New and coming Microsoft technologies you need to look at

Yesterday was the annual Black Marble Tech Update event, where we try to cover every product in the Microsoft arsenal in half a day, telling local businesses what’s coming and what deserves attention.

Writing up the content of the presentations would be almost as exhausting as the research required for create them, but following a few conversations during breaks yesterday I decided that a short blog post on some of the technologies that deserve a closer look was merited.

Rather than hit you with lots, all at once, I’ll probably do a few posts, each with a small list of ‘homework’ for you.

So, the first few, in no particular order…

Direct Access

This is a game-changer when it comes to enabling anywhere-access for mobile workers, and ties nicely in with my recent remote access post. In brief, the qustion behind this is “why should I trust my corporate network any more than the internet?” Once you’ve realised that the answer to that question should be a loud “I shouldn’t!” then Direct Access is the logical answer. In short, it assumes all networks are untrusted and therefore demands a secure connection between all computers at the protocol level (using IPSec). The anywhere access comes from using IPv6, which means that when I fire up my laptop in a hotel I can securely work just like I do in the office, including access to stuff like file shares.


Unified Access Gateway (the latest version of IAG) builds on DirectAccess, making it easier to configure and manage. It also provides secure remote access for machines which you don’t trust. When you combine UAG with DirectAccess you end up with a comprehensive universal access solution for your infrastructure.

SharePoint 2010

There’s already a great deal of buzz around this. Architectural changes are great, but I firmly believe that the real game-changer is the way that social networking technologies have been absorbed into a business-solution in such a way that it can seriously benefit the way we store, use and find information. You just need to overcome your natural businessman fear of social networking and worker time-wasting and embrace the possibilities.

Office 2010

One of my biggest issues with Office 2007, and the one I hear most often as a barrier to adoption was not the ribbon, but that the interface was not consistent across all of the applications. Office 2010 fixes that, making your transition much less painful when it comes to training. Couple that with the new web versions and excellent business functionality when combined with SharePoint and it becomes quite compelling. Of course, that’s without mentioning the improvements in Outlook like the new conversation view. You’ll prise Outlook 2010 out my cold, dead hands, I can tell you.

Forefront ‘Stirling wave’

The big benefit in my opinion of the new codename Stirling wave of Forefront products is that they can be integrated with a control layer which allows behaviour seen by one to trigger remedial action by another (e.g. trigggering an AV scan of a desktop PC sending lots of emails). That hands-off rapid containment of potential issues is something which I think could be invaluable to large organisations.

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