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Impressions of PDC09 Day One

Back before I grew up and became a DBA, I used to be a developer.  This seems to be a fairly common career path for many DBAs that I have met. At any rate, I can relate to and understand developers somewhat better because I used to be one, and unlike some DBAs, I don’t get cold chills at the thought of using Visual Studio.

I used to go to the Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) fairly regularly, but the last time I attended one was PDC05. Things have certainly changed quite a bit since then. 

From a logistical standpoint, Microsoft has apparently cut back the budget pretty significantly. There is no breakfast served at the conference, and instead of a nice briefcase or backpack for a conference bag, we got what looks like a reusable shopping bag like you might get at the supermarket. I heard quite a few complaints about both of these items today.

On the positive side, I still get a welcome recharge to my inspiration level after seeing the demonstrations during the keynote addresses. Microsoft tends to put a lot of effort into impressive and entertaining demos at PDC compared to what I have seen at PASS, for example. Maybe this is because developers have a lower tolerance for long PowerPoint decks than DBAs do, or maybe it is because Microsoft is such a developer oriented company. At any rate, one of the benefits of going to the PDC is being reminded how cool it can be to write great software, to create something wonderful out of nothing, using your skill and imagination.

The opening day keynotes were all about cloud computing (which Bob Muglia calls the 5th generation of computing), with Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Windows Server App Fabric, etc. It was amazing how hard Microsoft was pushing this idea today. It might be a good idea to start learning more about both Windows Azure and SQL Azure.

One interesting part of the keynote was the appearance of Vivek Kundra, who is the CIO for the U.S. Federal Government, live via satellite. He talked about the Federal government’s efforts to “democratize” information, and he asked the developers to try to come up with new applications that use cloud computing to have a positive impact on the world. The also introduced the contest that NASA/JPL-Caltech and Microsoft is having called the Pathfinder Innovation Challenge.

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