Reflections of TechEd 2004

I'm sitting here in the San Diego airport waiting to go standby on the next flight to Seattle and reflecting over a wonderful TechEd. This morning we did the p&p live webcast from TechEd and we had no idea what we were going to talk about so we just got  Chris Kinsman, Sandy Khaund, Deborah Kurata and myself together in the webcast room and just had fun talking about what we saw this week at TechEd.

During the talk, I had to admit that I have been fairly lame when it comes to blogging.  I promise, I really am going to blog more often.  After all, this is an amazing opportunity to connect with people so I might as well take advantage...


This year, I was not an official speaker for any session.  It was strange how that worked out since my eval scores have been getting better and better every year, but I still managed to co-present two sessions.  The first one was “Realizing Service Oriented Architecture” which I did with John deVadoss.  This session came out really great and the evalutions were scored at a whopping 8.55 out of 9 so I was really happy.  The comments were also terrific with people saying that this was the best SOA session at the whole event.  By the way, I really appreciate those of you who take the time to actually fill in your comments when doing evals, especially those who are giving us a low score.

The second session which I did with Chris Kinsman was called “Improving .NET Application Performance and Scalability” and we had a great deal of fun but since the session was in the 5:30 slot, the attendence was not what I had hoped for.  I think a lot of people bailed out early and headed off for dinner before the 5:30 session.  The scores on this session are still rolling in, but the early results did not look quite as good as the SOA session.   We actually got very few evals, which I think was due to the fact that most people were heading out right after the session and perhaps forgot to do evals.

Discussions at the Architecture Cabana

One of the new things at TechEd this year was the cabana.  In previous years they have tried different ways to get people with like interests to hang out together, but this year was the best yet.  The cabana had a nice big whiteboard, comfy couches and lots of tables and chairs.  We were assigned time slots where we were supposed to be there and we had some really great discussions as people came by and asked our advice on various architectural challenges.  We also held Q&A sessions there after each of our presentations.  This allowed for in-depth follow up discussions which were well attended and very interesting.  They still have some challenges to work out though.  They actually scheduled cabana sessions but there was no microphone so only about 10-20 people could actually hear the presenter and the plasma screen was not big enough to see anything but very large print so those sessions were pretty much a waste of time.

Pragmatic vs. Purist

If there was a theme that we kept coming back to over and over again, this was it.  You may remember in the early 90's when OO was becomming very popular and we would have great debates about how “OO” should be done.  Purists often took us down paths that would OO pure but somewhat ridiculous in the impact they had on performance and scalability.  I think the same thing is happening now with SOA.  Some people are trying to define SOA in very purist terms which lead us down paths like making everything into a service or saying things like SOA replaces OO.  Part of the problem we have is that some people are talking so much about futures that people get confused about what they are saying and try to apply their advice to the present.  What I mean is that in the future, when we have a very fast binary stack for web services with “Indigo” we will think about most remote communications as interactions with services. But today, the stack is not fast enough or capable enough to make that leap.  My contention is that we must be careful and pragmatic with SOA moving slowly, implementing what makes sense based on the requirements of our scenario.

Until Next Year...

Unfortunately, this is the only TechEd that I will be at this year.  I hope the folks at TechEd Europe have a great show, I'll miss being there.  So there you have it... I finally got back on my blog.  I promise, I won't be so lame in the future.

What about you?

Did you go to TechEd?  What did you think about it?  Be honest now... was it worth the investment of time and money?  What do we need to do better?

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