TechEd 2008 Keynote Summary

Here are the highlights from the TechEd 2008 Keynote (as seen from afar by watching the TechEd 2008 Keynote and reading posts and press):

Via Microsoft PressPass, here are the key announcements (with my notes):

  • Internet Explorer 8 beta 2 will be available this August
  • Silverlight 2 beta 2 will be available this week with a commercial Go Live license. NBC Universal's 2008 Beijing Olympics will be using Silverlight 2 Beta 2 (which may have had something to do with that commercial go live license). Along with the Beta 2 release, we'll get Expression Blend 2.5 June 2008 Preview and Microsoft Silverlight Tools beta 2 for Visual Studio 2008. Dan Wahlin has a concise summary of what's new in Silverlight 2 Beta 2. I'm really excited to be able to talk about some of the new features here as well, but that's a subject for future posts.
  • IBM DB2 database access with Visual Studio Team System 2008 Database Edition due to an IBM / Microsoft alliance.
  • A new CTP (community technology preview) of the Microsoft Sync Framework, along with announcements of partnerships.
  • Microsoft code-name “Oslo.” At least from the demo (and from what I've heard so far), Oslo is a unified model platform along with some visualization tools which will be built into future versions of Visual Studio, Microsoft System Center, BizTalk Server and Microsoft SQL Server. It's still a little too buzzwordy and high level for me to get excited yet. You can view the demo at 45 minutes into the keynote in case you're able to get more out of it.
  • A new version of Visual Studio 2008 extensions for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 v1.2, which will allow developers to use Visual Studio 2008 to extend the value of Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server by providing a simplified development environment.
  • The first CTP of the Microsoft project code-named “Velocity,” a distributed, in-memory application cache platform that makes it easier to develop scalable, high-performance applications needing frequent access to disparate data sources. Large clusters of machines can be seamlessly integrated into a single cache, providing high availability to data.

I saved Velocity for last because it seems like the most interesting (Silverlight 2 Beta 2 is really cool, but not too big of a surprise). As several people have pointed out, it seems pretty similar to memcached, an open source distributed caching solution under the pretty friendly BSD license. Why rewrite memcached? Well, here's what the  introductory post on the new Velocity blog says about it:

Distributed caches are not new – during the last couple of years several caching products have emerged to address the performance and scalability needs of applications. Most of these products are point products, primarily supporting key-based access. Other than memcached, which is an open source technology, most others target enterprises and enterprise workloads and scale. I think the web workloads require considerably large scale, with 1000s of cache nodes in a cluster. The web scale distributed caches not only require mechanisms that can scale and provide availability in very large clusters, they must be easy to manage or self-managed. In the Future, “Velocity” envisions being an integral part of the .NET application stack targeting both enterprise and web workloads (and scale). As applications start using the caches for data access, I also believe, they will demand richer data services like query, transactions, analytics, synchronization etc. For example, we believe .NET applications will require LINQ queries on the distributed cache, the same way they query the backend SQL Server database. We envision “Velocity” becoming such a comprehensive distributed caching platform. The performance, scale, and availability functionality of “Velocity” along with its rich data services will allow for rich web and enterprise applications development and deployment.

I bolded the parts that look like the two main reasons:

  • The Velocity hopes to become an integral part of the .NET application stack (easier if it's their product)
  • By building a caching system specifically for the .NET platform and data access technologies, they can create a deeper level of integration (LINQ To Velocity?)

You can download the Velocity CTP 1 here:

If you're watching the Keynote video, you can skip the first 30 minutes (fluff and comedy) without missing any real information. There are some additional demo's which don't coincide with new releases, but are interesting - the SQL Server 2008 demo at 55:00 includes some cool stuff about the new spatial data and filestream features, as well as the Sync services. There's a plug for the Microsoft Robotics Studio and RoboChamps (as well as a Ballmer-Bot which chants "Developer, developers, developers!") at 72:00.

No Comments