Microsoft made a plethora of announcements at the recently concluded Microsoft Ignite event in Orlando, Florida. Nearly 26,000 people made it to Ignite this year to connect with fellow individuals and feel the ‘Tech Intensity’ at the event. The focus was more on software development, architecture, and security in Hybrid infrastructure.
Over these five days, we witnessed Microsoft’s Quantum ambitions and learned about their partnerships with Honeywell, IonQ, 1Qbit, as well as QC. In a recent interview with ZDNet, Microsoft’s Azure Chief Technology Officer Mark Russinovich said that all these new updates would be considered “as a huge part of what we’re calling Hybrid 2.0.” But what these new hybrid announcements really mean?
Demystifying Azure Arc
One of the significant announcements made at Microsoft Ignite 2019 was Azure Arc – “a set of technologies that extends Azure management and enables Azure services to run across on-premises, multi-cloud and edge.”
Azure Arc is being seen as an attempt from Microsoft to answer Google with Anthos and Amazon with Outposts. In 2017, Microsoft’s Hybrid 1.0 play revolved around Azure Stack, which allowed partners and customers to run Azure Stack on ‘any datacenter hardware.’ Following testing of the services, the company decided to make sure that Azure Stack appliances remained serviced by picking only a handful of servers to certify.
At Ignite 2019, Microsoft released Arc to encompass various technologies from different Microsoft teams to manage on-premises resources from Azure. Arc will be like a single control plane to centrally manage their edge, on-premises, and other cloud resources. It is also set to,
- Extend Azure management and security to any infrastructure
- Run Azure data services anywhere
- Expand Azure Stack offerings for any edge
The Azure Quantum Theory
Julie Love, senior director, Microsoft Quantum Business Development, talked about Microsoft’s role in quantum computing and its impact. She stated in a recent interview with TechRepublic that Azure Quantum would be an end-to-end open cloud ecosystem for quantum development – bringing various tools of quantum computing to developers.
It aims to solve some of the world’s most complex problems through the ‘most scalable quantum system.’ The objective is to help,
- Learn: Let anyone come to Azure Quantum and know more about quantum computing via a series of tools and tutorials – e.g., quantum katas.
- Build: Provide developers with the opportunity to write programs by leveraging Q# and QDK. They can also experiment by running their codes against simulators.
- Solve: Empower customers to solve complex business challenges with algorithms running in Azure and pre-built solutions.
Project Cortex to Harness Collective Knowledge
Microsoft introduced Project Cortex as a new service in Microsoft 365, which is a follow up to Microsoft Teams. According to the official blog, Project Cortex will leverage advanced AI to deliver insights and expertise in the apps. It will harness the collective knowledge to empower users and teams to upskill and innovate faster.
The AI-powered Cortex will reason over various content across systems and teams – recognizing several content types, extracting vital information, and automatically categorizing content into shared topics including products, projects, customers, and processes. It will then create a “knowledge network based on relationships among topics, content, and also people.” Furthermore, the topic cards will deliver knowledge to users in Office, Microsoft Teams, and Outlook.
The cognitive services will also help in,
- Image and text recognition based on the understanding of over 10,000 attributes and extract texts from images and PDFs.
- Form processing to extract essential data from forms and convert them into metadata.
- Machine teaching to let experts train the AI to recognize texts in unstructured documents – contracts, training materials, or proposals – which have carried content or formatting.
The New Azure Security Center
Gilad Elyashar Principal Group PM Manager, Azure Security Center, shared new capabilities that the Microsoft teams have built to improve security with the Azure Platform and Azure Security Center.
The Azure Security Center will provide a unified infrastructure security management that will improve security posture and provide advanced threat intelligence across workloads that are running in Azure, on-premises, or in other clouds. With the Center, users can monitor security of networks, machines, as well as Azure services, leveraging multiple built-in security assessments.
The enhanced threat protection for cloud services prevents attacks across Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) layer, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) resources in Azure, Azure IoT, and on-premises virtual machines. The capabilities include,
- Vulnerability assessment support for SQL Server hosted on an Azure Virtual Machine.
- Assessment capabilities for VMs, which is part of the virtual machine protection offering (powered by Qualys).
- Threat protection suite for containers focusing on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
- Protection for Azure Storage, which detects malware uploads to Azure Storage using hash reputation analysis and suspicious access from an active Tor exit node (an anonymizing proxy.)
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