Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, kicked off the Microsoft Ignite conference once again with his Vision Keynote. He started by thanking attendees (both physically present and virtually attending) for being part of the community that builds tech capabilities in every organization around the world.
Reiterating on Microsoft’s formula of ‘Tech Intensity’, tech adoption multiplied by tech capability and trust as a core concept, Nadella shared Microsoft’s mission to commoditize digital tech for every company. He worked his way up the tech stack starting with Azure, trust, developer tools, Power Platform, Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365.
Here are a few highlights from his keynote:
Innovation with Azure
For many years Microsoft has been building Azure to be the world’s computer, and as a result, Nadella had a lot of announcements to share on where they stand against that goal.
He began by sharing the latest updates to Azure IoT. Azure IoT has 1000s of certified devices and is designed to give ubiquitous compute at the edge. The new Azure Stack Edge includes both a commercial series and rugged series, the latter of which will help get critical jobs done, no matter the conditions. Nadella also introduced the preview of Azure Arc, which emphasizes Microsoft’s focus on hybrid computing and bringing governance and management to any infrastructure.
Azure Arc is the control plane built for multicloud and multi-edge, and supports managed data services anywhere, including extending capabilities to the data center. Tying into this announcement is the preview of Azure Data Services Anywhere, including Azure SQL Databases and Azure Databases for PostgreSQL. This allows users to:
- Deploy evergreen versions of SQL to the data center
- Enable automatic patching
- Scale-out on-demand
- Geo-replicate data to other data centers, Azure, or AWS
- Allow IT Operations teams to drive consistency and agility across their environment.
Next, Nadella announced Azure Synapse which uses a cloud-native memory and storage hierarchy to redefine rules around analytic workloads. It brings together data warehousing and big data, leveraging a combination of structured and unstructured analytics. An example shared here was that of a gaming company who wanted to execute a complex query against a petabyte data set of user demographics and utilization. Azure Synapse took 9 seconds to execute the query compared with GCP BigQuery which took 11 minutes. In other words, Azure Synapse is claiming to be 75 times faster than GCP BigQuery. This service also integrates with PowerBI to give business users the data-driven insights they need to make decisions in a timely manner.
Two additional Azure announcements included Project Silica which stores data in quartz glass, and appears to be indestructible—in the video it withstood the effects of an oven, microwave, and more. This is meant to be a game-changer in storage, and is a collaboration with Warner Bros. Lastly, Nadella announced Azure Quantum Computing which is designed to help society tackle the toughest challenges through general-purpose quantum. Case Western Reserve University highlighted how they are leveraging Azure Quantum Computing for patient MRIs. Currently, MRIs take time to scan and have limited sensitivity, with potentially inaccurate results. Leveraging Azure Quantum Computing, the university is using the algorithm to improve precision, identify diseases earlier, and quantify treatments, which has a tremendous impact on healthcare and billions of people worldwide.
Empowering Citizen Developers
To help continue the expansion of the tech-building community, Microsoft also announced updates to the toolchain for developers. Visual Studio Online, in public preview, provides on-demand development environments in the cloud, and Visual Studio Intellicode can be used to complete code and drive productivity. Additionally, 2.5 million citizen developers are using the Microsoft Power Platform which includes Microsoft Power Automate to deliver robotic process automation and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents which allows anyone to create and deploy AI-powered virtual agents that have enhanced language understanding and conversational capabilities.
Harnessing the Power of Data in Your Enterprise
The Vision Keynote cannot end without mentioning improvements to business productivity and Microsoft 365. Did you know that it takes a user 25 minutes to get back on task when multi-tasking? Or that multi-tasking causes a 40% decrease in productivity? After these surprising stats, Nadella introduced Project Cortex, which is a service that will act as a repository for users to access content and data and convert it into knowledge. For example, if you get an email from a colleague with an acronym whose meaning you’re unsure of, Project Cortex will use artificial intelligence to comb through internal resources and communication where that acronym is mentioned and define what that acronym means, as well as surface accompanying resources for you to review.
Further updates to Microsoft 365 focused on improving team collaboration—specifically centered around enhancing the experience of remote employees. These updates included new video chat features through Microsoft Teams, enhanced video and audio functionality for visual media and resources, and new features for the Microsoft Surface to make creating and sharing notes, reports, and graphics easier than ever before.
Microsoft has also been working hard to make Microsoft Edge the future of web. Shipped independently of the OS and built on the chromium engine, Microsoft Edge offers world-class performance and compatibility (as well as a brand new logo) and claims to be twice as fast as market rival Google Chrome when it comes to rendering web pages. Updates to Microsoft Edge include personalized homepages, where your most frequented links and web resources are at your fingertips, enhanced privacy and security settings, and a lawful pursuit of what Nadella refers to as the unification of the internet and intranet. Releasing January 15th, The new Microsoft Edge will allow users to search their own data with the ease and power of searching the broader web. Looking for information on your company’s holiday calendar for 2020? Search for that information in Microsoft Edge, and see results from both internal resources (your company’s intranet) and external resources (any public web page).
Learn more about all of the announcements from Microsoft Ignite.