Today begins with a great keynote session involving a breakout discussion among four major CIO / IT Manager types : Carnival Cruise, Dell, EDS, and Virgin. The discussion around their needs and different environments, and how they are each using the System Center product line, provided a lot of insight into what going on in the real world.
We had the discussion that, five years from now, System Center will be the product line everyone is using in the management space. I'm not even sure that catch-up is the right term for what everyone else will have to do. Interoperate is more like it.
Then it was off to the 911 Case Studies session. Best session of the week by far. Finally, a chance to get in front of an SMS Support Engineer and delve into real problems that affected real people. The case studies were great, the support tools presented were well displayed. Can't say enough about how good this session was. Looking forward to Assett Management and Internet Client Management after lunch.
UPDATE: Let me just say it now: Service Manager is going to rock. If the pre-release stuff looks (and works) this well, the final product is going to be great. With auto-incident creation, deep hooks into SCCM07 and SCOM07, Service Manager is going to be the asset / incident / change manager of choice for many, many companies. Can't wait to get me hands on the next beta.
UPDATE: The next item to get a round of applause (and a "That's TechSexy!" from someone) was Internet Based Client Management. This is something that has been plaqueing our company for years now. What do you do when a laptop user doesn't come in the office for two months? How do you distribute new software, patch the OS, etc? We finally have an answer in the Internet Based Client in SCCM07. This is just going to be a HUGE help in our environment.
Day three and we have sunny skies, less wind, and real bacon for breakfast. Not a bad combo. I'm idle until 10:15, so catching up on some work and correspondence. I'm currently torn between the "Deploying Config Manager 07" and "Intro to Ops Manager 07" sessions. Leaning towards the Ops Manger. The Config Manager Deploy is a Hands-On-Lab, and while nice, they do leave a bit to be desired. Step-by-step installs aren't what I came hear for. I can run through the lab on my own in the big hall later. I'm chomping at the bit to get home and implement my lab and start testing against a backup of our DB. More as it happens. Update: Well Deploy Config Manager session 2 was a bust. Spent most of the session going over stuff that was covered in session one, and then watching install screens snooze by. I walked out to use the restroom and passed no less than four people asleep. We come to these things for the deep dive, the technical specifics. If someone wasn't at the first session, they can catch it on the DVD. The info was fine and the speakers were good, they just spent too much time covering territory that was already covered, either yesterday or in labs. Deploy multiple secondary sites and DP's! Upgrade the MMS client network! DO something not in VM? What a concept!
Another long day.... and night. It's a good thing that there's a Starbucks in the convention center. The one tool no one tells you about is caffeine. Use it liberally. I participated in an excellent 'focus group' today on documentation. Everyone was vocal and gave Microsoft excellent feedback. The consensus was to make "documentation" more dynamic, more easily updateable, and perhaps even available via RSS. I think everyone agreed that making Support-level documents available, even if it was via paid subscription, would be an invaluable tool. How many times have you called support and had to get to the guy at level 3 just to get the right documented answer? Just let me at that database! I'd be thrilled to pay for it as part of my VLA, or SLA, or whatever they're calling it today. The new SCCM07 console is much, much improved. I've never seen a bunch of grown humans more excited over drag and drop functionality. And it was interesting to note that PKI was required to deploy internet-facing SMS functionality, something we're dying for. So PKI now gets added to this summer's hit list. I missed the IT Forum party, much to my disappointment. I used the time in the open labs, hitting a couple of the scenarios I haven't had a chance to look at yet. It would be fabulous if all of these VM's were available for take-home, so we could pass these labs on to our peers back at the office. Tomorrow: Vista Deployment, SCOM, and Microsoft Communities.
I could go on about the MMS Keynote, but this guy here did a much better job of taking notes during the presentation. Various conversations with Microsoft personell over the last few months had left me convinced that they were buying Jalasoft, and that would be announced this week. Suffice to say, I was wrong. No wonder the guy at the Jalasoft booth thought I was insane.
Here in scenic San Diego for MMS. First day was long, but worthwhile. The walk from the hotel to the event is not too bad, a bit less than a mile. The hotel, while costing $249 a night, sticks you for another $10 per day for internet access. This is ridiculous. You're the official hotel for an event where thousands of geeks are getting together, and you want to hose us another $10 for internet? That nearly every other hotel gives away for nada? Give me a break. PdaNet works like a champ, and that's what I'll use for the duration. And while I'm on my soapbox, you don't put out food and drinks at the convention center and then force about 70 fat IT guys to stay away for 15 minutes until you "open". There was nearly a stampede. And the food was not worth the wait. C'mon, Micro$oft. The group attending this event spends hundreds of millions on your products, and everyone that didn't get a voucher is about $5000 out of pocket for travel, hotel, and conference. Just keep the food / beverage tables stocked and open. I ended up wolfing down a mediocre turkey sandwich and Diet Coke to get to my next session in time. So far the sessions have been very worthwhile, the best of the day being 'DeMystifying SQL" about creating custom queries / reports in SMS / SCCM. Very well done. The Expo Center opened this evening and the crowd press was insane. The food was good and well spread-out, but you couldn't move. Popular booths were hard to get into, and the MyITForum booth was the worst. It was five deep for most of the night. I'll be getting more time with vendors later in the week. Tonight was about the food and the swag, and I got plenty of both. More tomorrow : first keynote and community seminar.
If the except is any indication, this author's book is a swamp of complicated run-on sentences and thousand-dollar words. I couldn't get passed the first sentence, but then kept reading out of sheer incredulity. But if his stats are to be believed, he's cleared about $100k from this lousy thing by self-publishing. Just makes me want to heave. However, it did give me great hope for my own attempts at storytelling. Whenever I feel like a worthless hack, I now have a place to go to massage my ego.
As a kid growing up we rarely went on vacation. We were middle-class poor, and I can remember one trip to Chicago to the zoo, one trip to St. Louis to Six Flags, and a couple of trips to see relatives in Indiana and Pennsylvania. Once I hit the middle-school years, that was done and I don't recall that we went anywhere as a family again. Well, here I am at 42 and finding myslef middle-class poor again. Even though I make probably at least three times what my father was making when I was young. We haven't been on a 'real' vacation, where you pack up the kids and head out to some destination, in years. In forever, really. So when I'm forced to take vacation from work or lose it, I call it 'burning time'. I'm not really vacationing, just hanging at home, catching up on some honey-do work, and working anyway from home. Which isn't a vacation at all. All of the wonderful things we put in place to help our workers be mobile have chained us to the desk, even if it's in a remote way. If I can find internet connectivity, there's really not a whole lot I can't do from my laptop that I could do in the office. This is a great thing in one respect, a horrible thing in another. Yes, I can solve problems that crop up in the middle of the night without leaving my house - without leaving my bed if I choose. But I also can't get away : email and web on the phone, wireless Internet everywhere. I'm so tied to these things every day that I find it hard to put them away when I should. I know what having a 'CrackBerry" truly feels like. The other day one of the morning shows had an editor that they talked into living without 'modern' conveniences: no cell phone, no internet, no email. He ended up literally breaking down into tears when he realized he was going on the road and there was no way for his daughter to get in touch with him until he was back at the hotel. What if something happened? What if she just wanted to say "Hi"? Or "I love you"? He couldn't take it. Neither could I. So I sit here, paying the price for being well-connected, and technologically adept. Working on vacation.