TechReady Day 2: BillG and Virtualization

Day 2 at TechReady brought a keynote by Bill Gates and another Q&A session afterwards. The keynote was pretty interesting, it was a fairly typical BillG presentation with some good demos. He highlighted six major areas Microsoft is focusing on over the next 5 years. No real news there, it was the same things we’ve been talking about publicly for a while, the Services platform, etc. What struck me most about both his keynote and Kevin Turner’s is the much increased focus on the consumer space.

Consumers are driving a big portion of the tech industry today and that makes its way eventually into the corporate market. Both are extremely important to Microsoft for obvious reasons. They hype and success of the iPhone, Wii, etc. demonstrate two areas BillG says Microsoft needs to improve. The first is the design and approachability of the hardware itself. The second is the user interface experience like the touch capability of the iPhone and the Wii controller. In each of these areas Microsoft has had research and demos for a long time (like Microsoft Surface) but haven’t gotten them to the market quickly enough. My impression was that across the board there will be focus on hardware and user experience.

For the remainder of Day 2 I attended several sessions on Virtualization. The first dealt with using Microsoft technology to create a dynamic data center. The second was about current large scale virtualization projects currently underway. Some things demoed that I haven’t had time to test out yet are a Self Service Portal for managing virtual machines. The scenarios are developers needing a virtual environment for testing so they go to the SCVMM portal and provision for themselves a set of VM such as a DB VM, an IIS VM, etc. This scenario can also be used for production VMs where a Tier 2 admin may be givne permissions to create new production VMs. Several TAP customers are doing this in production today on VS 2005 and SCVMM. The second one was the capability of Data Protection Manager to back up running VMs using VSS. If needed, you can snapshot running VMs as frequently as every 15 minutes. SInce it is VSS aware, the VMs and VSS aware applications are properly quiesced for a consistent snapshot.

This is an area I focus on a lot but seeing demos and real world case studies of customers using the full suite really demonstrated the breadth of our offering. Most people think only of Virtual Server when they think Microsoft virtualization but the full suite is quite a bit more including Virtual Server, Virtual PC, Softgrid, Virtual Machine Manager, Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager. The full suite gives us server, workstation, and application virtualization, high availability, quick migration, P2V, backup/DR, advanced monitoring and much more. The suite is a more holistic offering than our competitors and once Windows Server Virtualization comes out, I think Microsoft will gain much more traction in the market as we will have a suite that is equal to or better than our competitors in almost all areas. Certainly a great segment of the industry to focus on.

Check back tomorrow for the Day 3 summary, I’ll be attending more Virtualization sessions as well as Softgrid and Configuration Manager sessions.