Monday morning at PDC 2008 brings the opening keynote with Ray Ozzie and friends. You can watch the keynote from http://www.microsoftpdc.com. The first 20 minutes is fairly miss-able as Ray talks about cloud computing and how and why we got here. After this Ray announces Microsoft Azure (http://www.azure.com) which is one of the main events for PDC this year (along with Windows 7, the .NET Framework 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010). Ray describes Azure as Microsoft's web tier offering, computing in the cloud and a "service based operating environment" essentially it is an 'operating system' for the web aka "Windows in the cloud" ? a service running a vast number of services hosted by Microsoft. The Azure services include Live Services, .NET Services, SQL Services, Sharepoint Services and Dynamics CRM Services. Ray is keen to stress though that the Azure CTP is "only a fraction of what will be available". Each of the speakers presses home the point that the development experience for Azure applications is based on existing skill sets i.e. .NET Framework (including C#, Visual Basic.NET etc.), Visual Studio, ASP.NET etc. ? the Azure API is just another .NET Framework class library with templates and wizards for Visual Studio. What is really quite cool here though is that the tools allow you to develop for Azure locally on a stand alone machine. This works by running an Azure server locally on the development machine in the same way that the ASP.NET Web Development Server ("Cassini") provides a local web server for web development. Deployment to Microsoft's Azure is a separate step that is akin to all of the other "publish" operations supported by Visual Studio. I suspect that the fact that deployed Azure applications are hosted solely by Microsoft on Microsoft's servers is the contentious point here. As far as I can see at this time there are no options here ? you host it on Microsoft's servers or you don't use Azure. For small and mid-sized companies this is fantastic news since Microsoft will scale and balance according to the configuration settings of the Azure application. PDC attendees get an Azure account which includes free hosting at this time but the details on what Microsoft will charge for this when it goes live are unclear. Larger sized companies might take a different stance on this architecture.
Dave Thompson comes on later to talk about Microsoft Online Services, Microsoft's 'software plus services' offering, which currently includes Exchange Online, CRM Online and Sharepoint Online. He goes on to say that in the future all Microsoft software will be available as services.
All PDC attendees get an external hard drive with the following:-
- Windows 7 (32 bit and 64 bit) CTP, Windows 7 SDK
- Visual Studio 2010 CTP
- .NET Framework 4.0 CTP
- Silverlight Tools for Visual Studio 2008 SP1
- Virtual PC, Vista SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 (64 bit), SQL Express 2005, Powershell
- Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio 2008 Express Edition
- .NET Micro Framework SDK 3.0
- Windows Media Center SDK
- Numerous whitepapers
- Various Hands on labs