As an Exchange admin you could not have missed it – The Microsoft Exchange Conference 2022. I have always been a big fan of the smaller, dedicated Microsoft conferences since it gives you the ability to learn more in-depth about the product and interact with peers and the Microsoft product group. Because of the pandemic all in-person events were cancelled, but it seems in-person events are getting back slowly. Unfortunately, MEC was still a virtual event.
But…. I was impressed by the quality of the event. There were a lot of interesting break-out session and also Q&A sessions. Every break-out session had one or two Subject Matter Experts (SME) that were available to do Q&A during the session. I was lucky enough to act as a SME during three break-out sessions, so there was enough room for discussions.
Break-out sessions were not only delivered by Microsoft, but also by MVPs like Michel de Rooij, Ingo Gegenwarth, Siegfried Jagott, Brian Reid, Tony Redmond, Paul Robichaux and others. All MVPs working in the field and getting their hands dirty so they know what they are talking about.
MEC was not only about Exchange and Exchange Online, but there were also a lot of sessions about related products and technologies. Security sessions around Microsoft Defender for Office 365 (this product really has come a long way!), hybrid identity, securing mail flow, compliance (Microsoft Purview), cross-tenant data migration (Exchange Online and OneDrive for Business) and Privileged Identity Management to name a few. There were many more sessions and topics, you can find more information about the sessions on https://aka.ms/MEC2022.
As usual the conference started with a keynote session delivered by Perry Clarke and Jared Spataro. I’m not a keynote guy since keynotes are typically marketing blah blah, but there was an interesting announcement they made: All versions of Exchange server now support Windows 2022 Active Directory.
The first real session I attended was the basic authentication session from Greg Taylor. Microsoft will start turning off basic authentication starting October 1, 2022 but organizations can opt-out for some time to give them more time to prepare. We all know what basic and modern authentication are (I hope) and what it means for us. But Greg showed some numbers about tenants, mailboxes, protocols etc on basic authentication and these are impressive. If you are a support professional or a (independent) consultant, make sure you prepare well since I expect a lot of issues the upcoming 6 months. Why 6 months? Microsoft starts with turning off basic authentication, but they cannot switch it of for all tenants at the same time, so they need time to turn it off for everybody. A very important topic and a MUST SEE for every Exchange administrator!
Real-world scenarios in for example Microsoft Defender for Office 365 were presented by Sigi Jagott (Deep dive into Exchange Online Protection, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 and other Messaging Security Features), Brandon Koeller (Measure and Change User Phishing Behavior in Four Easy Steps) and Urja Ghandi (Combat Business Email Compromise using Powerful Integrated Workflows with Microsoft Defender for Office 365). Key take-away was that you will never get it 100% safe, but using the right products, procedures and staff you can get it right. And don’t forget to train the end user😀.
And speaking of the end user, more security sessions on the second day and starting with “End user security and Exchange Server” by Brian Reid. Michael van Horenbeeck, previously known as Mr. Van Hybrid, delivered a session on how to secure your Exchange servers. In Exchange Online lots of things are taken care of by Microsoft, but on-premises you must do it all by yourself.
Another infrastructure sessions by Sigfried Jagott and Thomas Stensitzki on upgrading to Exchange 2019. I was a SME in this session, and was surprised by the number of questions and discussions going on in the Q&A chat. Obviously it is a very lively topic since tons of customers are still on Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013. Questions about public folder migration (difficult when migrating from Exchange 2010) but also hardware questions about RAM sizing, processor cores and MCDB (MetaCache Database).
Online events are always difficult to schedule with worldwide audience. MEC was running between 7AM and 2PM Pacific Time. Since I am in the Europe region it means from 4PM (that’s ok) to 11 PM (hmmmm) so I was not able to attend all sessions unfortunately. And there were overlapping sessions that made it difficult to choose. The good news is that all sessions were recorded and will be made available. MEC ended yesterday so I don’t know yet where the recordings will be published. Keep an eye on https://aka.ms/mecairlift for the latest info, and when more information is available we will update this blog as well.
Looking at the quality of the sessions I have attended it was a great success and I’m looking forward to watch the recordings of the sessions I have missed. If you have missed MEC, make sure you watch the recordings as well, it is worth it!
Are you an Exchange expert? Prove it and win $1,000
In celebration of MEC, we're bringing back another round of MEC Trivia! If you think you know Exchange, test your knowledge with the quiz linked below! The winner will be chosen based on two criteria:
Most answers selected correctly
Completed in shortest time
Deadline [Extended] to complete this quiz is Friday (September 16) at 3:00 PM PST.
Winners will also receive a Retro 2012 MEC T-shirt!