Ray Ozzie and Bob Muglia Kick Off PDC 09
Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie this morning kicked off the 2009 Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, with a keynote speech that focused heavily on Windows Azure and cloud computing. Ozzie's presentation provided a high-level overview that focused largely on strategic messaging and providing updates to developers tracking Microsoft's cloud efforts.
Ozzie's high-level tour was followed by a more nuts-and-bolts dive into Windows Azure features and issues by Microsoft President of the Server and Tools Business, Bob Muglia. Muglia's presentation included a number of detailed demos that highlighted newly announced features and spotlighted the opportunity for developers to migrate their on-premise .NET code to public and private Windows Azure cloud environments.
Among the key issues addressed during the two-hour long session was the announced production date for Windows Azure, the launch of the beta of Application Fabric middleware and the announced available of the "Dallas" CTP, a data catalog and marketplace that the company hopes will inspire developers to explore and manipulate available public and private data sources. Muglia during his presentation also announced work on project "Sydney," expected to go into beta next year, which will enable customers to connect servers inside the data center with cloud services running inside of Azure.
Ray Ozzie: Hit 'Em High
Ozzie kicked off the PDC 09 event with a high-level pitch for Windows Azure and Microsoft's unified development message, while making an occasional plug for Windows 7 as a superior client for enabling compelling user experience. He revealed that Windows Azure will officially go to production on January 1, with the service available for one month on a no-fee basis while Microsoft works through initial deployment assessment. Microsoft will start billing for Windows Azure access on February 1, Ozzie said.
Ozzie stressed that Microsoft was working to provide a single, cohesive platform for developing apps on premise and on the cloud, and both Ozzie and Muglia talked at length about migrating existing Windows Server applications to Windows Azure.
"We at Microsoft have one simple strategy -- that is to focus on leverage and seamlessness in everything we do," Ozzie said.
Ozzie hinted at a number of new announcements at the show, including a Scott Guthrie presentation for Wednesday that he said would address the next version of Silverlight. He also gave a nod toward Microsoft's struggling mobile platform, noting that it would be addressed at the next MIX Conference in 2010. "You'll hear about developing apps for the next generation of our Windows phone," Ozzie said.
Ozzie also pointed out the long list of improvements to Windows Azure since the initial CTP was released at PDC 08 last year. He noted the reformulation of SQL Azure, the geo-replication of storage across paired Azure data centers, the creation of the container data center model, and the introduction of Azure X drive, mountable NTFS volumes.
Ozzie seemed particularly enthused about a newly announced project, code named "Dallas," which promises to give Windows Azure developers the ability to uniquely explore, manipulate and present data stored on public and private sources.
"Dallas makes the whole world of data better than the sum of its parts by creating a uniform discovery mechanism for data, a uniform binding and access mechanism for data, a uniform way of exposing trial data sets for developers, a uniform licensing model so data from multiple providers can be easily joined and recombined," Ozzie explained. "By delivering data as a service, our aspiration is that Dallas might catalyze a whole new wave of remixing and experimentation by developers."
Microsoft Technical Fellow Dave Campbell provided a demo showing how developers can use the Dallas Service Explorer to look at different classes of data in data feed, and preview the data to visualize it. In the demo, Campbell showed how Dallas can invoke Microsoft's PowerPivot add-in for Excel to render and manipulate data. He then went on to use drag-and-drop tools to build a quick WPF datagrid app to render out a custom dataset.
Bob Muglia: On the Down Low
Bob Muglia announced the beta of Application Fabric, a new application server for Windows Server that Muglia said extends the familiar IIS environment to provide a platform for highly available, scaled out, middle-tier services like Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation services. A database cache is also provided in the App Fabric beta. A beta version of App Fabric for Windows Azure will be available next year, Muglia said.
"What App Fabric will do is it will take and extend the environment you are very familiar with in IIS and provide you with a platform for building scaled out, highly available, middle tier services such as WCF-based services and Windows Workflow-based services. The idea is that this creates an infrastructure, a very easy to manage infrastructure, where we will do that failover for you, we will keep the system highly available, and we will do the balance between those things, so you can build your applications in a straightforward way," Muglia explained. "In addition to middle-tier services like workflow and WCF we'll also provide a database cache which is an important part of speeding up and providing better performance for the applications you are building."
Among other things, Muglia announced that Windows Identity Foundation has gone to release to manufacture and that Go Live licenses are available for Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.
Throughout the session, both Muglia and Ozzie talked about helping developers migrate applications from Windows Server to Windows Azure.
"Microsoft is focusing on taking the investments you made in your existing environment in Windows Server and moving that forward," Muglia said.
Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.