Live from TechMentor!: Talk from the Show Floor

While covering the co-located TechMentor and VSLive! conferences here in Las Vegas, we took some time to talk to attendeesto get their take on their most-anticipated upcoming Microsoft release as well as the biggest challenges IT administrators and developers currently face. Here's what some of them had to say:

What upcoming Microsoft product release (if any) are you most excited about and why?

"Exchange 2007. It's already released, but I haven't really had my hands on it yet. It seems to be a pretty major upgrade. It seems have a lot of nice features in terms of being able to tie to PBXs, in terms of the IP telephony, so it looks like a nice product to play with."
-Gratten Welch, Information Systems Officer, Barbados.

"It's already been released...but Performance Point Server. It's very exciting. Some have called it eye candy for managers, some has mocked it as a Dilbert server, others are calling it a Magic 8-Ball's a $20,000 server, so that's a pretty big purchase if it's just a joke. Microsoft is putting a huge amount of time and effort behind this server. I've written about it in my upcoming book...and I'm very impressed with what it can do. And, actually, $20,000 is considered cheap when it comes to business intelligence and analytics and all the other things it can do, so I'm very excited to see not only the final release but how it does in the market."
-J. Peter Bruzzese, author and TechMentor presenter.

"Visual Studio 2008. The .NET 3.5 Framework and working with that in general. Some of the new features: Windows Communication Foundation, Silverlight, Windows Presentation Foundation."
-Michael Russo, Software Developer, New York City.

"Crazy enough, we're still working on 2003, so parts of our code are migrating, but the part I'm working on is still there. So just migrating...getting generics, getting all the better UI stuff. Those would be very useful."
-Kevin Hay, software engineer, San Diego, Calif.

"Working for a government agency, I think we're pretty slow to change. So this [.NET 2.0] is all new to us...Visual Studio 2005 is pretty big for us this year. It's been a fun process, but we're re-learning a lot of things."
-Brent Ellant, Application Developer, Colorado.

"I'm looking forward to deploying Vista in my enviornment. I think it has a lot of good features, a lot of good security built into it. I've been using it at home and I'm very happy with it -- though a lot of people that I know outside of the business aren't. I think that a lot of people are anti-Microsoft...some of the application providers were behind the curve, that gave people a bad taste...I didn't find that to be the case."
-Geoff Milford, operations manager, Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Exchange 2007. Our organizaiton is all Exchange-based for communications, so we're looking at some of the new features, certainly around messaging and instant messaging, that Exchange 2007 brings to the table. That will probably be the most benefit to our company, at least as far as IT goes."
-Stanley Fleury, server administrator, El Paso, Texas.

"Windows Server 2008, of course. [It has] a bunch of new, exciting features, especially the Active Directory management."
-Fernando Duque, senior systems administrator, Teterboro, N.J.


What's the biggest challenge facing IT administrators today?

"The migration that's taking place from the real world to the virtual. It's new technology, it's improved greatly, it's just not quite there yet. It's almost there...just a matter of getting the prices down."
-Fernando Duque, senior systems administrator, Teterboro, N.J.

"Complexity [of the] systems. A lot of growth wasn't planned, things get added on as needed. It's one thing when you can sit down and design things from the ground up but when you walk into a company, you find things, 'Oh, we added this box to do this.' It makes the administration of it more complex and it just leaves more points of failure open."
- Geoff Milford, operations manager, Honolulu, Hawaii.

"Keeping up. I just recently worked at a company with an IT admin that I respect very much and he's always on top of things but he's overwhelmed right now. They're doing a rollout of Exchange 2007, he had no time to learn Exchange 2007, so he's thinking 'I'll just learn it as I go.' But these new applications, new servers are so complex that you just can't learn as you go, so my concern for admins is they're not going to get all the training they need, they're not going to be able to take advantage of all the new stuff in the software they just purchased."
-J. Peter Bruzzese, author and TechMentor presenter.

"Resources, [and] the plethora of spyware and badware. Having to deal with security issues."
-Gratten Welch, information systems officer, Barbados.

"Manpower. IT has expanded so much in recent years, so there's so much more to do with the same amount of people."
-Stanley Fleury, server administrator, El Paso, Texas.

What's the biggest challenge facing developers today?

"For us, it's getting proper requirements. What we're working on changes on a weekly basis sometimes. We're adopting Agile which helps toward that, but we still have the issue. When you're building an infrastructure, and the infrastructure doesn't support what they want to do now, then we have to rebuild the infrastructure."
-Kevin Hay, software engineer, San Diego, Calif.

"How all of the different technologies fit together. There's a broad band of [new features like] WPF...and how that works with .NET, and .NET 3.5 coming out. So all of those things and how they collaborate."
-Alma Thomas, developer, Boise, Idaho.

"My biggest challenge is just getting everything moved over to a new framework [.NET 2.0] and new technology, just because we have 10 years of stuff done with legacy code."
-Brent Ellant, application developer, Colorado.

"The biggest thing? Standards. I think for most developers its really hard to coordinate and follow standards. If you can do that, things would be a lot easier."
- Michael Russo, Software Developer, New York City.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy. She also serves as executive editor of the group's media Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on, the group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.


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