IT Forum 2004: Bill Gates turns to magic to reduce computing complexity

‘Using the magic of software to reduce the complexity of computing’ – this was the mantra of Bill Gates in his opening keynote at the IT Forum 2004 in Copenhagen.

IT Forum 2004: Bill Gates turns to magic to reduce computing complexity

Announcing the release of a range of server products – Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, Virtual Server 2005 and two feature packs for Systems management Server (SMS) 2003 – he said the common theme was reducing the costs of deploying and managing computing systems. He observed that traditionally falling hardware costs had allowed scope for greater software innovation, but reducing general IT costs would now be necessary to allow further innovation.

Preceded on stage by an illusionist and references to Houdini, Gates hosted a number of demos that had to be taken on trust, including the migration of 100 systems – within tens of minutes – from NT 4 to Windows XP. The last words of Houdini were ‘I wasn’t ready’ and this is an idea relevant to MOM 2005, which manages system performance and events. As well as a new task-based interface, there is support for diagram views giving a topology of distributed services.

Virtual Server 2005 is the product that has emerged from Microsoft’s acquisition of Connectix a year ago. Its virtual machine environment is designed to improve testing and smooth legacy application migrations and server consolidations.

There are also two new ‘feature packs’ for Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003: the Device Management Feature Pack supports administrators to discover devices and collect hardware and software inventory; and the Operating System Deployment Feature pack better supports admins to create desktop images for automated deployment

Gates highlighted what he terms a Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), which is using software to simplify and automate the design, deployment and operation of large-scale computing systems. It involves a sweep of prospective offerings, including Visual Studio 2005, Virtual Server and, on the operations side of things, MOM 2005 and System Management Services.

‘The distributed nature of computing makes it challenging for customers to manage the cost and complexity of their technology investments,’ said Gates. ‘We are committed to a unique approach that builds operational knowledge into the applications themselves, enabling customers to reduce complexity now and in the future.’

This could be viewed as Microsoft’s equivalent to the Adaptive Enterprise’ from HP and Autonomic computing from IBM – IDF, Fall 2004: Intel CTO sees New Net on the horizon

Gates also announced the first .Net-based smart card. Developed in conjunction with axalto, Gates said the card will be used by everyone at Microsoft. All Redmond employees will be using the card for access – physically within the campus and also remotely over computer networks.

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