Monday, April 30, 2012

MMS 2012- The Lowdown

Well, that's another week in Las Vegas finished with the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) 2012 closing off on Friday 20th April. All the attendees have packed their bags and travelled back home - some across several different time zones - and everybody (including myself) are back to the grind of normal working life from last week.

As I didn't get around to blogging too much while in Vegas, I felt it was only right that I create a post that contains all the highlights of the conference and also add in some additional resources to get more information on the sessions that went on throughout the week.


Day 1
In the keynote speech on Day 1, Brad Anderson (Corporate VP of Microsoft) made a number of announcements including the general release of System Center 2012 and the official name of their new server operating system - Windows Server 2012. This means that Windows Server 2012 will be due for release this year, with some speculation that it is due to RTM around September/October.

The new Private Cloud MCSE track was also announced and this is going to change the way people certify for Microsoft exams. If you want to achieve your Private Cloud MCSE, then you need to be up to at least MCSA on Windows Server 2008 and then pass the two new Private Cloud exams which take into account all the products within the WHOLE System Center suite. In a nutshell, you won't be easily able to double guess (or braindump) these exams and it'll definitely seperate the skilled engineer from the 'Paper MCSE' engineer that we have seen so often in the past.

As the focus for Day 1's Keynote speech was on the datacentre, we had some cool demonstrations from Ryan O'Hara and Vijay Tewari around self service provisioning using System Center Service Manager 2012 and bare metal deployment and cloud creation with System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012.

Day 2
The keynote on Day 2 was titled 'A World of Connected Devices' and had a strong focus on end user device management. Significantly it was announced that Windows Intune will now support Apple iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Bill Anderson (Principal Program Manager) demonstrated the live installation of an application onto an iPhone.

Brad Anderson also talked about the new User Experience Virtualization (UE-V) feature. This comes bundled with a new version of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) and it lets users retain their application experience between different Windows instances.

Along with a UE-V demonstration, we also had a demonstration on the rapid deployment of the Windows Server 2012 Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) within 60 seconds.

Finally, Brad announced that MMS 2013 would be held in June 2013 in New Orleans!

Breakout Sessions:

There were well over 150+ breakout sessions being held during the week and trying to make a choice as to which ones to attend was a nightmare! Even though we all had pre-configured our schedules before the conference, most people moved between sessions or changed their minds at the last minute due to the sheer volume of excellent technical content that was on show.

At the start of the week, the sessions were pretty much of the Level 100-Level 200 type and due to the participation of myself and a number of attendees in the excellent Community Evaluation Programs (CEPs) that led up to the conference, we had already seen and were familiar with most of the information on offer. If anything, this made us diversify our choice of session and choose sessions that covered products and solutions that were normally outside of our day to day work.

As an observation, last year at MMS 2011, it was interesting to see that the majority of attendees where Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) IT pro's and the amount of sessions dedicated to ConfigMgr was massive.

This year however, although the ConfigMgr sessions were plentiful, I noticed a large attendance in the Orchestrator and Service Manager sessions and this has to be representitive of the sway in focus towards these two technologies and the important roles they will play within future System Center deployments and designs.

This year Microsoft has opened up the Breakout Sessions to the public and they can be viewed at leisure through the new Digital MMS website.

Last year all attendee's received a DVD a few weeks after the event that contained all of the sessions and additional content. This year, due to the sessions being available for streaming online, we won't be getting a DVD in the post. If you don't like the idea of having to stream your sessions and would like to have them downloaded to your hard drive, then no problem - Stefan Roth over at has created a nice and handy little PoSh script that enables you to download the entire MMS 2012 video catalog direct to your hard disk! You can get your hands on this script from the link below:

Private Cloud BETA Exams

Along with the possibility for attendees to sit the normal Microsoft MCTS type exams, two new Private Cloud BETA exams were offered for free to any MMS 2012 attendee.

These exams were:

70-246 - Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
70-247 - Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012

During the week, I attended an excellent Exam Cram session held by Gordon McKenna (UK based System Center Datacentre and Private Cloud MVP) and then on the Thursday I sat the 71-246 BETA exam. We don't get our results for around 8 weeks after the actual exam due to it being a BETA but I'm not holding out too much hope on having passed! I could blame the fact that I had hardly any sleep (totally my own fault) the night before and did very little preparation for the exam but in fairness, out of 60 questions asked, I counted 21 of them alone that were based on Service Manager of which so far, my real-world experience is minimal. The remaining questions took in the whole breadth of products within the System Center 2012 suite including System Center 2012 Advisor. The format of questions were also outside the norm and included a number of scenario type questions where you had to choose the correct number of steps to a problem and also the correct order in which these steps should be implemented. This new method of testing will only reinforce the need for real-world experience of the technologies being tested.

After speaking to other attendees who sat this BETA exam and the 71-247 one, we all agree that once the new MCSE Private Cloud qualifiaction becomes available to the masses, it will definitely require exposure and hands on experience for the whole suite of System Center products and it's my guess that there will be very high failure rate for those trying to aquire it. This can only be a good thing as it will increase knowledge and understanding of the suite and should go a long way to ensuring that those who do achieve MCSE status will have earned it through hard work and real-world experience.

People Networking:

For me, the week at MMS 2012 represented an excellent opportunity to link up with some old friends that I met at MMS 2011 and also to meet in person the many people that I've interacted online with via Twitter, LinkedIn and the Community Evaluation Program. The only downside though was that everyone was so busy each day/night, that we didn't all get longer to chat - however, the CEP meetup that was held on the Wednesday night was excellent and it was great to put a face to so many of the online persona's.

Out and About in Vegas:

It goes without saying that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" but apart from the Casino crawls, the visit to The Gun Store and the numerous pubs and clubs we dropped into (on that note-why do Irish people always seem to end up in an Irish bar when abroad though?), one of the highlights of the week for me was the MMS 2012 closing party that was held in The Chateaux Nightclub. Microsoft booked out this amazing venue which is located on 3 different levels just under a replica of the Eiffel Tower and directly across from the dancing water fountains of The Bellagio. The fact that there was a free bar for 4 hours just added to the fun!

MMS 2012 Resources:

MMS doesn't just end after a week in April. Instead, it's an invaluable source of information on System Center throughout the year and the organisers, speakers, attendee's and general community churn out endless amounts of excellent blogs, tweets and resources as a result of the content they digested during the conference. Below is a list of  some of my favorite websites, blogs and twitter hashtags that are worth checking in on over the year for the most up to date System Center 2012 information that you are to find on the web:


Official MMS 2012 Site


System Center Team Blog

Damian Flynn

Aidan Finn

Kristian Nese

Dieter Wijckmans

Christopher Keyaert

Adam Hall

Cameron Fuller

Marnix Wolf

Mike Resseler

Travis Wright

Steve Beaumont

Flemming Riis

Twitter Hashtags

#mms2012, #sysctr, #systemcenter, #privcloud, #cloud,  #opsmgr, #scom, #scom2012, #scsm, #scorch, #sco, #appcontroller, #scvmm, #scvmm2012, #configmgr, #sccm, #sccm2012, #dpm, #scdpm, #scdpm2012

Hopefully you'll find this reference and brief overview of MMS 2012 useful and all going to plan, we're going to do it all again next year in New Orleans!

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