TechEd 2006 Day 2

Travel into the Convention Center was much better today on route 4. Bus arrived and left promptly. No problems at all. Breakfast and lunch were better today as well. I thought the tilapia at lunch was quite good.

My schedule included five sessions again today, most dealing with Exchange 2007:

  • MSG313 “Microsoft Exchange Server 2007: Storage Changes”
  • MSG316 “Microsoft Exchange Server 2007: Backup Availability and Disaster Recovery”
  • CLI311 “Internet Explorer 7 for IT Professionals”
  • MSG220 “Getting Started with Exchange Server 2007: Simple Installation, Setup and Administration Scenarios”
  • SVR215 “Windows Server Code Named Longhorn Terminal Services: Introduction”

MSG313: Many changes to the Exchange databases. STM and ExIFS are gone (good riddance!). Continuous replication has been added in two flavors, Local Continuous Replication and Cluster Continuous Replication. Clustering without shared storage… need to check that out more later. Page size changed from 4 KB to 8 KB. I/O coalescing increases form 64 KB to 1 MB, reducing disk I/O. Log file changed form 5 MB to 1 MB to help with replication and reduce delta between production and local copies. Overall a fairly dry topic, but an important one.

MSG316: More detail here about Local Continuous Replication (LCR) and Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR). Now we have an easy and inexpensive (free) way to have replication without using shared storage. With LCR you need to manually activate the replica, but with CCR it will happen automatically. Once you have a replica, you switch from backing up your active server and instead backup the replica. Log file sizes have been reduced to 1 MB (from 5 MB) to help facilitate LCR/CCR. The presenter also reiterated the new best practice of using 1 database per storage group in Exchange Server 2007.

The second half of the presentation dealt with disaster recovery issues in Exchange. Exchange 2007 will validate logs before replaying them for recovery purposes. Up to 50 databases can be mounted and backed up in parallel. VSS is now preferred for backup; streaming backups are legacy and will still be supported, but have been de-emphasized.

CLI311: This session was right after lunch, and the presenter spoke in a bit of a monotone. Made it difficult to keep my eyes open. Nothing earth shattering here. Just a review of some of the new features in IE7. He showed some of the new malware and phishing protection, improvements in page rendering, etc. IE7 is layout complete, so now is the time to start checking web sites to make sure they render properly in IE7.

MSG220: Late start for this session due to problems with the webcast. I’d rather they start sessions on time and skip the webcast if necessary. Exchange 2007 will only support new installs. You can’t upgrade to Windows Server x64 and since Exchange 2007 is only 64-bit, no upgrades. Setup uses PowerShell, so they showed some of what is going on behind the scenes. The setup log exposes all of the script commands that were executed so it should be beneficial for people trying to debug setup problems. At the end they showed how to script Exchange setups for use on multiple servers. We only have one Exchange box, so not applicable to us.

SVR215: This was the best session of the day. A lot of great capabilities coming in Longhorn Server Terminal Services. I know you can do some of these things with Citrix today, but I’d rather get it for free in the OS. We’re just starting to expand our use of Terminal Services, hopefully bringing it to all of our students soon, so the new Remote Programs, TS Gateway, and TS Web Access capabilities will all be huge wins for us. Remote programs lets you run applications on the terminal server, but have them appear on the local desktop as if they were installed locally. TS Gateway brings the RPC over HTTP feature from Outlook/Exchange to Terminal Server. Having this will let us close ports on the firewall and route all of the TS traffic via 443. TS Web Access lets users access TS Remote Programs via a web browser.

One welcome addition to TS is spanning across multiple displays and ability to show displays beyond 1600×1200. I can’t wait for that.

At this time, forms-based authentication is not planned for TS Web Access, but the audience indicated this is something they would like to have, so the presenter said he’d take that request back to Redmond. Someone asked whether the existing RDP client in XP would be updated to work with these features, and the answer is yes. XP SP2 will include the updated RDP client. NO work yet for Mac and Windows Mobile clients. That decision rests with the Mac and Mobile teams, so we were asked to send feedback to them if this is something we want. I understand that each team needs to be responsible for its area, but for something like TS, Microsoft should commit to making clients consistent across the board. Otherwise you wind up with a situation like we have in Office for the Mac with a program like Entourage instead of a real Outlook client.

In the evening I headed over to a vendor event at a club in Quincy Market. I left pretty early. I was mainly looking for a free meal (I admit it), but the appetizers they had out when the event started were really horrible. They started walking around with some better items (bacon-wrapped scallops and fried shrimp… yum!), but mixed in were some other nasty things. I tasted one item that looked like a little quiche and nearly lost it. It was all I could do to keep it down. so I wound up grabbing soup and a half club sandwich near my hotel.

At previous TechEds there were more evening events to go to, such as Influencer or IT Pro parties. Btu this year you have top be an MCP to go tot he Influencer party, and I’m not certified. I don’t have any need to do so for my job, so I’ve never bothered. I can understand that Microsoft has two goals here. One is to limit the number of people at the event and the second is to encourage people to get certified. Guess I’ll be eating out again tonight.