Innovation, smart people and good processes are essential through technology changes, and the combination of all three will deliver tangible results according to Norm Judah, keynote speaker at New Zealand’s largest technology conference, Microsoft Tech.Ed.
Two thousand IT professionals and software developers descended upon Auckland for the three day conference held at Sky City, to listen to more than 140 international and local technology experts, who presented at 170 sessions and 30 ‘Hands on Labs’.
Norm Judah, Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer of Worldwide Services, went on to highlight how cloud computing is transforming the way people work, play and collaborate.
"We are in the early stages of the transition to the cloud. The business benefits of automation are driving customers to plan their transition from traditional datacentres to virtualised infrastructures to private cloud. In addition, the programming models on the Windows platform have been extended into Window Azure, ensuring developers can continue to build cloud applications using the same tools and techniques as they do today,” says Norm.
Other highlights from the conference include David Kirk, former All Black captain and business leader, demonstrating key technologies available during Rugby World Cup 2011; a showcase from the unique games and software development class at Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti school in Christchurch – the tech leaders of the future; information about the latest slate and laptop hardware due to be released over the next few months; key New Zealand businesses sharing their technology experiences; and, of course, the highly anticipated TechFest party for delegates at the Auckland Town Hall.
A session called ‘Pimp my App’ led by Shane Morris discussed the development of apps across multiple touch points, explaining that apps today are a "graceful experience that adapts to different platforms” rather than separate offerings for each individual platform. Attendees were educated in the difference between all of the different platforms we face today using a food analogy: Some devices, like the smart phone or tablet, can be thought of as "snacking or foraging devices” – we need apps that are simple and easy to use on the go and with a touch screen, while the laptop might be considered a "consuming and creating” device – one that can be used for more complex and time consuming activities.
We also saw the launch of TradeMe Labs, a platform for innovative kiwi developers who are keen to showcase their skills. Simon Young, head of development for TradeMe, says the project will tie in with the recent launch of TradeMe’s API. "We want to promote innovation, but in the past it’s been hard to endorse things and we’ve had to keep them a bit at arm’s length.” There are already a few apps on the site, including a parcel tracking system run by New Zealand Post, an app called ‘Get A Home’ which allows users to find open homes in their area via Google Maps, and a real-time visualisation of TradeMe bids and buy-nows being made around New Zealand.
Young says the move is an extension of the company’s internal development programs, such as ‘Fed Ex’ days, where teams of three are given 24 hours to deliver a product that will then be judged by the TradeMe team, as well as a ‘Dragon’s Den’ of Trade Me bosses. The launch follows the recent announcement by Google that its own project, Google Labs, would be shut down in September.
My personal favourite was the Microsoft Imagine Cup showcase, where finalists (including winners, Team One Buzz) were given the opportunity to show off their entries. The Imagine Cup is an international competition that asks university students to create economically viable yet socially beneficial business propositions using technological solutions. For a summary of each of the finalist’s propositions, see tinyurl.com/3n5e5yw
Paul Muckleston, Managing Director of Microsoft New Zealand, says Tech.Ed is an opportunity to bring the New Zealand technology community together to share insights and ideas, as well as experiencing some of the latest software.