Fueling hybrid clouds. Fostering modern application development. Empowering modern businesses. Microsoft gave us a hint of its future at the TechEd North America 2013 conference this week in New Orleans. Redmond introduced a portfolio of solutions to help businesses succeed in the era of cloud computing and connected devices.
Brad Anderson, Microsoft corporate vice president of Server and Tools, offered a keynote address that showcased how the company's new offerings across client, data center infrastructure, public cloud and application development help deliver a connected enterprise platform. Specifically, Microsoft focused on three initiatives: solutions for the hybrid cloud, the Windows 8.1 update, and Studio 2013's new capabilities. Are analysts buying?
Hard to Keep Up?
We caught up with Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his take on what he's seeing at TechEd 2013. He told us Microsoft's new strategy to increase its pace of product releases continues with announcements of upgrades to Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server and Visual Studio that are likely to arrive by the end of 2013.
"These products have all recently received major upgrades and traditionally upgrades wouldn't come for at least 18 months," Sanfilippo said. "The new cadence addresses increased pressure to keep up with competitive offerings and in some cases, customers will be pleased with the quick cycle. However, some enterprises are likely still evaluating the versions released last year and may now find it difficult to keep up with Microsoft's latest offerings."
New Pricing Compels
To Sanfilippo's point, Microsoft's enterprise solutions for hybrid clouds will be available in preview later in June. Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014 aim to break boundaries between customer data centers, service provider data centers and Windows Azure. The solutions offer advances in virtualization, software-defined networking, data storage and recovery, and in-memory transaction processing.
Microsoft also announced public preview of Windows Azure BizTalk Services for enterprise integration solutions, both on-premises and in the cloud. And the next Windows Server and System Center releases will be synchronized, which is an improvement over previous releases that were out of sync.
"New per-minute pricing and other billing improvements now available on Azure services -- including much better benefits for MSDN subscribers -- make Microsoft's cloud application and storage offering very competitive, and its [Infrastructure-as-a-Service] features and are very compelling, especially for development and testing needs," Sanfilippo said. "The free Windows 8.1 client upgrade offers several features that could simplify its integration into organizational environments, especially those where employees are permitted to use their personal devices on company networks."
Previews and Acquisitions
Meanwhile, new networking features in Windows 8.1 aim to improve mobile productivity for today's workforce, with system-on-a-chip (SoC)-integrated mobile broadband, native Miracast wireless display and near-field communication (NFC)-based pairing with enterprise printers. On June 26, at the Build 2013 developer conference in San Francisco, Microsoft will release a public preview of the Windows 8.1 update for Windows 8 and Windows RT customers.
And if all that's not enough to keep enterprises hopping, a preview of Visual Studio 2013, with its new enhancements for agile portfolio planning, developer productivity, team collaboration, quality enablement and DevOps, is slated for release in the coming weeks, timed with the Build conference.
Finally, Microsoft announced an agreement to acquire InCycle Software's InRelease Business Unit. InRelease is a leading release management solution for Microsoft .NET and Windows Server applications. Microsoft said the acquisition will extend its offerings in the application lifecycle management and DevOps market.