Tech Ed: Microsoft spells out the future

Microsoft kicked off Tech Ed, its annual European developer’s conference in Amsterdam this week, with a promise to reduce complexity in IT departments.

Microsoft kicked off Tech Ed, its annual European developer’s conference in Amsterdam this week, with a promise to reduce complexity in IT departments.

Addressing 6,000 delegates, Andrew Lees, corporate vice president responsible for servers and tools at Microsoft, said his goal was to make it easier to create connected systems using service-oriented architecture.

Microsoft aims to make its applications central to linking together web services. The Visual Studio 2005 development platform and the SQL Server 2005 database are the main components of its SOA strategy, with Microsoft now focusing on making software development teams work more efficiently, through the Team System version of Visual Studio.

It will also provide a version of Visual Studio for developing interactive Office documents, called Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the MS Office Suite (VSTO). SQL Server will include the common language runtime component of Visual Studio, allowing users to programme the database using Visual Basic and C# in order to run tasks that would be too complex to achieve using SQL.

But the strategy also relies on Microsoft’s Trustworthy security initiative covering federated security and network access control, to ensure devices connecting to a network are patched and running the latest anti-virus signatures.

Lees stressed the importance of the Active Directory. He said: “Granular access to applications will be achieved via the Active Directory and two-factor authentication.” Microsoft aims to give end users full access to IT systems without the need for IT support staff to get involved.

He said users will need to start building federated identity management to enable access to applications though a single user login and that biometrics will be required, to boost security.

Microsoft also anticipates users will need to make changes to their networks to support its vision of connected systems. Users will need to switch to IPv6, the next version of the IP networking protocol, in order to cope with the potential for large numbers of devices connecting into the corporate network. IPsec should also be used inside the corporate network, Lees said, to improve security further.

Microsoft’s strategy also pulls in its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), designed to make IT systems more self-managing.

Using the WS-Management web services standard, Microsoft is planning to provide a way to manage PCs and servers, even when no operating system is installed. This will require the hardware to use a dedicated service processor.

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