Having a few days to reflect on the events at TechEd Professional this year, there are a few things that stand out -– some are fairly obvious, and some less so.
1. Microsoft has done some very good things for small-business IT
I've been working on Microsoft's new Small Business Server and Essential Business Server, and the folks in Redmond have done some very good things for the SMB market in areas ranging from management interface to licensing. (Yeah, I know –- sanity in licensing. Who would have thought?) A full Test Center review of each is coming, but my impressions haven't really changed dramatically since the first time I saw them –- these are solid platforms from which to run a small to midsize business.
2. Microsoft still needs to do better things for the workstation user
I know that TechEd Professional was for the business IT person, but I was struck by how few sessions really dealt with Vista. Maybe it's just me, but I would have thought that there would be a greater push toward helping businesses move to Vista, especially given the impending demise of Windows XP for most corporate purchasers. I've heard users say that they have no trouble with Vista: I'm just not one of those users. It's fascinating to me that Microsoft seems to be hitting its stride in the back end while giving the competition a real window of opportunity on the user end.
3. The virtual is becoming the real
Virtualization is taking off for businesses from the very large to the incredibly small. With the new cloud services now being offered through the Google App Engine and Amazon EC2 and S3, very small businesses can plan for tremendous success. Here's a fearless prediction from your humble blogger: Some of the folks being cut loose from large companies in our current non-recession will end up building killer success stories on a good idea, a few contacts, and the computing resources they buy on-demand from Google or Amazon. The largest enterprises have always been able to buy computing resources (OK, who's old enough to remember when time-share computing was a big deal?), but now that ability has filtered down to small companies that can really take advantage of the service. I'm very, very excited about this one.
4. What you do is more important than what you do it on