their sessions. Make sure to check it out!

I'm looking forward to Ignite. It looks like it will be heaps of fun and provide valuable learning opportunities as well! There's nothing like a good discussion or sharing thoughts on technology. So, while you're there, feel free to stop at the ENow booth to chat or join me during one of the following sessions:

  • MVPs Unplugged: The Journey to Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Experts Unplugged: Exchange Online Migrations
  • Exchange Hybrid: Make Office 365 Work for You

With the help of Office 365 MVP and MCSM Nathan Winters and Exchange MCM Tonino Bruno, I will also be hosting a pre-day workshop about building a hybrid Exchange Server 2013 environment. It's the perfect opportunity to go hands-on and learn the ins and outs of hybrid deployment with the help of industry experts.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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