DEC 2007 part II – conference

So it looks like it took few days for tomorrow to make its place in calendar. Mostly because I’ve moved to new flat and this together with day job is taking most of my time these days.

BTW – with new flat I had to do some simple stuff like plumbing, finishing some electric installation, paint few things etc. I’m not very experienced in such kind of job so I can say that at least for beginner this isn’t easy task to know which exact part to buy, what is a size of this pipe in inches and how to connect all these things together to not blow up a fuse 🙂. New experience, I will appreciate work of some people more, but this doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate it now.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that we are living right now in wireless world. Time when one has to have a copper line to flat is gone. I’m sitting in my flat’s living room – there is no single copper line coming into this building. We are using GSM for phone service. Other GSM provider gives me Internet connectivity with HDSPA which is pretty decent option. I don’t have TV set but if I would want to have one I have three different providers of digital signal in HDTV – I just have to put a dish on my balcony and set-top box in my living room. So who needs a copper line anymore?

But getting back to DEC. I wasn’t sure if I should write this entry as joe wrote pretty nice and complete description of DEC as a whole. I don’t know what to add but … as I was there first time I’ve decide to describe it, maybe it will help other new DEC attendees to choose it for their development plan or just trip planner.

What was suppressing to me was that few peoples recognized my name on the badge (first of whom was if I remember correctly Mike who was staring at my badge for few seconds when I was getting coffee and said “You have some blog or something?”). More surprising was that among those people who recognized me from the blog most of them was surprised that I work for Microsoft (which was on a badge). So yes, I work for Microsoft – now you can delete my feed from your subscription 🙂. Anyway – this information is in blog’s about page.  So it looks like some people are reading this blog … nice … keep doing this.

People … this was incredible opportunity for me to meet all people I know from MSN, on-line forums, ActiveDir.org list and plenty of other places on the net. As I live in Europe we don’t have so many opportunities to meet with those who are living on the other side of “puddle”. I’m really glad that I had a chance to say hello to Alex, Joe Kaplan, Jorge, ~Eric or Dean. This was also incredible opportunity to reconnect with people you’ve meet before as MVP or at conferences. A lot of really clever people focused on technologies related to directories and identity management in one place makes this place special. A lot of ideas are being discussed or just thrown in the air to pick it up. This all happened in very informal atmosphere, most of discussions are taking place over a lunch or with beer late in the casino. This is great. I can tell that this communication with others is greatest value of DEC (and I don’t want to depreciate technical value of sessions which were great).

Sessions … this is conference at the end so there has to be sessions. I had here a little problem with choosing sessions as on daily basis I work mostly with Active Directory implementations and MIIS, so I had to choose between AD Master and MIIS master track in most cases. Some people were saying (and joe is also writing about it) that bringing MIIS and ADFS besides only AD related topics is changing this conference. I would say that for me it is perfect combination as I have to work with all these technologies and I was able always to choose a session which was valuable for me in some way. So I would keep this in this shape, but of course decision will be made by NetPro team.

I’ve attended a number of sessions and all of them were at good technical level so I can honestly say that besides all social events DEC is worth to be there also for technical content. Of course You have to select Your way through number of tracks and as sessions are being prepared for different audience sometimes you will find sessions as to low on technical level or less interesting. But this happens on every conference. Fortunately DEC was organized in small area so it was easy to switch to other room and attend next session in the same slot.

Kim Camron’s key note – pretty interesting however as I’m subscribed to Kim’s blog for quite some time really nothing new. But it was a pleasure to hear all those ideas from Kim on stage. I think that user centric identity and claims world in some shape is a direction we are heading to. I hope that we will have many solutions interoperating between each other in as Kim said identity metasystem. As a practical example I had an opportunity to speak with one of customers in Serbia who had a problem with some solution and short answer to this problem was use federation and claim aware applications. This is where we are heading and I think that this and following year will make some breakthrough in this area. I liked the way in which Kim was speaking about “legonic” systems in which different “bricks” will fit to others to create simple and complete solution.

Guido’s Windows 64-bit session – interesting but for me personally it was too much of generic 64-bit technology information. We have this technology out there for a while so most of people know how it works. But end of the session was pretty interesting – my key learning is “always take a look how new applications can affect your environment”. And 64-bit technology can help you in large environments but this is not a “magic wand” which will solve any performance issue.  

Jorge was delivering nice RODC session which was solid review of RODC as a key element of LH time frame branch office scenario. Jorge took a nice discussion during his session which affected a little timing but anyway … nicely done Jorge.

Markus Vilcinskas (Markus is a person behind most of MIIS technical documentation) together with Mike Dube (hey Mike, this was really nice time there) were speaking about group based provisioning. They have presented idea of Extensible MA which is able to read group membership data for each user producing some kind of virtual memberOf attribute. It was a little funny for me to watch as we have delivered exact the same (in idea) MA last year to customer, which shows that this is scenario which may be interesting for other MIIS users as well. Markus said that this idea will materialize in a form of next design document shortly so if You are interested in this idea keep looking at MIIS page. I will try to gather my thoughts on this and post it on this blog shortly as well

Last session I want to mention is ~Eric’s session about large scale Active Directory, pitfalls and learning gathered around Active Directory scaling in terms of number of objects (there can be different ways in which you can consider AD as a big – check Eric’s slide deck). This was really nice session with good discussion which took place among Eric and some of MVPs and other people in the room. This was most crowded session I saw during this DEC so next time I think a little bigger room has to be assigned for Eric as a speaker J

All session’s slide decks can be found on DEC 2007 web page so I think there is no point to describe content of every session I saw during this conference. Go there, grab slide decks and watch it yourself.

To summarize this all … as a first time DEC attendee who heard a lot about this conference I have to say that this event met my expectations and I’m really glad that I could attend it. I hope I will make it next year as well as this will be DEC after LH and maybe close to ILM 2 release. This might get interesting. If you are looking for a single conference and your main interest is AD or identity management this is really the place you may consider in the schedule.