The first full day of the 7x24Exchange conference in Phoenix contained numerous references to history. As Mike Manos, now of AOL, said, “There certainly seems to be a lot of historical references at this conference.”

Of course, some history is more important than other history. Mike’s references to Marc Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, Rhett and Scarlett, and Homer and Marge can’t be compared to the historical references made by General (ret) Hugh Shelton during his keynote address. Yet both speakers seemed to address the same topic: leadership. Both speakers had something substantive to say, and both were well received.

7x24Exchange Chair Bob Cassiliano proudly announced that this fall event had “demolished” previous attendance records, with 780 registrants as of mid-afternoon today. Further coverage of these talks will be available later this week in my regular blog.

Day one featured a full program, with sessions in the morning including a discussion on talent and recruiting led by industry blogger Dave Ohara. Manos was also part of this panel, as well as Joe Kava from Google, and Jack Glass of Citi. Harkaret Singh discussed the Green Grid data center maturity model.

Just after lunch, Manos begin his often-witty presentation, which discussed the transformation he was trying to bring to AOL and its sizable legacy facilities, as it continued to transform itself into an information delivery company. He noted that he had learned a few lessons since his days at Microsoft, most particularly the challenge that legacy operations could present. “I never had to worry about that before,” he said.  Mission Critical covered two breakout sessions as well. One focused on data selection, and was led by James Grice of Spencer Fane Britt and Browne LLP, and the other, presented by Yan Ness, CEO of Online Tech. Ness’s presentation, entitled The Cloud and the Availability Spectrum, included Ness’s perspectives on how the cloud affects disaster recovery planning and how it should be implemented most cost effectively.

Today's program includes a keynote by Steve Fairfax, a case history presented by Glen Neville of Deutsche Bank, a report on Energy Star from the EPA and Pitt Turner’s discussion of how global data center concerns will affect the U.S. market.