Live from Microsoft TechEd 2010: Day 1

Today is in New Orleans for our first live coverage of the Microsoft TechEd conference.
Microsoft has hinted that the opening keynote, performed by Bob Muglia, President of Server and Tools Business division, will be focused on cloud computing.

Microsoft has already showed a glimpse of its technology roadmap at the MMS 2010 conference (see coverage), demonstrating the upcoming version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) and the recently acquired Opalis orchestration framework, but the company still has to clarify if it really plans to compete against Amazon and others on the Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud computing market.

Hopefully today we’ll have an answer to this.

Bob Muglia is on stage.

He doesn’t waste a single minute and starts with a demo about a technology for enhanced bug tracking.
Once tracked and fixed the bug, the new code is deployed in the new Visual Studio Team System 2010 Lab Management facility, powered by Hyper-V.
After that, System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2008 R2 is used with the Opalis orchestration framework to stage and deploy the virtual machine in production.

Muglia now moves on cloud computing, suggesting that it helps to deliver IT as a standardized service.

Microsoft recognizes five dimensions of cloud computing. The first is Servers.

A technical preview of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2011, the same shown at the MMS 2010 conference, is demonstrated on stage.
The new Service Designer console part of SCVMM 2011 is used to define a virtual machine template, where virtual hardware is configured. An interesting thing is that storage is no more defined in terms of just GBs space, but in terms of class of performance.
Another very interesting aspect is that the administrator can say if the virtual machine can scale out: in this case the minimum, maximum and average amount of instances can be specified.
SCVMM 2011 allows then to run a compliance analysis against all the elements in the library (virtual hard drives, App-V packages, etc.) and perform required changes to the objects to comply with existing policies.

Microsoft announces the beta availability of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Service Pack 1, which will include Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX, planned for July 2010.

Muglia moves on the second dimension of the cloud: the social one.
Microsoft introduces Communications Server 14 and Windows Phone 7. is not going to cover this part of the keynote as it is far away from the focus we have on this website.

After a long demo about different consumer technologies in the cloud, Microsoft announces additional features for SQL Azure, Silverlight and Bing but nothing about the great plans for an IaaS version of Azure.

The keynote now focuses on the digital media area. Again, we are not going to cover this.

Discussion is back to the infrastructure side of cloud computing. Tony Scott, Microsoft CTO is on stage.
He briefly describes an example of how Microsoft IT is using virtualization and cloud computing internally, and gives an advice: start today with Azure. How unexpected!

Muglia closes the keynote by saying that Microsoft is fully committed to cloud computing but it’s hard to understand exactly what this means: in almost two hours the company just showed a bunch of different technology efforts, spread in so many different directions, without articulating a complete vision behind it.

Like many other vendors, Microsoft keeps saying that cloud computing is a disruptive new technology, lowering the costs of IT and fundamentally changing and simplifying the way we operate data centers, and design applications. But it can’t explain what areas of cloud computing they want to master and how.

Is Microsoft working to be the best cloud enabler? Is it working to be the best cloud provider? Is it going to be the best provider for cloud-ready applications? Or is it trying to be something else?
And how the company is trying to solve fundamental problems of cloud computing like security?

These and a huge amount of additional questions about the strategy remain completely unanswered after the TechEd 2010 keynote.
Whatever Microsoft plans to do in cloud computing is all but clear, all but defined.