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The UC Architects talk Exchange Server, Lync and must-see events

This well-known group of Exchange and Lync MVPs, MCMs and enthusiasts talks about the latest happenings in the world of Exchange Server.

Back in 2012, Exchange Server MVP Steve Goodman noticed there were not many resources highlighting Exchange Server or its related products. After this realization, he tweeted a question to his followers -- many of whom work deeply with Exchange Server -- asking if anyone would be interested in joining him for an Exchange-related podcast. About 14 people responded to his request, and one month later, the first UC Architects episode was born.

Meet the UC Architects

The UC Architects group consists of Exchange and Lync MVPs, Masters and industry experts. The group currently includes the following people:

With more than 30 podcast episodes completed, UC Architects has gained a following with each episode attracting a few thousand listeners. And the unified communications group is often well represented at a number of conferences, often doing live recordings at events.

Each contributor had his own reason for joining. Andrew John Price, John Cook and Tim Harrington use the podcast as a jumping-off point for networking with other Exchange and Lync professionals outside of forums or blogging. In addition to creating the podcasts to fill the void of not having such broadcasts dedicated to Exchange, Goodman said they actually helped him realize his radio DJ dream.

So what do the UC Architects think about the current state of Exchange and its related products? SearchExchange expert and UC Architects podcast contributor Michael van Horenbeeck spoke with the unified communications group members to get the scoop.

Michael van Horenbeeck: How do you feel about Exchange or Lync now?

Tim Harrington: Lync is finally becoming mature in the industry, although I have been all-in since 2007. It is very exciting to see companies of all sizes interested in Lync, including Enterprise Voice. This just shows how far the product has come and how well Microsoft has done with meeting the requirements of its customers. We are just at the beginning of the wave of unified communications, and Lync seems to be in the driver's seat. It is a very exciting time as the industry is still trying to figure out what the future should look like.

Steve Goodman: It depends what day of the week it is, but in general I feel great about it. It's obviously going to the cloud for some customers, but that just makes for interesting work. On the other hand, it seems we've reached a dip in deployments for Exchange, and Exchange 2013's initial quality didn't help things. We still get great Exchange and Office 365 topics to talk about on each episode, often outnumbering the Lync items, so we know that the community loves Exchange, whether it's on-premises or in the cloud.

Stale Hansen: Lync is now mainstream; I see a strong uptake of Lync in the market and having the ability to deliver Lync across platforms is challenging. I like advising customers and help them choose the platform that is correct for them -- whether it is online, hosted or on-premises.

John Cook: I still think [Exchange Server] is a great product, but I am concerned that the push to Office 365 is alienating on-premises customers. In addition, I am not happy when I see new features released on Office 365 before on-premises, though I do realize they have stated that's their intention.

Michel de Rooji: Microsoft wants customers to adopt new technology and updates faster, but my customers don't follow. For example, the majority are still running Exchange 2010 on-premises.

Paul Cunningham: Most of my experience with [Lync] has been as a user, not an admin or consultant, and I am just blown away at how awesome it is to use, how well it integrates with everything and what it makes possible in terms of remote work and global communications. 

The UC Architects have attended many conferences, including a live recording at the Lync Conference. If you had to name one Exchange-focused conference not to miss, which one would it be?

de Rooji: Microsoft Exchange Conference 2014 (Austin, Texas) ... just because.

Andrew John Price: I haven't attended a conference yet, but I will try to get to the next Lync Conference.

Goodman: Obviously, it would be one where the UC Architects have a live recording. It's not the conference that matters, it's the people attending. So the Microsoft Exchange Conference, Lync Conference, IT/Dev Connections ... all are great.

Cunningham: For me, it is definitely MEC this year. It is the best conference for Exchange people to attend, hands down. A close second is Exchange Connections, which also has the right vibe and focus that I look for in a tech conference.

Cook: Lync Conference. It's an amazing event for networking, and the sessions are amazing in their depth and breadth of subject matter.

Serkan Varoglu: This is a tough question. I would probably choose Microsoft Exchange Conference because the previous one was just awesome.

About the author:
Michael Van Horenbeeck is a technology consultant, Microsoft Certified Trainer and Exchange MVP from Belgium, mainly working with Exchange Server, Office 365, Active Directory and a bit of Lync. He has been active in the industry for 12 years and is a frequent blogger, a member of the Belgian Unified Communications User Group Pro-Exchange and a regular contributor to The UC Architects 

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