This year, the sunny skies at Orlando were witness to a gathering of some 20,000 customers, partners, and Microsoft engineers at yet another successful Ignite event, the MS Ignite 2018.
With thousands of technical sessions, core notes, demo training sessions, key product announcements, and initiatives, it was an exhilarating event for the attendees, and those of us hanging out at NetEnrich’s Booth#444. Those present at the massive Orange County Convention Center, the second largest convention center in the USA, were treated to the sight of an enormous video wall showing 12 simultaneous sessions.
It was an experience that will stay with all of us who were present at the event. Throughout four days, the convention center became a hub of frenetic activity. The floor was alive with the sound of voices from thousands of professionals and technical experts from around the world who came to learn more about Microsoft, while the numerous innovator booths showcased their partnership with Microsoft through cutting-edge technologies. There was even an Xbox zone that where participants could kickback and use headphones provided to access the live panels!
The Keynote Kickoff
The exciting lineup of sessions was kicked-off by a short but power-packed Vision Keynote by Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella. This keynote session, called Microsoft Envision, was unorthodox as far as keynote sessions go and it set the stage for the rest of the event by outlining the company’s strategy going forward.
Satya Nadella was evident in his vision of positioning Microsoft as a technology company. He highlighted Microsoft’s strategy to empower every company to transform their business and achieve more by leveraging the best of Microsoft’s technology. Some of the key takeaways from his Vision Keynote are:
- The concept of Tech Intensity where Tech intensity = (Tech adoption) ^Tech capability or, in simple words, ‘Adapt Technology and Build Technology’. Using this as the conversation starter for the keynote, Satya Nadella tied it into the concept of Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge. Using the examples of Thomas Edison who used steam power to make cars and Ford who used electricity to make his card, he went on to explain the need for organizations to shift their paradigm to advance their digital capabilities and differentiate themselves in the market.
- Open Data Initiative was the next announcement made by Satya Nadella while sharing the stage with chiefs from Adobe and SAP to highlight the partnership between SAP, Adobe and Microsoft. This new initiative paves the path to open a new standard data model called One Data Model, with AI-driven business outcomes and aimed at improving interoperability, enterprise data transparency and data exchange between applications such as M365, HANA and Adobe Experience Platform which is a data lake service running on top of Azure. In simple terms, the new data model is meant to eliminate data silos, making data more fluid and accessible.
- Trust & Security was the next topic tying the three key pillars Technology, Operations, and Partnerships. Satya Nadella stressed the importance of this relationship by taking the example of how Microsoft processes 6.5 trillion security signals every day. He went on to introduce the Intelligent Security Graph and asked everyone to leverage it to protect their organizations, improve threat investigations and speed up response times with in-depth threat intelligence, advanced behavioral analytics, and machine learning.
- AI and Blockchain Technology was the final takeaway where he expanded upon the significance of the 9 billion IoT devices that exist today. The CEO also highlighted the transformation being driven by blockchain technology not only in industries like finance, banking, insurance which depend heavily on records management but also in the food industry where it can be used to prevent epidemics and widespread illnesses by tracing contaminated food along the chain back to its source. This powerful new technology paired with AI and machine learning is set to break the barriers in the new digital world. Microsoft also announced new updates to its AI platform (earlier announced as AI for Good) making it AI for Humanitarian Action.
Digital Transformation to Azure being one of the key themes in this year’s Ignite conference, it was kicked off by Satya Nadella announcing that Azure Sphere, an IoT solution for Microcontroller (MCU) devices, first revealed at Build 2018, is now open and available for public preview with immediate effect. Given below are some of the key announcements and updates from the event, related to Microsoft Azure.
- Microsoft announced new capabilities for its Azure Machine Learning service. The Bot Framework SDK V4 is now available and, this latest release makes human and computer interactions more natural.
- Microsoft announced the preview of SQL Server 2019
- Regarding support deadlines for Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 instance, Microsoft will provide three additional support for these platforms if they move to Azure.
- Updates to DevOps included Azure Boards, Azure Pipelines, Azure Test Plans, Azure Artifacts, Azure Lab Services, and Azure Repos
- Open Source on Azure shows renewed commitment to Linux and various open source platforms such as MySQL, Kubernetes, Docker on Azure
- Azure Data Box is now available. Enterprises which are limited by time, network availability or costs can now use Azure Data Box service to transfer large amounts of data to Azure
- Azure Blob Storage preview is now available and introduces a new performance tier—Premium Blog Storage, along with the existing hot, cool, and archive tiers
- Even Hubs, Service Fabric and Kubernetes is now available on Azure Stack
- Microsoft debuted Azure Data Explorer, a speedy indexing and querying service to perform ad-hoc queries on terabytes of data
- HDInsights 4.0 is available for preview and is backed by enterprise-grade SLAs and Developer tools enhancements for Apache Spark on Azure HDInsight
- Azure SQL Database Managed Instance general purpose will become generally available on October 1, 2018
- Now generally available, the Azure Database Migration Service provides you the ability to assess SQL Server workloads running on-premises or on VMs, and to perform offline migrations to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance.
- With the Azure Cosmos DB, Cassandra API is now generally available and combines the power of the Azure Cosmos DB with Apache Cassandra SDKs and tools.
- The cross-platform and improved Azure Functions runtime is now generally available, allowing enterprises to use their cross-platform .NET Core assets within their Functions apps.
- Azure Cost Management is in the Azure portal and currently available for preview. It’s now enabled by default, with improved performance and fully integrated into the Azure platform. With Azure Cost Management enterprises can do a cost analysis, create budgets, create alerts.
- Azure Service Health now offers immediate alerting on resource health issues—even before an outage is declared—to help enterprises stay informed about the status of their Azure environment
- Enterprises can now move Managed Disks between Subscriptions & Resource Groups
- Azure SQL Managed Instance announced general availability, with Data Migration Service support
- Azure Firewall is generally available
- We now offer the fastest disks of any public cloud, with new Ultra SSD Disks
- Standard SSD Disks are now generally available
- Azure Virtual WAN is now generally available
- 32TiB Managed disks are now available
- Azure Blueprints was announced, with new, amazing Azure Governance capabilities
- Windows Virtual Desktop was announced and a new Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprises