Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TechEd 2009 - Day 1

Key Note:
Besides re-iterating the theme of "Do more with less" several times throughout the presentation, the big news was that Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2 will be available for Christmas, at least that is what the current intentions are.

We saw some very interesting demos that displayed some of the synergies between these two products:
  • MEDV (aka Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization) provides you the ability to run applications on a new platform that otherwise would not be able to run. For example lets take an application that was built for Windows XP that cannot run on Windows 7 (or Windows Vista for that matter). This type of scenario may kill, or delay, your desktop refresh project until you can either figure out how to run it on Win 7 or rebuild the application. Enter MEDV. Using MEDV allows you to run two Operating systems on one device simultaneously. In the demonstration, they had an application that would not natively run on Win7 but it would run on Windows XP. With a double click of the mouse the application launches before your eyes. I was expecting some significant lag in this application loading due to the fact that it is really running on Windows XP. However it was extremely snappy. Within a second the application was launched and there was no real indication that XP was even running. The differentiator was that the application had a Red outline around it. Pretty cool stuff...I was blown away. For more info on MEDV check out the following link.
  • APPV (aka Microsoft Application Virtualization ) provides you the ability to stream portions of applications on demand to the end client. In demo they simulated a user logging on to a brand new machine that they had never logged into and opening an Excel spreadsheet. So what's the big deal? Excel was not installed. Once the presenter double clicked on the Excel spreadsheet, Excel bits were brought down to the laptop and the spread sheet opened. This all occurred within a couple minutes. Last time I checked, the installation of Excel took quite a bit longer than that and no reboot was required. For more info on APPV check out the following link.
  • Branch Cache - Do you have any local branches that may be in remote areas where the bandwidth just isn't there? If so then this may a feature of Windows 7 + Windows 2008 R2 that is for you. When a user downloads a file, or Web page, from say your corporate intranet, this artifact will be cached locally within the branch. So when the next person comes looking for that same resource, it can be downloaded from the branch cache instead of the Intranet. This seems like a good way to increase productivity, reduce user frustrations and save on data communication costs. Check out the following video for more details.

Introduction to BizTalk Server 2009
I only caught the tail end of this presentation but wished that I had seen it all. There were two demos that included connecting BizTalk to the cloud. In Ofer Ashkenazi and Danny Garber's session they demonstrated two cloud scenarios: the first one connected to the Microsoft Live Mesh service and the second connected to the .Net Service Bus by participating in a relay . These adapters are currently not publicly available but I have been told that at some point they should surface.

So why is this important? I can envision several scenarios where BizTalk can be used in conjunction with the cloud. Today if you want to expose BizTalk hosted services outside your organization, you need to get your hands dirty in the DMZ. For many organizations the the risks are significant and can slow down or even stop a project. For some organizations, they will rely upon ISA servers to forward the traffic onto the BizTalk servers, others may install BizTalk App Servers in the DMZ and then poke a hole in the firewall so that BizTalk can speak with SQL Server. Others may implement their own custom proxy( like a Web Service) that will just act as a router. As you can see none of these solutions are that great. By using the .Net Service bus, BizTalk can establish an outbound connection to the bus and subscribe to messages moving through the bus. This way you do not need to open firewalls or introduce new infrastructure components into your DMZ. The other benefit is that you can continue to use the all of the tooling that BizTalk provides out of the box. Yes I could create a WCF endpoint to listen to the .Net Service bus, but then I lose out on many of the benefits that BizTalk already provides.

Programming Microsoft .Net Services
The first part of this session was primarily a review, but the second half more than made up for it. I have read Aaron Skonnard's blog several times but never had the opportunity to hear him speak. He is an excellent presenter and I highly recommend seeing any of his sessions or taking training from him.

The 2 new features in the .Net Service bus are Routers and Queues. Routers provide you the ability to multi cast messages onto multiple subscribers or it provides you the ability to send a message to 1, of many, subscribers. The Queues have been added to provide some durability around messages moving through the bus. If you have a consumer who is not always connected, pushing a message to a queue until they can make a connection provides the sender some additional assurances that their message is safe until a connection can be made. Here is a link to the recently published white papers. I know what I will be doing on the plane ride home.

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