Complex Made Simple

Launch of Visual Studio applauded by app makers

Old processes don't work in this world of constant releases, says Microsoft's general manager

Nearly half of GCC residents own a smartphone, which is the highest percentage in the world. This app-hungry region is gobbling up communications applications at a fast rate and more than 51 per cent say that they use apps ‘all day long’, according to research commissioned by AppsArabia. The recent launch of the new Visual Studio (VS) by Microsoft in Dubai followed a landmark event in New York. Mitra Azizirad, the tech giant’s general manager for developer tools, marketing and sales, speaks to about the latest incarnation of the product and the latest shift in Silicon Valley.

How was the New York City launch and the one in Dubai?

We had a launch last year and this is the first time we’ve done a launch year-over-year of VS. Approximately 48,000 people participated in 2012’s online event and this year we had 200,000 in the first 24 hours – that level of momentum is fantastic and unprecedented. Our goal was actually 80,000 and we wanted to try and double that, so 200,000 was beyond our wildest dreams.

So why set that goal? And why was it exceeded so massively?

We’ve almost had an embarrassment of riches in terms of all of the added value within VS. We’ve also had the unveiling of VS online, which really takes our product, end to end, to provide services in the cloud. We’re providing VS on top of Azure and I think that garnered a lot of attention in addition to the services we’re providing. This includes Monaco, which enables lightweight development within any browser, as well as Insights, which gives a 360° view of app performance. So that’s been something people have been excited about. There were a number of things in our demonstrations where there was a lot of spontaneous applause. It was interesting to see how the same things played out in NYC and Dubai.

What were they cheering for?

A lot of features that might seem minor for code correcting, but developers were having ‘thank God moments’ and there were a lot of them.

Who was in the room? Were they all developers?

We had people in the room and virtual participants, as well as the on-demand segment. Sixty per cent were IT decision makers (ITDMs), who are the guys focused on application lifestyle management and tend to be product purchasers, and 40 per cent were hardcore developers.

From your perspective, is there a watershed between the decision makers and developers? Is there a synergy from having these guys all in the same room?

Developers tend to look into the innards of the technology and the ITDMs look at how to best deliver the application in the cheapest and most collaborative way. They hold the purse strings and then the developers go to work. ITDMs are pretty excited about the dev ops enhancements and the investments we’re making, which are differentiated in the industry. It’s not just a case of each party throwing their work to each other over the wall, there’s definitely a cultural shift taking place, which is moving toward collaboration.

So if the developers are the artisans and the ITDMs are the number crunchers, it makes sense for them to understand one another and work closers together, but are you seeing this cultural shift across the whole of Silicon Valley?

The industry goes through things, such as ‘scrum’, which is how people come together and work to get an app developed and deployed. Then we move into things, such as agility and dev ops, which sit under an umbrella of application lifecycle management. With great collaboration we can see high quality apps and quicker deadlines, and these are the things that are changing the most. At Microsoft, we used to deliver products every two years. We got on a cadence this year of releasing our service every three weeks and had updates every quarter. We restructured the way we work in order to get on that faster release cadence. Our customers are going through that too – old processes don’t work in this world of constant releases. The person at the centre of this transformation is the developer. This quicker cadence requires a shift, both from an industry perspective and internally, and the changes are not just cultural but technological.

Is the software malleable depending on customers’ needs?

If you’re going to create an application for Windows, this is how you do it.