It’s Microsoft Ignite 2019 this week, the company’s premier event for enterprise and developers held in Orlando. Like every year, this year too, the tech titan made a slew of new announcements. Technologies such as hybrid cloud, AI, machine learning, big data and cybersecurity occupied the center stage this year.
At the keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that every organization today is a digital software company and technology is deeply woven throughout company workflow and individual productivity. “This means you all need to have the capabilities to be able to turn every organization into a digital company,” Nadella said during his keynote address. “In fact, our goal is to commoditize digital tech. We don’t want it to be just the province of a few companies in the West Coast of the United States or the East Coast of China.”
Ultimately, “we want every company out there to be a tech company in its own right, and you are the community that’s going to make that happen. And our mission is to empower you to do that,” he said. In his keynote, Nadella also emphasized how trust is of paramount importance to build tech capabilities and aid an organization to become a software company.
Here are some of the key announcements from Microsoft Ignite:
Azure Arc – Using Azure to Manage Resources Anywhere
Azure Arc allows companies to now use Azure to manage resources anywhere, including on AWS and Google Cloud. Microsoft was among the first of the big cloud vendors to bet big on hybrid deployments. With Arc, the company is taking this a step further. It now allows enterprises use Azure to manage their resources across clouds — including those of the competitors like AWS and Google Cloud. It works for Windows and Linux Servers, as well as Kubernetes clusters, and also allows users to take some Azure data services with them to these platforms.
Arc gives enterprises a single platform to manage all of their resources across the large clouds and their own data centers, Julia White Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure said, adding that while most businesses use multiple clouds and managing those environments is a challenge, Microsoft is essentially giving them a tool to simplify this in the Azure ecosystem.
Project Cortex – A Knowledge Network for Enterprises
Project Cortex creates a knowledge network for your company. It uses machine learning to analyze all of the documents and contracts in your various repositories, including those of third-party partners — and then surfaces them in Microsoft apps like Outlook, Teams and its Office apps when appropriate. It’s the company’s first new commercial service since the launch of Teams. The release makes sense for enterprises as they generate tons of documents and data that are often spread across numerous repositories and is hard to find. With this new knowledge network, the company aims to surface this information proactively, boots team synergy and tries to help you find the subject matter experts when you’re working on a document about a given subject.
Cortana Gets a Male Voice, Reads eMails
Cortana now also has a male voice. But more importantly, Microsoft launched a few new Cortana-based experiences that show how the company is focusing on its voice assistant as a tool for productivity. In Outlook on iOS (later on Android), Cortana can now read a summary of what’s in your inbox — and you can have a chat with it to flag emails, delete them or dictate answers. Cortana can now also send you a daily summary of your calendar appointments, important emails that need answers and suggest focus time for you to get actual work done that’s not email.
As Cortana didn’t work out as a consumer product, Microsoft is pushing it on the enterprise sphere. The company believes there is a large niche for an assistant that helps you get work done, as enterprises have lots of data to deal with.
Strong Focus on Enhanced Security
Microsoft is now using artificial intelligence to improve an organization’s security and compliance. It will allow subscribers to look into the areas that they need to address in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center so they can take appropriate action. Recommendations will be from a variety of services including Microsoft information protection, advanced threat protection, self-service password reset and also, suggestions for complying with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Microsoft also launched Endpoint Manager to modernize device management that allow enterprises to manage the PCs, laptops, phones and tablets they issue to their employees under the Endpoint Manager brand. At a time when every employee uses multiple devices, as well as constant attacks against employee machines, effectively managing these devices has become challenging for most IT departments. Now, they can get a single view of their deployments with the Endpoint Manager, which Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella mentioned as one of the most important announcements of the event. Also Microsoft’s Chromium-based Edge browser gets new privacy features, will be available January 15 onwards.
Azure Synapse Analytics
Microsoft introduced Azure Synapse Analytics today, which it calls the “next evolution” of Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Promising better performance and more capabilities, existing Azure SQL Data Warehouse customers will “automatically benefit” from the enhancements that are now in preview.
Azure Synapse is “built for every data professional,” wrote Rohan Kumar, Microsoft corporate vice president for Azure Data. As a “limitless” analytics service, Synapse accommodates all data warehouses, data lakes, machine learning, and BI needs, either with a serverless or provisioned resources approach.
It’s advantage to the enterprise?
As Nallan Sriraman, Global Head of Technology, Unilever said, “Our adoption of the Azure Analytics platform has revolutionized our ability to deliver insights to the business. We are very excited that Azure Synapse Analytics will streamline our analytics processes even further with the seamless integration the way all the pieces have come together so well.”