Microsoft Senior Evangelism Manager Steve Fox delivered the SPTechCon Boston keynote this morning and, fully inhabiting his role as evangelist, the topic of his keynote was SharePoint & the Cloud: Extending the Boundaries. If you haven't already gotten the memo, this is the year of the cloud for Microsoft, and this morning's announcement of Office 365 represents a doubling down on the company's continuing focus on the cloud.
Office 365, which consists of Office Professional Plus, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online, is "all about being a cloud-based experience," as Steve explained. Though Steve's presentation was entirely focused on the cloud, however, it wasn't exclusively focused on Office 365. Instead, in his demo-heavy presentation, Steve effectively demonstrated the integration points between Microsoft's consumer cloud services (e.g., bing, Messenger, Windows Live, etc.) and their commercial cloud services (e.g., Office 365, CRM Online, Office Web Apps, etc.), and focused on showing off the capabilities and ease-of-use of Microsoft's various cloud services offerings.
Steve's first demo was on "walking the SharePoint experience," and showed the integration points between the Excel client, PowerPivot, and SharePoint into which the Excel content, powered by PowerPivot, was pulled. Steve also demonstrated the ability to pull a chart from Excel Services and display it within SharePoint via an Image Editor Web Part. Finally, Steve discussed sandbox solutions in SharePoint 2010, explaining that resources in a partial trust environment "can be built and deployed into SharePoint," and can then be moved into the cloud as desired.
The second demo used a real estate company's SharePoint portal to demonstrate integration between SharePoint, Azure, and bing. Included in this demo were bing maps overlaid with data such as crime reports, calls to Azure to display business data, and images of house interiors loaded from SQL Azure. Steve wrapped up the demo explaining one final integration point, saying that "All this cloud-based data can be pulled into a document experience as well as the SharePoint experience."
The final demo focused on SharePoint for Internet sites, and was performed by Paul, a colleague of Steve's. Paul's scenario was the preparation and delivery of a quarterly report for an electronics company. From the creation of an initial report in a SharePoint document library and binding an Excel document to a content type, to adding metadata and routing it through a Content Organizer to initiate a workflow, Paul simulated the process. Along the way, he also pointed out that workflows in 2010 are visually represented by a Visio diagram so that a user can see at a glance just where in the workflow process they are at any time. Ultimately, Paul demonstrated the PowerPoint Broadcast capability, to share the quarterly report with stakeholders.
One of the more interesting questions that came up during the Q&A which followed the keynote was around the notion of security in the cloud. Steve answered by explaining that a couple of "things you can do" to address security include employing data encryption and/or Azure Appliance, which is a "private cloud" that runs in a customer's own datacenter. Paul added that from a physical security standpoint, that the data is "super-secure," describing security around the datacenters as sounding roughly akin to what one images the security surrounding Fort Knox must be like. Even so, physical security notwithstanding, it surprised me that the answer to a question regarding security concerns (clearly a not unncommon concern in discussions around moving to the cloud) focused on what a customer can do to alleviate their own concerns, rather than the efforts Microsoft is undertaking on the customer's behalf … efforts which, one can only assume, are more than considerable.
Bamboo Nation's complete coverage of SPTechCon Boston 2010: