Posey's Tips & Tricks
What To Expect from TechEd 2014
While Microsoft has had a very strong cloud focus in the past few years, look for a deeper on-premise enterprise theme at this year's event.
Even though TechEd is a little over a month away, I have had a number of people asking me about what we should expect from this year's event. That being the case, I thought that I might take this opportunity to speculate on what we might expect when TechEd begins on May 12.
Prior to writing this post, I actually reached out to some contacts at Microsoft and asked them about their general theme for the event. The people that I talked to were pretty tight lipped, although one anonymous source indicated that Microsoft will "focus on its enterprise story."
At first that answer seemed to be anything but helpful. However, after I stopped and thought about it, I began to realize that this short statement could be a bit more telling than I first thought.
The last few TechEds that I have attended have placed a very heavy emphasis on the cloud. In fact, I remember one TechEd in particular two or three years ago during which it was almost impossible to look in any direction without seeing some sort of advertisement for Microsoft's all-out push to drive customers to the cloud. In all honesty, that particular event felt more like a marketing assault than an educational event.
So now Microsoft wants to shift gears and talk about their enterprise story? I'm not so naive as to believe that enterprise is synonymous with on-premises. After all, most enterprises use cloud resources in at least some capacity. Even so, Microsoft's current enterprise story is that they offer three separate tiers of products / services including on-premises products (Exchange Server, SharePoint, etc.), Windows Azure and Office 365. That being the case, I think that if the event truly does end up focusing on Microsoft's enterprise story, this year's event may be more balanced with a little less emphasis on the cloud and a little more emphasis on local, on-premise resources.
There are also a few other things that I think we can expect to see at TechEd. For instance, I think that Microsoft's message is going to be expanded to include heterogeneous platforms. Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has invested considerable resources into adding better Linux support to Hyper-V and to System Center. Mobile platforms such as iOS are also better supported than they once were. That being the case, I think that Microsoft's marketing message is going to be one of "We would prefer if you would solely use Microsoft products, and you will have a better all-around experience if you do. But if you want to use the other vendor's products, that's OK too".
Another thing that I expect to see addressed during the opening keynote is Microsoft's previous commitment to rebrand itself as a devices and services company. Right now Microsoft's flagship device is the Surface tablet, but according to my sources Microsoft has lost a lot of money on Surface. I think that it will be interesting to see if Microsoft doubles down on its Surface investment or if it decides to pull the plug on Surface (or perhaps just Windows RT) in an effort to stop the bleeding.
Perhaps the most significant thing to look for at TechEd is a possible discussion of Windows 9. According to many IT analysts, this is going to be a make or break release for Microsoft and there is a tremendous amount of pressure for Microsoft to build a version of Windows that people like.
My guess is that Windows 9 is going to be a unification release. Given the amount of work that Microsoft has been doing on SkyDrive (make that OneDrive) lately, I think that OneDrive is going to become much more than a storage repository. It is going to be a mechanism that facilitates full synchronization between Windows 9, Windows Phone 9, Windows RT (if it still exists) and Xbox One. As such, I predict that Windows 9 will be the culmination of Microsoft's "One Microsoft" marketing strategy and will be the first release to truly offer a consistent experience across devices.
Obviously there is a chance that history could prove me wrong, but I am betting that these are the primary messages that we are going to be hearing out of TechEd this year.
Brien Posey is a 16-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.