Powers Unfiltered

An entrepreneur’s journey into grid computing and partnering with Microsoft, by John Powers

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Microsoft Financial Developers Conference

May 6th, 2006 · No Comments

OK, let’s start with something simple — my trip to New York City last week for the Microsoft Financial Developers Conference.  Microsoft gathered four hundred of the Best and Brightest from Wall Street, Redmond, and even Oakland, for two days of give and take at the Millenium Broadway Hotel.  I went with Digipede Product Manager Dan Ciruli.  My summary:  good content, good food, good partner opportunities.

Good content:  The Microsoft financial services vertical team (business and technical) put on much of the show, but they also brought in plenty of heavy hitters from the product teams (especially Visual Studio, SQL Server, and BizTalk) to discuss evolving best practices and give practical advice on a variety of development issues.

Good venue:  The Millenium Broadway gets high marks for the funky Hudson Theatre (where the tonight show began, 50 years ago), the helpful staff, and the good eats (ok, ok, I only ate there once, for the Microsoft-hosted buffet lunch – the rest of the time I ventured out into Times Square to continue my search for the Perfect Pastrami Sandwich, but more on that another day).  Host your next event there, if it’s not huge.

Best of Show:  Sapient.  If you have not heard Naresh Bhatia talk about model-driven development, you’re missing out.  His passion for tools and techniques that increase developer productivity and product quality reminded me of Digipede CTO Robert Anderson; I look forward to finding an opportunity to work with him.

Good Opportunities for Partners:  On the whole, Microsoft does a good job with its partners, and this event opened a lot of doors for us.  Our friends in Microsoft’s group provided Dan Ciruli and myself a great opportunity to be part of the Capital Markets keynote presentation.  Kenny McBride and Stevan Vidich did a great job updating the attendees on how Microsoft’s new and upcoming product releases will benefit the financial developer community.  They also held a brief but interesting discussion with Yogesh Shetty, co-author of a new book Practical .NET for Financial Markets.  Stevan noted that there were some light-weight “learn to program if you’re a finance guy” books out there, but this isn’t one of them.  Yogesh co-author Samir Jayaswal have put together the first such volume for sophisticated developers already working in Finance – if that’s you, check it out.

Then it was time for the John and Dan show.  Stevan introduced us, and I put up a few slides, but as the last third of a 75-minute presentation, I wanted to make sure I left time for Dan to do a demonstration.  I kept my remarks short, introducing a realistic financial example that would benefit from distributed computing using a grid or cluster.  I did fine, and then had to do a bit of “just keep talking” work, as Dan performed that familiar-but-nerve-wracking presentation maneuver, the “laptop swap.”  I had the slides, he had the Visual Studio installation and Internet connectivity (trust me, I know it doesn’t SOUND like we needed two laptops, but we did).  So I’ve got the audience’s attention, and I’m even managing to field a question or two from an audience of 100+ developers, when I see 100+ pairs of eyes swivel away from me and up to the screen.  CODE! That’s what these guys came to see – not slides, not some guy waving his hands telling them to imagine using grid computing – CODE!

So Dan deftly guided a room full of hardcore developers through the steps of going from a .NET application to a grid-enabled .NET application in about 20 lines of code, which took less than eight minutes (and he was taking his time – I’ve seen him do it in five).  Then we took more than a dozen intelligent questions, and the session was over.

Now comes the interesting part.  I’ve given hundreds of technical and business presentations in front of audiences larger and smaller than this one; sometimes I kill, sometimes I bomb, usually somewhere in between.  One good measure is the two minutes after the presentation – how many people come forward and hand you business cards?  How many ask additional questions, or grab your freebies if any?  At this event, we’d made some mini-CDs with our Digipede Network Developer Edition on them to hand out to interested developers at this event.  I had 30 CDs in my pocket when our presentation started; I left with my pockets empty of CDs and full of business cards, plus a list of additional developers who started a signup sheet for additional copies.  So when I say Microsoft does a good job with its partners, that’s what I’m talking about.

Tags: Events · Partnering with Microsoft · Presentations

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