Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tech-Ed Berlin 2010 – Day Two

Today started early for me. I wanted to arrive in time so I had time for coffee and something to eat. Also visited the Dell booth in order to compete for the Dell Streak :). You never know…

Nor did I realize what surprise this day would bring for me… :)

Session 01:
The first session was all about Office 365, (Office 2010 Professional Plus, SharePoint 2010, Exchange 2010 and Lync, the next generation of OCS in the Cloud).

Even though my main field of interest is the System Center suite, the Cloud can not be ignored since it is going to influence everyone BIG time. So it is better to familiarize myself with it. Personally I believe that within 5 years my job will be totally different compared to what I am doing right now. Gladly on Tech-Ed many sessions are about the Cloud: BPOS, Office 365, Azure to name a few. So its time to get involved!

The session itself was very interesting and highly paced. First some background information was given about how the landscape of IT is changing. From a world where E-mail was the primary communication method to the world where IM and chat are the way to go and E-mail becomes a background app. Also people do not work anymore in rigid timeframes from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and in the office. Nowadays people are working from home, while traveling and so on, using all kinds of devices. Also the mobile phone is getting more and more the platform used by many people in order to do much of their work while communicating and collaborating. So Anywhere, Anytime and Anyplace is the motto where mobility is key and driving all these changes.

Against this background Office 365 is delivered as an online service for customers, ranging from small to enterprise businesses. One of the real powers is that all Office components are integrated as intended. So instead of having to work with many isolated apps, one works with a single app, doing whatever you need: IM, chat, UM, mailing, creating documents, presentations, Excel sheets, collaborating on internal/external websites, sharing information in a way that is really awesome. No rocket science needed from the end-user, just a single straightforward interface which works really nice.

Some parts of Office 365 were demonstrated. Not only the user interface but also the admin interface, Bulk import of new users is easily done by using a csv file. Configuring Exchange Online, creating new mailboxes, assigning User Roles to a group of users is also easily done.  The user interface looks user friendly: one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to understand it. What struck me most is the ease of use. Not only for the users but for also for Admins. All is done from a single interface. Whether it is deploying new SharePoint farms or creating new mailboxes, all is done from the same web interface:

Also the SLA Microsoft guarantees is really something special: an uptime of 99,9%. When they don’t deliver it is money back! So something tells me Microsoft believes strongly in this new Online Service :). Also a new licensing model is introduced: Pay-as-you-go, per user licensing!

And not just that. Office 365 adds some new ingredients to the mix which makes it even more interesting:

As you can see, Microsoft did not install simply Office, Exchange, SharePoint and Lync in the Cloud. No way. They went to great lengths to create a new Online Service which adds much more value then one would expect on first sight.

Also the dedication to the program is something to be respected since Microsoft guarantees to add new functionality and features every 90 days:

Many customers are already working with Office 365, among them Coca Cola Enterprises and Starbucks:

Even though Office 365 is ‘only’ beta now, the agenda is impressive and shows Microsoft means business:

Session 02:
Wow! Session 01 was really great so it was time get acquainted with another Cloud service from Microsoft, the Windows Azure Platform. Wow! What is that you ask? Good question! Taken directly from the Windows Azure Platform Training Kit: ‘…is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. Azure's flexible and interoperable platform can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities …’.

It is good to know that the earlier mentioned training kit is very interesting. Download it, install it on your system and learn. Yes, you can also learn how to write code. But for me that is a bit too much. None the less, the training kit contains tons of good information about what the Windows Azure Platform is all about. So there is much to be learned from that.

During this session the Windows Azure Platform was explained, its components shown and demonstrated (Windows Azure, SQL Azure, Virtual Machine (VM) Role, AppFabric and Azure Marketplace).

A good session it was and also fast paced. The speaker knew what he was talking about. So I got much wiser on this topic. An hour well spent!

The Surprise:
During the second session I got a mail message addressing all SCOM MVPs, asking whether some of us could help out with staffing the SCOM booth at the TLC (Technical Learning Center). The person planned for that had a changed schedule so some additional help was needed. A fellow SCOM MVP, Alexandre Verkinderen responded and me as well. So Alexandre took care of the first part and then I took over!

Really awesome! I met many Microsoft employers like Jason Buffington, David Mills and Peirong Lu. All of them involved with SCOM. Met also many other people, like Matthew White and Arie de Haan. Met him many times online and now in person. Nice it was.

It felt good helping out and doing the thing I like most: talking about SCOM and demonstrating it. Got some very good questions from the attendees like ACS, Group Population, using Nested Groups (subgroups) and the like. Also about how to go about regular deployments and other stuff. Demonstrated Agent deployment (also how to troubleshoot it…) and how to import a MP.

Somehow it felt very familiar and good. Not like doing this for the very first time, while that was the case. And the best part is that I have been asked to do this again! So Thursday from 9:45 to 12:30 I will be there on ‘duty’! Nice! Wow! Really awesome. This is me, enjoying the moment:

The third session was about SCVMM vNext. The speaker knew his stuff and gave a good and impressive session. And again, the Cloud was present since the newest version is targeted at the Cloud and adds many new features and components. A total different version it is compared to what we use today. Again, the Cloud is key and drives many new products from Microsoft.


After a day like this it was time to leave:

And to search for some good food AND German beer:

Recap: A day well spent!

Learned many new things and it was good to see what is happening outside the SC side of things. It is impressive to see how much effort Microsoft puts into the Cloud. So for me the Cloud has been set high on my professional agenda! And even on the SC side of things the Cloud has entered and won’t leave anymore.

A very good example is Windows Intune, the desktop monitoring tool which resides in the Cloud. Another shiny example is SCVMM vNext which enables the user to create Cloud like services. And the opportunity for me to staff the SCOM booth at TLC was really awesome and great. I enjoyed every single minute of it.


Unknown said...

Good to finally meet yesterday, hope your head is not too bad! I found some of that German beer too...

Marnix Wolf said...

Hi Matt,

no man. I only drank one beer and enjoyed it very much. So by only keeping it to one beer I am in a good shape today :).