D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Reflections on PDC 08 - The Message

Thursday, October 30, 2008 4:15 PM

PDC has come to an end and Iā€™m sitting here reflecting on what I've experienced over the last few days. The PDC experience has been quite different than the Tech Ed or Dev Teach events I've attended in the past. There's a different vibe to PDC, and a different message that Microsoft is trying to get across.

Where Tech Ed is all about teaching, PDC is all about telling. At PDC, Microsoft is describing the direction they're heading in for the next few years. They're giving us a glimpse into where they're going as a company and what we can expect as we go along with them. It's a week-long show and tell exhibition.

Personally, I enjoy the teaching and learning aspect more than being wowed by announcements that will have no real bearing until a few years from now. I searched out opportunities to talk and pair program with people here about current, relevant items and actually only attended two sessions...why? Because there's still a lot that needs to be written in Microsoft's story. There are edits that need to be done, suggestions on plot twists, and early review/feedback cycles that need to be carried out.

So what was the story? Cloud Computing: Microsoft's efforts to bring subscription based application hosting a reality. For a while we've been hearing about software as a service, and with that various rumors that Windows would be turning into a subscription model and that Office would be accessed over the net instead of installed locally. Neither of those rumors were cemented here at PDC, but one thing was: Microsoft is changing their model to focus on service based offerings. Their existing Exchange and Sharepoint hosted services were extended with the revelation of SQL Server services. Azure was coined in the keynote as "an operating system for the cloud", and is a platform for creating applications that are hosted on the web...and initially, at Microsoft's hosting facilities.

The other story that seemed to emerge was that of Platform Computing. Along with Oslo, which is a modeling language for creating domain specific languages, we also heard about Dublin, which is a platform for managing your WF and WCF services locally (or at least that's how it was explained to me by one person). But further, its a "platform": a grouping of tools and administration pieces to ease the maintenance and deployment of solutions. Azure is a "platform" as well...and while most of the non-session discussion included passionate talks on dynamic languages and open source software, the sessions were clearly meant to show how these new platforms will play a role in our organizations in the future.

So I'm leaving PDC feeling like I just read an early copy of the last book in a trilogy while still in the middle of the first book. I've caught the glimpse of what's to come, but its made me realize how much I still need to learn about what is happening in the here and now.



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