Yesterday I watched in Comcast, the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness“. Will Smith has superbly portrayed the character of a struggling salesman who takes custody of his son as he’s poised to begin a life-changing professional endeavour. The story is inspired by a true story of an investment tycoon (of the same name portrayed) Chris Gardener. An emotional story told very well, the boy (done by Will Smith’s real son Jaden Smith) has acted great especially in the scenes – where they are moving from place to place after a long day when they don’t have a place to sleep.
In this PDC2008 talk, Chuck Lenzmeier – the Architect in Azure team explains how the Virtual Images of OS works in the Azure cloud data centers. His Bio in PDC2008 says that Chuck has been with Microsoft since 1989, and worked on all versions of Windows from NT 3.1 to Vista. The below video really helps to understand how the Virtual Images are being managed to achieve Windows Azure manage while retaining absolute compatibility with existing OS, Software and Applications.
His co-speaker Frederick Smith from Microsoft explained the other aspects of Windows Azure.
Windows Azure provisions and monitors hardware elements (Compute nodes, L2 Switches, LBs, Routers), hardware lifecycle management (burn in tests, diagnostics and repair, failed hardware are replaced) and capacity planning
Azure Fabric is highly available: Network has redundancy built in, services deployed across fault domains, load balancers route traffic to active nodes only, Fabric Controller state check-pointed periodically, FC state is stored on multiple replicas
PDC 2008 CTP release of Azure has Automated Service deployment, Three Service templates, change number of instances, simple service upgrade/degrade, Automated service failure discovery and recovery, external VIP Address/DNS name per service, Service network isolation enforcement & automated hardware management
For 2009 release will have ability to model more complex application, richer life-cycle management & richer network management
I was in the talk by Andrew Fitzhugh from HP’s Magcloud.com. The site is HP’s attempt to do on demand publishing of magazines and allow anyone to publish, sell and distribute magazines. An interesting statistics that was shown that in USA about 3.6Billion magazines were delivered to US News stands last year and out of which 2.3Billion was never read.
He talked about how Magcloud moved their front-end systems and portions of storage to Windows Azure.
Magcloud.com on-premises architecture
Magcloud.com utilizing Windows Azure
Seeing the title I had good expectations, but the session turned out to be disappointing. The speakers completed the talk in 30 minutes and didn’t have anything more to talk or go into architecture or code details. The project seemed to me to a half-hearted attempt to test drive Windows Azure and was a simple project to showcase anything interesting.
Today was the keynote by Rick Rashid, Sr. VP from Microsoft Research. Notes on the session:
Why is fundamental research important to a company like Microsoft or country like USA. It is to survive tough times, about agility through your earlier investments and having smart people
Talked about Terminator, liveness property. Basically if you create a lock in say “C” will the code release it and so on
Talked about Dryad – Dryad is an infrastructure which allows a programmer to use the resources of a computer cluster or a data center for running data-parallel programs, without knowing anything about concurrent programming
The study on computer “programs” help us to understand more on human “cells”, similarly study on “cells” is helping us to understand “programs”
Microsoft has been working with Washington university for Collaborative technologies – ConferenceXP
Microsoft released today a new version of Microsoft Worldwide telescope Autumnal Equinox Beta
Feng Zhao (Principal Researcher) talked on the energy usage, how to sense and how we can reduce. He showed a small device made by Microsoft Research that uses a 16-bit CPU, 10K RAM, 40K ROM to collect humidity, temperature and other parameters. It then transmits it using a low-power Radio as they are powered by batteries which need to last long.
He showed the below demo on how this data can be visualized:
This session was done very well by Eric Schmidt (Director, Microsoft).
Some top-level highlights were:
34 top level events sorted by icons
At the peak, 17 live separate events were happening
2000 hours of live content and 2200 Highlight content that was created
The result was staggering: 1.3 Billion Pageviews, 50 Million Unique Visitors, 70 million videos watched, 5000 Unique clips viewed per day during the final week, 600 million minutes of video delivery, 27 minutes of viewing per session, 35 million mobile views (external), 130,000 peak streams, 3.4 petabytes of video delivered, were built for 2.5 times of what was delivered.
Four main types of contents:
Live Content were delivered with Windows Media Server, with commentary was coming from commentators typing in a CMS which got moved as XML to production
Rewind – Video on Demand play of live content
Highlight NBC pulled out 50 Interns from college put them in 30 ROCK and make them create these 3-5min highlights of individual events.
Encores – Broadcast replays
Other points mentioned:
Planning of capacity was most important. When, Where and Size (each sport is of different length) was to be planned to determine the CPU, storage and ingress/egress needs.
NBC was helped by Intel Penguin processor, NBC waited for it and the servers got shipped around in May and took 6 weeks to go to Beijing
Bandwidth out of Beijing was limited to a 40 meg (DS3). 40 encoders were running live, so about 1MB per encoder (Digital Rapid). All this went into two windows media services box in Beijing, this got patched to window media services in 30 Rock, New York so that they can control if they had to. Which was then mapped to Limelight & Level 3 CDN’s massive WMS boxes. More details of encoding process in the blog post here
No full screen due to IOC Advertising requirements on the percentage of advertisements to video
Many partners were involved: Deltatre (Italy) had the CMS the best in the world to do live score on web
HTTPWatch Professional (and Fiddler) was useful to see what’s going on
Scrum and Scrumming builds better teams as the teams were distributed worldwide
Meeting Face to Face was very important, especially to bring this up cost in RFP stage
Everyone should know all roles and all architectural touch points
Reduce complexity via common schema
Long-tail delivery hides issues, when you are watching current items you needed to focus on the older contents that were being watched by the long-tail
The industry needs better telemetry and monitoring solutions
“Chunked” workflow (smaller sized thousand of files created) presented new challenges – Now IIS 7.0 Smooth Streaming in Media Pack announced yesterday does this better
Over 250 people between Microsoft, NBC and all other partners
The improvements were on decreasing Memory, Disk I/O, Power consumption and on Increasing Speed (Faster Boot, Device Ready), Responsiveness (Start Menu) and Scale up to 250 Processors
BitLock on USB Drives to protect your data
Native VHD support to mount and boot
Remote Desktops now support Multi-Monitor, cool
Multi-touch, Start Bar UI improvements and more…
On seeing this I was initially disappointed to see no new UI or major changes. However, after using Windows 7 in the labs and attending more sessions, I realized Microsoft was not throwing what was done in Windows Vista, but improving on it, which is good.
The UAC improvements made me think why not introduce “Roles” like in Windows Server for Windows 7 (Client) also. This way “Developers”, “Power Users” and “Home Users” can have different settings and security prompts.
The idea to have the “Web” guy Scott Guthrie do the talk on Windows 7 developer improvements and on WPF was a “major coup” to promote it.
AutoCad was showing how they are using Windows 7 Multi-Touch, Ribbon APIs for their native C++ rendering
A new WPF Toolkit and Silverlight Toolkit were announced today
In .NET 4.0 you will have side by side hosting in the same process both .NET 4.0 and .NET 2.0 CLR
A new managed extension framework which was shown in VS2010 on how the Text Editor can be customized
VS 2010 is being rebuild on top of WPF, this I felt will certainly force Microsoft to improve the performance and invest more on WPF and make it better
Having JQuery (an Open source project) supported is another major coup within Microsoft
ASP.NET 4.0 will support multiple web.config, one each for Debug, Production and so on
Today Silverlight 1.0 is in over 25% of all machines in Internet and nearly in 100 million of them have Silverlight 2.0
David Treadwell showed Live Services which consists of Search, Geospatial, Live ID, Communication & Presence and Directory services
Live ID will now support Open ID. This if works well, has the potential to make it come alive the dream of a single identity provider on the Internet
The demo of BBC Live Player using Live Mesh services to sync up was cool. The BBC Engineer talked that “Last Year Broadcaster decided what you saw, This Year you decide what you saw, Next Year will determine what you see”. What they are watching, which segment is good will all be shared using Social networking tools and powered by Live Mesh
This was perhaps the most interesting demo of the day, with a lightweight of office (Word, Excel and OneNote) for the Web
The cool thing was how it synced up in real-time changes done in Client version and the Online version. All working behind the scene with “REST” protocols
Microsoft claimed this to be “Office without Limits”
After showing preview of Silverlight for Mobile two years back, Microsoft has been absolutely silent. Since there was no news for a long time I presumed they have killed this project. After seeing this session today I am glad the project is alive and getting closer to release. In this session by Amit Chopra and Giorgio Sardo, they talked more about this – both the speakers did a fabulous job of entertaining the audience and making the session fun. Notes on the session:
Public CTP will be released in Q1 ’09
Most of the Silverlight applications written for desktop today can run in SL for Mobile
A new emulator for debugging Silverlight for Mobile is now integrated with Visual Studio
By using the User-Agent and Platform class you can determine whether your application is running in Desktop, Windows Mobile or Nokia phones, etc.
Lot of optimisation work is happening to play media well on SL for Mobile
You can see one of the demos in the video below that was shown running in a Windows Mobile:
I am right now in Microsoft Project “Velocity” talk in PDC2008 by Muralidhar Krishnaprasad. Microsoft has been promising a distributed (and in-memory) cache system for a long long time. If I remember right it was first talked about in COM/ASP days. After that in every Microsoft event a version of it was shown (by a different team each time) in pre-release stages, but none of them got released. The story from Microsoft on the need for one, how to solve it and roadmap kept changing all the time. As for me, having got tired of this I have been using SQL Server as the distributed cache for few years now.
Notes from the session:
“Velocity” is Microsoft’s Distributed Cache .
Usage scenarios are: Reference Data, Vendor Catalogs, Activity Data, Resource Data (Flight Seat Inventory and like)
It is an explicit, in-memory, distributed cache
Any .NET Objects that can be serialized can be cached
Scale very easily, add as much memory and add as much machines as you can
Velocity is going to be free and released in MSDN
Runs on standard Windows PC. If machines go down, the data is preserved and not lost. High Availability (HA) is ensured
Velocity releases: CTP2 now in PDC, CTP3 in Mix ’09 and release at Mid ’09 timeframe
In V1.0 simple Add queries can be done. In later versions LINQ queries will be available.
With what we were shown today of Velocity, especially its high availability, monitoring tools, ease of use and scalability are pretty impressive. I just hope this time they ship this and not go the previous paths.
This was by far the best session for me in PDC2008. It was SQL Server: Database to Data Platform – Road from Server to Devices to the Cloud by David Campbell, a Microsoft Technical Fellow and SQL Server guru. David was brilliant, you could clearly see and appreciate his deep expertise on the subject. He gave an overall view of what’s happening with Database in the last few decades, how you can write very complex huge data applications today easily. And then he talked about where this SQL on cloud fits in, where it doesn’t and so on. You can see two brief demos shown in the talk below.
David Campbell talking about Sync in Action with Sync Framework in the talk
Zach Skyles Owens of Microsoft showing the Trey Research Demo application
For the last few years, the scope of enterprise applications are increasing. IT departments have to manage more of outside users (their customers) than their internal users
More of IT Pros and Developers have to work together and learn together in this new cloud world
More than ever the web site of an enterprise is critical to the overall business health
Hat’s off to Jeff Bezos and his team at Amazon for the phenomenal work they are doing with EC2 and Windows hosting. In ways we collaborate with them and in other ways we compete with them
Today this cloud is another tier. The first tier is your PC or Mobile, it is all about you. The second tier is the enterprise and its scope is the size of the enterprise. The third tier is this cloud. To do this we had a team headed by David Cutler, Amitabh Srivatsa and others in Microsoft
Today’s systems whether it is Windows, Java or others are all modelled for scale-up. We need for the next 50 years, we need something that can scale out & parallel computing
We announce today “Windows Azure“. It is our new Windows (new OS) that supports all the infrastructure to power this cloud design. It is not a software, but a service that is running on Microsoft Datacenters, initially in USA then to be rolled out worldwide
It will be the most environmentally sensitive, scalable, reliable service for all Microsoft hosting over the years
Windows Azure works with the same tools – VB.NET 2008, C#, C++, .NET, etc. including both managed and un-managed code. Initially managed will be supported and later support for un-managed will be introduced
There was a demo of a new services, a Mobile Phone discovery in neighbourhood using Bluetooth – bluehoo.com and client can be downloaded from m.bluehoo.com
Note: For the first time I saw Microsoft keynote speakers (Ray Ozzie and Amitabh Srivatsa) in a developer conference not wearing T-Shirts but are in formal attire with a blazer.
Ray Ozzie’s closing notes video below:
There was demo of using .NET Services and SQL Services by RedPrairie and also of System Management “Atlanta”. Atlanta uses SQL Services for customers to compare their instrumentation data with others and best practices
This week we are releasing “Oslo” a new modelling tool and a language “m”
Vice President of Microsoft Online, he has headed the team that developed Active Directory and in Exchange Server
One of the problems to solve is federated identity. This is done by using Microsoft Services Connector which sites on-premises and then syncs it to the online cloud. This is currently used by Microsoft online services and will be the same used by Windows Azure.