If you saw my Day 1 post, you know that I was not overly excited by it. There was not anything that really Ignited my passion for sure. However, Day 2 overall was a much better experience, but still not exactly what I was expecting from Microsoft’s newest conference.
The best part of the day was the Surface 3 finally became available, and I was able to get my hands on one of those from the Microsoft Store on the Expo floor. And even with the massive line, it was an excellent process. I got to chat and network with the people around me line about what they did so at the least it was some good networking.
I popped into a session on networking in Azure while I was waiting for the Expo hall to open. Azure has some good stuff in terms of the networking options available to you which I thought was cool and I’m not even a networking guy. They’ve got software load balancing in place. Some custom-defined routes, which allow you to have routing tables attached to subnets, set the default routes, tunnel traffic to appliances or on-prem devices which is nice.
Speaking of appliances, they have partnered with several companies that allow you to deploy network appliances either from the Azure store or bring your own. Even if there are requirements that certain networking appliances are in your environment, it is possible to do with Azure.
Microsoft has upgraded the number of NICs that you can assign to an Azure VM up to 16, you can mix and match the different network security groups, policies, and routing rules to different NICs as well.
Using the Azure resource manager, you can take pre-configured templates from Microsoft modify and deploy them as well. If you want the full details on that, go to the ch9 site and search for “An Overview of Microsoft Azure Networking Capabilities” slides and video of the talk should be up a day or two from now.
The best session I went to today was about Skype for Business Room Systems. Having eight different centers across the country and one overseas, the teleconferencing technology that is a part of Skype for Business (previously Lync) is an appealing technology solution. While there are other options out there, I am a massive fan of having one solution rather than several different ones.
In the past, a lot of the hardware required for this type of solution needed considerable effort from IT staff to implement. A large chunk of cash to buy, and a fair amount of training for the business users to use it.
However, Skype for Business team has been working with hardware vendors to provide hardware solutions that work seamlessly with the Skype environment and simple to use.
According to the session speakers, based on Microsoft research, there are approximately 50 million meeting areas that do not have this kind of technology in them. And the reason is the cost of hardware, deployment, and training. Mostly the cost of equipment. It simply does not make sense for a company to spend $15,000 setting up this kind of solution in small meeting rooms.
However, with devices like the Polycom RoundTable 100, expecting to cost around $1,000, the value is much better. The users use an app on their mobile device, Windows, iOS, or Android pair to the device. The device then reaches out to the cloud to find out what that user’s meeting info is and starts the meeting. It does not matter if the user is on-prem, cloud, or hybrid. It is possible to see content, and speaker and the best part, see ALL off the people that are a part of the meeting not just who is actively speaking.
There was additional talk of integrating this with OneDrive and Sharepoint where meeting content is automatically shared with all of the attendees and data stored for later use for all involved. I think this is something that business with a fair amount of remote employees or offices should consider deploying in their environment.
Tomorrow I’ve got some sessions planned out that look promising so hopefully it is a lot better than Day 1 and 2 were.