Microsoft Ignite and Updates for Azure

Ross MacKenzie
Tags: Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Surface FY18 Lifestyle Photography (Steelcase) 3-min

The annual Microsoft business and IT conference, Ignite, took place this week (25-29 September 2017) in Orlando, with a major focus on Azure and its continuing evolution.

Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & Enterprise, delivered a keynote speech on Day 1 announcing some of these developments.

Guthrie explained, “One of the defining aspects of cloud computing is the ability to innovate and release new technology faster and at greater scale than ever before. There's a set of technology, things like IoT, AI, micro-services, serverless computing and more, this is all happening right now thanks in large part to cloud computing. And it's an incredibly exciting time to be in IT and the opportunities for new approaches and new technologies have never been greater.”

He added a rider to say that it was understandable that the pace of change in cloud computing could be, “a little overwhelming.”

Guthrie went on to say, “The expectation to know all of these new technologies and be up to date with them all the time can sometimes leave you feeling like you're falling behind. And the expectations that companies have on you to quickly deliver breakthrough experiences with all this new technology is super high.”

Guthrie later gave details of the four main areas in which Microsoft is focusing innovation for Azure:

Cloud productivity

Guthrie outlined details of infrastructure expansions, and highlighted how the Visual Studio Team Services’ cloud-based toolset supports a DevOps approach through freeing developers from having to patch together different tools.

Hybrid cloud services

Microsoft describes its hybrid cloud as “a computing environment that combines a public cloud and a private cloud by allowing data and applications to be shared between them”, and means that organisations can use public cloud – with its power and flexibility – for non-sensitive data and processing, while business-critical and/or sensitive data and applications can remain on-premises.

With Azure Stack, the management API, portal, and developer services available in Azure are available running on-site, and  Ignite saw the announcement of the general availability of SQL Server 2017. This is the first SQL Server running on Windows Server, Linux, and Docker, and incorporates a faster, more flexible query processing system, along with built-in AI functionality.

AI and machine learning

New Azure machine learning functionality includes a Machine Learning Workbench, enabling the speed of work on AI algorithms to be enhanced, and it was also announced that  machine learning services can be used to develop AI models on different scales, whether on-premises or within Azure.

Security, privacy and cost

New Azure Availability Zones will create a more robust infrastructure in terms of redundancy and site failover, and new Azure Security Center features will deliver security recommendations and threat detection across the hybrid cloud model.

Cloudyn – Microsoft’s recent acquisition, and a market leader in cloud cost management services – has been integrated into Azure, and Azure Cost Management services are available on a free of charge basis.

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