The Top 10 Takeaways from Microsoft Ignite 2016

In the old days, before 2012, software engineers would often go to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas to catch up on the latest developments in software and hardware. CES tended to be more of a hardware show, however. A few years ago, Microsoft recognized this fact and decided to follow Apple’s lead, saying that CES was not the right place to showcase its best and brightest advances in the software world.

The company announced, “We have decided that this coming January will be our last keynote presentation and booth at CES. We’ll continue to participate in CES as a great place to connect with partners and customers across the PC, phone, and entertainment industries, but we won’t have a keynote or booth after this year because our product news milestones generally don’t align with the show’s January timing.”

Apple has run its own Worldwide Developers Conference for decades, and Google’s I/O grew increasingly friendly to enterprise software. In response, Microsoft announced in the summer of 2014 that it would sponsor the Ignite Conference, which would take the place of scattered events such as the Management Summit, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project and TechEd conferences. Ignite was designed to cover everything related to enterprise software. It would join their other specialized conferences such as Convergence for solution platforms, Build for developers, and Worldwide Partners for the channel.

The first Ignite kicked off in May of 2015 in Chicago, and it sold out its 20,000 tickets in five months. The biggest news coming out of it was related to developments in Advanced Threat Analytics and a preview of Office 2016. This year’s event brought a great deal more.

Quotes from Microsoft Ignite 2016

Microsoft’s sophomore conference this fall was held over four days in Atlanta and brought a slightly larger crowd of 23,000. The keynote was given by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. His main points were centered around channeling the explosive growth of data and democratizing AI. Here are some of the most interesting quotes from Nadella’s keynote:

“In 1450 or so when the printing press came out, the Guttenberg Bible got published, and removable type became prevalent. Before that we had something like 30,000 books in the world. And 50 years after the printing press, we had 12 million books. It changed how humans both created information and used information. You can, in fact, trace back everything in the modern era to our ability to create and diffuse information and learn.”

“We have four core pillars to what we’re going to do. It’s agents, applications, services, and infrastructure.”

“We have 133 million active users each month using Cortana across 116 countries and they’ve already asked 12 billion questions. And that is what’s driving the skills ecosystem of Cortana, the fact that we have these SDKs that allow developers to be able to infuse Cortana with more intelligence is what makes Cortana even more relevant every day for our everyday use.”

“The goal of intelligence is to be able to reason about your sales data model, not inside just your CRM system, but outside. So we are building the relationship assistant that’s going to ship in November as part of Dynamics CRM to truly transform our CRM application from the inside out. So when you login to a CRM system, what you’re going to see are these cards, these cards that allow you to take action inside the system based on activity that is happening outside.”

“In order to build a bot, you need to have these building block services that have conversational understanding, know how to parse natural language, how to have a dialogue. So that’s what we’ve now encapsulated in this Bot Framework so that you can build a bot that is available on Skype, available online, and available on Facebook. So, again, we’re taking an approach where any bot you build is not captive to any one conversational canvas. It is available everywhere. And since Build, which is when we launched it for the first time, we have had 45,000 developers building these bots, Hipmunk in travel, Star Trek, StubHub, Getty Images, so many, many developers taking advantage of the bot framework already.”

“It’s never about our technology. It is really, to me, about your passion, your imagination, and what you can do with technologies that we create. What societal problem, what industry will you reshape? That is what we dream about, what we’re passionate about. We want to pursue democratizing AI just like we pursued information at your fingertips. But this time around, we want to bring intelligence to everything, to everywhere, and for everyone.”

10 Takeaways for Programmers

The event’s most notable offerings were announcements of new features, arguments for the enterprise version of Windows 10, and Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive for Work. Here are the top 10 takeaways related to software-defined capabilities, application development, and emerging technology.

1. The Return of SharePoint

In 2015, people walked out of Ignite wondering about the future of SharePoint. Those concerns were put to rest by a host of sessions on the subject and an announcement of a new Feature Pack for SharePoint. It’s also providing new integrations with mobile apps, improvements to security and a sync/share integration for OneDrive.

2. Office 365 Becomes More Collaborative

Office 365 Groups are now a priority. That’s making it easier for internal and external customers to come together for project management in the cloud. Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection includes dynamic delivery, which lets you read an email while its attachment is in quarantine.

3. Windows Server 2016 Updates

This fall’s upgrade of Windows Server presents additional layers of security and streamlined integrations with Azure for cloud-based apps. The big reveal was a discussion about a collaboration with Docker that will run as native in the new Windows Server.

4. Azure Stack Preview

Many engineers came to the conference with questions about integrating Azure Stack IaaS into the data center. The most common questions centered around a hardware management dashboard and monitoring alerts. The new preview addressed as many of these as it could, with a breakout session on tooling tips and tricks.

5. People Cards Carry Rich Details

As Nataya suggested in his keynote, the next generation of modern document libraries and OneDrive browsers will come with built-in People Cards. These will automatically pull in updated contact info, biographical info on the web, work info from sites such as LinkedIn, and related documentation that could prove useful for CRM.

6. Dynamics 365 and Adobe

Nadella brought Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen on stage to announce that the Adobe Marketing Cloud was being built into Dynamics 365. Narayen said, “Adobe and Microsoft will bring together the cloud horsepower and end-to-end capabilities brands need to design and deliver great digital experiences.”

7. DevOps in the Spotlight

Networking specialists conducted a mini DevOps summit, using Azure Stack to demonstrate why everyone needs DevOps. They covered the rapid deployment and maintenance of apps both on premises and in the cloud.

8. ExpressRoute Connectivity

Everyone wants to get faster at deploying apps for Office 365 that connect to the cloud or the intranet. ExpressRoute lives up to its name by connecting Office 365 subscribers to a Layer 3 MPLS network and, from there, to an internet backbone like Equinix.

9. Microsoft Accepts iOS and Android

Mobile-first makes sense, but until now, everyone assumed Microsoft would still be making a play for Windows phones. Most of Nadella’s demos of mobile apps ran on an Apple device. There were many more examples throughout the week of native iOS and Android integration.

10. AI in 2017

Plans are in the works for the Ignite 2017 in Orlando, FL on September 25 – 29. Engineers are already discussing proposed leaps in AI and chatbot development frameworks at next year’s event.

More Coverage

Every time you look away from the software community for a minute, it expands in one hundred different directions. That’s why you really need to stay informed from conferences like Microsoft Ignite, where all the latest trends are pulled together. If you missed it this year or didn’t plan on shelling out $2,000 or more for an all-access pass, hopefully these vitals brought you up to speed. Continue to watch our blog for more coverage of the latest trends in software and performance.

SXSW 2016: Developers’ Collective Role in a Connected World

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been a busy few months in the tech world. I’m just returning from Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive, where I had the chance to hold a discussion with the developer community on the urgent and ethical need for them to protect their users’ data and physical security in our increasingly connected world. As the manufacturing of the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to explode, more than ten million software developers around the world have the responsibility to ensure security and privacy are at the core of their design and development processes, while simultaneously responding to user demands.

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SXSW is known to bring together some of the biggest names in culture, technology, and innovation. For its 30th anniversary, the festival brought out everyone from the Head of State and the First Lady to culture creators from Hollywood and Silicon Valley, to software developers representing the newest startups to multinational enterprises.

Here are some of my key observations at SXSW this year:

  • The mainstream adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), one of the key themes of the festival, attracted an ever increasing number of players across industries. CapitalOne showcased the financial service industry’s first ever integration into Amazon Echo platform. Retail fast food chain McDonald’s had an IoT themed startup competition event at SXSW with a stated goal of “enabling IoT in our 14,000 US stores and kitchens helps us to better know and understand consumer behavior”. Of course, technology headliners such as IBM, NTT, Amazon, Samsung, and more brought IoT innovation to the main stage.
  • The rise of augmented and virtual reality: Compared to previous years, there seemed to be fewer people at SXSW staring into their mobile phones. But that’s only because of the onslaught of AR/VR headgear spotted throughout the festival. 2016 clearly seems to be the year where this immersive technology is finding more mainstream use cases in industries such as travel, logistics, healthcare, and gaming.
  • Mobility and the “sharing economy”: This year it was less about standalone mobile apps such as Uber, Spotify, Airbnb, but a lot more about how these innovative services are blending to create a highly personalized, location-specific services that are creating a unique shared economy
  • The global nature of innovation: All credit is due to the SXSW organizers for grouping exhibiting startups by geography. I was pleasantly surprised to see innovative startups from every nook of the globe. As a device enthusiast myself, I spent a lot of time with startups from Japan, Korea, and China where I found IoT, sensor-rich applications of technology. One in particular that I came across was the Baby Smile Explorer from Japan, a startup that promises to leverage sensors, GPS, big data and IOT tech capture and predict your baby’s smiles.

To me, the main takeaway this year was around the rapid transformation towards a digital experience: one that is immersive, personal in nature and global in scale. A digital experience that’s enriched by pervasive mobile technology, highly localized and leveraging real-time data collected by sensors that power an Internet of Things. It could be a connected car, a smart building or a smart manufacturing plant at the core is a software-driven innovation that transcends the touch points across our personal, workplace and global community. So at SXSW, whether it was President Obama call to “create systems that make government more responsive”, or Amazon Web Services (AWS) CTO Werner Vogel highlighting that “security should be the #1 design requirement”, or my own talk urging IoT software developers to take a Hippocratic oath to help build a securely connected world, we found a common thread. It all points to an ever-increasing ethical responsibility that innovators have in an today’s digitally connected world.

It has already been a very special year at AppDynamics: The convergence of mobile, web and IoT applications that I have experienced at SXSW underscore our clear vision of an end-to-end application intelligence and highlight the software-driven digital transformation journey that we are sharing with our customers and partners.

Mobile World Congress 2016: Are you prepared?

The official theme of this year’s Mobile World Congress event is, perhaps somewhat obviously, “Mobile is Everything.” While this theme may come across as both reductive and self-congratulatory from an event that is dedicated to everything remotely related to the mobile industry, the fact of the matter is that mobile is indeed changing almost everything: every industry, region, culture, government, politics, environment, public and private sectors ad infinitum.

While the changes in each of these areas are unique to that specific segment, what unites them all is that mobile enables them to digitally transform to adapt to the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that mobile affords them.

The primary focus of these digital transformation initiatives is the customer experience of how an end user effectively interacts with the software (mobile and web applications on their devices) they invest in. As consumers shift more of their time to mobile phones, the companies that successfully present their businesses through a mobile channel will reap the rewards while those who don’t will fall behind and may even cease to exist.

According to a recent McKinsey study, these types of digitization efforts could affect over $2 trillion in GDP through their effects on labor markets, capital efficiency and multifactor productivity. The report warns that companies must adapt or risk being left behind, and it identifies one of the most pressing issues for companies to keep up with “redefine customer engagement and leverage data generated from digital interactions to fine-tune marketing and customer engagement.”

Consequently, it is increasingly imperative for companies to understand how every line of code contributes to the customer experience on those mobile devices. The challenge for the enterprise is that these mobile websites and applications are not isolated islands. On the contrary, the are just the portal through which a company’s vast array of technical systems and capabilities are exposed to the customer. A single user action on a website or in a mobile application could wind up triggering millions of lines of code to fulfill a request that originated on that mobile device.

As a result, it’s imperative that all of those systems must combine to produce an outcome that creates a reasonable customer experience nearly instantly. A customer’s “laggy” experience may abandon a transaction or even an app entirely to go to a competitor or substitute service that provides a faster or less error prone experience.

So what do companies need to do to spur the digital and mobile transformations?

  • First, you need a broad, robust, and deep Applications Intelligence Platform that monitors, manages, and optimizes the performance of both front-end browser and mobile applications, and all back-end applications (regardless of the language they are written in and the technologies they run on). You also need it to provide you with the end-to-end traceability of each business transaction as it propagates from the device and through your apps, networks, databases and other infrastructure.
  • Second, this Application Intelligence Platform needs to provide you with visibility into the entire customer journey with your app from the first page or screen view until the last so you can understand how the performance of your apps contributes to conversions, bounce rates, and your business’ KPIs.
  • Third, you need advanced application analytics that give you real-time insights into your IT operations, customer experience, and the resulting business outcomes.

 

Here’s a real world example from a recent customer implementation: A major international financial institution recently implemented AppDynamics in their consumer banking division. They created online banking real-time dashboards monitoring for the senior executives of the consumer banking unit “to:

  1. Proactively monitor system availability
  2. Help identify issues during an incident
  3. Provide real-time performance metrics on customer experience
  4. Trend response time and availability

We can certainly expect all kinds of announcements about new, shiny hardware in mobile devices, IoT, consumer appliances and more at the upcoming Mobile World Congress. In the end, it all comes down to the fact that the mobile device is becoming the center of how an individual interacts with virtually everything in the network around them. And the customer experience of those interactions comes to life through mobile and web applications on those devices. You know there’s a need for that leverage in your market, and in order to provide that superb customer experience, you need a complete solution to:

  • See everything happening with your applications faster with a unified monitoring strategy
  • Act sooner with a unified troubleshooting capability
  • Know more about your customers, experience, and business impact with a unified analytics solution

In other words, you need AppDynamics Mobile RUM. Check out a FREE trial today.

See you soon at MWC 2016 in Barcelona!!!

 

 

Announcing AppDynamics AppSphere 2014 … in Vegas!

We’re excited to announce our premier technology and business conference, AppDynamics AppSphere 2014, happening November 3-5 in Las Vegas!

AppSphere 2014 will bring together Business Execs, Operations gurus, and Developers  to explore and discuss how technology and applications are transforming today’s business world and will feature speakers from companies like Google, Lithium, and Microsoft, and a keynote by Bill Platt, GM of Amazon Web Services.

AppDynamics has grown and evolved dramatically over the last few years, making AppSphere 2014 the perfect opportunity for customers, thought leaders and industry decision makers to connect and build an in-person community. AppSphere will grow into an annual forum for us to collaborate and reflect on how we are transforming the future of IT.

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Who is attending?

AppSphere attendees include application and operations decision makers, architects, engineers, and other industry heavyweights.

What topics will be covered?

AppSphere’s agenda will be built around the theme “Transform” and we’ll discuss transformation across our three track topics: Culture, Technology, and Business.  Keep an eye on our agenda as we’ll be filling in our keynote and breakout speakers as they’re confirmed.

Why Should I Attend?

  • ENGAGE with speakers and sponsors who are discussing the most up-to-date information and trends that are affecting technology now and will be in the future

  • CONNECT with other attendees struggling to solve the same problems and discuss best practices

  • DISCOVER how to increase efficiency, decrease time to value, and maximize ROI through tactics learned in breakouts and workshops

  • DEEPEN your proficiency of AppDynamics through technical training and product roadmaps

Want to present a session?

Please fill out our Call for Papers form in order for us to review your abstract.  We’ll contact you if you’re selected to present.

How much does AppSphere cost?

Early bird registration is $695, which includes either on-site or self-guided training.

What do I need to know?

To view the full program and to register for your ticket, please visit: appdynamics.com/conference.

We’re excited to see you in November!

Tracking PHP Application Events with AppDynamics

Event Tracking

All too often PHP engineers find themselves repeating the same tasks to triage their application problems. Issues can range from poorly written code to database bottlenecks, slow remote service API calls, or machine issues including I/O bottlenecks — whether hardware or network related.

In certain cases, these issues are nearly impossible to discover due to the nonexistence of a mechanism for tracking and reporting particular events that may impact the performance of your application when those events are not directly related to the application code itself.

For example, imagine the frustration when a recent PHP upgrade causes a fatal error. What if routine configuration changes to your maintenance scripts also impacts your ability to read from your database?

Perhaps switching database table engines from MyISAM to to InnoDB is causing application slowdown. The numerous types of events outside of the normal development workflow can compromise the integrity of your application’s user experience while at the same time creating unwanted frustration.

Types of Events

Event tracking is an integral part of maintaining true and transparent insight into the various events that revolve around the performance of your application.  One of my favorite core APM features is Event Tracking: the ability to track a change in the state of your application that is of potential interest. Some examples of the various actions you can track are:

  • Upgrading your PHP framework

  • Application deployments AND rollbacks

  • Switching database table engines (e.g. MyISAM to InnoDB)

  • Changes/upgrades to hardware

  • Upgrades to your OS, MySQL, web server, etc.

  • PHP.ini changes

  • Installing/upgrading PHP extensions

I think you get the idea – you want to track anything that could potentially impact the performance of your application.

AppDynamics Event Tracking

The AppDynamics Event Tracking feature can be accessed by clicking the Events link in the main navigation menu.

Once clicked, you’re presented with a view of all events that have occurred in your application at that time. In this example, we’re presented with Health Rule Violations and an instance of a server being restarted. To narrow down what you’re looking for, you have the option of using an advanced search filter. Select ‘Show Filters’ and you will see a list of choices to the left of the event list.

Compare Releases

‘Compare Releases’ shows the real power of AppDynamics and is the reason why it remains one of my favorite core APM features. Under the Analyze menu item, click ‘Compare Releases’ and you’ll be shown a screen comparing your application between two different time periods. A unique column here is the ‘Events’ column displaying any events registered during the specified time range to give you further insight into what may have been previously overlooked. In this specific example, we’re comparing the application’s KPIs between two different weeks. You can see that our error rate decreased the week later with no health rule violations registered as events. The screenshot shows a definitive performance improvement between the two time periods.

We encourage you to explore the Events feature further. You will see how you can combine both the power of Change Releases and our Alert & Respond feature to execute custom scripts based upon triggered events..  an added bonus, the Events feature is also accessible by a RESTful API that allows you to register a change event from anywhere at anytime.

Take five minutes to get complete visibility into the performance of your production applications with AppDynamics Pro today.

 

AppDynamics goes to Forum PHP

The AppDynamics team went to Forum PHP in Paris, France this week. If you are in the area, stop by our booth and say hello. I presented on Scaling PHP in the real world which is a talk based on my series of blog posts on php performance. If you weren’t able to make it to this fantastic developer event you can see the slides below:

Take five minutes to get complete visibility into the performance of your production applications with AppDynamics Pro today.

My five favorite talks from OSCON

This week I went to Portland, Oregon for the O’Reilly Open Source Convention. OSCON is one of my favorite conferences because of the quality and diversity of the talks. Usually when I go to an event I am too busy presenting, working our booth, or meeting with customers and partners to fully enjoy the sessions. This year I resolved to not let that happen again and I managed to enjoy many great talks and learn quite a bit.

System management with Chef

Joshua Tiberman and James Casey gave a great workshop on getting started with Chef.

Adventures in Node

Faisal Abid presented on getting started with NodeJS and Express.

MongoDB on AWS

Charity Majors presented on the experience Parse had with scaling MongoDB on Amazon Web Services.

How Gigaspaces built their community with GitHub

This talk really resonated with me as we recently announced AppDynamics X which leverages GitHub for enabling our developer community.

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The art of giving critiques

Emma Jane Westby presented on how to give and get actionable critiques. She did a great job explaining the difference between good and bad feedback and showed how communities can better collaborate.

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I have learned from going to many events that some of the best content comes from the time between the sessions. If you find yourself at a developer conference in the future make sure to spend time in the common areas and engage with the speakers and other attendees. See you next year at OSCON!

AppDynamics goes to OSCON

The AppDynamics team is in Portland, Oregon this week to showcase AppDynamics at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention. This event is a great opportunity to meet with the community and connect with thought leaders in the open source world. Stop by our booth for office hours if you’re in the area this week!

AppDynamics at OSCON

If you are attending OSCON join my birds of a feather sessions to talk about scaling PHP in the real world and quantifying the value of DevOps.

Find out more about AppDynamics and get started with a free 15 day trial.