Written By: Guy Glantser 23/07/2014
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the EBC in Redmond. If you don’t know what EBC is, that’s OK. I didn’t know either until Microsoft invited me there a couple of months ago. EBC stands for “Executive Briefing Center”. It’s a building in Redmond designated to host customer and partner executives and provide them insights about Microsoft’s roadmap.
Usually, Microsoft brings strategic customers to the EBC, but this time Microsoft Israel invited me and a few other Israeli Microsoft partners. So we flew over to Seattle. We were a small group of Israelis – 7 including 2 Microsoft employees. We spent 2 days in EBC, and participated in many sessions led by Microsoft product managers and directors.
First, the campus in Redmond is quite impressive. It’s more like a city by itself – 750,000 m² with lots of buildings and huge amounts of green areas. There are close to 40,000 employees working in the campus. Second, the EBC building is a nice spot, and meeting with the various Microsoft product managers and hearing about the roadmap of their products – well, it’s impressive.
Unfortunately, the whole visit was under NDA, so I can’t share any information disclosed in those meetings. One thing I can share is a visit we had to one of the Azure data centers – the Redmond Ridge. I heard so many things about the Azure data centers, and I’ve seen many pictures and videos, but being there for real is a totally different experience.
I saw how Microsoft handles cooling very wisely without using air conditioning at all in most cases, saving a lot of energy and a lot of money. I saw how Microsoft handles security, both physical and network – really impressive. After this visit, I have no doubt that the data we put in Azure is very highly secured, and the next time a customer tells me that they don’t trust Microsoft to protect their data, I have a good answer for them, and I have full confidence with that answer.
In addition to redundancy at the server level, Microsoft provides redundancy at the data center level. The Azure infrastructure allows Microsoft to move all data in a specific data center to another data center in a very short time. This allows easy maintenance and upgrade activities, but it also facilitates security. Protecting the data center becomes less important. The data can be anywhere, and it is well protected.
Microsoft uses its commercial enterprise products, such as Windows Server 2012 R2 and SQL Server 2014, within the Azure data centers. This means that these commercial products are enterprise ready. If Microsoft can do the amazing things they do with these products, then so can we. In order to handle the complexities and cope with the challenges of running the Azure infrastructure, Microsoft also develops tools and working methodologies on top of the commercial products. These tools and methodologies are usually released to the market later on, so there is a lot of good stuff to expect.
All in all, this was a very good trip for me. I learned a lot about the various Microsoft products and the future they are going to. But more important, I learned about the Microsoft vision and how it is related to my business and to the businesses of our customers. And this brings new ideas…