On Tuesday October 25, Microsoft organized the Open Door Conference which took place at the Civic Center Victoria Island Lagos. It was aimed towards IT PROs and Developers. It commenced with the breakfast session which taken by Emmanuel Onyeje. Frankly I missed this as I had to battle the “wonderful” Lagos traffic.
The session was taken by Mr. Emmanuel Onyeje. His excellent command of English made him a compelling speaker. He talked broadly about Microsoft’s Vision and Products with regards to pretty much everything from Windows Phone, Windows 8 to Xbox and even Azure and Microsoft’s array of cloud services. More importantly he buttressed an important point which was that as the people who influence IT in Nigeria, we should have the drive to push for newer innovations and upgrades rather than leave the system as it is. He gave an example of the fact that many businesses today still use Windows XP even on Windows 7 capable systems. This ought not to be as living in the past is just robbing business of greater capabilities which would improve businesses.
The second keynote speech was from the Director, Developer Platforms, all of Microsoft Anglophone West Africa Mr. Dele Akinsade. He briefly spoke of Microsoft’s vision of the future and how the company was gearing up for it. He then played this mind-blowing video done by a team at Microsoft of what the future would look like. Take a look.
After that, we were split into two groups; IT PROs and Developers. Being a developer, I naturally went to the hall for developers and then the fun intensified.
We had a lecture on Business Intelligence (BI) by Mahmoud Gomaa. Business Intelligence is all about data analytics in the business environment. He shared some insightful ideas with us on how the use of SharePoint and how it can be used to drastically reduce the amount of time required for generating complex reports. Surprisingly, SharePoint featured a lot in many of the discussions and it was important to me because my previous job (Data Analyst at My Dad’s Audit Firm) required very complex reports to be generated on Megabytes of Excel Sheets spanning thousands of rows. First of all, I didn’t want to roll out my own VBA codes to compute all the data so I broke the Data into CSV files (Comma Separated Values) and then import that data into a Database (SQL Server or MySQL) and then run SQL queries on it, (In some extreme cases had to write small PHP scripts to churn the data) and then generate reports based on the finer output. This process can range from several hours to days. The saving grace as Mahmoud pointed out is that with the new Microsoft tools like SharePoint and Power Pivot, You can generate reports straight from excel using data from your database and many other crazy stuff and get your reports in minutes which was mind blowing on its own.
Mahmoud also talked about SQL Server and its robustness and power. He gave instances of where SQL Servers combined with Powerful Servers can do great things. For example a science observatory (forgotten the name ma bad! :-P) collects 3 Terabytes of Data every night which amounts to a total of about 15 Petabytes (≈15,000,000 Gigs) and SQL Server is used to store and collate that vast amount of data. He also gave evidence that SQL Server is about the safest database in the market (shockingly Oracle was the most insecure)
Visual Studio Application Lifecycle Management
Following the Lecture, The Developer and Platform Evangelism Lead (DPE Lead) at Microsoft, Mr Shina Oyetosho (@intellidesign) took the center stage. He spoke with such charisma and insight that it was so compelling. Many of us didn’t want to leave for the launch break (we had to anyway ;-)). He spoke on collaborative coding and the excellent suite of tools bundled in the new Visual Studio Team Foundation Server. Everyone will agree that Microsoft has the best developer tools. Visual Studio TFS adds further improvements to an already awesome package with lots of new features.
Data to Dash
This session was handled by Olufemi George. He gave an in-depth talk on how SharePoint can be used to generate reports, its advantages and its importance in a business environment. He also talked about how it can be used to generate data about a company in simple terms that can be understood by non tech savvy CEOs and Head of Organizations and aid them in taking calculated decisions for the company. Like using indicators to show which aspects of a business are thriving and which aspects were suffering and lots more.
Microsoft Web Stack – MVC3, IIS
The session was handled by Dapo Oniawole. He is the only Microsoft MVP for C# in West Africa! What an honor. Anyway, he talked about IIS, ASP.Net and ASP.Net MVC3 which is the new MVC platform for ASP.Net. He showed of some of its cool features like beign able to define your classes and object relationships of your application’s design model and let the MVC framework handle persistence (storage of data in the database). It was really insightful and fun too.
Note: For more details on the event, you can check it out here
I was glad that I attended the conference even though initially I nearly changed my mind as I was bogged down with so many activities. I’m glad I didn’t because it was worth it all the way. During the last two sessions, gifts were given to participants who answered questions like a 4Gb Microsoft USB Flash Drive and a the awesomely stylish Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse. Every participant was given a nice laptop bag which included a pen and notepad. I was definitely ‘upgraded’ by the conference. A Big thank you to Microsoft for making it happen.