My week at the Connections Conference


I just wrapped up a week at the IT/Dev Connections conference in Las Vegas. Connections is the premier conference covering Microsoft technology from a 3rd party perspective.


I arrived in Las Vegas Saturday evening. After a quick ride to the Aria, I checked into my room. The first thing I noticed is that the Aria is a pretty nifty new hotel. I had not been in the Aria yet as it was built just 2 or 3 years ago. All the rooms in the Aria are filled with all kinds of automation.

My room at the Aria

After dropping off my stuff, I met up with my friends, and fellow Exchange speakers, Michael Van Horenbeeck and Michel De Rooij. We did a bit of exploring around Las Vegas. Good times, and several beers, were had.

 (Michel De Rooij, Michael Van Horenbeeck)

(Michel De Rooij, Michael Van Horenbeeck)


One of the reasons I wanted to get to Las Vegas a little early was because I am a pretty big football fan. I wanted to be able to get in a full day that the Aria’s sports book. Lots of good times were had, and I might have even come out slightly ahead. I did find out that as part of his upcoming move to the United States, Michael Van Horenbeeck has decided to adopt an NFL as a rooting interest. His team of choice was the Chicago Bears, which worked out well as I am a lifelong Bears fan and we had an outstanding Sunday Night Football game to watch.

After the game Michael, Michel, and I got together with a couple of other speakers from the conference and went back out into the Las Vegas night.


Monday brought pre-conference workshops. I spent the day in a PowerShell workshop put on the Jeffrey Hicks, but there were several other excellent workshops including an Office 365 workshop taught by Andy Malone.

At one point during the day, we did have an informal get-together for the speakers on the Exchange track where I met Tony Redmond for the first time.

(Tony Redmond, Bhargav Shukla, Michel De Rooij)

We went over Tony expectations for the conference, and there might have been some complaining about the testing process (or lack there-of) for the most recent couple of Exchange cumulative updates.

Monday night eNow Software hosted a diner at an amazing steakhouse. eNow really knows how to throw a party!



Tuesday brought the real start of the conference. I attended Tony Redmond’s session kicking off the Exchange Connections sub-conference, then Paul Robichaux’s session on Managed Availability. Tuesday afternoon I attended Andrew Higginbotham’s session on advanced troubleshooting for Exchange 2013. I skipped the last sessions Tuesday afternoon so I could take a couple of hours to prepare for my own sessions on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday night the conference hosted a VIP reception at the Vdara’s pool.

After the reception, the conference took all of the Exchange track speakers out to dinner.


Wednesday morning brought my two sessions; Identity and Authentication Management for Office 365 and Performance Counters you Never Knew and Why they are Important. My sessions went off great, and the interaction with the audience was really good. One of the things I really loved about Connections was the intimate feel of all the sessions. The attendees really had to opportunity to talk to all the speakers and get their questions answered.

 Board outside my room showing the session that took place there.

Board outside my room showing the session that took place there.

After my sessions Wednesday morning, I attended Tim McMichael’s session on Exchange 2013 site resilience and then Bhargav Shukla’s session on RBAC.

Wednesday night the conference put on a reception for all the conference speakers.

(Jeff Guillet, Tony Redmond, Paul Cunningham, Jaap Wesselius)

After the Wednesday night reception, eNow hosted their Scheduled Maintenance party. If you have not gotten your Scheduled Maintenance yet, I highly recommend you get on that. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I will say I didn’t get back to my hotel room until after the sun was up.


I didn’t make it to the first round of sessions Thursday morning, but I do consider it an accomplishment that I was able to get to Tim McMichael’s session on Managed Availability at 10:45. After lunch I attended Jaap Wesselius and Michel De Rooij’s session on PowerShell tips and tricks. Finally, I wrapped up the conference with the Ask the Exchange Experts panel.

(Tony Redmond, Andrew Higginbotham, Jeff Guillet, Nathan O’Bryan, Jaap Wesselius, Michel De Rooij, Bhargav Shukla, Siegfried Jagott, Michael Van Horenbeeck, Dave Stork, Paul Cunningham)

A bunch of the Exchange experts went out to dinner again Thursday night. A good time was had by all, and of course Tony Redmond held court.

 (Jeff Guillet, Chris Goosen, Paul Cunningham,  Tony Redmond, Michael Van Horenbeeck)

(Jeff Guillet, Chris Goosen, Paul Cunningham,  Tony Redmond, Michael Van Horenbeeck)


As I write this, I am sitting in Michael Van Horenbeeck’s post conference session on deploying an Office 365 Hybrid environment. Tonight Jeff Guillet, Siegfried Jagott and I are planning on catching a show and I am fairly confident there will be libations consumed afterwards.

I had a great time at Dev Connections, and I learned a lot. I’m already looking forward to next year.