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MEC 2001: Update from the floor

Folks who made the trip to Orlando and MEC 2001 tell searchWin2000 why they're there, and what their chief concerns are.

The theme of MEC 2001, "Crossing the Bridge to .Net," and its focus on Exchange 2000 migration and Active Directory appears to be a hit with attendees.

Technical support specialist Mathieu Tetu is part of a Canada Maritime Agency team responsible for migrating the 7000 employee company from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000. After six months of planning, Tetu said Canada Maritime will be moving from testing to full production over the next three or four months. He is here in Orlando to absorb as much as he can about Exchange 2000 and Active Directory before that final transition.

Two IT employees with Fairmont Hotels are taking the divide and conquer approach to their coverage of MEC. Todd Bachelder, messaging manager for the global enterprise, will focus on the planning, management and financial implications of the hotel chain's Exchange migration. His co-worker, Matt Drnovscek, messaging and platform development administrator, will concentrate on the technical aspects of Exchange deployment.

Drnovscek particularly wants to gain a better understanding of how Global Catalog Server and SharePoint Portal Server are going to come into play. After four months of planning and another four months of lab production, the two Exchange admins said the hotel plans to go live on Exchange 2000 by year's end.

For Mike Dunn, assistant director of distributed computing at Boston University, the emphasis will be on maintaining Exchange and Active Directory down the road. BU has recently completed an AD deployment that affected more than 40,000 users and a new installation of Exchange 2000 for approximately 2,000 administrators.

Ironically, despite MEC's heavy-duty agenda of hands-on technical sessions and demonstrations, IT managers and administrators almost universally told searchWin2000 that their biggest challenges revolve around political issues. They cited mergers and acquisitions, far-flung geographies, difficulty justifying costs to executives, and bureaucratic red tape as far greater problems than the technology itself.

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Interview: Exchange expert talks challenges for 2003 Messaging expert Lee Benjamin has worn plenty of hats. He is currently an independent consultant and chairman of the New England Exchange User Group, which has 250 members. Most recently, he was vice president of Microsoft technology and strategies at IntelliReach Corp., an e-mail management software company. He also spent six years at Microsoft where he played a role in the development of the first Exchange Server, as well as having a number of other positions in the messaging world. He has designed systems for companies of all sizes, but one of his most memorable jobs came during the height of dotcom fever when he helped a now-defunct virtual company draw up a proposal for a Web application that could support 1 million users. He recently chatted about the more down-to-earth challenges that face Exchange customers today

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