This past month saw the annual trade shows of two out of the three major vendors who affect almost every data center in existence. Last week was Cisco Live! in San Francisco and the week before was Microsoft’s TechEd North America in Houston. Interestingly, to me neither seemed to garner a lot attention from the mainstream tech media, so I thought I’d offer a bit of a recap—particularly in the context of the data center—since I was able to attend both shows.

At TechEd, the overarching theme was definitely Microsoft’s new mantra: “Mobile first, cloud first.” On the developer side of the house, enhancements to Visual Studio to provide native support for cross-platform development on iOS and Android using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript were prominent. This may be a possible boost-up for Windows Phone app development if developers make it a point to build all three simultaneously.

Microsoft also talked a lot about updates to the Azure platform, and as has been the case historically, many of these will filter back into the on-premise Windows Server environment via the Windows Azure Pack, supporting private cloud environments as well. Most notably, network connectivity between on-premise and Azure resources has been enhanced by allowing direct private connections to Azure, although with limited availability for now.

Two additional potentially significant announcements were the ability to do SMB 2.1 file storage for Azure resources — although this would be much better if it were SMB 3 capable — and Azure RemoteApp, which will allow the hosting of applications, as opposed to full desktops, to be deliverable to all platforms for execution. This could be a significant boon for telecommuters and highly-mobile workers.

Despite the big show in Houston, perhaps the more notable announcements from Microsoft came from outside that venue. A number of consumer-oriented announcements involving Xbox hardware and services as well as the big announcement about the Surface 3 were actually made the week after TechEd. I found this particularly intriguing, since the audience most likely to be interested in the Surface was already captive in Houston the week before.

You can access all of the session content and keynotes from TechEd North American 2014 online here.

At Cisco Live!, following in the footsteps of last year the theme continued to revolve around software defined networking (SDN), but there was also a strong presence around the Internet of Everything (TIoE). I walked past Cisco’s TIoE display on the expo hall floor; it was hard to tell much difference, though, between it and any other standard data center network rack. However, this may be reflective of how much of TIoE is still hypothetical. I’m also somewhat skeptical on how TIoE will really affect the enterprise and the data center.

At its core, devices constituting this ephemeral thing being called TIoE will by and large be connected via Bluetooth, 4G/LTE or possibly 802.11 in some instances. This isn’t really much different than any other guest device in the enterprise, except TIoE will likely bring more of them. Also, to be sure, whether enterprises offer 802.11 connectivity for these devices is purely a business decision. For those that are 4G/LTE enabled, the simple solution is to let the carriers and their customers—your end users and guests—deal with it and not make it a corporate IT problem at all.

You can access all of the session content and keynotes from Cisco Live! online here.

In August, I’ll be venturing back to San Francisco to spend a week at VMworld to hear what’s new from the third player in the triad of data center power vendors. No doubt cloud and SDN will be the crux of the theme there as well. Stay tuned!