What I Learned at the 2009 Microsoft MVP Summit

Just returned from the Summit, and had a really great time meeting colleagues and seeing interesting content.  Without breaking any NDAs, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I saw this past week.

  • The CSD/BizTalk MVP group remains a smart bunch of guys with a diverse set of backgrounds.  I shared a hotel room with Yossi Dahan, and was thrilled to spend time with the likes of Mick Badran, Michael Stephenson, Saravana Kumar, Stephen Thomas, Leonid Ganeline, Ben Cline, Jon Fancey, Kevin Smith, Alan Smith, Mikael Håkansson, Jon Flanders, Matt Meleski, Tim Rayburn, Kent Weare, Bill Chestnut and many others.  The practical experiences these guys have with customers should be milked dry by the product teams.
  • I finally spent some time on Azure (thanks to Steve Marx’s session) from a development platform perspective (i.e. not .NET Services) and I am quite impressed by the developer experience.  This seems to be something Microsoft will really bang on when trying to differentiate its offering from those of others in the “cloud computing” space.
  • The Summit was also the first time I’ve REALLY looked at “M” since last year’s Summit, and I think it has potential to be useful.  I made this observation in a previous blog post, and plan to actively mess around with “M” for both data solutions and to emit actionable content.  The interesting thing is, the lengthiest work doesn’t seem to be writing the textual DSL as much as constructing the parser to do something with the output.  That is, in the examples referenced in the link above, “M” models are used to create orchestrations and BizTalk build processes, respectively.  Once the “M” part is done, both Yossi and Dana had to write the parser which took the MGraph and cycled through the objects to generate the final output (i.e., ODX file and executable deployment script).  Not a bad thing, just something that’s seemingly glossed over.
  • We had a “BizTalk Next” brainstorming session, and I was happy to see some big ticket items on the minds of the BizTalk architecture team.  After sitting on the same runtime engine for 5 years, and mostly surface-level changes during the past 2 releases, it seems like “put up or shut up” time for these guys.  And they seem to be working hard to be in the former category.
  • Ewan Fairweather led a strong session on BizTalk performance with a special focus on the impact of virtualizing BizTalk solutions in Hyper-V.  Ewan authored the BizTalk Server R2 Hyper-V Guide and BizTalk Server Performance Guide.  The results of Ewan’s recent exploits with his giant server farm will be making their way into public documentation shortly.  A few takeaways (which I was assured aren’t NDA!): (a) performance of “inline sends” vs. “logical ports” within orchestrations is nearly 4x faster with regards to throughput, (b) the performance impact of virtualization on BizTalk solutions is fairly negligible and (c) making a few well-known platform tweaks can nearly double performance.  Look for more approachable guidance in the near future (vs. massive, detailed whitepapers) as the team realizes that with such a developer-centric product as BizTalk, you need to remember that you aren’t always talking to your standard system administrators.

As for non-content related observations …

  • Tim Rayburn can sing a mean Black Hole Sun, as experienced during one of the social parties of the week.
  • Those two white guys who sang California Love?  Not so much.
  • Mick Badran is a wild man, and a helluva great guy.  However, I worry that any “guys night out” with him always ends with something like “… and that’s how we ended up in a Chinese prison with two 85 year old women and $450 in nickels.”
  • People need to stop with the corny gifts to Ballmer and the general Q&A shenanigans.  You’re embarrassing yourself folks.
  • Conference attendees will take pictures of ANYTHING.  Seriously, random speakers, crowds, buses (inside and out), signs, buildings, hotel lobbies, plant life.  And what’s with the incessant picture taking of NDA slides?  SLIDES, people.  Write down the content if it’s that freakin’ important.  I’m convinced that these people are either (a) IBM spies or (b) crafting the most sleep-inducing scrapbook since my 3rd grade trip to the Liberty Bell.

Great time overall, looking forward to doing it again.

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Categories: BizTalk

7 replies

  1. Hey Richard,

    Where can I get more information about this book you’re coming out with?

    • Hey Lucas,
      The book is due out end of April or early May and is published by Packt Publishing (http://www.packtpub.com/ ). The focus of the book is how to actually apply SOA patterns to a BizTalk 2009 solution. Once the first round of edits are done (75% so far) and chapter list confirmed, I’ll summarize in a blog post.

      Thanks for asking!

  2. Richard – thanks for the ‘intro’ and DAMN – how did you work me out so quick?🙂

  3. No problem Richard – that book is long overdue! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!

  4. The second to last bullet is definitely true. Not sure how long you’ve been an MVP but it has been going on since at least the 2005 conference. There is usually the obligatory “sign my …” person and the “Oh Canada!” MVPs. And then there is some old guy who’s an MVP for MS Bob and he’s complaining about Microsoft discontinuing the product.

Trackbacks

  1. New and Notable 301 : Sam Gentile's Blog (if (DeveloperTask == Communication && OS == Windows)
  2. BizTalk Linkflood, March 9, 2009 « ADA ICT Devsquad’s Blog

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