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.
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.
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.