At 8.40 on a muggy New Orleans Monday morning, I was sitting in a huge hall watching live jazz. Four giant screens, to either side of a colourful stage, cannot match the energy of the band's performance, or the feeling of surreality as a cover of James Brown's I Feel Good rang around the conference hall, complete with washboard and accordion.
Soon, though, the stage was cleared, and two Microsoft branded podiums, complete with laptops and monitors, were wheeled out. Bob Muglia, president of of Server & Tools Business, quickly pressed on to mention the paradigm shift in the IT industry and major focus of his keynote – cloud computing.
This is a big year for the cloud in the business world. It is slowly taking over in the consumer markets, with everything from social media to streamed music, video, and even games, having become almost ubiquitous. A real focus for Microsoft, then, is on their cloud offerings – Windows Azure and SQL Azure.
A large part of Bob's keynote was about the benefits of cloud computing, as demonstrated by various areas of Microsoft's software, with everything from Windows Phone 7 and Office 2010, to Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft System Centre being brought up. The gains which will come from cloud computing appear obvious. Scalability, speed of implementation, flexibility, and standardisation, are all touted as real drivers behind the take-up of cloud computing, and this was confirmed during the keynote speech. Various Microsoft employees were brought out onto the stage, demonstrating the effects of the cloud on their specialist areas.
Tony Scott, Microsoft's chief information officer, provided one of the most relevant examples of the benefits of cloud computing. Microsoft review and appraise their personnel twice a year and, during this period, the demands on their HR systems rises exponentially. Previously, they would have had to do one of two things. They would either have had to build a new system, including test and development environments, for these activities a couple of times a year, or they would have had to run, through the year, a high capacity data-centre, which would have been used to a fraction of its capacity for the majority of the year. This changed with the cloud, which now allows them to use capacity from shared data-centres during busy periods. In fact, this fits in with Microsoft's definition of the cloud as “just-in time provisioning and scaling of services on shared hardware”.
Packt has a variety of cloud books out and on the way. Multiple Azure books are slated for later this year, while our first cloud book, Amazon SimpleDB Developer Guide, was released at the start of June. Packt employees are at Tech-Ed all week. If you want to find us, email teched@PacktPub.com.