Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

It's all about community!

September, 2007

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Recognising Talent

    • 6 Comments

    <disclaimer>If it's not obvious from the content, I have a personal interest in this post</disclaimer>

    I was going to thinly disguise this post as a follow on from Frank's ASP.NET Site of the {insert time period here}, but I'm just going to boast.

    Telstra's Business Women's Awards have just announced the 151 finalists (see, it's an ASP.NET page) for 2007. Check out the first name in the list of NSW finalists.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

    • 14 Comments

    26-Sep Updated table formatting

    image

    "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants"

    Isaac Newton 1676*

    As a Developer Evangelist, I'm often talking about the value of "the Platform" and sometimes it takes a little while for people to see that value. I like to tell a story about the evolution of a platform

    image image Imagine it's 10,000 years ago and you live in a cave up the hill to the left. Getting water is a matter of walking the 500m down to the stream, using the water and then walking home. That’s fine if it’s a beautiful day like in this picture. The next day, however, there’s a severe storm so going outside is already unpleasant. To make matters worse, a large carnivore chases you when you do venture out into the elements go to get water. Once you get there, you find that one of your neighbours has slaughtered a woolly mammoth just upstream and the water is polluted and unusable. You have to go over the next hill (5 km) just to get water.
    image image Fast forward to 4,000 years ago and you’re living in a village in the African desert. Your village has constructed a well and you maintain it collectively. You still have to go outside for water, but not nearly as far, and all of the people in the village contribute to the maintenance.  Your water supply occasionally dries up, but is much more reliable than having to go down to a stream. 
    image imageFast-forward to 150 years ago** in the city of London. You now live in a lovely house in Broad Street. Just outside your front door, the City of London has installed a pump (or, more accurately, has contracted a private company to install a pump) connected to the new-fangled plumbing. You still need to go outside for your water, but you don’t have to worry about maintaining the pump, and there are public health professionals ready to remove the handle of the pump if too many of your neighbours catch cholera.
    image imageimageFast forward to today. Now you get water plumbed into every part of your house. The question now is not "how do I get water?", rather it’s "what do I want to do with water?"  Delivery of water is now a platform on which you can build, rather than being a task on its own.
    image We've seen this platform evolution (albeit on a much shorter time scale) in pretty much everything that happens with computers. From having to write your own code to read and write bytes from a disk (or punch card, or circuit board) to letting the operating system handle it for you. From having to write your own code to paint a window on the screen to letting the framework handle it for you. From sourcing drivers for every piece of hardware to having it just work when you plug it in and so on.

    One of the questions I often get asked is whether abstracting away the details of the working of the platform makes us less connected from the source and therefore somehow less capable. There's no requirement to not understand how the platform works (just like, as a Civil Engineer, I understand water supply systems pretty well), but equally, there's no requirement to rebuild the platform every time you want to build something on top of it. Whether I'm installing an espresso machine or a hydroponics farm, I can use the water supply platform without having to drill a well, install a reverse-osmosis plant, install solar panels for power and so on.

    MPj04008460000[1]This also makes a distinction between platform and services. Pat Helland pioneered the concept of a metropolis where he described the various utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity, roads, railway lines, ports, telecommunications infrastructure etc) as services (I haven't done Pat's work any justice at all here - go and read his paper). I'd argue that these are actually the platform on which services (schools, high-speed internet access, parcel delivery, banking, petrol stations etc) can be built. In a similar way, in the Software plus Services story both the software and the services are built on a platform (or platforms). The more common functionality the platform provides, the more time service providers can spend on the provision of the actual service. For example, pretty much every provider of any significant services in the cloud needs to have a way to authenticate and bill (or otherwise gain benefit from) users of the service. There aren't that many schemes for doing either of these things and so it makes sense to have the platform (on which the service is built) provide this functionality. By factoring out commodity platform capabilities (i.e. billing, provisioning, SLA monitoring and management, auth[n|r], messaging, CRM, monetization services etc.), the service provider is free to invest fully in an offering in their domain of expertise, without being encumbered by having to build out these concerns.  Customers are also free to pick and choose those services that make the most sense, again without having to build out (and care and feed for) commodity capability. 

    This has the related effect that the costs of these cross-cutting platform capabilities – which cost a lot to develop and maintain – can be amortised against a much larger population of users. In turn, this tends to bring the cost of the services down, which makes them more accessible to smaller organisations (i.e. further along the tail).  This is a democratising effect  - i.e. now a small software firm can afford an enterprise-grade provisioning, billing and SLA management engine, and can scale this according to their needs, and therefore potentially compete with larger players, or offer lower-cost services to customers who are also further along the tail.

    Time to value is shorter.  If a service provider can focus on their offering sans the surrounding infrastructure, they can deliver services much more quickly, and can respond to opportunities in the market more rapidly.   Related to this is the expectation that markets and offerings will evolve much more quickly than ever before.  If you aren’t tied down by infrastructural drag, you can innovate much more quickly.

    Acknowledgements

    Many thanks to Nigel Watson for his insight and additional thoughts.

    * Yes, I'm aware that Isaac probably wasn't the first person to use this phrase, but he's probably the most famous
    ** OK, OK, the picture's obviously not from 150 years ago (of course, the first one is from 10,000 years ago), but I really wanted a picture of this pump - it's because of my background in GIS

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Four more Fishbowl Videos

    • 1 Comments

    The Virtual TechEd Fishbowl Editors have been at it again. Four more great videos.

    Click to Play

    The Wide Ranging Applicability of Team Foundation Server

    Ron Jacobs, host of ARCast.TV, sits down to talk with customers Justin Butcher and Michael Daniel about using Team Foundation Server in a scenario with hundreds of developers, not all of whom are on .NET. How are the developers reacting to using TFS on all these other platforms? They also cover using TFS in a Wide Area Network environment, check-in policies, and other TFS-relevant topics.

    Watch Now

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    Spotlight 2007 Campaign on Integrated Collaboration

    Joseph Mortimer, Solutions Architect with Data#3, and Charlene Clark, former Microsoft Program Manager in Brisbane for the Spotlight 2007 Integrated Collaboration program, discuss the highlights of the campaign—one that upskills and develops Microsoft Gold and Certified Partners in new and innovative technology. This year’s campaign focused on SharePoint Server 2007 and Office Communications Server. Learn more about Spotlight 2007 here.

    Watch Now

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    What Is Via Windows Live?

    Learn all about Via Windows Live, a community site where anybody who is working with Windows Live Services can access a wide range of resources (for example, learn about using Virtual Earth with a Messenger activity window), in this video session recorded with Bronwen Zande, Windows Live Services Development Specialist, and John O’Brien, Windows Live Developer MVP (from aptovita.com, formerly alivedevelopment.com).

    Watch Now

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    Women in Technology

    In this WIT video recorded at Tech·Ed Australia, Nikki Curtis from the Australian Computer Society and Charlene Clark, Queensland Rail, talk about how they got started in IT, some of the challenges women face when growing their IT careers, and tips for young women considering entering the field.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    NSW.Net Event - Directions in High Performance Computing: Sydney, Friday 21 September

    • 1 Comments

    Hear Frank Chism, world expert in high performance computing, discuss the future of cluster server technology

    Frank admits to "over 40 years in HPC" and is "not looking to leave any time soon because I couldn't afford the cool toys I get to play with if I have to buy them myself."

    NSW.Net, together with Microsoft Australia, bring you this rare chance to hear one of the pioneers of HPC share his thoughts on its future.  Frank will demystify clusters, farms and grids, in failover, load balancing and compute applications.  All this in an environment where the computing power of a Cray, costing millions of dollars less than a decade ago, can today be obtained for thousands, but where the demand for cycle increases exponentially as the potential for computer intensive applications becomes reality.

    Frank is a Technical Solutions Professional with Microsoft, focused exclusively on High Performance Computing.  He implements and supports HPC solutions based on Microsoft’s Windows Compute Cluster Server (CCS) platform, and acts as technical liaison between the CCS development team and Microsoft field personnel and customers. 

    Frank began working in High Performance Computing in 1965 on a UNIVAC 1107 mainframe.  He has written device drivers and numerous utilities for other mainframes like the CDC 6600 and Cyber series and every generation of Cray from the Cray-1 to the Cray XD1.  Until recently, his hobby was playing with microprocessors.  Now he is paid for playing with microprocessors.  He has written in numerous dead, undead, and modern languages such as Sleuth, Cash, Fortran, Pascal, C, C++, and Co-array Fortran.  He has focused on parallel HPC for about 15 years.  Frank joined Microsoft in 2006.

    A sandwich lunch, with tea, coffee and orange juice will be available.

                                                              Details 

    When:          Friday 21 September, 2007
    Time:           12.15pm for a 12.30pm start - concluding around 2.00pm
    Venue: NSW Trade & Investment Centre, L47 MLC Centre 19 Martin Place, Sydney
    Price:           No charge for this event – sandwich lunch sponsored by Microsoft

    Registrations or more information:

    http://www.uniqueworld.net/News/Events/EventRegistration.aspx?EventID=129

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Funniest Home Videos - Oz Partner Style

    • 1 Comments

    Great initiative from Christian Longstaff and the local Partner Team

    Subscribe to our Partner video podcastFollowing the success of Channel 9ON10, we now have an Aussie video blog for Partners: Partner-TV Australia.  This new blog consists of short videos of fellow Microsoft’ies and partners with some cool solutions, which you can watch via stream or download and even listen to with an audio podcast.  As always, we are keen to hear what you think.  Please send us any feedback, especially on what you would like to hear and watch via OZPTV@microsoft.com.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    Office DevCons - Sydney (November 3-4) and San Jose (February 10-13)

    • 1 Comments

    As I posted previously, Grahame Seach is pulling together the community Office DevCon in Sydney this November (3-4). The website is now live with the list of 29 sessions and speakers, information about the conference and the facilities, as well as a registration link.

    Sign Up Now!

     

    There's also another Office Developer event on the cards, this one organised by Microsoft:

    clip_image001[1]

    So to Summarise:

    Sydney, November 3-4 (Community, CodeCamp-like event)

    San Jose, Febrary 10-13 (Microsoft event)

    Looking forward to seeing you at one or both.

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    (fish)Bowling for TechEd

    • 1 Comments

    Two new videos from the Virtual TechEd FishBowl.

    While you're at it, check out the BuilderAU video section for even more TechEd goodness.

    Click to Play

    XNA Gaming Tools and Technologies

    XNA, Microsoft’s latest suite of game creation tools, is composed of industry-leading software, services, resources, and communities focused on enabling game developers to be successful on Microsoft gaming platforms. Luke Drumm and Daniel Crowley-Wilson from Readify provide an introduction to XNA, and you can learn more by visiting http://www.xna.com.

    Watch Now

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    The Near Future of Developer Technologies

    Mick Badran and Anthony Borton, Microsoft MVPs, have a quick chat about their respective areas of expertise and Tech·Ed Australia sessions around the near future of BizTalk solutions, Windows Communication Foundation, Visual Studio Team System, Team Foundation Server and more.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    More Great .NET 3.0 Training in Australia

    • 1 Comments

    I just got this note from Faith Rees about some exciting .NET 3.0 training being conducted by our partner, Readify. Contact them directly for more info.

    Juval Lowy’s Windows Communication Foundation MasterClass– Registrations close 21 September

    Juval Lowy is returning to Australia by popular demand to deliver his best-of-breed WCF Master Class from 15-19 October 2007 in Sydney. This 5 day intensive course covers WCF programming, design guidelines, pitfalls, original techniques and best practices.

    For More information and to book your place http://www.readify.net.au/Default.aspx?tabid=241 or email training@readify.net.au

    First Time ever in Australia, Jon Flander’s Applied Windows Workflow- Registrations Close 6 October

    Jon Flanders will come down under 13-16 November 2007 to Melbourne to deliver his 4 day Applied WF intensive course which affords experienced .NET developers training in WF tools and services needed to add rich workflow capabilities to their ASP.NET and Smart Client applications as well as Web and Windows services.

    For More information and to book your place http://www.readify.net.au/Default.aspx?tabid=281 or email training@readify.net.au

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    ViaWindowsLive.com - for Windows Live Developers

    • 1 Comments

    Tatham and Dr Neil alluded to it in their fishbowl interview, and now Anna's been plugging it too. From the developers of ViaVirtualEarth, there's a new site for Windows Live developers. Check out the plethora of topics on the nav bar:

    image

  • Andrew Coates ::: MSFT

    The Fishbowl Hits Keep On Coming

    • 1 Comments

    More great work from the Virtual TechEd Team. Check out the new videos from the Fishbowl:

    Click to Play

    Tablet PCs, Vista and Mobility

    Lee Williams and Craig Pringle from Gen-i discuss all you need to know about the benefits and added functionality of the new generation of Tablet PCs, giving you a better understanding of what Tablets are (and aren’t) and where they would fit in your organization.

    Watch Now

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    Windows Live Web Services

    Get a sneak peak at the Tech·Ed Australia Session “Utilising Windows Live Web Services Today” from Dr. Neil Roodyn and Tatham Oddie, independent consultants. Be sure to check out the Via Windows Live community space and Via Virtual Earth for more.

    Watch Now

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    What’s the Buzz on Activation?

    This video, hosted by John Pritchard, Windows Client Technology Specialist, and Ramprabhu Rathnam, Director of Marketing US – MEG Genuine Windows, provides a quick rundown on what activation is, why it has been introduced, and its value to enterprise customers. Learn more by visiting the Volume Activation 2.0 Frequently Asked Questions site.

    Watch Now

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    Virtual Machines and SCVMM

    Listen in as Andrew Dugdell, Virtualization MVP, talks with Jeff Alexander, IT Pro Evangelist, about virtual machine management using the new System Centre Virtual Machine Manager. For more fun, visit WindowsVirtualization.com, a community resource focusing on the Microsoft VHD format and virtualization technologies.

    Watch Now

    The Fish Bowl Travels to Australia  
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