A World of Opportunities in IT – TechEd Europe 2013 Key Note

After the polished video intro (screen shot below and catch the full key note here) Brad Anderson (Corporate VP at Microsoft) kicked off TechEd Europe by highlighting the opportunities that we have available to us as at the moment in IT. He talked about innovation, helping customers differentiate themsleves and how Microsoft aim to make others great, so whilst I definitely agree that with him, it was the resonance with so much of what we do at Smart that I really liked.

OpeningSeq

Four areas of innovation were discussed around; People Centric IT, Building better Apps for people, Data, and the Cloud Platform. Aligning to these were new product release announcements including SQL 2014 CTP, VS2013 and TFS2013 CTP, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Better still, a partnership with Oracle was announced which means Oracle is fully supported on Azure and Hyper-V (and from what I gathered Oracle images ready to spin up in Azure).

One of the best parts (and I tweeted at the time – @wanty1975 btw) was a video of one of our customers (Aviva) referenced as an example of mobile and Azure development combining to provide an innovative solution for their customers. Why was this so good? Well partly because my old boss was in the video…but more so because seeing real world examples, and close to home too help inspire and make me realise the opportunities we have available to us.

TechEd Pres

So a brief list of new features mentioned in the key note that you should be aware of:

  • BYOD – two-factor authentication making it easy to add devices (a MS Surface in the demo) to AD domains using Windows 8.1 (not sure what the experience would be like for other devices though??). The simple process means files are sync’d, permissios granted to corporate data and Line of Business (LoB) applications downloaded onto the device accessible via a company portal-like homepage.
  • VS and TFS 2013 – ALM benefits throughout the develoment lifecycle but I really liked InRelease (following a recent acquisition by Microsoft) which provides workflow and approval mechanisms for moving builds through environments. I could see this really helping to take the pain away from tracking builds through environments and ensuring everyone knows what versions are where. From a dev perspective I also thought the new Code Lense and Code Map features looked really helpful. These come under the banner of Situational Awareness and are designed to reduce the time and effort needed by developers when context switching. Code lense integrates with TFS 2013 to provide details within the code base, such as tests passing/failed, who it was last checked in by and any recent check-ins. It helps developers understand who has done what, where and why, much more simply than the previous version/compare routine that we’ve all experienced. Code map provides a diagramatic view of code (similar to architecture modelling tools) but this can be viewed at runtime in debug mode, like a call stack, helping developers familiarise themselves with code much quicker and easier.
  • SQL 2014 – some huge performance gains achieved through in-memory OLTP and row based access rather than page, therefore reducing locking issues and increasing performance. SQL will suggest what tables are ‘hot’ and recommend moving them into memory (I’m assuming they’re persisted to disk to fairly frequently!!). I also picked up on the ability to replicate an existing on-prem DB to Azure, to provide HA and DR via a right-click menu option…didn’t see or hear any more evidence of this but sounds like a great feature. Also HDInsght and Hadoop linkage to Excel to provide visualisations and insight to Big Data.
  • Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 – providing the tools to make Hybrid cloud simple and easy, with tooling to help sync data, create replicas for DR purposes and significant performance benefits for virtualised machines.

So there are obviously things that I’ve missed and lots more to talk about but hopefully this represents a fair summary. I’ll also be tweeting any further nuggets throughout the week.

Posted in Microsoft | Leave a comment

A World of Opportunities in IT – TechEd Europe 2013 Key Note

After the polished video intro (screen shot below and catch the full key note here) Brad Anderson (Corporate VP at Microsoft) kicked off TechEd Europe by highlighting the opportunities that we have available to us as at the moment in IT. He talked about innovation, helping customers differentiate themsleves and how Microsoft aim to make others great, so whilst I definitely agree that with him, it was the resonance with so much of what we do at Smart that I really liked.

OpeningSeq

Four areas of innovation were discussed around; People Centric IT, Building better Apps for people, Data, and the Cloud Platform. Aligning to these were new product release announcements including SQL 2014 CTP, VS2013 and TFS2013 CTP, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Better still, a partnership with Oracle was announced which means Oracle is fully supported on Azure and Hyper-V (and from what I gathered Oracle images ready to spin up in Azure).

One of the best parts (and I tweeted at the time – @wanty1975 btw) was a video of one of our customers (Aviva) referenced as an example of mobile and Azure development combining to provide an innovative solution for their customers. Why was this so good? Well partly because my old boss was in the video…but more so because seeing real world examples, and close to home too help inspire and make me realise the opportunities we have available to us.

TechEd Pres

So a brief list of new features mentioned in the key note that you should be aware of:

  • BYOD – two-factor authentication making it easy to add devices (a MS Surface in the demo) to AD domains using Windows 8.1 (not sure what the experience would be like for other devices though??). The simple process means files are sync’d, permissios granted to corporate data and Line of Business (LoB) applications downloaded onto the device accessible via a company portal-like homepage.
  • VS and TFS 2013 – ALM benefits throughout the develoment lifecycle but I really liked InRelease (following a recent acquisition by Microsoft) which provides workflow and approval mechanisms for moving builds through environments. I could see this really helping to take the pain away from tracking builds through environments and ensuring everyone knows what versions are where. From a dev perspective I also thought the new Code Lense and Code Map features looked really helpful. These come under the banner of Situational Awareness and are designed to reduce the time and effort needed by developers when context switching. Code lense integrates with TFS 2013 to provide details within the code base, such as tests passing/failed, who it was last checked in by and any recent check-ins. It helps developers understand who has done what, where and why, much more simply than the previous version/compare routine that we’ve all experienced. Code map provides a diagramatic view of code (similar to architecture modelling tools) but this can be viewed at runtime in debug mode, like a call stack, helping developers familiarise themselves with code much quicker and easier.
  • SQL 2014 – some huge performance gains achieved through in-memory OLTP and row based access rather than page, therefore reducing locking issues and increasing performance. SQL will suggest what tables are ‘hot’ and recommend moving them into memory (I’m assuming they’re persisted to disk to fairly frequently!!). I also picked up on the ability to replicate an existing on-prem DB to Azure, to provide HA and DR via a right-click menu option…didn’t see or hear any more evidence of this but sounds like a great feature.
  • Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 – providing the tools to make Hybrid cloud simple and easy, with tooling to help sync data, create replicas for DR purposes and significant performance benefits for virtualised machines.

So there are obviously things that I’ve missed and lots more to talk about but hopefully this represents a fair summary. I’ll also be tweeting any further nuggets throughout the week.

Posted in Microsoft | Leave a comment

A World of Opportunities in IT – TechEd Europe 2013 Key Note

After the polished video intro (screen shot below and catch the full key note here) Brad Anderson (Corporate VP at Microsoft) kicked off TechEd Europe by highlighting the opportunities that we have available to us as at the moment in IT. He talked about innovation, helping customers differentiate themsleves and how Microsoft aim to make others great, so whilst I definitely agree that with him, it was the resonance with so much of what we do at Smart that I really liked.

OpeningSeq

Four areas of innovation were discussed around; People Centric IT, Building better Apps for people, Data, and the Cloud Platform. Aligning to these were new product release announcements including SQL 2014 CTP, VS2013 and TFS2013 CTP, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Better still, a partnership with Oracle was announced which means Oracle is fully supported on Azure and Hyper-V (and from what I gathered Oracle images ready to spin up in Azure).

One of the best parts (and I tweeted at the time – @wanty1975 btw) was a video of one of our customers (Aviva) referenced as an example of mobile and Azure development combining to provide an innovative solution for their customers. Why was this so good? Well partly because my old boss was in the video…but more so because seeing real world examples, and close to home too help inspire and make me realise the opportunities we have available to us.

TechEd Pres

So a brief list of new features mentioned in the key note that you should be aware of:

  • BYOD – two-factor authentication making it easy to add devices (a MS Surface in the demo) to AD domains using Windows 8.1 (not sure what the experience would be like for other devices though??). The simple process means files are sync’d, permissios granted to corporate data and Line of Business (LoB) applications downloaded onto the device accessible via a company portal-like homepage.
  • VS and TFS 2013 – ALM benefits throughout the develoment lifecycle but I really liked InRelease (following a recent acquisition by Microsoft) which provides workflow and approval mechanisms for moving builds through environments. I could see this really helping to take the pain away from tracking builds through environments and ensuring everyone knows what versions are where. From a dev perspective I also thought the new Code Lense and Code Map features looked really helpful. These come under the banner of Situational Awareness and are designed to reduce the time and effort needed by developers when context switching. Code lense integrates with TFS 2013 to provide details within the code base, such as tests passing/failed, who it was last checked in by and any recent check-ins. It helps developers understand who has done what, where and why, much more simply than the previous version/compare routine that we’ve all experienced. Code map provides a diagramatic view of code (similar to architecture modelling tools) but this can be viewed at runtime in debug mode, like a call stack, helping developers familiarise themselves with code much quicker and easier.
  • SQL 2014 – some huge performance gains achieved through in-memory OLTP and row based access rather than page, therefore reducing locking issues and increasing performance. SQL will suggest what tables are ‘hot’ and recommend moving them into memory (I’m assuming they’re persisted to disk to fairly frequently!!). I also picked up on the ability to replicate an existing on-prem DB to Azure, to provide HA and DR via a right-click menu option…didn’t see or hear any more evidence of this but sounds like a great feature.
  • Windows Server and System Center 2012 R2 – providing the tools to make Hybrid cloud simple and easy, with tooling to help sync data, create replicas for DR purposes and significant performance benefits for virtualised machines.

So there are obviously things that I’ve missed and lots more to talk about but hopefully this represents a fair summary. I’ll also be tweeting any further nuggets throughout the week.

Posted in Microsoft | 1 Comment

Cloud dominates TechEd Europe

Firstly, apologies for this somewhat delayed post – put it down to the usual pressures of trying to get everything closed off before year end (and a little ‘help’ from my CIO ;o) )!

KeyNote

So my first visit to Berlin for Microsoft’s TechEd Europe event left me feeling drained attempting to get around as many bars breakout sessions as possible. The Cloud undoubtedly dominated proceedings and this is backed up by the fact that I only chose one Cloud specific breakout session, and yet out of the 20 or so sessions I attended I can hardly recall a session where the Cloud wasn’t mentioned! It highlights just how integral the Cloud is to Microsoft’s product strategy, covering 3 distinct service offerings; Infrastructure-As-A-Service, Platform-As-A-Service and Software-As-A-Service.

The keynote (watch it here) provided a clear steer on how Microsoft see the end-to-end application landscape evolving; user-centric portable devices, hooking into Visual Studio (VS) applications/services hosted in the Cloud. On the portable devices side the recent release of Windows 7 Mobile and the ease at which applications can be written in VS2010, provided an insight into how Microsoft see mobile apps becoming pivotal for businesses (anyone can get started using the free tools). Not much to shout about here in hardware terms but development wise there appears to be great potential for developing rich business applications for mobile devices.

Software-As-A-Service was headed by Office 365 (Microsoft’s answer to GoogleApps) and provides slick browser based versions of your usual favourites; Word, Excel and PowerPoint. What’s impressive here is that you also get Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online (MS unified communications suite encompassing IM, Voice, Email and Web Conferencing). With pricing options for both SMEs and Enterprises, organisations have the opportunity to utilise some great tools with low up-front costs, that will help streamline communication and simplify company collaboration (both internal and external via federated Lync environments).

Infrastructure-As-A-Service facilitated by Hyper-V Cloud technology provides businesses with a self-service, elastic infrastructure platform. It gives you the opportunity to utilise vast amounts of processing power without the prohibitive expenditure you’d usually face when procuring your own tin. I was impressed with the Service Templates that simplify deployment and management of applications spanning multiple tiers. Remember however, that you’re still responsible for the patching, upgrading and management of all the servers deployed, but you get the commodity based benefits the Cloud can offer. Interestingly, Microsoft mentioned that financial assistance was available to companies wishing to be guinea pigs on this new offering.

Platform-As-A-Service is obviously where Windows Azure comes into play, providing a robust and scalable platform to host business applications. This was described as the panacea and it was clear to see alignment with all development technologies attempting to abstract the solution from where it may ultimately be deployed. This was demonstrated with VS2010 deployments, particularly when using AppFabric but also SQL Server in the form of Data Tier Application Development. The development tools are evolving to make it as easy as possible to switch between Cloud and non-Cloud based deployments, and clearly Microsoft want to remove as many obstacles as possible so that choosing Cloud services is literally one click away.

The other item I want to highlight was the effectiveness of Twitter at an event like this. Not only was it useful for me to keep up with the latest celebrity gossip, but I was really impressed with the ability for Microsoft to get immediate feedback on the event and breakout sessions. I can see it providing businesses with a great medium for assessing the impact of marketing campaigns etc. but also data-mining potential discovering patterns in comments. On this theme I recommend you take a look at this. A great week and highly recommended.

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