More than 2,500 devs and IT pros congregated on the Gold Coast yesterday for the start of Microsoft's yearly Tech.Ed conference -- and were told in no short order to seize the day.
The idea was simple, and along the lines of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Tim Buntel, Windows Azure Product Manager, fronted up one of Tech.Ed's dual kickoff talks -- his session focusing on creative development across multiple platforms -- and told those assembled: “I've been coming to events like this a lot over the years, and generally they're almost always the same: This is it! This is the year that everything is going to be different!
Against the background of seemingly constant innovation in 2011 (not to mention the relatively tumultuous upheaval of the last few weeks, which has seen dramatic and far-reaching changes affecting major organisations including Apple
and Tech.Ed's 2011 hardware sponsor HP
), the eager crowd were reminded that the fundamental nature and relationships of their chosen field are essentially unchanging.
Tim Buntel, Windows Azure Product Manager, addresses the Tech.Ed crowd. (Image credit: Microsoft)
As Buntel put it, despite the constant momentum of tech over the past thirty years: “[T]hroughout it all, if you really think about it, as developers, very little has changed. Despite the hype and these technology cycles, the kind of challenges that we face as developers day in and day out has largely remained the same... At the end of the day [we still need to] solve problems for [our] end users.”
Indeed, for those developers seeking to create across multiple platforms (not just meaning programming for multiple operating systems but rather across different hardware platforms, utilising multiple form factors and discrete technologies), the focus on user solutions is especially important.
“It's less about the fact that it's developing for a phone,” Buntel said, “It's the fact that we have more and more creative ways that we can deliver solutions to the problems for our users, and that's really what it boils down to. If it makes sense to use one device, it makes sense to use another device... it's basically opening up the options for us as developers to be more creative in solving our problems.”
It's something to bear in mind for this year's participants as they take part in skilling up across over 160 topics ranging from gamification opportunities to OS deployment strategies.
With reference to GreenButton's demo of Pixar's RenderMan software (massively scalable digital rendering software running on Windows Azure), Buntel told the crowd, 75% of whom are first-time Tech.Ed attendants this year: “This is an amazing example, to me. This is the notion of democratising technology, really.”
“We now all have access to these computing resources that in the past... think about what Pixar had to build in terms of a server farm to be able to do these kinds of rendering jobs. Now we as developers can basically leverage that in all of our applications. It's really an amazing way to rethink the cloud beyond something that's just kind of a virtual hosting environment. This is really a new way to solve problems that you basically couldn't have even begun to approach in the past.”The writer travelled to Tech.Ed as a guest of Microsoft.