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Microsoft Ignite 2019 is a Wrap: Here's What We Learned

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cdn.arstechnica.netwp-contentuploads201210microsoft-logo-640x215What was the buzz at
Microsoft Ignite 2019?

Microsoft Ignite 2019 is in the books as thousands of IT professionals go back to their organizations to share the latest in trends and services. There were big announcements and in-depth conversations about how new technology can streamline businesses practices, raise the bottom line, and protect organizational data. Here are the big takeaways from this year’s conference.

1. All Eyes Continue to Be on the Cloud

With an overwhelming 96% of organizations now using the cloud in one way or another, it’s no surprise that the biggest announcements of the week were centered around Azure. Microsoft announced hybrid platform Azure Arc, which is designed to connect on-premises and cloud capabilities within any existing infrastructure to be managed in one space.

The announcement came alongside a new rollout of Azure Stack Edge, which included mobile ruggedized versions that could be taken to disaster zones and other hard-to-reach places where needed. The announcements reflected enhanced efforts to expand where cloud can be used while simplifying how it’s used. Expansion and simplification were driving forces behind many of the conference’s sessions and demonstrations.

2. New Ways to Gather, Store and Analyze Data

It was difficult to find a session or keynote that didn’t involve data in some way. Expanded cloud capabilities means that organizations are able to collect and store more data than ever before, and it’s estimated that the industry will be worth $77 billion by 2023.

Microsoft’s big splash in Big Data came in the form of Azure Synapse Analytics, a service that combines data warehousing with analytics to allow structured and unstructured data analytics to be brought together at enterprise scale. With deep integration with Azure Machine Learning, Synapse Analytics can also better predict outcomes through the same system.

3. Using Machine Learning to Create Business Solutions

Machine learning had plenty of action on its own during Microsoft Ignite, most notably with the announcement of Project Cortex. The knowledge network harnesses machine learning, along with artificial intelligence, to make organizational data easily accessible.

It combs through the entirety of a company’s files, from documents to contracts to videos, and it puts together a “knowledge hub” for everything that pertains to a particular topic or project. “This is again putting your data to work for you,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his vision keynote.

4. Microsoft Products are Built for Integration

One aspect of many of these announcements that might be most intriguing for IT departments is that there is no need to migrate to a new service to use these new products. Microsoft has built-in capabilities to run many of its Azure services on outside providers or use Azure to power existing infrastructure.

Azure Arc, for example, works with Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, allowing businesses to run Azure’s services on their current cloud provider. There’s also Azure VMware Solutions, which allows organizations to use Azure to power their current VMware infrastructure. This is particularly good news for organizations who might not have the time or resources to change providers.

5. Cybersecurity Continues to Evolve

Cybersecurity threats are the top concern among businesses overall. During Ignite, Microsoft announced a new capability built into Microsoft 365 that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to protect against one of the biggest threats against companies: the inside job.

The system will now be able to track digital movements from employees and alert the organization to any trends that might be concerning, allowing companies to confront a potential problem before it happens. Microsoft CISO Bret Arsenault also emphasized the importance of device health, zero-trust, and even password elimination to simplify security.



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