8/17 Update: I will be hosting two sessions at MEC this year, see this blog post for more info: https://blog.jasonsherry.net/2012/08/17/speaking-at-mec-2012/
I first started working with Microsoft Exchange during the beta of 4.0 while at Digital Equipment Corporation in late 1995. My team, PC application support, used it to communicate internally, instead of the VAX Mail. After leaving DEC in 1996 one of my first real Exchange projects was migrating 160 MS Mail post offices to Exchange 5.0. From this point forward my primary focus and passion, for the last 16 years, has been on Exchange.
I didn’t make the 1st MEC in 1997 (San Diego, CA) or the 2nd one in 1998 (Boston, MA) but I did make Atlanta, where I was living at the time, in 1999. I was working for Mission Critical Software (acquired by NetIQ in 2000) as a System Engineer (technical sale person) selling a roles-based delegated administration product for Windows NT 4.0 and Exchange 5.5. (It took Microsoft 11 years to provide the same support in Exchange 2010 with RBAC.)
The MEC was a very special event since almost everyone was there to learn about Exchange and solutions that would help deploy or manage it. It was like a geek fest with a single focus and it was also pre-bubble burst. I in sales at the time and didn’t have to worry much about expenses, so I took my peers and co-works on a tour around some of the more interesting places in Atlanta after the sessions were done for the day. During the day the sessions started off a bit slow as I recovered from the previous night but I quickly woke up as the energy in the rooms and conference as a whole increased throughout the day.
In 1999 people were still excited about SMTP based message transfer (still pretty new in the late 90s and provided 1st in 5.0), Outlook Web Access (new to Exchange 5.0, Netscape Mail was one of the only off the shelf web based e-mail solution until this time, calendaring support came in 5.5), the new clustering support in Exchange 5.5 (two nodes only, but was rarely used), and support for larger than 16GB database. Exchange was still very new at this time and people were excited to get off MS Mail, Lotus Notes, and various other solutions to one that was much more scalable, flexible, and easier to manage. I also went to MEC 2000 in Dallas, TX which had a big buzz around an integrated directory (Active Directory) with Exchange and Windows 2000 and the complexities of migrating from 5.5’s dedicated LDAP directory. By this time I was a product manager at NetIQ and was focuses on developing management and migration solutions for Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Exchange.
What really made MEC stand apart was that you could walk up to any group and chances are they were talking about Exchange. There were great sessions/round tables, in prompt to meetings, vendor presentations, and just a passion about Exchange. The energy, focus, and excitement was great.
Sadly MEC ended in 2001, I assume this was so Microsoft could reduce their event budget and focus mainly on TechEd. TechEd might be great for the generalist but for someone who focused on Exchange TechEd provide doesn’t tend to provide too much new or very technical content since the sessions are normally for 100s or 1,000s of people. At MEC the sessions were very small to maybe 50 or so. This allowed the topics to be very technical or high level and the audience got want they wanted. I expect this to return in 2012. For the last 10 years there have been other conferences that had a good focus on Exchange but they weren’t the same as MEC.
I’m looking very forward to MEC 2012 (9/24/2012) in Orland, FL for three main reasons. The community of people that will be there, second presenting and sharing my experience and helping others, and finally I hope it will help re-vitalizing the Exchange community. I also hope to get some new business out of MEC. I’ve been doing independent consulting work now for a year, with a friend at Pro Exchange, and it’s been a GREAT change from working for others. But since we don’t have sales and marketing we get most of my business via word of mouth and from other consulting companies.
Microsoft’s MEC info site: MECisBack.com – Content\details coming soon
Exchange Team EHLO Blog: MEC is Back!
Windows IT Pro: MEC returns in September 2012: the Exchange community applauds!
Tony Redmons’s Blog: I miss the Microsoft Exchange Conference (MEC)!
1997 in San Diego, CA
1998 – Boston, MA (~4,000 attendees)
1999 – Atlanta, GA; Hamburg Germany; Tokyo, Japan
2000 – Dallas, TX; Nice, France; Tokyo, Japan; Singapore
2001– Orlando, FL; Nice, France
2012 – Orlando, FL