Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, Visual Studio 2012, Windows Azure updates, and more. TechEd is about “what’s next” for Microsoft System Admins (they call us IT Pros) and Developers.

Bret Fisher

Bret Fisher has been a Windows admin for over 15 years.He has nearly 30 Microsoft certifications as well as previous Cisco, Citrix, and SANS Institute for security.

Latest posts by Bret Fisher (see all)

Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012, Visual Studio 2012, Windows Azure updates, and more. TechEd is about “what’s next” for Microsoft System Admins (they call us IT Pros) and Developers. It’s the biggest U.S. Microsoft conference every summer and has over 600 sessions in 5 days for 11,000 people. This year marked the 20th year for TechEd. You can watch most of the sessions online (or download) at their page on Channel 9.

TechEd North America 2012

TechEd North America 2012

Here’s quick links to download slides and videos on key technologies:

Azure, Azure, Azure ^

The keynote title was: Year of the “Cloud OS”. Microsoft had announced huge enhancements to Windows Azure a few days earlier, and they were well covered at TechEd. Before now, Azure was mostly for developers as a Platform-as-a-Service, where developers would customize their web apps to run in Azure rather then onsite. Now, Microsoft enters the Infrastructure-as-a-Service game against big players like Amazon’s EC2 and RackSpace. Think of this as Hyper-V in the cloud, as you can create VM’s from Microsoft’s list of templates, or bring your own .vhd.

The current template list may surprise you, as it already includes multiple Linux options, and even Windows Server 2012 RC. Mark Russinovich goes through all this in session AZR209 “Windows Azure Virtual Machines and Virtual Networks”. This finally means you can run full server apps like SQL (DBI333), Active Directory (SIA205), and SharePoint (AZR327) in Microsoft’s Cloud with those machines connected back to your local Active Directory Domain. You would use their other new feature: “Windows Azure Virtual Network” as a VPN for that connectivity between Azure and you. Bonus Tip: The feature I’m excited about is the ability to upload and download your own .vhd’s using their Azure “Blob” storage via drag and drop, with no agents or conversion required for your Hyper-V workloads to “just work” in Azure.

If you see where I’m going, this effectively gives you near-instant capacity in the cloud for your onsite servers, and those servers would have full connectivity back to your server room and internal users. It’s nice to see Microsoft catch up and possibly surpass Amazon’s features on this front. Bonus Tip: If you’re a Microsoft Partner or MDSN Subscriber, you should have the “compute hours” to run two small servers in Azure 24/7 without additional cost.

SQL and Exchange ^

If you manage SQL servers that have (or need) high availability, you’ll want to see the new options in SQL 2012 AlwaysOn (DBI316). Also, to get more in-depth with new SQL 2012 features, you can spend your lunch hour watching the demo-heavy “12 Reasons to Love Microsoft SQL Server 2012” (DBI202).

For Exchange 2010, SP2 brought us significant new features last fall, so watch “An Inside View of Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP2” (EXL304) for a refresh.

System Center 2012 was also covered a lot, but most of it was the same content from the MMS 2012 conference last month, so you can read about those updates and download SC2012 sessions in my post last month.

TechEd North America 2012- Post PC

TechEd North America 2012- Post PC

Fun ^

TechEd is a pure geek-fest, and with it comes a sea of labs to play with, after hours parties, a hot-rod customized with Windows 8 and XBOX built in, classic arcade games galore, treasure hunts, and more. You can view some pictures of these adventures at the TechEd Facebook Page. There was even a chance for everyone to battle using Kinect-driven human-sized boxing robots!

What did we NOT hear much about? The next versions of Exchange, SharePoint, Office, and Lync. Exchange is bringing back its own conference in September, and of course there’s the yearly SharePoint conference in November, so I’m sure we’ll hear about those in the next few months.

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