PDC Keynote- Day 1

by Matt Milner 27. October 2008 08:45

Ray Ozzie set the stage by talking about how cloud computing is all about moving to the next level of web applications and services that need to reach your customers.  The traditional data center model takes a lot of resources to manage all of the data centers, servers, etc. involving dealing with resources like electricity, networking, local laws, etc.  Microsoft, and other cloud vendors can help meet these challenges by using their skills and experience in managing data centers, as well as their deep pockets, to build out the infrastructure, tools, and services to help meet this demand. 

Windows Azure is the new name for Windows in the cloud.  It provides a core set of services in the cloud including storage, workflow, messaging, and live services.  The best part is that developers get to use Visual Studio to build the applications - there is a real focus on using existing tools for building cloud applications.  Steve Marx did a simple demo showing how a developer can just build an ASP.NET application in Visual Studio using a new project / solution template RUN AND DEBUG LOCALLY, then publish it to the cloud and run it on the MS data center servers.  I think the killer here is the developer story.  I've used services from Amazon and others for cloud computing, but I think Microsoft has a real chance here to blow them all away if building and deploying applications is as easy as it looks (and appears it is).  A more detailed demo showed off a fun little application called BlueHoo that uses Windows Azure as the backbone for a social networking type site based on Bluetooth connectivity between mobile devices. 

Bob Muglia talked a bit about Microsoft .NET Services including messaging (Service Bus), access control and workflow.  A lot of this is the evolution of BizTalk Services which I talked about recently at the Heartland Developer Conference.  These provide a set of core services that developers can use in their applications to take advantage of the scale and reliability of the data center as well as advanced capabilities around messaging and identity when crossing internet and enterprise boundaries. 

Identity Services - incorporates tightly with Active Directory to provide a great management and interoperability story for federated identity that is easier to manage and enables support for single sign-on and other identity services. 

Microsoft SQL Services is the new name for the SQL Server Data Services (SSDS) as it will shortly include more of the SQL features like reporting and analysis.  Another interesting offering planned is to have a ton of reference data (think list of states, postal codes, e.g.) available as part of the data services so you don't have to buy and/or create all of that data. 

Bob also talked about a project under development called "Atlanta" that is built in the System Center family, built on Windows Azure, and using Microsoft .NET Services to send data to the cloud and storing it in Microsoft SQL Services.  He also showed using a new chart control in Silverlight displaying data queried from Microsoft SQL Services and then showed off a SQL Report using rich charts and gauges, again pulling data from Microsoft SQL Services.  Pretty cool new stuff, and it is nice to see them integrating with and building on current tools and servers so it is not all new for developers. 

For me, the best thing about the new cloud services is the way it leverages .NET and the current technologies and I'm impressed with the effort to make the developer experience really rich and simple for building cloud services. 

Dave Thompson finished up by talking about SharePoint Services and CRM online and how developers can build components for these technologies.  The idea is that for many businesses, they spend a lot of time managing services like SharePoint, exchange, etc. and that is not their core business.  With the online services, Microsoft handles upgrades, patching, threat/security management, scale, etc.  Also, instead of buying hardware and server licenses, you pay as you go for how much you use so the cost is not prohibitive for small businesses.  Two key challenges/capabilities Dave talked about are extending the services just like we can extend the server products, and federated identity so a user can be managed in Active Directory and the Microsoft Services Connector links those to a Microsoft Services identity.  This provides single sign-on for the user where they don't even know they are using an online service in some cases.  For extending the systems, Exchange provides web services you can use, SharePoint online can use SharePoint Designer, web parts, etc. CRM provides web services as well and you can take advantage of data modeling and presentation capabilities. 


General Musings