First off I want to thank the people who attended today’s Inaugural Office 365 International User Group meeting! While we did not have a ton of attendees, the ones that did attend were treated to a great presentation and numerous great discussions around Office 365 (in my humble opinion). I think the meeting went very well today, and one of my concerns was that we would have dead space and not be able to fill an hour for the meeting; and that was exactly the opposite! We had a great “Vendor Spotlight” by Loryan Strant (@TheCloudMouth) on his two companies, Paradyne and XStran, about what he and his companies are doing around Office 365. I led a discussion around the User Group as a whole and also Exchange 2010 SP2 Hybrid Wizard and then we opened it up to an Open Discussion. Topics ranged from Lync Online Enterprise Voice and SIP federation to the bungled Office 365 Beta Exams and the perception that all Beta testers have seemed to have passed even though the users on the call mostly thought they failed one or both exams after taking them.

By my count we had four Office 365 MVP’s in attendance; Loryan Strant (@TheCloudMouth), Rene Modery (@modery), Brett Hill (@bretthill) and Jethro Seghers (@jseghers). We had a couple Microsoft employees checking in our fledgling group and ensuring the MVP’s didn’t break and NDA agreementsJ. And we had a great and broad attendee base across the entire planet. Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and USA represented. I really appreciated that everyone that attended participated, well maybe except for my Catapult counterpart who was busy listening while doing billable work. But it was really great to get to hear from people who use and work with Office 365 around the world. It really showed that this is a small planet and we are all facing the same challenges and opportunities with technology as a whole and Office 365!

We had a good little discussion about how to get local and regional User Groups going. It was brought up that it is hard to have a pure Office 365 Local or regional user group as it spans several specialties (this also came up in the Exam discussion, expecting a single person to be an expert on SharePoint, Exchange and Lync as well as the infrastructure components like ADFS for Office 365) and that most locals have specific user groups for the specialities. It was mentioned that maybe this group needs to reach out to the already established user groups and make them aware and provide insight to the fact this group is available and provide visibility between both groups to help foster communication. This is something we will look into and hope to foster the relationships between existing Lync/SharePoint/Exchange local user groups with our Office 365 user group.

We also formulated a plan to get a dedicated website, hosted on Office 365 SharePoint Online, up and running. I have already taken the initial steps to make this happen and we are looking to the SharePoint gurus of the group to build the public website. I will be scheduling the next meeting for late May and get this publicized so we can grow this group and help be a place where Office 365 users, admins and enthusiasts to come to share ideas and assist each other with all things Office 365 related!

Please join the group, for now I have a page setup on my personal website to pump this group up, visit here to find info about joining the mailing list and our Linkedin.com group, http://home.office365evangelist.com/Pages/Office365UserGroup.aspx