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MVP Summit Summary PDF Print
Written by Joe Shonk   
Monday, 09 March 2009

MVP Summit was awesome!  What more can I say?  Imagine being locked in a conference room with a bunch of geeks for 2 days!  After it was all said and done, I was left with a whole new level of awe, respect and appreciate for Microsoft as a whole and the Remote Desktop Virtualization (RDV) group.


I met up with fellow MVP Steve Greenberg at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport Saturday, Feb 28th.  As we boarded the plane, the first person we saw was none other than fellow RDS MVP Rich Crusco.  Strange, considering he was coming from Boston.  This being my first MVP Summit and not knowing what to expect, I took this a sign of good things come. And, for those who don’t know, Rich is a Citrix evangelist who also happens to work for Citrix.  If you get a chance to hang out with him, do it!  Not only is he a great guy he is smart and funny too!

Sunday was the opening keynote of which were primarily focused on the MVP program itself.  Rich Kaplan declared there would be NO salmon at the conference.  At this point, I’m a little confused.  So, let me get this straight.  I get to fly to the Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life and I will not get to sample the regional food?  Bum.  Good thing I ordered the Teriyaki Salmon the night before!  And yes, it was to die for.  The evening was set aside for the networking dinner of which we got to meet up with our MVP Lead Ali and our fellow RDS MVPs.  And there was no salmon.

Monday and Tuesday, the RDS MVPs were bussed to Microsoft’s campus in Redmond.  Monday was a day of presentations and demos of which the MVPs were asked to give Microsoft a presentation.  We got to see presentations on Microsoft new extensible VDI solution.  For a version 1.0 release, it looks really good.   Sure, it’s not as feature rich as Citrix’s XenDesktop but it’s not designed to be.  However, with that being said, there are a few planned features that many of us have been begging Citrix for.
There were a few discussions and even disagreements among the MVPs as to whether Microsoft should be providing “In-Box” solutions or focus on core technologies.  Personally, I am on the fence this one.  On the one hand, an “In-Box” solution provides a small/medium size business with an end-to-end solution without having to rely on third-party products.  On the other hand, if Microsoft invests resources into Web Access only a small percentage of the popululation is affected.  Invest those resources into the core of RDS and the entire ecosystem benefits.

Calista.  Wow! The live demos were incredible!
Here is the scoop on Calista:

Calista is actually <stuff> of <stuff>, which will be released <at some point in time>.  <Stuff> will be <action> in <stuff>, which will be <stuff> in the <stuff>.  I am really excited to see <stuff> and <stuff>.  I’d like to tell you more, but rest is still is under NDA.

As a result of day 1, as few off-site discussion ensued.  The big was, where does Citrix fit into all this?  Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop are clearly the leaders in their respective categories, but for how long?  Calista will benefit every vendor that uses RDP.  Where does that leave Citrix?  What about MultiMon?  What core features does Citrix want Microsoft to take over?  What features of its own protocol will Citrix enhance?  I’m not a CTP but many of the MVPs are with one of them being a Citrix employee. They do not know.

The second day (Tuesday) there was no shortage of conversation.  In fact, we went over the allotted time and missed our bus back to the Microsoft Conference Center (MSCC).  The MSCC is the main hub where we take a connecting bus back to hotels.   Anyway, we called the campus shuttle service and a “Connect” car came and picked us up.  We jumped in and continued our previous conversation.  Ten minutes went by before we realized that we haven’t arrived at the MSCC.  The MSCC is, at best, a five-minute drive.  Apparently our driver was taking us to the MSC in Redmond.  I’m not exactly sure what the MSC is I’m guessing it’s the public transit station.  It took a few minutes to persuade our driver to turn around and take us back to the Microsoft Campus and eventually to the MSCC.  With 5-10 minutes to spare, we caught the last bus and off to the hotels.

After dropping off our laptops, we headed over to the EMP (Experience Music Project).  The EMP is an interactive museum of sorts founded by Paul Allen.  If that names sound familiar, it is. Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft in 1975 with Bill Gates.  The EMP has quite a collection of Jimmy Hendrix memorabilia include the Guitar Hendrix played at Woodstock.  There was live Karaoke on the main stage and Rock Band/Guitar Hero contests going on upstairs.  Rich, Steve and I found ourselves on the second floor where we grab a Jam room.  A Jam room consists of a Guitar, Drum Set and Keyboard.  Rich gave me a few lessons on the drums while Steve was off in the corner showing off his guitar skills.  We jammed for a while. I tried to keep a beat the best I could but the expression on Steve’s face was priceless.  It simply said, “You’re killing me!” Yes, I managed to throw a professional guitar player off track.

The final day was short; Steve and I went to the closing keynotes, which featured a charismatic Steve Ballmer.  Afterwards we snuck out and ate lunch down at Pike’s Peak Market Place and of course, paid a visit to the very first Starbuck ever.  A quick trip back to the hotel and it was time to head to the airport.  I was sad to leave Seattle and Microsoft, but it was time to go.

In closing, it was interesting to note that at times there were more Microsoft employees in the conference rooms than MVPs.  There is a high level of enthusiasm within the RDV group and it shows.  A couple of thing you can check out now are tsapp compat and Live Mesh (www.mesh.com).  Live Mesh is free and worth checking out not to mention the RDV team developed the remote desktop capabilities. These are exciting times!

Joe

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