I spent a large portion of this week at DEC 2008. I mentioned previously that I’d be presenting as well. Now that I’ve had a couple of days back to catch up with work and home, I wanted to recap the amazing experience, and share a few bits of info that I learned as well.

Sunday March 2nd was only registration and the reception for me. I just used the brief time downtown to meet with the Centrify and Likewise teams who worked so hard over the previous month to help me prepare my presentation for Wednesday. I met a bunch of great new contacts as well – not a conversation passed that I didn’t learn something new.

Monday the 3rd included Gil Kirkpatrick’s discussion on AD administrators vs. software developers, Jerry Camel and Brad Turner’s overview of proper architecture for ILM “2″, how Microsoft is using Windows Server 2008 (Brian Puhl), an amazingly indepth look into AD with Dean Wells and Joe Richards, and a discussion about how Centrify DirectControl works (in Centrify’s vendor track).

Gil Kirkpatrick covered things like mistakes that developers often make because they’re taught how to write well-constructed SQL queries, but not well-constructed LDAP queries. He discussed at great length 11 tips to help ensure that directory-integrated software performs as it should, without killing domain controller performance. The most interesting part, however, was his suggestions on how to talk with software developers so that both halves of the IT team can create a well-rounded product.

After lunch, Brian Puhl with Microsoft IT spoke at length about the rollout of Windows Server 2008 within Microsoft. He talked about the problems they encountered running a release candidate OS, and how their rollout process works, from the test domain to the “pre-production” forest of 5000 real users, to the “real” production forest. That they’re able to run in 2008 Forest mode already is impressive to me. The discussion of using RODCs (Read Only Domain Controllers) in DMZs and remote offices was also very cool.

Dean Wells and Joe Richards – if you ever get a chance to see them speak, take it. Not only do they know things about AD that nobody in the audience knew (and the attendees at DEC are *smart*), but they present really well – personality, humor, and great new info. They covered things like exactly what AdminSDHolder does, and how precisely the Infrastructure Master role works (down to the changes inside the DIT itself). They also had a few things to say about the Second City itself.

I spoke in Centrify’s vendor track about their DirectControl product. We had a decent turnout, considering it was a vendor-specific talk. Likewise Software, NetPro software, and OptimalIDM threw some pretty great parties after hours. It was interesting meeting people like Mark Foust, Mike Dube, and Stuart Kwan from Microsoft, Manny Vellon from Likewise Software, David McNeely from Centrify, and John Serban from WaMu, and talking to them about work and other things.

I’ll follow up on Days 2 and 3, including my presentation, in the next few posts.