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Tech Ed - Keynote

These will get pretty long as I'm kind of wordy, but these are impressions as things are occurring.
Registration is a little crazy. I'm not sure who desgined this conference, but it's split among the two sides of the conference center in Orlando. I've attended 3 or 4 Tech Eds, a couple PDCs, and half a dozen other conferences. In all of the cases, the entire conference is in one building. A big one, but one building. Here the keynote is in the west center and the show/expo, and the backpack you get loaded with marketing material and swag, is in the South center. If you've never seen the Orlando convention center, that's a big deal. There's a 1/2 mile walk outside in the Florida heat between them. Not a big deal to me, since I like the heat, but I sweat, so it's not so nice for my neighbors.

  I arrived late, and it was packed. If you've attended others, you know that it's usually the case you have 4 or so large screens. It seems most conferences have moved towards dual screens, showing the speaker on one and a computer on the other. The recent BI conference had 2 pairs of screens. TechEd has 6 pairs. It's a big show.

  Talking about models for optimization of your IT processes. It's a good idea and I think we need more reference models and also most explanations on how to map our internal IT processes to the model.

  Energizer - The first video was from Envergizer, which was also a featured company with the BI conference. They must be a heavy Microsoft user. Their initial plan was to be 2 years behind any release of software. Sharepoint is a featured, which shows just how much focus is being put on thie particular piece of software.

  The focus on IT this year seems to be working on an agile, rapidly changeably infrastructure, being able to move in real-time.
  - Connections more pervasive
  - reponse time expectations are shrinking.
  - technology can really enable differentiation.
  - relationships are online and short-lived (is this true? Or has business pushed us this way? In some ways it has, in others it hasn't.)
  - Agility is hard. It seems that the gap between agile and not-so-agile companies is growing. Agility is sensing a change and efficiently and rapidly responding.
  - 70% of IT budgets maintaining. But successful companies have moved that to 50-50.
    - Focus on costs, cost based on usage, not more efficiency. A utiltiy model
     - Quality of service with management based on policies. Matching up what IT can do with the business needs. Not everything needs 5 9s or subsecond response.
     - be agile. infrastructure is more dynamic.
  - Need to build other metrics besides cost to allow you to measure this and improve it.
  - Ask business what they need and translate those needs into measures and begin to work with those measures.
  - Gartnew has an IT maturity model
    - Focus on process, technology, and culture. All three are important.
     - Don't use long-termprojects. They usually fail. Work on smaller pieces instead with ROI measured in each stage. Not just cost, but also quality, and agility. Usually it is cost recovery in early stages with later stages needing investment to gain on quality and agility.

  XEN open source software is including Microsoft interoperability in their distrobutions. Licensing agreements are occuring, so it seems thatt Microsoft is trying to work with open source software.

  There was a good docus on the interoperability and the efforts their making to work with other software and embrace stadnards. I'm not sure how much I believe it, but they do seem to be working a bit better with ther systems. Is it Microsoft or the toher companies?

  The Back to the Future car was on stage and Christopher Lloyd showed up on stage a few times.  Microsoft does go all out at TechEd and they usually have some godo guests.

  Windows Server 2008 Demo
   - Server Core - Minimal installation option for specialized installation. This means that a file server canjust have the file server services. Good for virtualization. IIS, file server, AD server can be roles. Only a command line interface for server admin.
    - Virtual Server lets you use multicore cpus.
    - System Center has a virtual server manager. VMWare machines can be converted to MS virtual machines. Built on powershell.
    - Physical servers can be converted to virtual machines.
    - move VMs from one host to another. Quick Migration is the option that you can do today with Virtual Server.
    - Demo was a bit fast, but well delivered.

  - New model driven management tools
    - System Center, Operations Manager, modeling applications for a company. Operations Manager can see errors, like web erors. There is a "Problem Path" section that can highlight all the components showing errors. A lot of design and documentation work to get things set, but it certainly could assist your production team in managing servers. Not sure about security, rights, etc., but it's a good idea in general.
     - Katmai - Policies in Management Studio, and we can set policies for servers. This allows us to set settings for standards and I can now see if a database is not set according to policy. Things like db options, etc. These can rollup to System Center.

SML is a theme. This seems like the next wave of XML use in Microsoft. We had the XML for visual displays in Vista, and now we're seeing SML for system modeling.

Services are important. One of the four pillars that Microsoft is pushing is the need for software services. SOA is definitely something to watch and learn a bit more about. BizTalk has been working with "services in the cloud" where disparate companies can easily set up services that they can use to talk to each other. Not sure how well this will take off, but it's interesting.

Kind of a cool demo showing the Dundas technology Microsoft has licensed for Reporting Services 2008. An easy to build report with a map control in it. At the BI conference, I also saw the Excel and Word integration technologies for building reports. The rest of the demo was a bit drab. Not a great presented, and it seemed that they were trying to push Biztalk, but I didn't really see it as a great technology to use. Maybe I don't get it, but I think if I don't, then most people won't.

It's nice to see that Microsoft hasn't forgotten the user experience. The fourth pillar was absed on the user interface, and featured :Expression, silverlight, and Office with Visual studio. VS2008 was used with the office tools included. An extension to Outlook was built. I can see people getting a little crazy with this, but it's a good idea. Getting more, rich Outlook messages is a good step to ensuring people stick with the platform. And it makes for a better experience as well. But it does tie you tighter to Microsoft. I'm ok with it, but some people may be concerned. I think this is mostly for internal mail, so I'm not sure what would happen when it transitions outside your domain.

Losing my battery, more later.

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


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