Brad Anderson launched the key note at TechEd 2014 with 2 new buzz words: mobile-first and cloud-first, which he went to explain were essentially the same thing for Microsoft. 2008 was a landmark in mobile computing, it was the point at which the number of connected devices overtook the number of people in the world. Naturally since then the number of tablets, phones and other internet-ready devices has grown exponentially. This explosion of data has created a wealth of business opportunities and the perfect microclimate for transformational change, said Brad.
In contrast to MMS in 2012 in which I ran out of digits to count the number of times Brad referred to the Private Cloud, 2014 was firmly about the Public Cloud and Microsoft's offering in this space: Azure. Brad gave 3 reasons why Microsoft was the leading cloud computing provider.
Firstly, they are one of only 3 companies that have Hyper-Scale capability (the other 2 being Amazon and Google). Whilst all 3 of these Goliaths are opaque about exactly what their capacity is, no-one would argue that Microsoft don't have the resources to scale quickly with demand and in any case one of the benefits of having a wide ranging customer base is that demand tends to even out between customers with different use patterns.
The second and third points, were benefits unique to Microsoft: Enterprise Proven and Hybrid. The second was something that Brad came back to again and again. He told us that the cloud is integral to your data center and the public and private cloud should be treated as one. More and more it seems that Microsoft is building Azure into it's toolset. If you're already using products such as SCCM it's going be a hard decision to use anything other than Azure for hosting DR capability in the cloud since the functionality is there right out of the box. Making Azure the a seamless solution for anyone using Microsoft products on-prem could well be their ticket to cloud dominance despite what some might see as late entry to this market.
Success stories were given around customers such as Paul Smith, who reduced their disaster recovery time from 48 hours to 2 minutes; NBC who streamed a major sporting event over 17 days; and Titanfall who spin up a new Azure server in real time for each player logging into the game. There are now 2 billion authentications a day on Azure, showing just how much the platform as grown.
The general availability of ExpressRoute was announced. An essential component of the Hybrid model and any serious enterprise adoption. This is the ability to create a private connection between your virtual network in Azure and your data centers. Development has come in conjunction with many of the major telecomms players such as AT&T, Verizon and BT. SQL 2014 was also touched on all too briefly, given that their new in-memory OLTP capability is showing a 3000% increase in performance.
The use of the Hybrid model for DR was a persistent theme and Matt McSpirit gave a demo of site recovery using Azure. Whilst there was nothing mind blowing about the functionality, the fact that it is built right into the UI, is a sign that Microsoft is confident about the uptake of it's cloud services. Pushing DR as a way for companies to get their feet wet is a smart move. I'm sure that at next years TechEd Microsoft will be taking their enterprise clients even deeper into the cloud.