Microsoft Developer & IT Pro Days in Gent, Belgium, day 1

I will be visiting this week the Microsoft Developer & IT Pro Days in Gent, Belgium. On this first real day of the conference, topics are spread out for developers and IT pro’s on many of Microsoft’s products. My interests went among others to the Exchange 2007 efforts.

Visiting Jill Frank’s Exchange presentation was a bit of a let-down.  The first content, describing installing Exchange 2007 gave a good view of all the different options in installing the different Exchange roles and the list of prerequisites, but since you can only show so much in a 75 minute presentation, administration was limited to a very short view on the new Management Console, and some basic scripting features – which I still am not sure what their plus is, apart from automating some tasks.  I know the concept of using a command-line, but it is really not the best way to do stuff when you’re the one doing the administration instead of copy-pasting instructions from your head-admin.

Luckily, tomorrow features 2 other presentations which promise to go in depth in Exchange 2007 usage in high-availability environments and migrating from previous versions of Exchange. 

In all though, it was a pleasure listening in to Jill’s presentation. 

Vista Technologies

Next, I did a sit in at the session John Craddock and Sally Storey were presenting, covering mainly Vista but even XP technologies.  They gave a nice presentation with much demos of all the nitty gritty features any admin should know about before deploying Vista and applications. Memorable points were the new user security features – even “admins” get a standard user token, and they demoed nicely why you should keep the default security features activated.  Running as a standard user – even as an admin – is good practice, and I consider any admin circumventing this and working in day-to-day as a full-admin on Vista (or any other system) irresponsible and unprofessional.  But then again, I come from an environment where I had to learn the hard way why sudo was useful on Unix machines.

System Center Configuration Manager: Deployment 

Telindus’ Kim Oppalfens gave a very thourough presentation on deploying the SMS 2003 successor: System Center Configuration Manager 2007.  A mouthful for a product with many new features I deem necessary and have found to be necessary in the past.  This 2007 version goes deeper into factual deploying of it’s own client, and even supports updating client computers through HTTP: your never-VPNing road warriors (because they can reach your Sharepoint infrastructure and do their email through OWA or RDP) get their new packages and updates anyway!  SCCM is also a factor in setting up Microsoft’s NAP solution: Network Access Protection lives by a “health ratio” which Windows will gather from the settings and status of your antiviral and antimalware software, together with your security patch levels and much more.  If your computer is not up to par with company policy on recent antivirus and antimalware signature files, or lacks patches and service packs, your network connection is limited to a secure environment where admins for instance only give you access to Internet, while SCCM can update your system to get it up to speed.  You have visitors coming over and they plug in their laptop into your wired or wireless network?  They get booted too to this internal DMZ, defending your local network.  Múch better than administrating MAC-addresses in your switches.  These NAP-features work on many levels, from physical network connections, to different kinds of VPN’s, to other ways to connect to your infrastructure.

If you want to review the presentations of today, you can visit this link .

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