Microsoft’s Silverlight Literally is a Game Changer

Journalists are not particularly noteworthy for being early risers, and there isn’t much that can induce me to roll out of bed before sunup. However, the prospect of interviewing Joel Cherkis, Microsoft’s technology point man at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, had me upright and drinking my first cup of coffee in the dawn’s early light.

While congratulating myself on my achievement, after talking to Cherkis I felt like a slacker. Microsoft production teams packed up gear in Beijing, transported much of it to Denver, then unpacked just in time for day one of the Democratic National Convention on August 25.

His official title is, “General Manager, Industry & Incubation Unit, U.S. Public Sector”. His role is coordination of Microsoft’s technology response at the Democratic Convention. Microsoft is one of twenty three “official providers” chosen by the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) to coordinate the convention effort.

Partnerships are essential to an undertaking of this magnitude, and coordination among these providers makes the extensive coverage of the Democratic National Convention a reality. The DNCC’s goal in selecting technology partnerships, according to Aaron Myers, Director of Online Communications, was to take “advantage of the most cutting-edge tools available to ‘bring down the walls’ and open up the Convention to more people than ever before”. So far, this vision appears to have gone off without a hitch.

Official providers are listed on the Democratic National Convention provider page ) and include:

  • Cisco Systems: Official Network Solutions Provider
  • Comcast: Official Cable Television and Video-on-Demand Provider
  • Dish Network: Official High Definition Satellite Television Service Provider
  • Level (3) Communications: Official Live Video and Content Delivery Services Provider
  • Panasonic: Official HDTV and High Definition Equipment Provider
  • Verizon: Official Web Hosting Provider

Providers share a common Network Operations Center (NOC) at the Pepsi Center. Cherkis tells us that many high profile convention participants, including the Clintons, have come by the NOC to take a tour and meet the team. The day I interviewed him– Wednesday, August 27– was particularly busy because the team was preparing to pack up again. They were moving equipment to Invesco Field for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on Thursday.

I became intrigued with Microsoft’s Silverlight technology during the Beijing Olympics. Microsoft provided a demo to analysts on August 6 before the Olympics had officially begun and noted that they had already streamed more Olympics-related content to the Internet than had been provided during the entire 2004 games. Silverlight is the technology behind the crisp, clear video streams delivered over the Internet.

When Microsoft mentioned that the DNCC had chosen them to be the Official Software and High Definition Web Content provider for the Denver Convention, I was in the front row asking for an interview. For me, it was a matter of rolling out of bed and catching the light rail into downtown Denver. For the Microsoft team it was a matter of relocating infrastructure from Beijing and setting up in Denver in time for the start of the Convention. And when they finish up in Denver, they are de-camping to Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention, from September 1 to 4.