News from PDC
I'm in LA, attending PDC, which is being held at the LACC. In non-acronym English, I'm in Los Angeles, attending Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference, which is being held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. There's a lot going on here. Let's see, last night, Kobi and the Los Angeles Lakers took on the Detroit Pistons next door at the Staples Center; and tomorrow night, its my man Kirk Hinrich and the Chicago Bulls coming to town. Okay, back to the PDC....
As it happens, there's exciting stuff going on here at the LACC, too. I'll bring you up-to-date on some of the announcements that are interesting from a third-party perspective, and follow up with more later on.
Intel's Parallel Universe Portal
One of the very cool announcements is from Intel's Software Tools group, which has devised a cloud-based "scalability service." The Intel Parallel Universe Portal is an on-demand cloud-computing analysis tool that tests 32-bit Windows-based parallel applications. The service lets software developers assess how their applications will perform on a number of multicore processor configurations -- 1, 2, 4, 8, or 16 hardware threads -- without having large multicore systems in-house. Essentially, what Intel did was reuse in the cloud the technology currently being used by its Parallel Amplifier tool (part of the Parallel Studio tool suite), which is designed to find multicore performance bottlenecks. The results of the analysis can then be used in Intel Parallel Studio for further analysis regarding concurrency, locks and waits, and performance bottlenecks. The service is free and there's nothing to install. All you have to do is upload a binary, specify the configuration, and after 2 or 3 minutes, you get a graphical report. And remember the whole point of the effort is to see how your app scales. Will it run as efficiently on 16 threads as it does on a single thread? Very cool.
Speaking of the cloud, Visual WebGui has announced push-button .NET desktop legacy application migration to Windows Azure. The company claims that you migrate apps to Windows Azure by reusing their existing Windows software code on Windows Azure without re-writing or re-engineering via a process akin to copying-and-pasting the Windows code into Visual WebGui, selecting Windows Azure, and running the program. Visual WebGui claims that its new platform will consume 50% CPU and 10% bandwidth compared to other solutions, resulting in additional dramatic cost-saving benefits for users. The company also says that it is about to release assessment tools that will allow proper cloud planning and managing: pre-deployment calculating of cloud running costs, remote monitoring, tracing, and reconfiguring for application optimization and provisioning.
ScaleOut Software announced version 5.0 of its StateServer, expanding its GeoServer and Grid Computing Editions with new features such as automatic global data integration and full parallel LINQ. In addition, the software includes the ability to perform fully parallel queries to retrieve .NET and Java-based objects alongside increased security features and enhanced virtual machine support. ScaleOut claims that for the first time, .NET developers can use parallel LINQ queries to access selected groups of data in the distributed data grid through a powerful, familiar, and standard .NET query mechanism. Users can automatically retrieve objects from the grid based on their properties, simplifying the structure of queries while maintaining fast access from all grid servers. Java users enjoy the same parallel query functionality with standard APIs. Version 5.0 also lets VMware users license ScaleOut StateServer with an installer that automatically creates a VMWare distributed data grid appliance, providing a way to bring up the distributed data grid on VMWare virtual servers.
Of course the big news at PDC -- at least from Microsoft's perspective, and after all, it's their conference -- is the upcoming availability of the Windows Azure platform. In his opening keynote address, Ray Ozzie, chief software architect at Microsoft, described Windows Azure and SQL Azure as core elements of the company's cloud services strategy, and announced a set of new Windows Azure features and Windows Server capabilities,
Ozzie described the company's "three screens and a cloud" vision, where software experiences are seamlessly delivered across PCs, phones and TVs, all connected by cloud-based services. Underscoring the IT industry's shift toward a hybrid approach of online services combined with on-premises software, Ozzie described the programming model for a powerful new generation of applications for both businesses and consumers, enabled by new Microsoft development tools and technologies. He also demonstrated customer and partner commitment to Microsoft’s development platform with Seesmic, WordPress and Cheezburger Network. Ozzie also unveiled the next evolution of Microsoft Pinpoint, an online marketplace for Microsoft partners to market and sell their applications. When? How about early next year.
Bob Muglia, president of the Server and Tools Business at Microsoft, detailed the company's strategy and road map for extending the Windows developer platform to the cloud, which is the next-generation application model, according to Muglia.
"Microsoft is converging on a common developer platform for both servers and services," Muglia said. "Through this convergence, Microsoft will enable developers to continue using familiar .NET Framework and Visual Studio tools and technologies, as well as third-party tools such as Eclipse, to create and monetize applications that run on the server and as services in the cloud."
That's it for now. As for the Lakers game, check out Jack Nicholson -- maybe I'll be sitting right next to him.
-- Jonathan Erickson