TechEd 2005 – Keynote (Tuesday)

Opening with a huge puff of smoke, the sounds of a fire extinguisher operated by a stressed out IT Pro, this keynote took a new approach and an approach that we all could relate to. Hot on the heels of the IT Pro, well, not hot on the heels per say, the Developer was woken from his slumber grumbling about not having slept for days because he’s too busy developing applications. Naturally an argument between the IT Pro and the Developer raged…the IT Pro moaning that the Developer didn’t test enough and didn’t write enough documentation…the Developer arguing that he doesn’t have time for all of that: “the code compiles, what more do you want?”

Enter the Information Worker. This outspoken young lady complained about them both, citing the fact that she has to visit six applications in order to learn about her customer’s recent order…contact system, stock control, despatch system, invoice system, credit control system, etc. “Oh, IT Pro, I need you to fix my problem now, it’ll take you a minute”, she suddenly interjected.

These actors were the personification of many typical problems – the keynote was aimed at how SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 can get the IT Pro, the Developer and the Information Worker talking to each other and how it can make them more productive.

SQL Server 2005 performance
The keynote had to be viewed by some 6500 attendees so naturally it was broadcast via video. Three screens (in the main keynote area) – the middle, we saw the presenter, the left screen and right screen were setup to view two different but identical machines: one that was running SQL Server 2000, the other running SQL Server 2005. Both we running 64-bit Windows. A really cool graphical view of PerfMon presented the CPU usage, disk usage, query throughput, etc. – it was awesome. The demonstration was clear, cranking up SQL Server 2000 by a factor of 2, then 4 caused it to bottom out very quickly. The same example over on SQL Server 2005 was night’n’day.

The speaker then went on to highlight the monetary differences between ownership of SQL Server 2005, Oracle 10 and IBM DB2. I suspect that there may well have been some jiggery-pokery with the numbers, but basically the TCO of SQL Server is cheaper than Oracle and IBM…a fellow attendee caught whilst I was manning the Ask The Experts (ATE) stand, he was from Oracle and felt a little hard done to. OK, I can sympathise, but hey, this is a Microsoft conference, if they want to bash Oracle (who won’t entertain mention of SQL Server at their conferences!) then so be it! So what if Microsoft used seven slides to perform the Oracle bashing?!

I was surprised to see a mallet being used to destroy a network device. This was, however, a rather excellent way of demonstrating SQL Server 2005’s mirroring capabilities. Going back to the “two screen” view mentioned earlier, now both screens were displaying two identical computers running SQL Server 2005…one of them has *2 the load the other *4. However, after the mallet incident, the machine on the left took over from the machine on the right…thus doing it’s own work and that of the other machine. The fancy performance monitor flinched only ever so slightly and then levelled out – it was still “just ticking over”!

So, the result of the keynote: SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 are going to improve not just physical performance, but employee performance…I had to leave the keynote sharp, but I’m guessing that our three actors made up and are now the best of friends!