TEC 2009 – a personal roundup

The US TEC 2009 is now over, and what a great week it’s been.

This was the first year that Quest were running the show, and as far as I could tell it was very much business as usual for the conference, with the welcome addition of an Exchange track to the usual Directory and ILM tracks.

This conference is well-known for emphasizing practical, BTDT sessions from consultants working in the field over marketing and “slide-ware”, and in that aspect it did not disappoint – and while the shock of the new ILM 2 release date did put a dampener on day one for me, at least the conference also gave me the opportunity to speak directly to Microsoft ILM product team people on the subject.

Following are a few of my personal highlights.

ILM 2 Customer Password Reset, Jeremy Palenchar

Jeremy demonstrated his custom workflow that sends a reset password directly to the user’s mobile phone. The second part of this demo showed how the user could dial an automated helpdesk system to request a password reset. As long as they punched in the correct information, the password was automatically reset and sent to their phone, without any need for human intervention.

This was a great demo and it gave a taste of the incredible power and flexibility we will be able to use when we do finally get our hands on ILM 2!

Jeremy has posted the code on codeplex – the link is on his blog here: http://identitynotes.palenchar.net/2009/03/custom-workflow-activities-speech.html.

Virtual Directory Case Study, Todd Clayton

This talk completely opened my eyes on directory virtualization and I am very excited by the concept. As I now understand it, the idea is to put an abstraction layer between the directory and the application so that the application can have the data in the format it is expecting.

So think about this – you have various applications, some of which use particular flavours of LDAP, some use AD, some use SQL databases etc. The ILM approach is to sync information around between all these actual directories. With the Virtual Directory approach you keep all your data where it best suits you (and this can be more than one place) and then you present it in such a way that the application thinks it is binding to LDAP or eDirectory, or running select queries against a SQL database, but on the backend it’s all just the same data. Cool huh?

I can see so many uses for this. I will be finding out more!

Migrate Exchange Public Folders to Sharepoint, Ilsa Van Criekinge

Ilsa was the veritable well of information on Public Folders and how they may be redesigned in Sharepoint. I’m pretty sure she could have gone on all day with tips, explanations and demonstrations – and I would have been very happy to listen to her. I certainly learnt a lot in this session. Public Folders have never been something I’ve had a lot to do with, but Exchange migrations are, and sooner or later someone is going to have a long list of PFs there.

Fortunately the support for PFs has been extended for another 10 years, so they will be around for a long time yet, but as Ilsa showed, there are many more options for collaboration and access methods if the data is in Sharepoint rather than PFs. Her final advice made good sense – assess the PFs for current usage, look into redesigning the most active ones in Sharepoint, and let the others die a natural death as PFs, some time in the next decade.

And the rest

I went to many other excellent sessions as well – Laura Hunter’s hands-on workshop on Federation Services was packed with concepts, how-to’s and troubleshooting advice; Gil Kirkpatrick presented the beta versions of Quest’s very cool ILM 2 powershell cmlets, which will be available for free download at some point; The Ensynch guys gave several in depth sessions on ILM 2; and I went to a very lively Q&A with the ILM product team. I also missed many great sessions due to my complete inability to be in two places at the same time!

I’m definitely hoping to be there again next year.