Microsoft Announces New Capabilities for TFS, LightSwitch
Other upgrades include cloud services, Windows Server and System Center.
Microsoft has beefed up a number of developer-oriented products, including a more HTML5-friendly version of LightSwitch, and better cloud integration with Team Foundation Server (TFS).
The announcements came on the opening day of Microsoft's TechEd event in Orlando, Fla. The company said it's added HTML 5 rendering capabilities into its existing LightSwitch product, which is now integrated with release candidate version of Visual Studio 2012. LightSwitch is designed to make the .NET dev process a little easier for business app developers. For instance, it provides wizards to help users connect their data with applications.
Another new addition to LightSwitch announced during the keynote is support for Open Data Protocol (OData) feeds. OData is REST-based Web protocol for sharing data that Microsoft and others recently proposed as a candidate to become an OASIS standard. Visual Studio LightSwitch 2011 was first rolled out back in July.
Microsoft also announced a preview of Team Foundation Service, an application lifecycle management tool for developers that's hosted on Windows Azure and also runs at the customer premises level. The preview can be accessed here.
Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of Microsoft Server and Tools Business, said during the keynote that Team Foundation Service can check source code and automatically deploy an application, if wanted.
"So, if you have Team Foundation Server running either on-premise, or hosted using our online service, you can easily link your TFS account and your projects with Windows Azure and then any time someone checks in source-code into that project we can automatically do a build, run your unit tests and if they succeed, deploy the project automatically into Windows Azure, a really cool feature and we're pleased to announce even better today, we're actually taking our TFS online capability out of previews and opening it up so that any of you can actually sign up for free and try that out," Guthrie said, according to a Microsoft transcript.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft's president of Server and Tools Business, suggested that the industry has reached another inflection point beyond the client-server era. He pointed to the datacenter model as the next step, saying that storage, compute and network capabilities are coevolving. He cited four key attributes of a datacenter: scalability and elasticity; always up and always on; shared resources; and automation. He made the case that Microsoft is moving to that model in its products and services.
The Day 1 keynote, featuring a number of Microsoft executives, is available on demand here.
Perhaps the main cloud news announced during the keynote concerned Windows Intune. A new version of this cloud-based security and PC management solution is now available for download at this site.
Nadella said that Windows Intune is now integrated with Windows Azure Active Directory, which means that it's possible to use single sign-on between Office 365 applications and Windows Intune. IT pros can use Windows Intune to set policies across devices, Windows Phone and Windows 8. The integration with Windows Azure enables multidevice management, Nadella added, although he didn't provide examples.
Microsoft MVP Aidan Finn indicated in a blog post that Windows Intune now supports Windows on various PCs, tablets and laptops going all of the way back to Windows XP Service Pack 3. Windows Intune supports Android-based devices, plus Apple iPhones and iPads, he noted.
Finn noted some other Windows Intune details from the Microsoft Management Summit. The management service enables automatic discovery of devices that access Microsoft Exchange Server. Security policies can be set for user groups using Exchange ActiveSync. Windows Intune also features a self-service capability that lets users download line-of-business applications to their mobile devices.
System Center 2012 SP1
System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 was discussed during the keynote. Another community test preview (CTP) of this service pack for Microsoft's newest management suite will be available for public download next week, according to a Server and Tools Business blog post.
Jason Zander, corporate vice president of Visual Studio, said during the keynote that the SP1 of System Center 2012 adds a new capability for the monitoring of apps worldwide called "global service monitoring." It allows users of Windows Azure to check application response times, how the apps are working, exceptions and SQL Server issues. It also provides an NTFS bug report that's global.
Windows Server 2012
Alongside the heavy cloud and dev talk, there was discussion of Windows Server 2012 by Jeff Woolsey of the Windows Server team. Windows Server is currently available at the release candidate stage, with availability expected this fall.
Woolsey dropped a lot of stats during a demo. He showed Windows Server 2012 delivering "985,000 IOPS from a single virtual machine," claiming to bust VMware's record of 300,000 IOPS, or input/output operations per second. The demo used solid-state disks rather than SAS disks for space reasons at the event.
Woolsey said that Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V supports "up to 320 logical processors per server, up to 4 terabytes of memory per server, and up to 64 virtual processors per VM [virtual machine]." The technology is capable of supporting up to 99 percent of SQL Server workloads, he claimed. He also showed the ability of Windows Server 2012 to use offloaded data transfer (ODX) technology, which is capable of copying a 10-GB file in 10 seconds.
The keynote also included a few other details about enabling private clouds via Hyper-V and leveraging big data via Hadoop and Microsoft PowerPivot.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.