Recap of TechEd Europe, day one

Here is the first blog post from your reporter Jan Tielens, on-site at TechEd Europe in sunny Barcelona. This morning the event kicked off with a keynote diving into the mobile first, cloud first world. Jason Zander was the host and he focused on the key parts which makes this vision a reality: devices and cloud.

On devices
Jason explained the devices trend we are seeing today: an explosion of internet-connected devices, ranging from small sensors, to phones, tablets, hybrids, laptops, desktops and even large screen Perceptive Pixel devices. Then he clarified the investments Microsoft is making in Windows 10, all of them centered around:

  • One converged Windows platform, running on a wide range of devices
  • A product people will love to use
  • Protection against modern security threats
  • Managed for continuous innovation

On Windows 10
You might know you can try out the Enterprise Preview for Windows 10 already via the Insider Program, but you’ll notice the current build is really meant to give enterprises a very early heads-up on what’s coming. Early 2015, we’ll also disclose the consumer story of Windows 10, so stay tuned for much more on Windows 10 in that timeframe.
To wrap up the Windows 10 talk, Joe Belfiore came on stage to demo some of the UI improvements: we’ve already seen the come-back of the enhanced Start Menu  and the advances of the Command Prompt. But Joe also demoed some new scenarios, for example two-factor authentication in Windows 10, using your phone, completely transparent and seamlessly for the end-user.

On Azure
lots of exiting Azure announcements were made today:

  • Huge virtual machine support, the G Series of virtual machines, these are optimized for heavy data workloads and use the very latest Intel Xeon processors.  They have up to 32 CPU cores of compute capability, 448 gigabytes of RAM and more than 6.5 terabytes of local SSD storage.
  • Premium Storage offering support up to 32 terabytes of storage per virtual machine. 
  • Azure Batch delivers job scheduling as a service, making it easy to run large-scale parallel and high performance computing (HPC) work in Azure. During the keynote an impressive demo of a ray tracing application was shown. Ray tracing is typically compute-intensive, but with the help of Azure
  • In preview soon is Azure Operational Insights, an operations management and intelligence service that integrates across System Center and leverages the power of Azure and HDInsight to analyze machine data across environments, enabling actionable insights and better decisions.
  • Now generally available: Azure Automation which orchestrates time-consuming and frequently repeated tasks across Azure and third-party systems, decreasing expenses for cloud operations.
  • Now generally available: WebJobs. The WebJobs feature of Microsoft Azure Websites provides an easy way for you to run programs such as services or background tasks in a website
  • Enhancing connectivity and reliability with ExpressRoute, we deliver enterprise-grade connectivity ‘out-of-the-box’. Not only do we provide dual redundant circuits, we also let enterprises connect to multiple Azure regions via an ExpressRoute location, or connect via a secure VPN over the Internet for added redundancy.
  • We also announced the launch of a new Azure Marketplace that brings together the strength of Azure’s partner ecosystem within a single, unified platform. Today, we are excited to announce new offers from IBM, SAP, DataStax, Veeam, McAfee, SoftNAS, Trend Micro, and NGINX in the Azure Marketplace.

On Office 365
From the management perspective, we announced:

  • Mobile device management for Office 365 set to roll out in the first quarter of 2015, enable you to manage Office 365 data across a diverse range of phones and tablets, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.
  • The expansion of Data Loss Protection capabilities so you can protect your content no matter where it is stored and shared within Office 365, whether in email, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Windows File Server or within the file itself.
  • Today we rolled out advanced encryption at rest for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business called per-file encryption.

But also for developers, we made some exciting announcements for Office 365:

  • General availability of new Office 365 APIs for mail, files, calendar and contacts
  • New mobile SDKs for native app development, targeting Windows, iOS and Android
  • Visibility for developers’ apps through the new Office 365 app launcher

So quite a lot of exiting announcements don’t you think? And TechEd Europe is only just starting! Stay tuned for more updates from Barcelona on this blog. And if you would like to learn more about all the news of today, these are highly  recommended blog posts: