Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision are running in Orlando with a 30,000+ crowd and lots of excitement about what's happening both on-premises and in the Azure cloud. The events are split between Ignite, geared towards the cloud + product admins/devs/users, and Envision is targeting the executive teams who are driven the digital transformation initiatives and cloud initiatives. While it may seem a challenge to split out the content and still keep audience counts high, Microsoft is clearing hitting the mark on both sides as each event is flourishing.
The theme of the show is wrapped around creating and nurturing an open mindset, sharing learning and learning what is possible. The keynote was less of a "we are doing these things and making these products" and much more of "you are doing amazing things, and the tech industry is here to enable that and grow your opportunity to do so". It's refreshing to hear less "we" and more "you" in the keynote, along with the very welcoming style that Satya Nadella brings to the stage.
Digital Future and the Path to Empowerment
The mantra and the mission at Microsoft is "empowering people and organizations across the globe to achieve more". I would bet that it may have been present even as far back as when Bill Gates penned Business @ the Speed of Thought in 1999. This mantra could not be more appropriate with all that is available already, and what's coming in the Microsoft ecosystem. Not only from Microsoft directly, but also from the many thousands of partners and customers who are leading out this next generation of IT.
AI-driven business process is the next generation. "That is the richness and the opportunity that is ahead of us" says Nadella.
Announcements Abound - Highlights from the Event
Three of the big things that came out of Monday's session which lots of folks approached me about were the Windows Server 2019 announcement, the Open Data Initiative, and the Azure Digital Twins service. These three things are pretty far from each other on what their individual consumer and effects are, but they did stand out as key points from the early news at the show.
Windows Server 2019
Another year, and another landmark release of the Windows Server platform. General Availability is October and the hybrid platform lovers will really dig into the value that is coming with this product update. Between the built-in Windows Subsystem for Linux, some powerful security features and updates, plus a clear readiness for hybrid cloud features, this is setting the stage for the inevitable blurring of lines between on-premises and Azure cloud platforms. It's really about the patterns of usage and how we manage the systems and applications that show how much of a cloud focus is being brought into the platforms.
Full details on the Server 2019 platform are here: https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/windowsserver/2018/09/24/windows-server-2019-announcing-general-availability-in-october/
Open Data Initiative
Adobe, SAP, and Microsoft took the stage together to announce the Open Data Initiative (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/quantum/open-data-initiative) as a way to "better serve customers, build better products, and empower employees." through a new partnership. Much of the focus today in the tech industry is around the idea that data is the new oil. That means the new opportunity for bringing together data and purpose will drive the value of that data. Data without purpose is just a pile of ones and zeros under the covers.
It will be interesting to see what comes next with the initiative. The video is worth a watch and hopefully we can see a more strategic and safe use of data to enable this digital future.
Azure Digital Twins
imagine being able to run models of behaviors and relationship interactions of devices and people by modifying the environment and testing the results via an AI platform. Well, imagine no longer, because what Satya showcased at the keynote is exactly that feature using the Azure Digital Twins. There are incredible opportunities for organizations to learn, adapt, and drive behaviors with the use of AI and Machine Learning. Products like those which are being launched in Azure means that you don't have to do the initial lift of building out the algorithms and infrastructure. Just find the model and begin testing.
Azure AI is among the things that organizations are looking to embrace. Being able to use AI throughout your environment with simple integration and accessibility from the rest of your Microsoft platforms. There is a reason that Azure is being touted as the fastest-growing cloud. Enterprise consumers are loving the future opportunities, and while AWS may have laid the early groundwork, and Google may have led with a strong Machine Learning focus, Microsoft is positioned well for something great.
Most importantly, they are positioning us for something great.
There are quite literally too many updates to mention in a single blog but for those who are keen to see much more, you can go to the Microsoft site (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/updates/ignite/) and see what's new.
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