TechEd 2014

Microsoft TechEd2014TechEd 2014 in Barcelona – Good weather, nice city and interesting tech sessions 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLOUD

Everyone is investing massively in their cloud platforms. Amazon is still the market leader, but Microsoft Azure is growing fast. Ultimately there will only be few big cloud vendors – likely Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Azure is soon crossing 1M servers milestone which is quite mindboggling number. For the Titanfall game launch day they used 25K servers. New Azure G-series virtual machine instances are quite nice with 30 cores, 448 GB of memory and 6 TB of SSD. All vendors are investing on fast SAN/NAS/EBS storage technologies and one can now get up to 60 K IOPS from standard cloud architecture.

 

CLOUD HW

Azure Pack allows you to install Azure on your data-center. This allows hybrid scenarios and configurations. Based on sessions I saw it’s quite clear that Microsoft will integrate all possible server products they have closely with Azure. There is a new (quite expensive) offering “Dell Cloud Platform System” which is basically an Azure appliance on top of Dell hardware. There are specialty PCI SSD configurations &  appliances allowing you to have 700 K IOPS with very low latencies in micro-second range. One server was bench-marked as 1+ M SQL transactions per second.

 

DOCKER

This was new technology to me. Pioneered by Google, Linux and Docker. Now coming to Windows. Virtualized “bubbles” or “containers” running on top of one OS without hypervisors. Allows very lightweight virtual containers to be isolated while sharing resources. Bootup times of few seconds compared to several minutes for full VM images. Sizes are also much lower as no need to store full guest OS images. Massive cost savings possible on cloud scale architecture.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Regular-IT-Guy/Docker-High-Level-Whiteboard

 

DEVOPS

Azure has automation APIs to set up and configure your environment. Powershell is very powerful indeed! New technology “Desired State Configuration” allows one to describe the runtime requirements for the server platform and it automatically applies and maintains all relevant software versions.

 

SIMD

New upcoming Intel  CPUs have much improved SIMD support. Upcoming NET JIT supports these and allows one to write SIMD enabled code directly on .NET languages. See RyuJIT CTP3 for more details.

 

.NET FUTURE

Roslyn compiler framework coming to all aspects of NET framework. Native compilation targeting specific CPU architectures, now for store apps and later likely everything, 20% performance improvement or so. Ultimately allows us to stop execution, debug, change any code and continue execution. Enables very high level of customization and extensibility of the Visual Studio IDE – practically the language itself is soon programmable.

 

XAMARIN

This was very impressive. Develop logic core with C#, UI core with C# and small Windows/WinPhone/Android/iOS UI adapters all written 100% with C#. Runs natively on all target platforms with native look and feel for each. Very good tools and emulators for Android etc. No need to learn Objective C or any of that stuff.

 

ASYNC

Use Tasks for CPU bound work and Async for IO bound work. Async is NOT parallel programming, but allows much better utilization of threadpool if you are working with IO resources. This is quite difficult subject but might be worthwhile to learn.

 

SECURITY

Participated on live demos about security. Quite horrible to see how small mistakes in application level coding can leave you 110% open to total security breaches.

Solution is simple:

1) Employ good developers

2) Patch servers

3) Give minimum possible access rights everywhere

4) IMPORTANT: Use firewalls to disable outgoing connections from servers as much as possible so hacked beach-heads are unable to phone home

 

VISUAL STUDIO TIPS &TRICKS (availability depends on version you have)

  • CTRL+Q opens a quick launch. Write any class name, function name, variable name and press enter to search. Write any visual studio IDE functionality (ie. Just My) and see the correct window popping straight up. Quite nice. Very nice!
  • ALT+SHIFT+ENTER puts VS to full screen
  • Right click on code tab, float to other screen so your VS is now on 2 monitors.
  • Right click on breakpoint, define criteria and logic, can print debug messages without stopping code execution
  • Use “Productivity Power Tools” -addin
  • As always the CTRL+dot allows IDE to help you
  • Colored warning so module/API authors can guide users away from improper usage patterns
  • Null propagating operator. Quite nice. http://davefancher.com/2014/08/14/c-6-0-null-propagation-operator/
  • Debug visualized has TXT/JSON/XML/HTML formatting built-in
  • Debug variables can be “pinned” to any area of the screen. Actually even class/function comments defining the variable can show the variable state. And you can actually write comments like //X+Y+Z which calculates automatically on the debug breakpoint hit and mouseover.
  • Parallel debugging with watchers can track value across all layers of stack. Somehow. Looked nice but I’m uncertain how this works in practice J
  • There are many C++ debug improvements. I’m not into this so did not get many details.

Hidden Gems

hiddengemYears ago I avidly read many good blog posts written by Marc Andreessen. Bit later  Marc restarted his blog to exclusively follow his VC firm a16z. All his earlier writings were lost.

Today I stumbled upon an archive of his earlier writings. Many of these are still excellent posts and I highly recommend them. In case the archive later would go down I also made a ZIP backup just in case.

I made this post just to make sure that Marc’s writings can be found as they are so useful to entrepreneurs everywhere. If Marc wants me to remove links to his old writings I would reluctantly do so – hopefully this will not happen! 🙂

Heartbleed

heartbleedHeartbleed was a truly epic security defect. Full impact of this is still unclear, but countless number of servers, applications and devices were vulnerable. Repercussions are still ongoing through the entire IT community. Impact on certificate providers has been massive.

I was however amazed by Heartbleed for quite another reason. Finnish company Codenomicon actually *branded* this defect. They crafted the story, name, domain and logo for it. They did such a good job that journalists just ran with the story and spread the message to the global audience. Buying this kind of publicity would have cost tens of millions for the company, but they got it almost free by being in the right place at the right time and taking the clever action. I’m amazed and humbled by this. Salutations to those in Codenomicon who made this happen 🙂

The Fifth Protocol

multipass smallNaval is at it again. His vision of bitcoin is comprehensive and compelling. In his mind he sees bitcoin and its myriad of descendants powering large sectors of our financial infrastructure. He sees a true revolutionary technology in the making, our multipass towards financial freedom and innovation. A true fifth protocol. But is he right?

I believe his vision points us towards right direction, but is not entirely correct. One major problem I see with cryptocurrencies is the creation of money by mining. This is straightforward in its’ way and for some purposes serves perfectly fine. But this does not map so well to the money creation people (or machines) might truly prefer. I see this mostly as an ethics and fairness problem. If compelling alternative with different money creation mechanism appears I believe many will choose that option instead (or alongside) cryptocurrencies

Platforms like classic Ripple tried to approach this problem from different perspective. They failed for good reasons and everyone moved their focus to blockchain. I still believe there is a third option. And on this belief I founded my startup Centibel 🙂

Bitcoin

Bitcoin_euroBitcoin is interesting and even revolutionary in many ways. Bitcoin as money is only one aspect of the wider Bitcoin platform. Marc and Naval explain this quite well. I have taken a look into technology innovations behind Bitcoin and they are quite amazing indeed.

My vision for Centibel differs quite drastically from Bitcoin. As everyone and their grandmother is only looking at Bitcoin, Centibel is preparing to sail out to the wide blue uncharted ocean.

Mobile First

mobile firstThere is a huge backlog of books and blogs I’m planning to read. Mobile First has been on my to-be-read list for quite a while now, but in my recent flight to CES 2014 I finally read it through.

This is good book. I knew some of this stuff already, but found the book to be an entertaining and informative read. If you are interested on this area I would recommend this book.

CES 2014

CES 2014 very digital zoomed mobile capture with Lumia 1020

This year I visited CES for the first time. Lots of widgets and things to see. I enjoyed the trip and even won a bit in casino. Feeling wealthy for a day I upgraded my return flight and got auto-upgraded further to first class. Lucky me 😉

Many big companies had a massive presence at CES. I was however most impressed with smaller players who had invented a nice new idea and implemented solid product around this. For example one company demonstrated a nice looking little device which allows you to put any mobile/tablet/phablet next to it so that it automatically boosts your mobile sound output. No cables, bluetooth or magic. Just a battery, microphone, speakers and bits of software in one package. Very nice!

I have never been an exhibitor at trade show, but it was sort of fun trying to analyze the sales and conversion processes going on. Some companies had a good presence and others failed utterly. Few companies clearly had unclear focus and no clear reason for being there. But the most prominent failure I encountered was an exhibitor alone in his stall who spoke only few words of English 🙂

My new Lumia 1020 phone really proved itself on this trip. Click the small images below and see for yourself how detailed images one can now take with a phone camera. Note that in most browsers you need to click again to zoom further. Simply amazing!

CES 2014 LA to LVCES 2014 My HotelCES 2014 mobile capture with Lumia 1020