Way forward is the Cloud, Microsoft

The rapid consumerisation of technology is fundamentally changing the way businesses procure and use information technology (IT) – and is transforming the entire industry in the process, according to one of Microsoft’s top executives.

Speaking at the opening of Tech-Ed Africa 2010 in Durban, Microsoft’s chief technology officer (CTO) of Worldwide Services, Norm Judah, said people increasingly want Monday morning’s technology experience to be the same as their Sunday evening experience, with access to the same data and devices.

“We hear a lot about the cloud, which is effectively the fifth generation of computing,” said Judah. “Fact is, the cloud is dramatically changing the way IT in general is consumed – and this rate of change is accelerating dramatically. The cloud will automate a lot of the cost out of technology, while increasing its agility. If you’re not thinking about the cloud today, why not?”

Tech-Ed Africa 2010 is Microsoft’s premier event for IT professionals and developers, and runs from 17-20 October at Durban’s International Conference Centre (ICC). It is being attended by more than 2 500 delegates from across the continent.

At the event, Microsoft will be showing off its much-anticipated Windows Phone 7 Series and controller-free Kinect gaming system – both of which launch in South Africa next month. It will also be highlighting some of its key cloud-based technologies, including its Lync collaboration platform and recent releases like SQL Server 2008 R2 and Office 2010.

“I don’t know if we’re always going to be talking about the cloud – that’s a word that might last five or ten years. So the real thing to do today is to capture the dimensions of the thing that we’re betting our company on, and pretty much everybody in the technology industry is betting their companies on,” said Judah.

Judah is no stranger to South Africa: he earned his first degree (in electrical engineering) from Wits University before heading abroad in the mid-70s. He has worked for Microsoft for the past 20 years, and has built an impressive reputation as a speaker and a strategic thinker around IT.

Mteto Nyati, Microsoft South Africa’s MD, said cloud computing was becoming a significant part of many conversations. “IT Professionals are looking for more guidance, standards, support and clarity as they begin to plan for cloud. To get it right, we’ll have to collaborate with the business on the answers to these key questions and about business goals and how best to bring IT experience and innovation to the table,” said Nyati.

Tech-Ed will also feature the announcements of several new and upcoming technologies that Microsoft believes will help enable IT professionals and developers to help their organisations save money and improve efficiencies.

“It’s all about ensuring that IT professionals and developers continue to have the platform and technologies to drive maximum value and business results. Getting the most out of IT investments is even more important in today’s economy,” said Nyati.

Apart from Judah, Microsoft has assembled a formidable line-up of local and international speakers for this year’s event, which will include more than 200 in-depth sessions. They include internationally recognised technology expert, bestselling author, and public speaker Michael Noel, and self-confessed geek Lynn Langit, who co-host’s the MSDN Channel 9 geekSpeak series at http://channel9.msdn.com/shows/geekSpeak/.

Links to videos, blogs, product downloads, and other information about this year’s event, can be found at www.teched.co.za.

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Way forward is the Cloud, Microsoft