Last week, I soaked up sun, rain, and knowledge in Orlando, Florida at the annual Microsoft TechEd conference. It’s a huge conference with something like 10,000 attendees, and it covers development and administration for Windows, SQL Server, SharePoint, and more. Between the keynotes, sessions, and attendee chats, here’s what I learned:
Microsoft’s cranking out the server hits. Windows Server 2012 has great new features like better file copy handling, improved clustering, and slick SAN integration. When your file servers and virtualization hosts are backed by an ODX-savvy SAN, you’re going to be shell-shocked at the performance improvements. The SharePoint, BI, and Visual Studio folks seemed just as excited about their upcoming stuff too.
DBAs are pretty sensitive about SQL 2012’s Enterprise Edition licensing. Microsoft switched to core-based licensing in this release. The short story is that the price is still about the same for quad-core CPUs, but above that, cost rises fast. Many DBAs told me their shops were gritting their teeth at paying $140,000 in licensing to run SQL Server on a $25,000 piece of hardware. Whenever I talked about a new feature in SQL Server 2012, people instantly asked, “Is that feature available in Standard, or just Enterprise?”
Hyper-V and System Center are coming on strong. The vast, vast majority of my clients happily use VMware, but they’re not so happy about the continued price increases. Hyper-V’s feature sets catch up to (and in some areas, even surpass) VMware – as long as you’re willing to buy into the whole System Center suite to get the full feature set. System Center’s deployment costs in terms of hardware, software, and manpower mean that there’s not an immediate ROI to replace VMware with Hyper-V, but if your company hasn’t deployed virtualization in a wide scale yet, they’re going to. I talked to less and less holdouts.
Attendees weren’t excited about Windows 8 clients. Turns out I’m not the only one who hates the clunky, low-res, low-information-density Metro interface on high-resolution desktops and laptops. I heard a lot of Windows Vista jokes, and I heard a lot of sysadmins saying, “We’re still running a lot of XP. We held out as long as we could, but right now, we’re going to deploy Windows 7 across the board.” I’m not sure that’s a good idea, though; if you have to retrain all your users on a new UI anyway, I’d skip to 8. If I was already on 7, though, I think I’d hold pat for a couple of years.
We still aren’t hearing release dates. Microsoft missed a big opportunity here because thousands of geeks are about to go home to their coworkers and do free marketing for Microsoft. They’re going to say, “I love what’s coming, but even though the year is half over, we still can’t make any plans because I have no idea when it’ll drop.” I know Microsoft understands the power of good word-of-mouth marketing, so the fact that we still don’t have release dates makes me think the products still have a ways to go before Microsoft can even announce a shipping date.
There’s a huge demand for good PowerShell basic training. The majority of sysadmins and DBAs that I spoke with still aren’t using PowerShell. They’re vaguely interested in it, but they’re not getting the education they need. Don Jones and Jeffry Snover ran an incredibly well-attended PowerShell crash course session with almost 1,500 attendees and got very, very positive feedback. Thanks to Microsoft, you can watch the PowerShell session recording now. (You may have to turn the audio *way* up in the video, and on your computer.)
You like me. You really like me. Attendees voted my session on Building the Fastest SQL Servers as one of the top five sessions at TechEd – not just the SQL Server track, but out of all 419 sessions at the entire show! I’m really humbled by that, given the quantity and quality of presenters like Mark Russinovich, Mark Minasi, and Paula Januszkiewicz. I’m still walking on air about that one, and I find myself asking – what do I do to take things to the next level?