TechEd 2011: The Cloud (Again), Windows Phone Updates, and Exchange Server Virtualization

The tweets and other official news releases are flying fast out of Atlanta today with Microsoft TechEd 2011 underway. This morning's keynote address from the conference, by corporate vice presidents Robert Wahbe and Jason Zander, focused a great deal on the cloud but also included big announcements about Windows Phone updates. Microsoft Exchange Server also has its share of the spotlight today with new virtualization support news.

As I saw on Twitter, one attendee was overheard after the keynote to say, "It was all cloud cloud cloud, blah blah blah." Although this point is not strictly true, it certainly points out the feeling about the cloud in the mind of many IT pros: They're sick of it and probably tired of Microsoft (and others) pushing it all the time. Nonetheless, the message presented in the keynote about how companies can reduce cost, speed innovation, add flexibility, and so forth, is certainly something that will sit well with CIOs and other company execs. Of course, it would be good for them to keep in mind problems such as last week's 3-day outage of Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which as Paul Thurrott notes was only partially explained by the company.

Lync client on Windows Phone with Mango updateIn some rather more positive news, the keynote offered details and demos about the next Windows Phone update, code-named Mango. Perhaps the biggest news here was the forthcoming Lync client for Windows Phone, which will be available as a free, standalone download (so, technically not part of Mango, I guess). You'll be able to get presence and IM capability with your coworkers right through your phone—a very handy feature. Mango is bringing an improved mail client that will take advantage of conversation view and also let you pin specific mail folders to the start screen for easy access. You'll also be able to search for messages on the server rather than just on the phone. You can read about additional productivity features on the Windows Phone Blog.

For Exchange Server, the big news is updated support scenarios around virtualization. Specifically, Microsoft now allows virtualization of the Unified Messaging server role in Exchange Server 2010 SP1. The other new support scenario of perhaps greater significance is that database availability groups (DAGs) can now be combined with hypervisor-based high availability or migration solutions, which had previously been forbidden. However, as Tony Redmond points out in his blog on this topic, it's going to take a while before optimum architectures for such deployments can be determined, and therefore "the best advice is to keep designs as simple as possible and then test, test, and test again before you deploy any configuration into production." Check out the Exchange Team Blog for more details and links to Microsoft's official support policies.

Microsoft has also had sessions at the conference focusing on Exchange Server 2010 SP2; stay tuned for info about what's coming with that release, expected to release before the end of the year. Microsoft might have made all its major announcements on day one of TechEd (or maybe not), but there's sure to be more big news yet to come from the show from other vendors. We've got Windows IT Pro and SharePoint Pro editors on the ground in Atlanta covering the news, as well as judging for the Best of TechEd Awards, so check back for all the latest news.

Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins
Follow Windows IT Pro on Twitter at @windowsitpro


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