IT is still relevant: TechEd

Despite experiencing a “crisis of complexity,” IT is still viable, still relevant and still necessary for a competitive advantage, said one Microsoft Corp. executive earlier this month.

Paul Flessner, Windows Server senior vice-president at Microsoft, kicked off the annual TechEd developer conference in Dallas by unveiling the Redmond, Wash.-based firm’s product roadmap for the next few years.

Between 2003 and 2004, tentative release dates were set for SharePoint Portal Server, Project Server and Microsoft Office 2003. The Longhorn desktop OS and Visual Studio Orcas are slated for a 2005 release, with a new edition of Exchange Server (code-named Kodiak) due in 2006.

Speaking to an estimated 9,000 attendees, Flessner admitted that Microsoft has been a part of the IT complexity problem, estimating that 70 per cent of the enterprise IT budget is devoted to the cost of actual operations.

“We’re not perfect and there’s still more work to do,” Flessner said.

Tech Ed attendee Roy Gillam said that while “Microsoft has some ways to go, it has been making an effort to improve security.” Gillam, a developer with Dublin, Ohio-based Metatec Corp., said his team is developing Web services applications and is looking at developing solutions that feature tighter integration with Microsoft products. “Privacy and security is key,” Gillam said.

Jim Kircoff, developer for Dataware Inc. in Flint, Mich., agreed.

“It’s a good sign that Microsoft is looking at this – it’s a sign that the company understands that it’s a different world post-9/11,” Kircoff said, adding that he’s keeping a close eye on Microsoft, particularly in the Exchange Server space.

“Big things are happening in the Exchange world,” Kircoff said.

Large investment

Microsoft will invest more than US$2 billion toward IT developer “community-based” efforts, all of which are designed to “amplify the strategic impact of IT, Flessner said.”

He implored developers to get onboard the Web Services train, touting the Windows Server 2003 product as a step towards a more standards-based IT application environment.

“We understand that everything will not run on Windows…(but) Web Services is what we need to do as an industry.”

Despite releasing a security patch for the Windows Server 2003 less than two months after the launch of the its latest server OS, the Trustworthy Computing initiative is still working, according to Microsoft’s Scott Charney. The former lawyer and cybercrime chief at the U.S. Department of Justice and now chief security strategist at Microsoft said that while Microsoft’s isn’t perfect, it has spent US$200 million on security for Windows Server 2003 alone.

Charney stressed that Microsoft is making “real progress” towards improving the security, privacy and reliability of its products and services from the start of development. Threat modeling and penetration testing are two ways to help ensure secure and high-quality code, he continued.

The company has recently developed a security specialization program for both MCSA and MCSE credentials. These security certifications enable IT professionals to develop and validate skill sets working within a secure computing environment.

Some of the announcements at TechEd: