Microsoft MVP Keith Garner is a Solutions Architect at 1E. Prior to joining us, however, Keith spent over twenty years as an IT consultant, working the Windows Product Group, the Surface Product Group, and the Configuration Manager Group, among others. He also worked for Microsoft IT, where he helped design and implement the Windows deployment system used internally there. Who better, then, to tell us all about Microsoft’s recent MVP Global Summit?
Thomas McGrath: For people that don’t already know, Keith, fill us in on what the MVP Global Summit is all about?
Keith Garner: Microsoft has communities of experts not limited to people at Microsoft: there’s a huge community of people out there who become experts in Microsoft technology, who answer questions, who debug issues, who know how to get things done. Microsoft created the MVP programme to reward and congratulate and thank those people.
One of the perks is that every year they have a summit. People are invited to Redmond, Washington, to hear about some new products other new developments, and to interact with the product groups. They can also talk about new features, and do other fun stuff, too: griping, complaining, learning about new stuff, you name it.
There are several 1E employees who are MVPs in the Configuration Manager space. My expertise is in Windows IT and Devices – all that sort of stuff. I went to sessions regarding the new surface devices, Windows deployment strategies and related topics.
Any conspicuous trends on show?
One of the biggest trends I saw was this kind of embracing of open source at Microsoft, of community involvement in developing Microsoft products, and of getting feedback and listening to customers.
This is great. We want Microsoft to listen to their customers, because we have a lot to say. And they’re incorporating that feedback – they’re really listening. Configuration Manager is doing that too. There’s a site called UserVoice where people can add in things they want to add to Configuration Manager, and Microsoft has been adding those in. I know Mike Terrill of 1E has been adding all sorts of new features he wanted to see added.
Are you surprised to see Microsoft embracing this community ethos?
Yeah. I’m old school Microsoft: back then, Microsoft didn’t do open source. We made the source and then it’s intellectual property. Ultimately, though, Microsoft needs people to be excited about their products, and to want to develop for their products. Open source is one way to do so.
Microsoft has always had things like SDKs or development kits or environments that you could use, and those are very open, with examples and source codes. Now, though, there’s been a big sea change. For example, there’s a new scripting language called PowerShell, which is the de facto management scripting language for servers. Just last year they decided to release the entire environment in open source, and make that available. Seeing core components being released in open source was shocking – but it’s great to see Microsoft embracing it, at least in some areas.
What changes in the enterprise IT landscape did the summit point towards?
One of the biggest changes that I see are really bring your own devices. Why bother creating custom OS images in your lab, when the operating system that you get from Dell, from HP and Lenovo, already have an OS? Microsoft is going to make it easy in Windows 10 Version 1607 to convert from pro to enterprise right out of the box. How can IT Departments become ready, not putting applications in your image, but making them available through Shopping or other online portals, making it easier to install applications that way? It’s a change but it’s going to be cool.
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