Ozzie Kicks Off PDC with Azure-Focused Keynote

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie this morning kicked off Microsoft's 2009 Professional Developers Conference (PDC09) in Los Angeles with a keynote that focused heavily on Windows Azure and cloud computing.

Ozzie's presentation was a high-level pitch for Windows Azure and Microsoft's unified development message, with an occasional plug for Windows 7 as a superior client for enabling compelling user experience.

Ozzie revealed that Windows Azure will officially go to production on Jan. 1, 2010. The service will be available for one month on a no-fee basis while Microsoft works through initial deployment assessment. Microsoft will start billing for Windows Azure access on Feb. 1, Ozzie said.

He stressed that Microsoft was working to provide a single, cohesive platform for developing applications on-premise and on the cloud, and both Ozzie and Bob Muglia, Microsoft's president of the Server and Tools Business whose own presentation followed Ozzie's, talked at length about migrating existing Windows Server applications to Windows Azure.

"We at Microsoft have one simple strategy -- that is to focus on leverage and seamlessness in everything we do," Ozzie said.

Muglia added, "Microsoft is focusing on taking the investments you made in your existing environment in Windows Server and moving that forward."

Ozzie pointed out the long list of improvements to Windows Azure since the initial CTP was released at PDC08 last year. He noted the reformulation of SQL Azure, the geo-replication of storage across paired Azure datacenters, the creation of the container datacenter model, and the introduction of Azure X drive.

Ozzie seemed particularly enthused about a newly announced project, code-named "Dallas," which promises to give Windows Azure developers the ability to uniquely explore, manipulate and present data stored on public and private sources.

"Dallas makes the whole world of data better than the sum of its parts by creating a uniform discovery mechanism for data, a uniform binding and access mechanism for data, a uniform way of exposing trial data sets for developers, a uniform licensing model so data from multiple providers can be easily joined and recombined," Ozzie explained. "By delivering data as a service, our aspiration is that Dallas might catalyze a whole new wave of remixing and experimentation by developers."

Microsoft Technical Fellow Dave Campbell provided a demo showing how developers can use the Dallas Service Explorer to look at different classes of data in data feed, and preview the data to visualize it. In the demo, Campbell showed how Dallas can invoke Microsoft's PowerPivot add-in for Excel to render and manipulate data. He then went on to use drag-and-drop tools to build a quick Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) datagrid app to render out a custom dataset.

Ozzie also hinted at a number of new product announcements to come at the show, for instance mentioning a presentation on Wednesday by Scott Guthrie, vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division, that Ozzie said would address the next version of Silverlight.

He also gave a nod to Microsoft's struggling mobile platform, noting that it would be addressed at the next MIX Conference in 2010. "You'll hear about developing apps for the next generation of our Windows phone," Ozzie said.

Muglia followed Ozzie with a more nuts-and-bolts presentation on Windows Azure, including a number of detailed demos that highlighted newly announced features and spotlighted the opportunity for developers to migrate their on-premise .NET code to public and private Windows Azure cloud environments.

He also announced work on project "Sydney," expected to go into beta next year, which will enable customers to connect servers inside the datacenter with cloud services running inside of Azure.

Additionally, Muglia announced the beta of Application Fabric, a new application server for Windows Server that Muglia said extends the familiar IIS environment to provide a platform for highly available, scaled-out, middle-tier services like Windows Workflow Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) services.

"The idea is that this creates an infrastructure, a very easy-to-manage infrastructure, where we will do that failover for you, we will keep the system highly available, and we will do the balance between those things, so you can build your applications in a straightforward way," Muglia explained. "In addition to middle-tier services like workflow and WCF, we'll also provide a database cache which is an important part of speeding up and providing better performance for the applications you are building."

The database cache will be provided in the App Fabric beta for Windows Azure, which Muglia said will be available next year.

Muglia also announced that Windows Identity Foundation has gone to the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) stage, and that Go Live licenses are available for Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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