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Dan Langille and Mike Weaver report from Microsoft Ignite Australia

14 Feb 2017 by Mike Weaver

Greetings from Microsoft Ignite! We’re on Australia’s HOT and sunny Gold Coast this week, “enjoying” a record-setting heat wave with temperatures this weekend over 40c / 107f!Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise Group, kicked off Ignite today with an opening keynote that created a great deal of excitement around two very interesting themes. The first focused on Microsoft’s Global, Trusted, Hybrid Cloud; the second demonstrated the power of Cognitive Services. The message was clear: Office 365 is where people communicate and collaborate, and Azure is where organizations create and innovate.

Talks like these are always better when they integrate real situations, and show how their products or services are used “in the wild”. We heard three Australian companies describe how they are integrating Azure, bot framework, machine learning, Cortana analytics, and other emerging Microsoft technologies to bring world-changing IP to market rapidly, and at scale.

Global, Trusted, Hybrid Cloud

Guthrie described with justifiable pride how Microsoft now has 38 different Azure regions around the world—twice as many regions as AWS and Google combined! As a technologist, I’m always fascinated by the power we derive from the globalization of cloud technology. Suddenly companies big and small can put their infrastructure where it needs to be, with the inherent cost savings in on-demand scalability of cloud computing, combined seamlessly with on-premises elements from behind the firewall.

Global

This has been extremely helpful for us. For example, with our PST FlightDeck product, we had a big problem with globally-diverse organizations and their requirements to move PSTs back to centralized Office 365 tenants from on-premises Exchange. We needed “spokes” closer to the end users to get their PSTs uploaded faster; and thanks to Microsoft’s investments in building 38 Azure regions, we can put those spokes pretty much anywhere—thus drastically increasing the speed at which we’re able to bring customer’s PST data into Office 365. It will be interesting to see where these impressive facilities continue to pop up, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing how we can leverage new advancements.

Trusted

Guthrie touted Microsoft’s continued and ever-expanding focus on security to demonstrate the ‘Trusted’ credentials of its cloud platform. He evidenced this with the impressive (and unparalleled) list of regulatory bodies from around the world that have certified Microsoft’s cloud platforms. This section of the keynote emphasised Microsoft’s continued commitment to exceeding the standards and certifications required of them, and positioned themselves as the most secure and trustworthy cloud platform on the planet. This fact was underscored with an awesome video showing the mind-boggling size of all of these regions – to put it into perspective, a single one of these regions contains enough cabling to circle the Earth twice. These fortresses are seriously impressive!

Hybrid Cloud

Finally, for Hybrid Cloud, we have to hit rewind a little. When cloud emerged years ago, the message was ‘100% cloud’. Next, we moved to a message of “cloud first.” Now, we are finally seeing significant encouragement for hybrid cloud. This is extremely refreshing to hear, especially in such a diverse IT environment, where requirements are often unique. As Microsoft cloud products like Office 365 and Azure have evolved, so have the needs of many organizations. In a lot of cases, cloud-based solutions have risen to meet these needs. However, some workloads still need to stay on-premises for the classic reasons that originally hindered the ‘100% cloud’ approach.

Today, we heard the push for hybrid cloud, and personally I love it! ‘Cloud first’ still exists, but now we are seeing open acknowledgement that certain items need to stay on-premises. One large commitment in this category is ensuring that systems stay in sync, a common problem that has plagued a lot of organizations needing a hybrid approach. With this acknowledgement of the necessity for hybrid cloud, we hope to see this continue to improve.

Cognitive Services

Next, we saw some amazing examples around the power of Microsoft Cognitive Services and how they have poured into Visual Studio 2017 and Azure. The speed and ease with which you can integrate these services into an application is truly stunning. Today, for example, Microsoft showed off responsive bots that could even handle language translation dynamically and leverage facial recognition that could help with crowd statistics (estimating ages, comparing to known people, and observing their emotions!). It was fascinating to watch this impressive technology and know it is in Azure and available for immediate use!

We’re excited to see what the rest of this week at Ignite has in store, and eager to meet, and talk to as many of our 2300 fellow attendees as possible. If you’re at Ignite this week, make sure you come and visit us for a demo, or to chat about your migration – we’re at booth 7!