Back to the ... Future Decoded 2016

Back to the ... Future Decoded 2016

After discussing the challenge of consolidating seven datacentres down to two with my team at Redblade, now a Cloud Direct company, I took a little break to check out Future Decoded 2016. With the ‘cloud first’ philosophy that’s all the rage these days, why would you need your own datacentre now anyway?

Future Decoded is a Microsoft conference held yearly at London Excel. It’s split into a business day and a technical day with keynotes, expo (vendor stands) and breakout sessions.

The UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy

I most wanted to see Stephen Hawking’s keynote on the Business Day, but unfortunately he could not make it. Instead we had Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, which didn’t excite me too much as replacements go, however his keynote was surprisingly good. His insights on security and the National Cyber Security Strategy was one of the standout keynotes of the day. You can find out more about the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016 to 2021 here.

Disruptive technologies at Future Decoded

During the DevOps technical sessions on Day 2 there was emphasis on disruptive technologies.

Without doubt, the biggest disruption to the taxi industry and possibly transportation in general has been Uber. During a family visit to Johannesburg earlier this year, I couldn’t help but note that Uber had been widely adopted as a verb: “If we’re going to have a beer, we might as well Uber”, “I can’t come and get you, just Uber home”… it’s uncanny that just a year or two ago no one used the word. It’s a refreshing change in a city where catching a taxi meant taking your life into your hands.

Docker in Windows Server 2016 / Azure

Another game-changer on the dev-ops track was the sessions about the adoption of Docker in Windows Server 2016 / Azure. A step towards becoming a Docker Captain and moving workloads or ‘containers’ from on-premises up to Azure and back down again will make our lives even easier. Turn on the cloud tap when you need it, switch it off when you don’t. Did you know you can run Linux workloads on Azure?

The future is Microsoft HoloLens

Seeing Microsoft’s HoloLens was like stepping out of the DeLorean from Back to the Future, which coincidentally (or not) was displayed just inside the entrance at the Expo. What’s that quote: ‘If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious s&^%!’


The Microsoft HoloLens is game-changing tech. The idea that you can watch TV and have the weather on another screen and play Pokémon at the same time is nothing new – my kids seem to play Minecraft while watching The Simpson’s intuitively – but I predict that the HoloLens will allow dear old dad to pull it off before too long.


Some of the other exhibits to behold: a giant Rolls Royce Jet engine was just hanging out ...

Rolls Royce Engine

My next city car, the ‘Bloodhound’:


After a bit of a wander, I headed over to watch a keynote, presented by Chris Messina who is the Experience Lead at Uber, who was talking conversational apps and tech industry disruption:

  • In 2007, Facebook was the world’s largest media company, but has no physical media real estate.
  • Uber – the world’s biggest taxi company owns no cars
  • During his segment, he played Steve Job’s iPhone keynote. Never thought I’d see an Apple video playing at a Microsoft event.

The whole ‘Who moved my Cheese’ philosophy is happening at a more rapid pace than ever before, Uber being the prime example. Someone right now is planning to take the shirt off your back by disrupting the industry you work in, in ways you’d never expect. Look out for words like ‘deep machine learning’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ on your big data.

By this stage the free coffee was being replaced with free beer.

Cloud Direct’s flight simulator at Future Direct

As a last blast I took a walk on down to Cloud Direct’s stand at the expo where the team had set up the steam version of Microsoft Flight simulator, running on Windows 7. They were unwise enough to let me have a go landing a Boeing jet. The scenario was that the plane had been blow off course in gale force conditions, and it was up to me to right the ship and put the old bird safely on the runway.

The experience was rounded off by a Top Gear style leader board and instructor, who offered a few invaluable pointers on how I should go about sparing the hundreds of souls sat in the plane behind me.

After a rocky practice session I gained the basic roll, yaw and pitch skills required to place the plane on the ‘mac rather than through it.

Fighting the stiff breeze , I brought the Boeing down with a respectable score of 790 out of 1000. The instructor tells me that while all the passengers survived, few of them would have kept down their gin and tonic! I think the image sums up my feelings on that front:

Andrew Reeve

All in all it was a fun two days and well worth the visit to catch up on the cutting edge in tech.

Hope to see you there next year!

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