For those who don't know, Microsoft Ignite is the Disney World of IT networking conferences, which is why Orlando was the perfect host for this year's event. Ignite was especially exciting for us at WM reply; not only did we have one of our senior Technical Consultants, James Mace, in attendance, but we also had our Change and Engagement pioneer, Baxter Willis, give a talk at the event with one of our biggest advocates, Ruth Kirkup of Diageo.
As well as our "Building a #1 Yammer Network" talk, here are our other highlights and takeaways from the event.
Bing for Business announcement
Microsoft have announced a new feature for Office 365 customers called Bing for Business. The service uses machine learning and the Microsoft graph to deliver personalised search results across your tools to give web results, documents, company content, people sites and locations. There was a lot of buzz at the conference about this, which should be well received by users who are familiar with the advanced search capabilities of Delve.
The global workplace
does exist, thanks to Multi-Geo location.
Also announced was the single tenant multi-geographic location. Multi-Geo location allows an Office 365 tenant to operate across multiple data centre locations and gives customers the capability to store their data in their chosen geography on a per-user basis.
This will enable the Office 365 tenant to bring internationally isolated employees together and enable collaboration across a new and modern digital workplace.
Teams to takeover Skype for business? Kind of.
Teams will have new calling and meetings features, including inbound and outbound calls to external phone numbers, call transfer, voicemail and an audio conference feature that allows participants to join a Teams meeting from any phone.
Microsoft has said that Teams will take over Skype for Business eventually. They didn't give a definitive timeframe however, and also announced new features for Skype for Business in 2018, so the jury is out on this one.
Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) enhancements we should be excited about
Microsoft announced that they will be improving Office 365 ATP capabilities through new features that combat impersonation, domain spoofing and phishing. Windows Defender ATP will now have capabilities to fix some security issues, rather than just alert users about them. Azure ATP will also offer enhancements to improve the speed of security incident investigation and ticket resolution.
The advanced threat protection, and security in general, is something that Office 365 customers are fixated with, and SharePoint customers especially who have a distrust of using the cloud. This will hopefully be a step in the right direction in getting businesses excited and accepting of hosting in the cloud.
Office 365 governance we must take the wrap for
Continuing with the theme of data security, Microsoft released some statistics around governance and what they are doing to combat the failings that exist. Some of the more shocking statistics were that, on average, each employee uses 17 cloud apps but many organisations don't know what is in use, or whether these apps meet security, privacy and compliance requirements. Another was that in 91% of organisations, employees grant their personal accounts access to the organisation's cloud storage. Small oversights like these can cost companies thousands if there is a breach in data protection. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect in Europe, these types of mistakes could now result in legal action.
This lead to the discussion around the new tool 'Compliance Manager'. The solution enables companies to conduct real-time risk assessment, providing one intelligent score that reflects compliance performance against data protection regulatory requirements when using Microsoft cloud services. The preview program will be available this November.
Office 365 improving integration with LinkedIn – good news or…?
It has long been anticipated since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn that we would eventually see some sort of data integration with Office 365. At Ignite, it was revealed that LinkedIn data will be used throughout SharePoint, Exchange and other Office products, as well as Dynamics 365. Some people will have even noticed some changes already, with Office 365 profile cards pulling through information from LinkedIn profiles.
For some people this will be greatly anticipated, but with LinkedIn being the number one hunting ground for recruiters, it will make businesses wary of their employees being easier to headhunt, and some professionals themselves more hesitant to share their information on LinkedIn.
NEW TO THE MENU
PowerApps and Dynamics 365 integration
Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Flow will soon be integrated more deeplywithin Dynamics 365 and Office 365. Microsoft announced at Ignite that soon, users will be able to embed custom list forms and PowerApps directly into SharePoint pages and use Flow's rule builder to express conditional logic in apps for actions and formatting.
Many of our customers have us build custom web-parts and tools to embed within their SharePoint sites, and this is an exciting advancement for us to be able to embed more complex apps right into a page.
Quantum computing will be here sooner than you think
The Vision Keynote by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made some exciting statements about future quantum computing and how Microsoft is working to make it a reality. Quantum computing would mean enormous increases in what computers can do, for example. math problems that would take a lifetime on present computer architectures to solve could be cracked in hours using a quantum machine. Nadella explained, "a modern computer will try and solve a maze by trial and error, systematically trying each route and starting again when it reaches a dead end. A quantum computer, however, could take each path simultaneously".
Microsoft has been working on realising quantum computing for over 10 years, and at Ignite they announced that they will be releasing a quantum programming language this year. The language will allow developers to work with programs using quantum processes and will be fully integrated into Visual Studio.
Windows has SQL Server 2017 – and so do Linux and Dockers!
It was announced that SQL Server 2017 would be made available on Linux and Dockers, as well as Windows containers. The new version is the first to run on all three platforms, will give developers a wider choice of languages to work with and claims improved performance and security features.
Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's EVP of Cloud & Enterprise, detailed in a blog following the announcement the importance of the move. "This means you can train advanced models easily with data inside SQL Server without having to move data," Guthrie wrote. "The bottom line is that SQL Server 2017 delivers industry-leading, mission-critical performance and security with everything built in, including AI, now on the platform of your choice."
For developers who have moved away from Windows in preference of Linux or even Docker, this is fantastic news and a smart move by Microsoft to support SQL on these platforms.
Ignite 2017 has certainly given us plenty to get excited about in the coming months. We look forward to returning to Ignite in Vegas 2018!
Listen to WM Reply's talk on
Building a #1 Yammer Network here.