Day 1 was great. Lots of amazing sessions (many of them filled up very quickly so you had to be quick to get into them). I took a few in (ranging from Azure services to Bing Translator services in your modern Apps) and will create a separate blog entry to call out a few details that I found interesting this week as a general session “round-up.”

Now that we’re here in Day 2, I’m eagerly awaiting the beginning of the Day 2 Keynote. If yesterday was any indication of what’s to come, today should be another great keynote. Alright, here we go!!!

Scott Guthrie opened the platform emphasizing the “Cloud and Mobile” first approach.

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He also mentioned that there 44 new announcements with Services that are being announced for Azure today! (I’ve tried to capture most of them here.) He also mentioned that we’ve opened up major data centers in Shanghai and Beijing, which are now GA. Some key stats from Microsoft Azure that Scott walked through are represented in the following slide:

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Impressive!

Scott showed a video of TitanFall that outlined how it uses Azure and how the server-powered gaming experience heavily leverages Azure. They had more than 100,000 virtual machines that were deployed on launch day. He also mentioned the Sochi Olympics, and how Azure delivered content and media throughout the major games. And my favorite sport, hockey, marked a Cloud-streaming record where there were record-number people watching the US vs. Canada hockey match.

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Scott then brought Rick Cordella from NBC on-stage to talk about the experience of using Azure.

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Rick mentioned that NBC took a $1B bet on Azure with the Olympics. “Azure played a critical role in this happening.”

Scott then dived into the specifics of what works with Azure. Some enhancements Scott walked through:

  • Azure enables Windows and Linux, and now you can create, manage and debug VMs from within VS 2013.
  • Azure now has support for capturing images, such that you can replicate the images fast and easy.
  • Easily configure Azure through Puppet, Chef and PowerShell.

Mark Russinovich then came on to do a few demos, including creating VMs from within Visual Studio, debugging the VM (very cool because this means you can debug remotely into the app running on the VM using an Azure agent running on the remote machine), PowerShell management of VMs, and Puppet integrator (Puppet Labs now has an image inside the gallery).

Mark also invited Luke Kanies on stage from Puppet Labs to talk through and show how Puppet Enterprise works. He showed dynamically updating the Task Manager in a remote machine through the Puppet Enterprise console—a very easy update.

Mark then invited Daniel Spurling from Getty Images on stage to discuss how they’re using Azure, emphasizing the fact that they want their images/videos to be available to the world in real-time using Azure. Daniel emphasize the need for massive scale and storage required for Getty and Azure.

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Scott then came back on stage to summarize the IAAS Services and make some new announcements. See the slide below.

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He then segued into a discussion on PAAS, reinforcing the efficiencies and productivity of the platform. He then discussed the Azure Web Sites functionality. He talked about some of the efficiency gains through “swaps” when balancing staging versus production, as well as covering off on a number of other cool new features in Web Sites such as cross-language and platform support—shown in the slide below.

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An aside: Azure Web Sites is awesome. I’ve used it in a number of ways, from new to migrated web sites to integration with SharePoint apps. The direct integration with the developer story is second-to-none, scalability, App insights, and many of the other built-in features, this PAAS choice from the within the Azure platform makes it one of many significant competitive differentiators for Azure.

Scott then invited Mads Kristensen on stage to walk through a few of the features that Scott discussed at a higher level. Specifically, he walked through the new ASP.NET templates emphasizing the creation of the DB layer and then showing PowerShell integration to manage your web site. He then showed Angular integration with Azure Web sites, emphasizing easy and dynamic ways to update your site showing  deep browser and Visual Studio integration (Browser Link), showing updates that are made in the browser show up in the code in Visual Studio. Very cool!!

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He also showed how you can manage staging and production sites by using the “swap” functionality built into the Azure Web sites service. He also showed Web Jobs to show how you can also run background jobs and Traffic Manager functionality to ensure your customers have the best performing web site in their regions.

Scott then came back out and made some announcements, as per the slide below:

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He also talked about a new cert/SSL offer (that provides 1 free cert) within Web site and then segued into talking about the mobile space, specifically talking to Azure Mobile Services, emphasizing the Active Directory integration with Mobile Services—which is great because this allows you to build enterprise-grade mobile applications that target multiple platforms in a very easy way!

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Yavor Georgiev then came on stage to walk through a Mobile Services demo. He showed off a new Mobile Services Visual Studio template, test pages with API docs, local and remote debugging capabilities, and a LOB app that enables Facilities departments to manage service requests—this showed off a lot of the core ASP.NET/MVC features along with a quick publish service to your Mobile Services service in Azure. Through this app, he showed how to use Active Directory to build the app—which prompts you to log into the app with your corp/AD credentials to use the app. He then showed how the app integrates with SharePoint/O365 such that the request leverages the SharePoint REST APIs to publish a doc to a Facilities doc repository. He also showed how you can re-use the core code through Xamarin to repurpose the code for iOS.

The app is shown here native in Visual Studio.

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This app view is the cross-platform build using Xamarin.

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Kudos to Yavor! This was an awesome demo that showcases how far Mobile Services has come in a short period of time—love the extensibility and the cross-platform capabilities. Very nice!

Scott came back on after Yavor emphasizing the importance of Active Directory, walking through some of the key features of Active Directory such as Sync and broader app integration.

He then invited Grant Peterson from DocuSign on stage to discuss how they are using Azure, who demoed AD integration with DocuSign’s iOS app. Nice!

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This is really huge for those of you building apps that are cross-platform but have big investments in AD and also provides you as developers a way to reach enterprise audiences.

Scott then came back to discuss some of the new announcements for Mobile, as per the slide below. 

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Scott then turned to discussing data, noting that there are 1M+ SQL Databases being used and a 500GB increase for SQL Database and that you now have automatic back-ups built into the SQL Database service (this is a built-in feature). He also discussed Active Geo-Replication, such that the DBs can be set up to asynchronously replicate across regions. He also made a number of announcements, which are listed as follows:

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Scott then moved into discussing the tools, emphasizing language, and invited Anders Hejlsberg to discuss project “Roslyn.” Anders announced an end-user preview for Roslyn and demoed some efficiencies gained through this preview at the programming language level. He also announced that they are open-sourcing the entire Roslyn project (which you’ll find on Codeplex). Anders published the Roslyn project live to Codeplex!

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Anders walked through using the new “Roslyn” preview to build a new version of VS that accepted new language features (support for French quotes). Very, very cool!

Miguel de Icaza then came on stage to demo building an iOS app using Anders new language model.

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Scott then came back on stage and then talked about tooling and support for Open Source, specifically talking about the .NET Founding contributions.

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Bill Staples then came on stage to show off the new Azure portal design and features. Bill walked through a number of the new innovations in the portal, such as improved UX, app insights, “blade” views, etc. A screen shot of the new portal is shown below.

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Bill also walked through the comprehensive analytics (such as compute and billing) that are now available on the portal. He also walked through “Application Insights,” which is a great way to instrument your code in both the portal and in your code with easy-to-use, pre-defined code snippets. He completed his demo walkthrough by showing the Azure portal as a “NOC” view on a big-screen TV.

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Scott then came back on stage to reinforce the “transformative” nature of Azure and then introduced Steve (“Guggs”) Guggenheimer. He discussed partner and developer ecosystems and conversations, emphasizing three key conversations:

  1. Support existing technology investments
  2. Cloud and mobile development
  3. Maximize business opportunities across platforms

He then invited John Shewchuk on stage to walk through a demo, which illustrates a transformation from a WPF app into a more modern app—moving the WPF app into a data-layer that sits in the Cloud and an identity layer that leverages Cloud-based Active Directory. John also showed an older WinForm app into a more modern MVVM app, with C# running on the server and the UI living as HTML5. Guggs also showed the same app on a device as well.

Steve then discussed the area of “Internet of things” where he addressed devices without UI—specifically talking about Windows Embedded and carrying this forward.

Steve and John then also talked about Surface devices in the cockpit, where 700 pilots are now using Surface Pros. They walked through Jeppesen Flight Deck Pro on the device to show how pilots would use the Surface Pro. They then discussed AutoDesk and FlipBoard as other examples of apps that either are using services that may be deployed to the Cloud or have been modernized for the Windows and mobile experience—showing the performance of FlipBoard on a Nokia 520 device. John also walked through migration of a FourSquare app to evolve the tile display using a geofence configuration in the code.

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Guggs also walked through a SenSoria demo to showcase how fitness integrates with Cloud. A couple of screen-shots from Guggs walking around stage—where the app prompted to move more quickly to hit a more optimal fitness/calorie-burn rate.

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Guggs also showed a video from Vespor, who leverage Azure as a back-end service for their note-taking iOS app, and another video showcasing Gobbler, a tool (or communications layer) for artists that helps manage project files and storage.

Guggs then showed how the Cloud optimizes gaming with enhanced performance. They also showed how you can use JavaScript (through Babylon) to very easily extend and show enhanced Virtual Reality.

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The last area Guggs focused on was cross-platform for maximum mobile reach. The showed off a partner called GoPro and Java integration and support on Azure (through some minimal configuration)—see below.

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They also discussed Accela, where they showed integrated services that bring different information sources into one view with a common identity layer across the app.

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They also showed how you can use tooling to take a web site and create a Mobile app, using a URL to migrate a web site and then using “offline” mode that caches the site for offline use in the Mobile app. Very cool.

Guggs then took the sports app from the Day 1 keynote using Xamarin, which they showed on a Surface, Android and iPAD. They reinforced all of the different non-MSFT SDKs that are available to developers.

All-in-all, there was a lot that was shown in the Day 2 keynote; lots of Cloud advancements, app migration/modernization, and cross-mobile discussions with a good bunch of partner call-outs.

I have to say these two keynotes have been really significant. The charge was “Cloud and Mobile,” and all of the demos/areas discussed leaved up to the playbill. From these two days, you can see the importance of Windows (and all of the permutations where we’ll find it) and the dedicated tooling and language support that enable cross-platform, -language and –device support.

Overall, really exciting stuff!

Summary of Key Announcements

A round-up of some of the key announcements I heard today were as follows:

  • GA of Azure in Beijing and Shanghai
  • Capture/deploy of VM
  • Puppet and Chef Support
  • GA of Auto-scale service
  • Create/Manage VMs from within VS
  • Integrated remote debugging
  • Virtual Network Point-to-Site VPN, Dynamics routing, subnet migration and static internal IP
  • New Azure Management portal preview (live today)
  • Integration of Visual Studio Online into Azure for seamless experience
  • Azure Web sites Autoscale, Traffic Manager support, Webjobs, Backup, and Java support
  • .NET Updates that include MVC 5.1, Web API 2.1, Identity 2.0, and Webpages 3.1
  • Visual Studio Tooling such as New Project integration, PowerShell automation, Node.js Project support
  • GA for CDN
  • Mobile Services, including .NET back-end support, SSO and AD support, Offline Data sync, Visual Studio tooling, and Remote Debugging
  • Azure AD, including iOS and Android SDK, Office 365 API integration and Azure AD Premium
  • Notification Hub, including Mobile Services integration, Kindle support, and VS tooling
  • SQL Database, including SQL DBs up to 500GB, 99.9% SLA, Self-service recovery, Active geo-replication
  • HDInsight, including Hadoop 2.2, .NET 4.5 support, Audit and Operation history, Hive query enhancements, and VARN support
  • Storage, icnluding read-access geo-redundance storage
  • GA of Visual Studio Online (in the preview and existing portal)
  • Azure Resource Manager preview
  • AppStudio tool for packaging apps for store

Lots here, so enjoy!

Steve