As I write this, I have just hit 10,000 feet, the altitude where I can boot up and continue working. I’m on my flight home to San Diego from the Connections conference in Las Vegas. It’s been a busy couple weeks in the air for me as I just visited four countries in Europe. While there, I met with customers and conducted Microsoft SharePoint workshops with partners. I concluded the week giving a session at very full SharePoint Saturday Netherlands. From there, I rushed to Vegas just in time for my all-day Monday pre-conference seminar on building solutions for SharePoint Online.
The turnout for my pre-con was modest, but I still really enjoyed it. Usually, I find the smaller audiences are better as you can spend more time addressing each attendee’s questions. Plus, we had we had a good mix of people – including developers, IT administrators, and even tech-savvy project managers – and great conversation about the limitations and benefits of writing code in SharePoint Online and Windows Azure. Somehow, on Monday night I found the energy to get to the fitness room, and after a nice Mexican dinner with my AvePoint colleagues, I crashed and woke up about 10 hours later.
I woke up Tuesday much more refreshed. As usual with Connections events, this is Microsoft’s day – the day where Microsoft owns the stage. While I had a number of side meetings and conversations at the AvePoint booth, I was able to take in some of the sessions. In particular, I’m excited about the launch of SQL Server 2012. There are some great high-availability improvements with “AlwaysOn”. And, from a SharePoint perspective, I love the new Power View and Reporting Services integration choices. If you’re doing any reporting or SharePoint-based BI (Business Intelligence), I encourage you to invest some time learning how these raise the reporting bar. Plus, regular information workers are able to build and consume rich, dynamic reports – all without writing any code. “BI to the masses,” as we say.
On Tuesday afternoon I did another free book signing. These are always fun – not just because it attracts people to come by the AvePoint booth, but also because I get to have short and interesting discussions about how SharePoint affects each person’s life. Oddly enough, I met a Dutch couple who flew from The Netherlands to Las Vegas for the event – they had left one day before me. It was nice sharing with them some of the places I was fortunate enough to visit. When they left, I surprised them with one of the few Dutch phrases I can remember: Tot Ziens – or goodbye. It surprised them and they gave an appreciative chuckle. (Or maybe it was a chuckle at how badly I pronounced it.) I wrapped up Tuesday night having a nice Chinese dinner with Dan Holme, AvePoint’s Chief SharePoint Evangelist, and Jim McBee, noted Microsoft Exchange Server expert and owner of the Exchange track at Connections.
On Wednesday morning, I gave my final session of the event on Integrating SharePoint and Exchange. This starts off with a fun and business-friendly overview of how Microsoft Outlook integrates with SharePoint. We then dove much deeper and studied the intricacies of how to configure incoming email in SharePoint. I finished off the session by discussing how to migrate public folders to SharePoint. (Tip: You’ll need a third-party solution, and AvePoint has one). Approximately 40 people showed up, with a pretty even split between individuals focused on SharePoint and Exchange.
After my session, I had time to head over to one of Dan Holme’s Governance sessions. Although I’ve heard him give these sessions a couple times (and I give my own), he’s made some real improvements to the presentation by more clearly laying out a 12-step roadmap for SharePoint governance success. It’s great stuff, and I’m so lucky to be able to work with bright guys like him. After that it was time for lunch, a few more conversations, and then a mad rush to the airport to get back home. And with that, I am now landing in San Diego. Good fun and good times.
Did you make it to the Connections conference? What were your highlights from the event? Let me know in the comments below!