Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Twitting from TechEd Europe 2012

Follow me on Twitter @lokijota. Lots of Azure and Win8 sessions. Channel 9 has several videos from TechEd US and the keynotes.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

BizTalk Server 2010 R2 TAP

The TAP for the next version of BizTalk, strangely pre-named “2010 R2” (instead of 2013) is open for nominations here. Of the list of new features, I am especially interested in the IaaS and Azure integration capabilities. Support for REST endpoints was clearly lacking, and I am also curious about the meaning of “ordered delivery enhancements”.

In the begging of the month there were some sessions at TechEd North America about the future of Microsoft’s integration offering,  I’m looking forward to hear this in person at TechEd Europe starting tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

«Arquitectura de Soluções Cloud» @ Windows Azure [R]Evolution 2012.06.20

Tomorrow morning I’ll be presenting a session on the topic or Architecture of [Azure] Cloud Solutions at the Windows Azure [R]evolution event in Lisbon. It’s an easy to follow but packed presentation, that reminded me of topics such as the CAP Theorem or Pat Helland’s excelent presentations on services and data and consistency, with several high level tips to help you architect your Azure app.

More information about this Microsoft event is here.

PS: my colleague Raúl Ribeiro will also be presenting at the event, a session on the newly released Azure WebSites.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

«Software Estimation–A Step Closer to the Silver Bullet» @ NetPonto Lisboa 16/06

Two months ago I delivered a very well received presentation at Netponto about Team Dynamics and motivation (slides in portuguese here: Dinâmica e Motivação de Equipas de Projecto).

This next Saturday I’ll be presenting on the topic of Software Estimation. Here at |create|it| we have always had a very strong focus and investment on the quality of our estimation and project management, and we use several techniques from authors such as Steve McConnell and Mike Cohn. The presentation builds on some choice approaches we selected mainly from these authors in the last 10 years, and in addition to describing them, I’ll be talking on how we use them, hoping to give attendants some field tips from our experience

Hope to see you there.

 

PS: Next June 21’s the portuguese Scrum Community will hold an avent to commemorate the member number 1000. Lear more about is here, the agenda looks pretty interesting!

Monday, June 11, 2012

BizTalk 2010 R2

Steef-Jan has a great post about the next release of BizTalk Server in his blog. It seems to be mostly a platform upgrade, but the improvements in the area of Azure integration, and the new features of Azure in IaaS specifically (persistent VM’s + VPN support) open up interesting possibilities for BizTalk usage.

[Edit] Kent Weare also has an interesting post on this topic, based on a presentation at TechEd US (I think).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where’s Microsoft going?

|create|it| has had a strong bet on Microsoft technologies since day one. We strongly believe it has the best overall platform, the one best suited to solve our customer’s needs, and this strategy has paid off in our 10 years of existence.

In recent times, however, the changes in the market in the last 2-3 years have shaken up things. Here are some simplistic ideas/rant.

Consumer market

Apple is the consumer king in the mobile world (it’s strange how a company so closed and monopolist can be such a widespread darling, but I won’t go into that), and the only really strong foothold Microsoft has in this segment that I can see is the Xbox360 in the household (in the US, note, as in Portugal we have no TV content at all).

Windows 7 is a great OS (I still feel Win8 as somewhat lacking in usability), but a lot of tablets will have to be sold to compete with the likes of the iPad, Kindle Fire and Galaxy devices.

Kinect is fun and innovative, but the device is still clearly unexplored, and the good ideas seem to be somewhat limited in scope. It’s one of those things that leaves the impression that works like magic, but when we look at possible applications, there aren’t that many uses (or maybe I’m not looking far ahead enough).

Windows Phone is a great OS, but there’s no penetration at the moment, and who knows if there ever will be one. Microsoft seems to be moving very slowly in adding new/missing features, which is something I wasn’t expecting.

Development

On the development front, I think Microsoft is the strongest player. Great development tools, innovation in languages, .Net is miles ahead of other platforms. And Microsoft is also becoming very good at incorporating ideas from other things out there, which is a very smart move.

Enterprise/Application platform space

The name here is Oracle. Oracle seems to be pursuing the strategy of buying more and more companies, integrating their offer, and they have a very strong application platform offer. I suspect that the sales pitch that it’s all a single “fusioned”/integrated solution is not quite true, but the fact is that it seems to be working in the market. I’ve seen more than one customer strategically decide to go for a Oracle-only approach. They may “crash and burn” if everything does end up in the cloud, but by then then can try to buy VMware and fix that IaaS problem.

As to Microsoft, is has a strong OS offer, a very strong SharePoint offer (but don’t forget Oracle has WebCenter), a very strong SQL Server (&BI) offer, but there seems to be some disinvestment in the application server space (both in Windows Server AppFabric and BizTalk), which is where Oracle is strong. Windows and Office still own the desktop and productivity space, but those top and mid-level managers more and more walk around with their proud iPads.

Cloud

There are a lot of players here, but the first I think is more relevant is Amazon. They are mostly IaaS but also have several interesting PaaS things available. VMware is also a relevant name here – if they can move a VM to the cloud with the flip of a checkbox, they are in the game.

As to Microsoft, even if I doubt it has the market share of Amazon, for me it has the best and most complete offering available, especially in the PaaS space. I expect it to grow and win more adoption in time, also supported by the SaaS things like Office 365, SharePoint and CRM online. The cloud seems to be one of the key bets for Microsoft at the moment, and I hope they succeed.

(side-note: Office WebApps work great, but getting there is somewhat hard, compared to Google Docs, and LiveId’s authentication should be a) much faster and b) simpler).

Google

Strangely, I don’t see Google as a big problem for Microsoft right now, even if they hold an envious space in advertising. From what I read, Bing is very strong and innovative in the search space in other countries, especially in terms of services offered, but in Portugal the textual search is atrocious, and BingMaps seems to be the only really very strong offering. Google seems to have lost its Mojo, anyway, with the privacy issues and Google+’s failure (is it official yet?).

Final notes

With all this said, these are complicated days for a Microsoft-only Systems Integrator like |create|it|. We have WP7 skills but the market doesn’t want them, only iOS and Android applications (MonoTouch/for Android may be the path here). The application platform space seems to be shrinking to Oracle, and SharePoint is no longer the same cash cow it was. As to Azure, it is steadily but slowly gaining adoption.

What to do? maybe shift strategy, turn to the consumer, either the one on the move in a mobile device, or the enterprise one in the SaaS space. Watch this space :).

 

ps- This is probably not a completely informed post, there are a lot of numbers and knowledge I don’t have and I am NOT an industry analyst, but look at it as a “vox populi” rant.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

«Dinâmica e Motivação de Equipas de Projecto» @ NetPonto Lisboa 21/04

Recently I’ve been doing a presentation with my colleague André Vala in academic events (namely IST’s SINFO XIX and FC-UL’s ENEI 2012), themed “Architecture of Complex Software Solutions @ Create It». My part of the session was originally meant to be about the the high-level architecture of a very large project we are working on at the moment.

While developing the contents for the presentation, however, I felt that architecture and technology were no longer on the top of the relevant issues list on the project - the main obstacles were solved in the first few sprints.

I once read this saying «When you solve your largest problem, your second largest problem becomes your largest problem», and this made me center the presentation about what I felt was the most relevant and important challenge for the success of the project – team dynamics.

I later decided to expand these contents to include other projects I was involved with in the past and which I feel made me learn valuable lessons in how to manage a team to achieve the highest motivation an productivity, and this resulted in the presentation I’m going to deliver at Netponto in Lisboa next Saturday.

I am nor an expert on team dynamics nor a psychologist, so this will be a very practical session where my goal is to share my experience and – to put it in technical terms – some [behavioral/organizational] patterns which might perhaps help you on your next projects.

Come and share your experience :).

Monday, March 26, 2012

AutoMapper Revisited

A few months back I posted about AutoMapper, a tool for which I had use in a project. One of the characteristics of AutoMapper is that, when it can’t map a given attribute, if fails silently. For example, if attribute A in the source object is renamed to B and there is no B in the target object, we don’t get any exception or error back. This is the normal behavior, ignore what it can’t map.

The side effect of this is that when you change the source or destination classes, unless you have unit tests, you can get had to find errors. For this reason (and we do have unit tests), I opted for the progressive removal of AutoMapper in the project. Now the mappers simply break compilation when the classes change, and the fixes are simple to make. The convenience wasn’t worth it.