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TechEd 2011 in Oz

We had a great time on Australia's Gold Coast for Microsoft's annual Aussie nerd-fest.

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Had a great time at TechEd 2011 on Australia’s Gold Coast. For Office users all the talk at this year’s event was Office 365.

Plenty of sessions for organizations on how to migrate in whole or part from in-house servers running Exchange Server and SharePoint to the Office 365 cloud service.

Office 365 was more popular than Microsoft expected with the main introductory session in a surprisingly small room. It was standing room only and stuffy as we got an overview of Office 365’s components, Exchange Server, Sharepoint, Lync and Office Web Apps.

Clearly Microsoft sees value in this area because there are plenty of tools and docs to help administrators move to a cloud version of their current arrangement ‘on-premises’. ‘On premises’ is the favorite buzzword to distinguish your own computers from cloud based systems.

One big advantage of Office 365 is that you get use of high-cost enterprise level physical reliability for your services. Most organizations can’t afford all the necessaries like generator and battery power backups, fallback servers, automatic data replication, ‘green’ air-conditioning and so on. Office 365 servers, run by Microsoft, have all that and more.

It’s reassuring to know that the same server farms used by Office 365 are also used by Microsoft’s own services. The same hardware that runs Office 365 also runs Bing, Hotmail and many other Microsoft operations. It’s in Redmond’s interests to make sure the servers are as reliable, safe and well-connected as possible for their own self-interest as well as their customers.

Office 365 is a marketing umbrella for existing Microsoft cloud services like Exchange Server online and Sharepoint online. This was highlighted by TechEd sessions with ‘Office 365’ in the title but almost no use of that name in the presentation itself. Speakers talked about SharePoint Online or Exchange Server online instead.

That’s not to say that Office 365 is perfect and there are legitimate concerns which we’ll address in coming weeks. Microsoft seems to focusing on moving larger organizations to Office 365 yet, to us, the main interest will be for smaller organizations right down to one-person companies or just heavy email/technology users.  There was no discussion of moving Small Business Server users to Office 365, yet that has to be a major market for Microsoft.


We didn't see any evidence of 'excessive drunkeness' at TechEd and certainly no 'lewd behaviour'. In fact Microsoft is at lengths to welcome women (including a 'Women in IT' TechEd lunch) to what is overwhelmingly still a male crowd.


Many, many people with tablets, mostly iPad – at a Microsoft conference. Most phones were Apple or Android, plenty of Windows Mobile sessions but few actual devices in use. When the company’s products don’t even show up much at their own conferences it really highlights the lack of any meaningful Microsoft rival in these two key areas. At least there were plenty of laptops and netbooks running Windows and Microsoft Office.


As in past years, we thank Microsoft for providing with TechEd conference access. We choose to pay our own transport, accommodation and sundries.

Article posted: Thursday, 01 September 2011

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