Microsoft Ignite is probably Microsoft’s biggest event of the year and often a time when Microsoft make most of their most important announcements and introduce new products and services to the public. This year, like most, there have been a lot of major updates that have come out of the event, and with over 2,000 sessions there is a lot to digest! We’ve created this highlight summary to give a high-level overview of some of the key messages that organisations should be aware of – with links for more information for the ones that most interest you.
8 Key Announcements
Introducing Azure Arc
Microsoft announced Azure Arc, a new service that enables hybrid scenarios and multi-cloud management in one place for more consistent cloud and hybrid management and security. This enables customers to use Azure to manage resources from anywhere (including AWS, Google Cloud etc – all in one place). Azure Arc has just been released in preview and free to use whilst available as a preview. You can read more on this here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-services-now-run-anywhere-with-new-hybrid-capabilities-announcing-azure-arc/
Azure Synapse Analytics
Another big Azure announcement was the launch of Azure Synapse Analytics, a new way to bring together data warehouses and data lakes to provide a central experience for business intelligence and analytics. This new service should allow organisations to better centralise their data sources and provide a single solution to display unified analytics to allow better informed company decisions. Read the full announcement here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/simply-unmatched-truly-limitless-announcing-azure-synapse-analytics/
Lots of Teams announcements
Microsoft Teams is one of the core services in Office 365 and Microsoft 365 – bringing together the wide variety of services into one platform – and it’s seen a lot of updates at Ignite to continue its innovation. Key updates include:
- Outlook integration, allowing emails to be shared to Teams (a new button will be coming to Outlook in early 2020)
- A new Tasks pane that centralises Outlook tasks, To Do, Planner and Teams channels into one place within Teams
- New Yammer integrations (along with a major overhaul of Yammer)
- Private channels, which allows people to create a private channel under a Team with only selected viewers
- Pop-out windows for Chat and Meetings so that you can continue working in your main Teams window while messaging or joining a meeting in separate windows
Microsoft introduced ‘Project Cortex’ – a new Microsoft 365 service (the first new service since Teams), which uses AI to create a ‘knowledge network’ of important information from across various systems, data types and teams. Using machine learning, Project Cortex organises information using image and text recognition to then categorise and display ‘topic cards’ with the grouped information that appear automatically in Outlook, Word, SharePoint and Teams. Currently, Project Cortex is open to a limited number of spaces for private preview but should become generally available in 2020 – pricing is not yet known but will be a premium service of Microsoft 365. Read about this new service in the announcement blog here: https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Microsoft-365-Blog/Introducing-Project-Cortex/ba-p/966091
Microsoft Endpoint Manager
With the rise of modern, mobile working Microsoft has been making major improvements to their endpoint management products and features. With a growing number of tools, Microsoft have now grouped these together and branded them ‘Microsoft Endpoint Manager’ (which includes ConfigMgr, Intune, Desktop Analytics and Device Management Admin Console). This bundle now allows organisations to adopt a co-management approach that can combines both ConfiMgr that may be widely used for PC management with Intune for cloud-based mobile management. The end goal from Microsoft is still for companies to embrace a cloud-first approach and new customers should solely adopt Intune, but Microsoft understand that this journey is not so simple - especially for those with a deep reliance on ConfigrMgr.
Now, ConFigMgr customers will also have access to Intune within their licence (but if you wish to manage non-Windows devices you will need EMS or Microsoft 365). You can read the full announcement here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2019/11/04/use-the-power-of-cloud-intelligence-to-simplify-and-accelerate-it-and-the-move-to-a-modern-workplace/
If you want to evaluate Microsoft 365, then you can read our overview and licensing guide here: 'Microsoft 365 Enterprise Guide' or you can compare EMS licenses here: 'EMS E3 vs E5: Features and Cost Comparison'.
Flow is now Power Automate
Microsoft Flow has been rebranded to Power Automate, to better align with the ‘Power Platform’ – which also includes Power BI and PowerApps. Power Automate has been around for a while, helping end users and power users to easily create workflows without coding knowledge – across their Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure services, as well as with third-party solutions. If you want to learn more about the Power Platform, you can read our overview in “What is the Power Platform”.
Security and Compliance updates
With cyber security dominating the IT world and being the top priority for most organisations, it makes sense that there were updates from the Microsoft Security team. Many of the updates include enhancements to current products such as Azure Sentinel (only recently in GA) – this Microsoft article gives a great summary of the top ten security innovations that have come out of Ignite: https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2019/11/04/microsoft-announces-new-innovations-in-security-compliance-and-identity-at-ignite/
New Edge is coming
Finally, a new Chromium-based Edge (dubbed ‘new’ Edge) will be generally available January 15th 2020 to replace the current version of the Microsoft Edge browser.
In case you missed it - there have been some other great announcements recently but that happened before Ignite:
- Azure Sentinel is now generally available - Microsoft's Security Information Event Management (SIEM) solution
- Windows Virtual Desktop is also generally available, providing a desktop and app virtualisation service from the cloud
In summary, there have been a lot of major announcement from Microsoft across their key products and services – Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365, as well as complementing products for these services. With a continued focus on security, productivity, efficiency and analytics, Microsoft are ensuring that their services and products evolve in line with the modern ways of working (and in line with their overarching mission) to “empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”.