By Vishal P Pandey
At Ignite, Microsoft’s conference for developers and IT professionals, tech giant is unveiling new and improved capabilities around databases, artificial intelligence, developer tools, security and other solutions that are part of the Azure cloud platform. During the first day of second virtual edition of the Ignite conference this year, we came across many innovative products and platforms, paving way for a more digitally interconnected world.
Is it just a coincidence that Microsoft become the most valued company of world, surpassing Apple, just few days before the launch of it’s flagship Operating system Windows 11 in its annual show case event Ignite? Difficult to provide conclusive evidences. These organizations have surely become huge behemoths with unprecedented power. But that would be a topic for some other day.
Today I just intend to provide the day 1 report of Microsoft Ignite 2021- to catch your interest, and perhaps get you to attend the remaining two days of session.
Why is Ignite 2021 important?
In fact the Ignite 2021 coincide with Diwali festivals. Another coincidence? Announcements of Satya Nadella in his Keynote address came in full force on the auspicious day of Dhanterus. You can just picture a somber person being sidelined on a small bench in a mall shop by the full family. All passing by were looking with amusement at me hunched over my mobile with blue tooth earphone listening to the announcements so intently. Must have taken me for a rookie intent on score line of Pakistant & Namibia T20 match! All the while family was busy causing deep dents in my finances, using the credit card I had given as a ransom for my freedom. We moved on from the Keynote address and shopping mall, to the other announcements from Microsoft, and my family throwing a clear challenge to the kitchen staff in the restaurant we had taken refuge in. The food order was perhaps way beyond what a decent family could eat, and the bills certainly too high for a decent man afford ! By the time the session of the first day was over- somewhere early morning- all were sound sleep and I was too tired to calculate where I stood in my bankruptcy! Oh, two more days to go.
The keynote address was delivered by Satya Nadela, who was thoroughly prepared. Taking a leaf out from address of head of nations, he did not jump in right at the last moment, but came down his usually cool, composed stuff. Someone ready to lead us in future; even though that future had scaffolding of Microsoft at all levels! It is also interesting to note that most people pronounce his name ‘Satya’ as ‘Saatya’ ; unlike any Indian would normally pronounce it!
He kept on stressing on the Digital Transformation which is taking place rapidly, and bound to grow exponentially as we progress. In same tune Microsoft Cloud is the most trusted and comprehensive cloud was repeated numerous times by almost each and every presenter. Talk of brand positioning! Microsoft made deliberate efforts in trying to reassure everyone that it was not there as a competitor and could be trusted.
Trust becomes important as Microsoft is stressing on Platform. Almost everything they are offering is more of a platform, on which users and organizations can develop and design.
Fundamentally we are moving from a mobile and cloud era, to an era of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence .Satya Nadella, Ignite 2021
The Day 1 announcements
Though we are told over 90+ new updates will be reveiled in Ignite 2021, the Day 1 mostly brought forward vision of Microsoft on the below 4 areas
- How to optimize for the new world of hybrid work, taking care of Hybrid paradox, and the great reshuffle. Look out for changes in Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Loop, a new collaborative app.
- How to help customers build a hyperconnected business, built by Design, allow data and intelligence to flow freely, involve more proactive engagements than reactive ones, bridge the digital and physical worlds. Look out for a new Microsoft Customer Experience Platform.
- How every business can become a digital business, multi-cloud, multi-edge, organizations will need more distributed and intelligent computer fabric. Look out for a Digital Arc, as well as changes in Power Platform.
- How to protect everything with end-to-end security If this doesn’t interest you then figure of $6 Trillion, cost of cybercrime annually may interest you (GDP of India in 2020 was approx $2.62 Trillion). Look out for a Defender for Business.
Emerging Areas selected by Satya Nadella
- Artificial Intelligence- again Microsoft is building Platforms for others to work upon. Look for Microsoft Translator and GPT-3 model under Azure OpenAI Services.
- Identify and Authentication. Check on Azure AD and MSAL. Look out for Teams Connect on What’s new in Microsoft 365
- Metaverse. Here facebook got ahead and announced 2 days earlier. However Microsoft guys didn’t appear to be much fizzled by FB announcement (or hid it well) and spoke in length on Metaverse and its possibilities. Look out for Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces & Mesh for Microsoft Team
Overall the first day was pretty exciting and full of energy. You can check out the full Sessions Catalogue here. Microsoft definitely means business. Hope to catch up more today evening.
Debunking 5 popular myths we often come across when discussing about Microsoft
1-Microsoft is not important for me as I don’t use it!
We cannot just close our eyes. Our generation flourished on Windows, and MS Office products. Today Azure has become a new Big Daddy of Cloud- again something which is becoming ubiquitous and cannot be ignored. You can check on data of number of devices/servers/developers using Microsoft on Github. It may or may not be true, but certainly proves they cannot be ignored.
2-Microsoft is not for developers/programmers.
Again Microsoft Technology is too big to ignore. From SQL Server, to Visual Studio, there are N number of products the entire software development is based upon. Microsoft survived, and even thrived, during Java years and is doing so in the Python time. They went ahead and brought Java under their hood, and have done same to Python. You can certainly design without Microsoft products, but they bring too much of powerful libraries, community support, and inter-twined applications-platforms to be overlooked in the long term.
3-Why should I be interested in CS development as I am of different Engineering branch/altogether different profession.
Maybe you had been seeping for say past two decades (or maybe even four) and just woke up. Are you planning to translate an old Sanskrit script from isolation of Himalayas? Well you can still use computer. NLP will translate Sanskrit, and make the text more readable. You can publish online on kindle, order online food while you write, and even stay in touch using social media accounts. All the while checking on your finances through online banking.
All professions, business, process, and occupations need computer is an old news now. The new thing is that AI, VR, Cloud, and 3 D printing have made deep in-roads in areas which we couldn’t have even imagined a decade earlier. Anything which uses Data, and has a process (flow is the new hep word!) to do anything with this data uses computer tech. And this practically covers everything- from growing tomatoes to designing new house, from treating patients, to planning for a new baby.
4-I am just a student/teacher/not a IT Professional
One should not treat these technologies are mere playbooks, while the fundamental theories are somewhere else. We need to understand that these developments are in fact re-writing and re-designing the rules themselves. Talk of AI, or progress in database. Consider Cloud Computing, NoSql & Cosmos DB, Asynchronous Programming, Security & Identity, to Agile Development. Just going through these links will give you the in-depth Innovation and Research involved in Microsoft products, and how that is in itself the rule book for many of the technologies. Microsoft has been the second starter in many of these, but then money is important. Today they are leaders, or pretty close, in most areas. It’s not only Microsoft, others of the league like Amazon, Google, and Apple have astronomical Innovation & Research budgets. often these budgets eclipse the research & innovation budgets of even big economies. Such huge research budgets are bound to provide dividends!
5-These are too tough for me to understand.
No. I am a big Visual Basic fan, the language I started coding in. Is one of the easiest ones there. To an extent more flexible than English! C# may not be that cool (you have to still add the mandatory ‘;’) but is certainly not that tough either. Add the A.I. capabilities offered by Visual Studio, and add the strong points like GitHub Copilot, it becomes obscenely easy. Again as I mentioned money does count. Wealth of Community support and numerous flovours makes seeking solutions when you get stuck up pretty easy.