In the past, as .NET and Visual Studio evolved, developers knew when updates arrived, the product integration also had been completed.
“That’s not our world anymore – .NET Core has come out. Some of the bigger tooling pieces to help support it actually are coming in along behind it,” Microsoft MVP John Garland said.
Introduction of .NET Standard added one big piece of the puzzle to help porting to .Net Core came almost three months after .NET Core 1.0’s release. Immo Landwerth said in his blog that “.NET Standard solves the code-sharing problem for .NET developers across all platforms by bringing all the APIs that you expect and love across the environments that you need: desktop applications, mobile apps & games, and cloud services.
Garland witnessed the evolution of Microsoft, with Azure becoming a juggernaut of business within the company. He, along with the rest of us, have watched CEO Satya Nadella help guide the transition away from “Windows first.”
Now the days of Microsoft forcing users to just use Windows seem largely gone. Nearly one out of three machines in Azure run Linux today. Some of the services used in Azure don’t care what’s under it.
Almost one-third of Azure’s revenues come from classic ISVs, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during Microsoft’s Q4 2016 earnings call this summer. And more than 85 percent of the Fortune 500 runs some way or another in Azure. The pressure for executives in developing a cloud strategy is, as always, to control costs and show what shifting to the cloud means for the business. Choosing Azure gives them options.
Garland said it seems that some of the world that Azure helped create for developers seeped out into other parts of Microsoft.
The Azure team doesn’t wait for other product releases. Visual Studio updates aren’t keyed to other products, just as .NET Core’s general release and future updates don’t depend on the timing of the other products. When they are ready, new things come to each product. That’s great, he said, because you don’t have to wait a year and a half for that promised feature that’s had you salivating.
However, now companies must deal with an impressive, almost exhausting amount of churn with all of these product updates . The new trick, Garland said, is finding the right time and right place to make these moves to update to their latest versions.
“Your business isn’t to keep up with the latest tech. Your business is YOUR business, and the tech is there to support it,” he said.
So that’s why many companies choose the service offered by Microsoft with Azure.
“They’ve got a service, I’m going to tap into that and not worry about any mechanics. I’ll focus on business needs, rather than the gritty mechanics of computer science,” Garland said.
He consulted for a large retail company whose international headquarters had nearly one-third of its office space dedicated to IT operations, not on finding the belts, ties and other clothing that it would want to include in its stores. And they had off-site data centers as well.
“It’s interesting seeing how much unwittingly or unwillingly they’re becoming a computer technology business rather than a retail operation,” Garland said.
He advises ISVs and others companies to focus on the cloud, and the value to the business. You’ll find .NET Core’s value in this process. That message is one that can land in the board room.
Start thinking about what is the value of this cloud. How can a small company, perhaps even a startup, take the risk of purchasing and tooling the systems needed and available to get the business up and running? How do you deal with the reality that your startup may fail, or at least succeed in a drastically different shape than you planned? Setting up all that hardware for a variety of on-premise servers puts a financial burden on the company. Not being able to test a variety of systems and setups cuts the quality of your application.
However, with the cloud under a utility billing model, you pay for what you consume instead of paying a purchase order for a server, its set up and all this hardware. Now you can just turn a switch and if things don’t go the way you want or expect, you can adjust it – or just turn the thing off.
“Startups now take the risk without putting a lot of capital out front, at least from operational pieces,” Garland said.
This gives the development team the opportunity to create things for you and figure out if they work without having to worry about the capital expenditure and other expenses with trying these things out.
A company can achieve quality assurance in setting up production. Rather than setting systems up and getting them running only to duplicate these massive systems to determine the best configuration, developers can just turn on and off what services they need with Azure.
IT remains involved but doesn’t have to be a bottleneck. IT can assist developers to push the boundaries by providing oversight on demand as you need it.
“That’s interesting and exciting,” Garland said. “You can have a developer say, ‘Let’s see what happens when we change one configuration to another’ without having to order another server.”
The developers can find out what applications look like running on a machine of a specific type and size. If they need to know how integrating an embedded BI and analytics solution into their core application affects performance, they no longer need to order and provision lots of small servers or a few large servers for which it’s tough and expensive to measure results.
Instead, they measure across a half dozen different varieties in an afternoon, running one setup before tearing it down to try another. All of this testing points out problems and interesting situations with the software, which reveals how to tweak the software until they have it paired with the hardware profile that works the best. And they don’t have to “throw away” any hardware at the end of the day.
While Azure simplifies finding the best setup for servers in the cloud, you can’t just flip a switch and make that transition. Ramifications extend from the business to the legal considerations. Regulations and laws may restrict where data gets stored and who has access to that data.
But not being constrained to a specific system will be a payoff with this move to the cloud. Your company’s existing business and technical skill sets won’t be held back by the hardware or the expense of setting up more hardware. Now the developers get back to finding out what will happen to the interesting world of runtime and writing code. Garland points to that as one of the reasons to transition to the whole .NET Core world. It’s a bit like the old Java vision of running wherever it can be deployed.
Today, people like Scott Hunter at Microsoft work on fixing the fragmentation created during the development of .NET, where you had to use one thing for a server, another for the desktop, etc.
“The .NET world had become very fractured. The value of .NET Core is to bring them back under one roof, ‘one ring to rule them all,’ if you will,” Garland said.
But should an ISV – that’s made a 10-year investment in .NET really start over with something new? Garland said that’s the benefit of the .NET Core world. It allows for a gradual transition, by taking existing code and moving it over. This should please many companies, as most don’t want to throw away all their company has accomplished and start all over.
So with a single .NET development platform, a company can take existing resources in developers and code to move forward. It requires some adjustment, but he said that should be minimal.
Learn the Latest About .NET Core at Izenda’s Embedded BI User Conference
As we get closer to the dates for the Izenda Embedded BI User Conference in January 2017, Garland said developers should expect to see more changes from Microsoft or at least an evolution. They’ve been promised better interaction and better tooling in .NET Core. Garland plans to describe the latest developments in .NET Core and how Visual Studio and Azure fit in the .NET Standard recently adopted. He’ll give insight into future updates and Microsoft’s roadmap for these products and how they will affect business for ISVs. Register for the conference to learn more about Microsoft’s product roadmap – and Izenda’s plans for its ad hoc reports and dashboards tool.