Microsoft server and tool upgrades demand CIOs' attention

Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Visual Studio 11 undergo refresh cycle

By Juan Carlos Perez and Chris Kanaracus, IDG News Service |  Application Management

Western Data is currently running its server at an off-site hosting facility. It has no plans right now to shift to a cloud-style deployment, something that is possible now with some Dynamics partners and will be for NAV on Azure later this year.

But the reason isn't security or other oft-cited concerns expressed toward the cloud.

Instead, Delprado is worried he'd have to pay more money for NAV. Right now, Western Data has 15 concurrent user licenses that are shared over about 40 total users, who are on and off the system at different times.

"I'm sure there'd be a cost for licensing each one of them [on the cloud]," although over time the costs should come down, he said.

Today, Western Data's main problem is getting as much out of NAV as the system has to offer, according to Delprado. "There's a lot out there that I know we're not using."

Meanwhile, the next version of Microsoft's enterprise application development environment, Visual Studio 11, is now in beta and features a simplified user interface that has fewer toolbar commands, making the "work area" larger and cleaner.

Visual Studio 11 also has an improved search capability, new "workflow hubs" that consolidate tasks on a single window and preview tabs to reduce the number of open documents on the developer's workspace.

The tool also provides broad application lifecycle management (ALM) features, including architecture and UI design, writing of code, analysis, deployment, testing and validation.

Visual Studio 11 also lets developers build Windows 8 Metro-style applications, cloud-hosted Windows Azure applications, mobile applications and web applications.

CIOs whose organizations have adopted the Microsoft development platform and tools should definitely keep an eye on what's coming in Visual Studio 11, said Al Hilwa, an IDC analyst.

Significant features include the ability to build Windows 8 applications, and the extension of the ALM cycle features, he said.

The cleaner UI also "should be more productive to use and it supports agile principles of development that are increasingly being adopted in enterprises," Hilwa said.

It would be good if Microsoft invests in additional functionality for requirements gathering, analysis and tracking in future versions of Visual Studio, he said.

In addition, he'd also like to see "a more streamlined and productive way to handle the migration from Windows Phone applications to Windows 8, or providing the ability to co-deliver to both platforms from the same code."

Asked whether Visual Studio 11 should be an automatic upgrade for enterprises, Hilwa said that decision depends on their portfolio of projects.

"Generally, the bigger the portfolio and the more new projects being started, then the more enterprises should look at incorporating the new tools in the team, at least partially," he said.

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