For the first time in my career I have attended a major conference and it was well worth the wait. I had a handful of major objectives in attending of which all were met.
- Gain an understanding of Azure and how we can leverage it for our small and mid market customers.
- Gain more detailed insight into changes in SharePoint 2010 that will impact customizations and solutions that we provide our customers.
- Have some dialog with some of the MS data team members and others to understand MS’ vision for data store interaction.
- Meet people and make some great contacts.
There are a few things that became VERY clear as early as the first day.
MS’ Vision is “clouded.” (***pun intended***)
Microsoft has made major investments in software (across a large portion of product lines), hardware, and relationships in order to make their vision of 3 screens and a cloud a reality. They now have a modular datacenter in which they will be reselling at some point in the future. You can see an installation at http://www.microsoft.com/video/en/us/details/bafe5c0f-8651-4609-8c71-24c733ce628b. It is essentially a data center in a box that can be delivered like a POD storage unit. It can be “plugged” into your existing datacenter or it can be standalone. In either case Windows Azure is the operating system for the data center. It has services that facilitates many features, but an example is support for quick scale out of servers. This is controlled by a customer developer portal that only takes a few configuration changes in the browser and clicking a button to increase the number of servers. Silverlight is being highlighted as part of this vision as it enriches the browser experience and will soon find its way to a mobile device.
There is a Focus on OS Usability with Win 7
Microsoft has gone back to the basics and spent much time and effort in improving the usability of their consumer operating system. They want Windows 7 to be successful so much that they gave us each a laptop loaded with the Ultimate edition that supports all features including the multi-touch display. They spent a decent chunk of time on this during the second day keynote.
There is a Push for SharePoint Adoption by Developers
The development environment for SharePoint customizations is now a first class citizen in Visual Studio and SharePoint. While there seem to be a few kinks to work out between now and the release of MSS 2010 and VS 2010, it is VERY exciting. It was unfortunate to see that a good portion of developers left the keynote when they started talking about Office and SharePoint 2010. For every session block there seemed to be a session on something SharePoint related.
The Data team (as they are now called) has heard our pain of getting something drastically new annually
In listening to the keynote and several sessions as well as speaking with Elisa Flasko from the data team it became evident that one of the main reasons for them introducing oData was to make things more consistent and transparent. This will allow us to have one consistent API/Protocol to use instead of having to choose from between ADO.NET Data Services, REST Services, etc. I was pretty impressed with what I saw. Check out the new data site on MSDN, http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/data/default.aspx.
Thanks again to Chris Koenig, MS Developer Evangelist, for letting a newbie hang around!