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I love it when we put on a good show, geeks, streams, quizzes, phones and most importantly TECH!  Last night we played host to a whole bunch of people at the Microsoft Campus in Reading who all left happy (twitter says so #ukpdc10) and who all learnt some new stuff about Azure, Windows Phone 7, and IE9.  There were some stonking announcements on the HD feed from Redmond given by a Steve Ballmer, and Bob Muglia and special guest stars like Pixar studios and Buzz Light-year.  This was a developer conference so what’s important to the IT Pro in what was announced?

Windows Azure

TIP: If you don’t know what Azure is yet jump to my blog and subscribe where I’ll be explaining it next week but…

Windows Azure is true PaaS self scale-able (elastic) computing that grows and shrinks as the application needs to.  At PDC10 we announced new Virtual Machine(VM) role which is a rock star move because with the VM role you can move an existing application to the cloud.  How is such a feat achieved?  Simple, take your application, install it on Windows 2008 R2 and take an image to a VHD file (super easy if you’re using Hyper-V ‘cos you already have the file) then copy-and-paste to file to the cloud server.  With this new VM role you can do pretty much what you want, run the services you want and run scheduled tasks if you want to.  Because it’s your server in the cloud you get to be the race car driver, make the decisions and be involved in the engineering process.  I can’t stress how excited this role makes me as an IT Professional…but it gets even better.

Next your the VM role will be able to take your Windows 2003 Servers (but do yourself a favour and go to 2008 R2, you might as well) and you’ll be able to build the VMs in the cloud rather than just on premise.

The Web Role gets the enhancement of full features IIS, meaning that one role can run multiple sites and you can install IIS modules…oh yeah and management becomes familiar with Remote Desktop (RDP) and by elevating privileges you can do more complex deployments.  So it’s now possible to install MSI files on a web role for example.  By the way the PDC site and even Channel 9 are running on Azure.

The announcement of Windows Azure Connect means you can plumb Windows Azure into your internal network.  That’s right you can domain join your Azure server roles so it’s just like it’s on premise, in your private data centre.  Just by way of an example that means you could deploy your Intranet site to a Web Role or your expenses application to a VM Role and bosh it’s just there…you can probably use the VM Role to poke a DC up there too!  It’s all done using familiar IP networking and VPN like connections.  That sounds like a job for the IT Professional to me.  Next year will bring SSL/TLS encryption for the pipes and Dynamic content caching so less stuff goes over the pipes (a bit like branch cache for the cloud) and a build out of the networking infrastructure.

Azure Licensing can be seen as too costly for some people so we’ve downsized!  There’s a new Extra Small instance that costs just $0.05 per hour for a 1Ghz CPU, 768MB RAM and 20GB of storage…that sounds like the perfect kit to base my first instance on of an elastic application.  All the Windows Azure Roles are Compute Instances and so are charged the same.  There’s no CAL requirement to connect to an Azure VM role (awesome) and the Azure role license is covered through the compute costs…making it as cheap as (silicone) chips!

It’s all about to go Beta and we at UK TechNet will let you know when we drop the beta bomb.

So IT Pro’s need to skill up on:

  • Server 2008 R2
  • Hyper-V
  • IP
  • IIS7

You’ll be wanting to Azure to get your head around it…trials are included as part of your MSDN subscription too.

SQL Azure

Community Technology Previews were announced for a bunch of new features including Reporting so reports can be authored using SQL Services Reporting tools and embedded in the database.  Data Sync CTP 2 can sync databases across datacentres and with the data on your premises in your own SQL Server.  That means you can have multiple geo-redundant SQL database or even just keep the data closest to the people who need it.  So say you have your business has 10 people in Japan, 10 people in Europe and 100 people data mining in India the guys in Japan and Europe can access the DB from SQL Azure from their fastest local DC and the guys in India receive a “caching” effect of having the data sync to their local SQL Server saving on the cost of the main Internet pipe to the office.

The lightweight Database Manager formerly known as “Houston” (stunning Siverlight based app if you have  a look) has entered CTP too and will become part of the developer portal.

DBAs and IT Pros doing SQL stuff need to skill up on:

  • not a whole lot…but if you aren’t on SQL 2008 you need to nail that.

You’ll be wanting to Try SQL Azure to get your head around it…trials are included as part of your MSDN subscription too.

IE9

Platform Preview 6 of Internet Explorer 9 was introduced at PDC10 and whilst the Beta is out and has rocked 10 million downloads already PP6 is important.  It’s what you need to run to assess your stuff against IE9 whilst still using IE8 – which is exactly what you need to do right now, you’d don’t want to be deploying Beta code (even if it’s awesome) to your user base.  There’s not a huge amount of IT Professional stuff in IE9 just yet, but this video (which is HTML5 by the way if your browser is capable) shows off the new platform preview and IE Test Drive Site.

Windows Phone 7

Oh boy was there a lot of love in the room for this last night.  We gave a couple away, more devs came with their own phones…everyone loved them!

You might not know who Scott Guthrie is but he’s a demo-god, dev-god and he’s famed for his red shirts.  He live built a Windows Phone 7 app that dynamically searches eBay using odata to help you buy red shirts…it took about 5 minutes.  Do that on another mobile device.

We’ve only just released the phone so there were no new announcements other than the inclusion of oData.  I’ll be releasing some info on how WP7 can be used by business and by IT Pros next week so stay tuned to my blog.

Summary

I’m excited by the VM Role, it adds a whole new dimension to Azure, Windows Phone 7 is amazing and the developer experience, just like the user experience is 2nd to none , IE9 is beautifying the web for 10 million people already.  Oh yeah, we also had a Kinect at the event and this is what people had to say about it (#nowhereneardeadyet!):

@pauliom: Trying to decide what to concentrate on after #ukpdc10. Better wp7 storage/tombstoning, tfs in azure, rx, or getting an xbox kinect? about 5 hours ago via TweetStation

@pauliom: RT @mtaulty: I only played with kinect at #ukpdc10 tonight for 5 minutes and it won me over - seems just as natural as it looks on the demos. about 5 hours ago via MetroTwit

@JonAlb: Thanks to all organisers of #ukpdc10 a fantastic evening :) just two requests... can I have a phone and can I have an xbox kinect? about 14 hours ago via MetroTwit

@ajnt: Xbox Kinect is amazing! Great idea having it at #UKPDC10. 3d person tracking including face recognition. 10th November UK launch. about 14 hours ago via web

@JonAlb: playing on the xbox kinect was very cool, the ping pong game (wiff waff) was ace! you REALLY get into it, realistic tennis elbow! #Ukpdc10 about 14 hours ago via MetroTwit

@GrahamWilmott: #ukpdc10 just played with #kinect about 15 hours ago via HTC Peep

s@tack72: RT @simonster: can I just ask, who at #ukpdc10 thinks Kinect is AWESOME? about 16 hours ago via MetroTwit

@gthevenot: OK Microsoft, no free #WP7 at #ukpdc10, what about free #kinect then ? about 16 hours ago via web

@brandondjmurphy: Remember when wii was first released. Triple that and double that and you will come close to the kinect experience #ukpdc10 about 17 hours ago via Mobile Web

@Paul_Dunscombe: Playing with kinect. Looks like a wii killer. #ukpdc10 about 17 hours ago via Tweets60

@westleyl: Noooooo, our beer .. RT @petemill: Finally made it to #ukpdc10 - helping myself to beer. Played with the kinect. Recognition is incredbile! about 17 hours ago via Seesmic for Android

@CLaueR: RT @petemill: Finally made it to #ukpdc10 - helping myself to beer. Played with the kinect. Recognition is incredbile! Bowling arm hurts about 17 hours ago via Twitter for Windows Phone

@petemill: Finally made it to #ukpdc10 - helping myself to beer. Played with the kinect. Recognition is incredbile! Bowling arm hurts about 17 hours ago via Twitter for Windows Phonef

@blakepender: SB: Kinect is remarkable! Talking about it being great :D #ukpdc10 about 19 hours ago via txt

@pauliom: At #ukpdc10 as a backing dancer to lady gaga apparently #kinect making a t1t of myself about 20 hours ago via TweetStation

@brandondjmurphy: At #ukpdc10, impressed with the kinect. about 20 hours ago via Mobile Web

@johanbarnard: #UKPDC10. Dance Central on #Kinect http://twitpic.com/31lul4