Microsoft Ignite Day One

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Day one of the Microsoft Ignite Conference is winding to a close (I have one more session to attend), and there have been some interesting ideologies, technologies, and products announced by Microsoft.

In no particular order, there were many announcements of interest to me.

The announcements surrounding Windows Server 2016 open up some new possibilities. With Server 2016, the full Azure Stack will become available for self-hosting. For companies/individuals that run their own data centers, this is advantageous since we can now take advantage of the benefits of Azure – a consistent interface/platform with visualization, load balancing, and other features that usually exist as a hodge-podge of 3rd party tools. If you read my previous post regarding Microsoft Application Insights, the main thing lacking in this area is resolved by hosting Azure in your own data center.

However, the general complexity that is introduced and further reliance on Microsoft’s stack seems counter intuitive to other initiatives from Microsoft. Docker, virtualization, and hosting ASP.NET applications on other platforms like Linux or OSX seem to take a back seat. While this may not necessarily be the case, though, due to Azure’s virtualization. Also, how much effort (or willingness) will most .NET/Microsoft shops have for retooling their own data centers to take advantage of Azure? At any rate, I’m in a wait-and-see mode at this point, but do think it looks good on paper.

It would appear that the main tenants of security will continue to be Active Directory driven. In that vein, AD for Azure is the primary vehicle. There were many demos presented during the keynote to illustrate how this would work and how even users could be in control of their own data’s security and permissions. This alone could be quite a boon since user’s would not need the IT department to set up AD Groups and the like – users could effectively do it themselves.

The ideas presented for security seem like a mixed bag. One use case showed how, for example, security could be meta-driven and files become encrypted and only those allowed to decrypted/view them is driven by access provided through this meta-data. Outlook was used to illustrated this will file attachments. Immediately, back to my point above, how would this truly work across platforms? Microsoft’s Anderson did demo some of this using Outlook on an iPad and how security of data is maintained, through a managed security controlling copy/paste rights, but that requires/ties you to using, solely, Outlook on the mobile device. In a world of BYOD, I’m not so keen on being locked into a single software suite on my own device(s). Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing, though? Anderson also provided a link to the security demos from the keynote.

Hololens continues to be an important product, but was not pitched to any great extent beyond the idea of using it for collaboration. In this context, I think Hololens could be effective.

Microsoft has reasserted their initiatives to get Windows on every where. They are pushing collaboration through Skype for Business, Office 365, and their Surface Hub. I found the Surface Hub to be an intriguing entry, but dissecting all of these various components, as Microsoft said themselves, it is reinventing rather than truly revolutionizing anything with the efforts in collaboration, sharing, and security management. Surface Hub, for example, is a nice concept, but I question whether a lot of companies would want to invest in this since it, really, is mainly a whiteboard. Yes, that’s an over simplification, but let’s be honest. This is how most organizations would view it, and I would go so far as to say that products of this nature have not been well received, or utilized, over the years. Despite my initial apprehensions, I do like the acknowledgement that remote works are here to stay and should be treated as second class workers. “Work is what you do, not where you go,” to quote one of the speakers.

Tying all of these cloud services together to make Microsoft’s platform the central hub (IoT if you will), was addressed through what Microsoft is calling Operations Management Suite (OMS). This product allows for bridging disparate services like AWS, VMWare and such. Off hand, it might be a good start, but broader and more robust support will be needed to bridge the gaps between various systems. It’s at a least a start and it’s at least an acknowledgement by Microsoft that their platform can’t be all or nothing.

Make no mistake. The keynote was LONG. These are just a few take-aways for me at this point. More to follow..

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