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Q&A with Nicolas Blank: Talking MEC talk

Microsoft’s Exchange Conference is fast approaching (just five more weeks!) and I thought it would be interesting to get some insight from a respected member of the Exchange community. Fortunately, my search didn’t take very long as Exchange MVP, Certified Master and conference speaker Nicolas Blank was happy to oblige.

After a few telephone difficulties — I’m in Newton, Mass. and Nicolas is in Cape Town, South Africa — we were able to spend some time talking about MEC and what folks should look forward to if heading to or considering the conference. Below you’ll get a quick glimpse into our conversation. Enjoy!

1.       Why are you excited about MEC?

Nicolas – Well, I’ve been working with Exchange for about 14 or 15 years now and it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning. [Exchange] is something I’m really passionate about; it’s THE application. It’s not only about what Exchange is, but what it does for people.

I think the Exchange team does a heroic job at [fixing] things we take for granted and I’m looking forward to taking part in and observing conversations at an MVP level. Attendees are going to have the chance to talk to these folks and vice versa.

This is more than responding to people via a blog; it’s a no-holds barred opportunity to chat with the product team and everything gets answered; that doesn’t happen anywhere very often. The entire Exchange team will be there and we’ll all be able to talk Exchange all week.

2.       Which sessions and/or speakers are you looking most forward to?

Nicolas – I don’t think it’s fair because there are so many great speakers and sessions, and everyone does such a great job. When you put your heart and soul into a session, it might be months of work. Everyone that’s helping to put on the show deserves the utmost recognition.

Let’s put it this way, MEC is not a conference where you’re going to deliver a mediocre session; you’d better bring it.

3.       Besides the obvious Exchange 2013 content, what do you hope to get out of MEC?

Nicolas – I really enjoy the sessions where we’re demonstrating value to organizations; mostly anything that has to do with architecture or migrations. I like finding out how I can apply this knowledge to business decisions, such as whether or not a new feature will help a business migrate.

4.       If you can self-promote for a moment, what’s a “can’t-miss” session you’ll be presenting?

Nicolas – I’ll be working at the “Exchange Masters Challenge.” This is going to be a real treat. It’s an opportunity for people to test their [Exchange administration] skills and do whatever they want without risking or breaking anything in a production environment. This is a chance to prove your mettle. It’s going to be a friendly crowd with a product you love.

I thoroughly encourage everyone to come; it’s definitely worth the challenge. You’ll have the opportunity to stand next to certified masters and work with them to figure things out you’d never see in your own environment. Come find out how you stack up.

5.       Anything else you’d like to add about MEC?

Nicolas – This is THE premier Exchange event of the year. There will be terrific personalities and speakers everywhere you turn. It has the right content, product and experience. There’s a certain mix of skills it takes to be a good Exchange admin; you’ll have the chance to be around lots of those people.

A big thank you goes out to Nicolas Blank for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out Nicolas’ Blankman blog, follow him on Twitter and have a look at the ITPro Africa site which offers lots of great Exchange info.

What are you looking forward to at MEC? Write and let me know.

See you in Orlando!


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