In July, BlueMetal Architects attended Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto where we connected with many former colleagues and developed a deep understanding of Microsoft’s product strategy so as to provide a clear vision for our clients on where to invest and where to wait.  Based on our work over the past year, we received the award of Rookie of the Year from the East Region Partner Team for Microsoft US recognizing us as the area’s best new partner in FY12.

We were pleased to find that our vision of the Modern Application connects clearly with Microsoft’s investments and spans the eight key technology trends (see graphic below) they have identified as priorities over the next few years.  Microsoft is characterizing this period as a “new era” and this coming year as “the most important product release cycle in its history.”  We agree, as these trends point to some of the largest shifts in computing history that will enable significant improvements in enterprise productivity and operational insights coupled with immersive experiences on a wide range of devices.

Based on our long history working at Microsoft, we are able provide a unique perspective for our clients on how to maximize their current investments in the Microsoft platform.  At the WPC, our team had the opportunity to participate on various panels including Windows 8, Windows Azure and the Data Platform, SQL Server. With this insight, we can build solutions that are architected for the future and incorporate the next wave of capabilities and products from Microsoft combined with other best of breed options that fill in the gaps.

Looking at the announcements this week, there are three key areas of focus: Windows 8, the Office Platform 15 and the Hybrid Cloud.   We’ll highlight these in this overview and then follow up with more depth in our blog in the coming months.

Windows 8

In August, enterprise customers will be able to deploy the next   version of the client operating system in the re-envisioned Windows 8.  We focus on this OS because it will transcend   the traditional desktop and laptop experience of Windows.   At the conference there was an incredible   set of devices (tablet, slate, ultra book) from Microsoft’s partners where   touch, pen, mouse and keyboard are all seamlessly integrated.      

We are one of the small set of Windows 8 Metro Application Adoption Program (MAAP) partners and we have already helped several Fortune 100 customers with Metro application pilots to reimagine how the enterprise can benefit from a new era of mobility.

Office Platform 15

This summer, Microsoft will release the beta versions of the next wave of the Office Platform.  The next version of SharePoint represents an extraordinary step forward that will enable the social enterprise, unlocking the power of data and connecting the user to real business insights.  Combined with the new capabilities of SQL 2012, powerful analytics and insight across the spectrum of users in the enterprise will be a reality.   We anticipate this to have a significant impact on businesses’ ability to improve operational efficiency and real world productivity, and we’re looking forward to applying these technologies to Financial Services and Health Life Sciences scenarios that will have real benefit to connecting people and information in ways not realized before.

Hybrid Cloud

One of the most interesting sets of technologies centered on the emerging capabilities of the Hybrid Cloud.  The demonstration of Microsoft’s IAAS (Infrastructure as a Service) offering was compelling in that it enabled the types of infrastructure deployments that we hear most from our enterprise customers: a mix of public and private infrastructure depending on the service and data needs.

Microsoft is creating a set of services surrounding its core technology offerings that are building off their strengths in Windows Server and System Center to include Windows Azure in a meaningful way for businesses.  Beyond a beautiful HTML5 management dashboard to manage the IAAS service, Microsoft has integrated third party services such as Open Source databases and application services such as WordPress to address the full needs of a modern enterprise.  This will enable Microsoft to create a value chain around its core offerings and extend that set of capabilities to be seamlessly managed across the Private and Public Cloud infrastructures;  It appears that Microsoft has the opportunity to change the marketplace in a truly beneficial manner with this very compelling offering.

Mobility

While the Windows Phone platform creates a unique information architecture for users to access information and people quickly, there does not appear to be any market momentum in this space for Microsoft due to the market leadership positions of iOS and Android. It is unlikely that this coming year will see a breakout in market share to justify the development of applications on Microsoft’s phone platform.

BlueMetal is working with many customers to properly architect their server platforms to be able to support a wide range of potential client devices.  We are leveraging the Microsoft Server platform – a true Cloud OS – to build out services that can reach any device to provide rich data and application services regardless of the front-end.  We anticipate lots of churn in this space as the battle for native apps versus HTML5 models shifts over the next few years, and we are working with many customers to establish the right strategy depending on the application and the target usages.

Conclusion

It’s critical to bring these capabilities, software and services through intelligent applications that span the heterogeneous world of devices and platforms. The BlueMetal Architects team looks forward to engaging our customers to drive the business impact of this new wave of products from Microsoft.