# Friday, 20 June 2008

Looking over the PDC content for this fall you can definitely see a trend: Cloud Services. This is to counter Amazon's S3 offering.

First let's define what Cloud Computing is and what it means. Cloud computing is not Gmail, Hotmail, or even Google Documents. (This is why you won't see Microsoft Office moved to the Cloud in a very robust way, that is just web access for popular productivity software.) Cloud Computing is replacing an application's hardware and plumbing infrastructure with a service hosted by someone else. For example let's look a typical corporate system:

  • Back-end data storage (SQL Server, Oracle)
  • Back-end application server (IIS + .NET, COM+/ES, Tuxedo, even CICS (that dates me))
  • Front end machine to access the application (Either a workstation via a browser or windows app, or mobile device)

It gets expensive for small and even large firms to build the network, firewalls, domain services, user accounts and of course the hardware (with its underlying RAID arrays, UPSes, racks, power, etc.) Sometimes this is a barrier to growth (or even entry) for small to medium organizations. Not only do you have to learn all about subnets and RAID arrays, you also have to learn about UPS and power strategy, and manage a development project. (Man, I just want to write some stored procedures, who cares about an UPS and RAID array!)

This is a problem, epically for start-ups. You have to build a rack before you even build a company and product. That is expensive and an up-front fixed cost. More than likely you will build a rack that at overcapacity so you can grow, since it is time consuming to add more capacity later on. Also, you usually have to hire people to help you figure this out. Building a rack is expensive and also expensive to maintain.

Cloud computing is providing the back end infrastructure, the first two bullets, to firms as a service. The beauty of this model is you pay for what you are using, bandwidth, storage, and clock cycles. So a startup does not have to spend $20,000 on a new rack, they can pay a monthly cost to host their application in the "cloud" and only pay for what they need. In the beginning this will be a small fee since a startup has no customers and then the fee will grow (as revenue grows hopefully!) Amazon S3 is attracting many startups and is changing the dynamics of funding a startup since they don't need as much expensive hardware and IT expertise.

So many critics of Microsoft say that they are missing the boat by not putting MS Office up in the cloud to compete with Google Apps. While Microsoft may have to compete with Google one day in this space (I personally prefer offline Office + a service like SharePoint to share my documents.) that day is not today. The real battle will be over the true Cloud-infrastructure and ultimately the stack.

Selling customers on your Cloud platform locks them into your technology. So if Microsoft offers storage (SQL Server Data Services), application synchronization (Live Mesh), workflow/relying (BizTalk Services) and application tier (IIS as a service? or at least VPCs) services, they will get developers to use the Microsoft stack (SQL, .NET, etc.) for another generation. Throw in Hosted Office and Exchange, and they are really hooked.

Judging from the PDC content, with sessions all around Microsoft Cloud services, I think that they get it. Too bad we have to wait until October, but I sure hope that it is good stuff.

posted on Friday, 20 June 2008 11:05:42 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 15 June 2008
Copy of 060308 TechEd  2008 Influencer Roundtable - Group

Somehow I got the shaft and was stuck in the back when Bill took his photo with us at TechEd. I volunteered to lay down in front but the photographer did not like that idea.

posted on Sunday, 15 June 2008 21:47:28 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 13 June 2008

Yesterday Yahoo! announced a deal that will outsource their search engine to Google. For those of you who don't remember, Yahoo use to outsource their search engine to Google about 8 years go, and Google ate Yahoo's lunch. That said, this is the final nail in the Microsoft-Yahoo merger. So the real question is "what's next" for Microsoft. They have three options at a high level:

1. Go Nuclear. Launch an all out court battle against Google-Yahoo starting with a lobbying effort in Washington, DC. We saw how effective Netscape, Sun and Oracle used the US Government to bring Microsoft to heel. (And more recently Google's complaints about Vista.) Microsoft saw how effective (some say Bill Gates was never the same after that experience) the nuclear option is and may just decide to go down this route as payback for both the Yahoo hubris and the old IE trial.

2. Do nothing. Remember how big and bad AOL was 10 years ago? Netscape? They were the hot new kids on the block that was going to dethrone Microsoft. Ten years later, Microsoft is still making buckets of money, revived interest in its development platform with a new push in 2002 (.NET) and AOL is practically bankrupt and Netscape disappeared (oddly enough at the hands of AOL, sound familiar to Google-Yahoo?) Microsoft can argue that the creative destruction of the Internet companies is more of a threat to Google than themselves. The Google model has not changed in 10 years: PageRank is old and outdated (still gives you irrelevant results and forces you to search like a techie). In addition PageRank is being gamed and people are getting frustrated. People are exchanging, buying and selling links on web pages with the sole intent of manipulating search results. Someone will come up with a better system and out Google Google. (Memo, it won't be Live Search.) Microsoft can sit back and develop its Mesh and Cloud computing offerings (Web as a platform) and watch Google struggle with growing pains, more defections, US regulatory issues, and challenges from hot new startups and see where the chips fall. My guess, both MS and Google will come out ok with this strategy.

3. Acquire a large portal. This is an attractive option, but nobody has the eyeballs that Yahoo! has. Only MySpace and Facebook have the eyeballs and they have problems making money.

So if you were Steve Ballmer which would you choose?

posted on Friday, 13 June 2008 09:52:58 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Sunday, 08 June 2008

On May 22nd and 23rd  the New York chapter of the International Association of Software Architects (IASA) held its first annual two-day IT Architect Regional Conference where I was a speaker.  This event received the highest rating of any conference run by IASA to date.  It was considered so successful that we are already planning the 2009 version. 

IASA is a vendor-neutral association of/for/by architects all over the world.  The New York IASA chapter is one of the most successful IASA chapters in the United States. Sponsors of the event included Sun, Oracle, Microsoft and Robert Half.  Although this was a regional conference attendees came from as far away as Nashville Tennessee, Boston and Redmond Washington. 

The conference featured over 30 speakers from sponsor companies, the local architect community and others arranged in common keynote sessions and four breakout tracks (Enterprise Architecture, Software Architecture, Infrastructure Architecture and Architecture Fundamentals).  Keynote speakers included presentations on:  Software Plus Services, presented by Joseph Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft Enterprise Services; Interesting Real-world Architectures and the Handbook of Software Architecture presented present by Grady Booch, Chief Scientist, IBM Corporation; The Next Generation SOA Grid--Not Your MOM's Bus, presented by David Chappell, Vice President and Chief Technologist, Oracle and Technology Strategy in the World, presented by Paul Preiss, President of IASA.  The Breakout sessions also featured many presentations by local architects from companies such as Bloomberg, Group Health, Hartford Insurance, Weightwatchers and Microsoft.  

For more information about the conference agenda see http://www.iasahome.org/web/itarc/nyc/agenda.

posted on Sunday, 08 June 2008 17:40:39 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Friday, 06 June 2008

My buddy Dan Fernandez filmed me on Channel 9 showing Ranking and Windowing and Common Table Expressions from my TSQL talk this week at TechEd. Apparently our discussion of our partying together in Istanbul, Cairo and Las Vegas was censored by the Channel 9 staff. I guess you will have to just use your imagination on that one. :)

posted on Friday, 06 June 2008 07:46:09 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Wednesday, 04 June 2008

My lunch with Bill Gates yesterday at Tech*Ed in Orlando was very cool. His first word to us was "super" as was his second.

After snapping a few photos, we got right down to it. There were about 12 of us from the community who were invited and and we were eager to chat. First question: "Hey Bill, what are you going to do with your free time?" Bill indicated that he is going to be "super" busy and will be working full time on his foundation.

We then got into talking about schools and how he envisions most schools around the world to be textbook free and just use computers. Then about how university level learning will be done via the Internet for lectures. In poor countries "best of breed" lectures can be put on DVD and repeated. Bill was blown away  by the organic chemistry distance learning made available by MIT and wants to bring this model to everyone. He said that the traditional lecture will die at the university level. He was extremely passionate about teachers, schools, and education in general.

Andrew Brust asked about the UN, and Bill complained that there were too many agencies with more TLAs than Microsoft. (WHO, WFP, etc..)

I got to finally get a word in edgewise. :) I had lots of questions sent to me by readers of this blog ranging from "What's next" to "Why not just buy the Mets, that is charity at this point."

I asked about Microfinancing. The answer surprised me. While Bill's foundation gave $300 million in total to microfinance, Bill said the micro-financing had too high of interest rates and the opportunities to make loans were not as abundant as you would think. Bill had a passion for micro-savings.

He said that too many poor people have no access to banks due to distance and bank fees. So banks become something only the rich can have access to in many countries. (Including the US in many regards too, witness check-cashing shops in the inner city.) Bill went on to say how most poor will stash their currency somewhere or buy jewelry, only to get stolen or inflated away. Or some will buy livestock as a way to store their wealth and save only to be stolen or come down with disease. Bill described a system that he worked on that will allow poor people in remote areas to make microdeposits in the bank via a local retailer. Then they can view their balance via that retailer or on their cell phone if they have one. Then can spend the money via local retailers or via an ATM. He also spoke about the need for a quality interest rate for the microsavings. This was really amazing, all you hear about these days is micro-loans, but Bill turned the tables on everyone wants to combine micro-loans with micro-bank accounts. Makes complete sense.

The last question by Kate Gregory, was on how does Bill deal with the public sector/volunteer sector's non type A personality. Bill basically indicated that he was results oriented and brings the same passion and project management skills to his non-profit work.

I can't say that I had lunch with Bill Gates since he did not really eat, we just kept asking him questions and he never really got to eat his lunch. All in all he spent about 1.5 hours with us and it was great. I have to say that it was really inspirational to talk the whole time with him about non-technical issues (not a single techie question was asked). Here is a man who is one of the greatest technical minds (still!) around, the chairman of a Fortune 500 company, and we talked about his passion for his foundation. I am looking forward to what his foundation will do with him working there full time.

posted on Wednesday, 04 June 2008 07:48:15 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback

Ever since the new ASP.NET MVC framework was announced in October, posts about it have spread about it like wildfire through the .NET blogosphere.  There's usually at least 2-3 MVC stories a day that show up on DotNetKicks.

At the last Philly.NET code camp in January, there was standing room only for the ASP.NET MVC talk (see photo to the right).  Similar crowds have shown up at the HLS DevCon in Atlantic City, Central Jersey .NET & Fairfield/Westchester .NET user groups to hear about it.

With all the buzz going on about the new ASP.NET MVC Framework, I'm happy to announce a one day Firestarter event in NYC covering it on Saturday, June 7th!  Join us for a day in New York City to learn more about the ASP.NET MVC framework and see what everyone is all excited about.

At the ASP.NET MVC Firestarter, we’ll give you a quick tour of the framework, then peel back the layers and dive deeper into how it works.   As part of that, we’ll spend time discussing the design and development practices that lead to the creation of the MVC framework.  By the time you leave, you’ll have enough knowledge to get fired up and start building web applications with it.

clip_image002More Info

When it comes to design patterns, the MVC is the granddaddy of them all.  First described in the late 70s, the MVC pattern remains very popular in the world of web applications today.  

ASP.NET MVC provides a framework that enables you to easily implement the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern for Web applications. This pattern lets you separate applications into loosely coupled, pluggable components for application design, processing logic, and display.
ASP.NET MVC is not a replacement for Webforms. It provides an alternative choice when designing a Web application. Using ASP.NET MVC offers the following advantages:

  • It enables you to achieve and maintain a clear separation of concerns
  • It facilitates test driven development (TDD)
  • It provides more control over the URLs you publish in the application and over the HTML that is emitted by the application

Registration is now open. Don't wait as this will likely fill to capacity quickly:

Register Here!

Lunch will be provided.

Agenda: 

·        Intro to ASP.NET MVC & .NET 3.0/3.5   9:00-10:30

·        Intro to MVC/MVP patterns   10:30-11:30

Lunch 11:30-12

·        Intro to Test Driven Development 12:00-1:00

·        Routing  1:00-1:30

·        Controllers  1:30-2:30

·        Break 2:30-2:45

·        Views  2:45-4:00

o   Strongly- vs. Weakly-Typed

§  What’s the difference?

§  Why would you choose one over the other

§  Ways to effectively use Weakly-typed

o   UI Helpers

§  Overview of framework helpers

§  Rolling your own

o   View Engines

§  Overview of WebForms ViewEngine

·        File location/mappings

·        Using “standard” ASP.NET stuff:  ASPX, ASCX, Master

·        REST & AJAX – WCF, Dynamic Data, MVC AJAX  4:00-5:00

posted on Wednesday, 04 June 2008 04:01:01 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Tuesday, 03 June 2008

On a panel today about when you should and how you should upsize old Access apps to SQL Server.

Session Title: Are we there yet? Successfully navigating the bumpy road from Access to SQL Server

· Date: 6/3/2008

· Time: 1-2pm

· Location: The Tech·Ed Online stage is on the main show floor, off of the main aisle near the south escalators and in front of the partner expo area <see map below>

clip_image001

clip_image002 www.microsft.com/teched

posted on Tuesday, 03 June 2008 08:55:21 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback
# Monday, 02 June 2008

Back in September, two classmates convinced me to join them on a crazy quest. Merrill Lynch and our Business School, the City University of New York at Baruch College, sponsors an annual business plan entrepreneurship contest. For a small team, write a business plan and then show how you can execute. The contest started with an elevator pitch and an abstract way back in September and 140 teams entered. Over the months you have to write a business plan and then sell it to judges who act like investors. The judges cutoff more teams as the months progressed and eventually there were 10 left for a final pitch two weeks ago.

By some miracle, my team won! Our concept is all about on-line advertising using a behavioral approach on top of demographic slicing. It is easy to implement and we are going to do so (Watch out Google!) We won a $10,000 cash prize (wow!) as well as $20,000 start-up investment for our business. In today's day and age, with technology so cheap, the Internet so ubiquitous, and overseas resources readily available, we can get to a prototype phase with the $20,000. That is the power of Web 2.5.

The best part of winning was being given the "big check" like when you win the Lotto. We took the big check to the bar with us to celebrate, however, the bartender would not cash it.

 

bigcheck

posted on Monday, 02 June 2008 14:38:12 (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] Trackback