TechEd 2010 Day 3

I started writing this at the airport in New Orleans and finished at home on Saturday, so things are already getting to be a bit of a blur. Listening to the screaming monkey in someone’s carry-on at security didn’t help. Anyway…

My first session on Wednesday was “WCL317 – Troubleshooting Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Lite Touch” with Johan Arwidmark. I just upgraded our BDD 2007 system to MDT 2010 a week or two ago, so I figured this would be a handy session to attend. Johan is one of those TechEd rockstars, not quite Russinovich-level rockstar, but close to that for deployment folks. He didn’t disappoint. I haven’t run into the scenarios he described, but if I do, I’ll have a hint as to what to look for. If you’re deploying Windows 7 (or even Vista and XP if you really want to still be doing that) and you aren’t using SCCM or MDT 2010, check it out. It gives you a great framework for adding some discipline to your deployment process. Being able to generate consistent gold images for your desktops pays big dividends when you have to support the systems where you deploy those images. I shudder to think of the way I used to build images. I won’t even describe it here to save myself public embarrassment.

Session 2 was “WSV316 – Hyper-V and Storage: Maximizing Performance and Deployment Best Practices in Windows Server 2008 R2” which is probably the longest session title of any I attended. I was a bit disappointed by this one. The speaker really focused on iSCSI over Fibre Channel, and since we don’t use iSCSI, a lot of the technical details didn’t hold my attention. I’ll take another look at the session later and see if I missed anything.

I managed to sneak in a quick lunch with some of the Krewe before I had to run to an 11:45 session. The lunch menu was pretty good. The catfish sticks had some seasoning to them and the mac & cheese was quite good. The red velvet cake was decent, considering that it was sugar-free.

The lunch session was “COS207 – Microsoft Live@edu: Moving Your School Communication and Collaboration to the Cloud” all the way in the back in Room 298. As I told some people at the time, I think I passed a sign that said “Welcome to Mississippi” on the way it seemed so far. We’ve moved our students to Live@edu already, just finishing up this month in fact, so I was more interested to hear what other schools are doing. A gentleman form the Kentucky school systems was the customer presenter, and he gave an interesting presentation of their migration. They moved all of their users, not just students, and had some different concerns than we did since they’re K-12 and we’re Higher Ed. I was interested to see the portal they developed in-house to simplify some of the management tasks that they can delegate to other users. I’m hoping our central IT does something similar for us to use.

Then it was on to “VIR320 – Sequencing Deep Dive: Efficiently Making Your Applications Virtual” to help prep for some App-V sequencing I need to do when I get back to the office. I actually went to this session last year, if I recall, but I never had time to move our App-V deployment forward, so I figured a refresher was in order. The presenter was a bit dry, but definitely knew his stuff. This was a much better App-V session than the one I attended previously. At the end of the presentation, he highlighted a new App-V community site that is available for Microsoft and the community to use to share recipes for sequencing apps. I haven’t visited it yet, but plan to do so when I get home.

It was back to MDT 2010 at 3:15 for “WCL403 – Unleash the Power of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010” with Michael Niehaus, another one of the deployment rockstars. Mike’s demos were a bit rocky due to network issues getting back to Redmond. I can’t imagine relying on network connectivity to be present for a demo for TechEd, especially when you can get a laptop with eSATA and a big external drive to hold your VMs. I’m just saying. Even without some of the demos, the session was still great however. He showed how to test and debug the modifications you make to MDT 2010 without having to actually lay down an image on a machine. That’s the worst part of making changes, and shortening that cycle will be a huge bonus.

I closed out the day with the 5 PM session “UNC315 – Microsoft Communications Server 14: Setup and Deployment.” There were three key takeaways from this session. First, with v14, Microsoft will support virtualization for all roles, including audio/video which isn’t the case with 2007 R2. Key will be the guidelines they provide for your configuration to ensure everything works as expected.
Second, SQL Server 2008 R2 will not be supported until after RTM, as part of some post-RTM update. That was unfortunate to hear as people want to start standardizing on R2 today. Instead you’re going to wind up with more SQL systems and clusters than you would need if you were only looking at your performance requirements.

Lastly, when you are in a coexistence mode with 2007 R2 and 14 running side-by-side, 14 will use a 2007 R2 Edge Server. Unlike Exchange which had you start upgrading from the outside and work your way in, with OCS you will start from the inside and work your way out.
Then it was back to the hotel where I discovered that housekeeping had “helpfully” raised the thermostat from what I had it set to. That really annoyed me. I understand I had it set a bit lower than they would like, but if you’re going to give me a room with two exterior walls in the heat and humidity of New Orleans, I want to make sure the room stays comfortable.

The main event in the evening was the Springboard party at House of Blues. Food was OK, nothing fancy, but was sufficient to keep the stomach from growling. The Krewe had gathered on the upper level overlooking the stage. Before the music started, most folks were watching the Stanley Cup final. I like the Blues and Kings, and since neither was playing, it didn’t really matter much to me who won. As everyone knows the Blackhawks went on to win the Cup that night, and that was OK with me. I like to see teams come back from long droughts in championships, so good for them.

The band that was playing the party that night was Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience. Terrance Simien is a Grammy-winning, Creole singer, and they brought down the house. I applaud the Springboard folks for their entertainment choice. I think everyone there that night would agree. And being the Disneyphile that I am, I was excited to hear them play “Gonna Take You There” from the Princess and the Frog soundtrack. Terrance did not sing on the soundtrack, but so here tonight and did a great job. I loved Princess and the Frog and really think it was underappreciated during its release. Be sure to check out the Terrance Simien web site. If you enable pop-ups for the site, you’ll get to listen to some his music.

I detoured to Krystal again on the way back to the hotel for a late night food fix. Made things interesting by adding a spicy chicken sandwich this time. Quite tasty.