So this is Saturday afternoon and we are all still plucking away in the lab. It has been quite a challenging experience until now, but also very rewarding. 12 hour+ days with a mixture of presentations, discussions and lab work.
Most of the participants in this alpha rotation have also developed the content and are delivering it during the rotation. We have had excellent presentations packed with a lot of good and detailed information. Even better have been the great discussions going on among a very talented and experienced team of people. All of us have different specialties and it has been great to tap into some of the very deep knowledge the other participants have. Since this is a alpha we have also been lucky enough to have different component PM’s, developers and testers from the Office Communications Group (OCG) stopping by and helping us out with answers to questions and feedback to the material.
The lab is awesome. Each participant has a pod. Each pod has 2 Vista laptops with web cams and headset, 1 Office Communicator Phone Edition powered device, 1 3rd-party IP Phone and their own Windows 2008 Hyper-V server running 26 virtual servers with a OCS 2007 R2 environment with ISA, Edge, Directory, EE pool, Archiving, Monitoring, CWA, Group Chat, MOM, IP-PBX, 5 Mediation Servers and 5 Windows XP clients.
The networking in the lab simulates a corporate network, the Internet and a telephony network. The 24 different pods are each configured as its own company in its own town in its own country and all have a branch in Redmond. All the countries are connected using a simulated PSTN and all OCS environments can federated to each other.
The first week has covered networking for voice/video, IM/presence, Group Chat, Reach, Mobility, Conferencing and Management & Integration. We have been busy taking notes, asking questions, discussing and doing labs with setting up functionality, looking at traces to understanding how the protocols are used etc.
The afternoon is coming to an end and we can soon enjoy a day outside of the class room. Of course it won’t completely be a day off, since we’ll have to study for the first written exam Monday morning 🙂