Microsoft Ignite 2015 Recap
Microsoft’s Ignite Conference, which took place May 4-8 in Chicago, had a whopping 23,000 attendees. Over the course of the week, there were over 130 Hands-on Labs and close to 1,000 different sessions. Needless to say, there was a ton of content to review, so many of the sessions have now been published to Microsoft’s Channel 9 Ignite website. Regardless of the technical content, the message from Microsoft was clear – there are massive changes underway and coming up. This is no longer your father’s Microsoft.
Microsoft has a clear vision for collaboration, but also team management, recognizing that teams no longer follow organizational structures. Coming fresh out of Microsoft’s Build conference, Ignite also continued the DevOps and Cloud conversation, showing how they are aligning Azure and Windows Server to give IT and DevOps the tools needed to leverage scalability and efficiencies.
Here are some of the more exciting sessions we attended at Ignite.
Breaking Down Organizational Silos and the New Dynamic Team
One of the most surprising things that we saw at Ignite was the emphasis on Office Delve and Graph. Office Delve has really come a long way since it was announced and, at Ignite, the vision became clear. Delve isn’t another content repository or place to check in addition to your file shares and SharePoint. Microsoft wants Delve to be your one-stop shop for collaboration. The intention here is to get users away from searching file shares and SharePoint for content and have it intelligently appear. When you add in the new Office APIs, other, non-Microsoft data sources can be pulled into Delve.
Microsoft also announced a new tool called Groups Insight. Microsoft’s play here is to go beyond collaboration to actual team connections. In today’s modern workplace, teams aren’t always defined by organizational structure and will come together dynamically. Groups Insight is a great way to see how you are connected to others through your documents and interactions. This technology is backed by the Office Graph, which leverages machine learning to give you a better content and collaboration experience.
Upcoming Improvements to OneDrive for Business
There were lots of apologies about OneDrive for Business on Tuesday. From this session to the follow up – I Sync, Therefore I Am, Microsoft openly admitted that OneDrive for Business has some serious problems, especially with the sync client. The OneDrive team considers this to be their #1 priority and is encouraging everyone to give feedback on the OneDrive UserVoice site.
There is hope on the horizon though and it ties into one of the big themes of the conference. With cloud-based solutions, especially SaaS, Microsoft can release updates at a much quicker pace than they could previously. While DLP, eDiscovery and a 10GB file limit are coming to OneDrive soon, customers can expect to see a next generation Sync client by year’s end and a unified web EX between OneDrive Business and Personal. While the Sync client was the most exciting news for customers, other enhancements such as mobile offline file viewing, the ability to set expiration dates and revoking share access via a kill switch will also be coming.
Microsoft is leaving OneDrive for Business on the SharePoint platform, but has realized that the Personal version is what everyone wants and they are driving towards the direction.
Relevant Session 1: A File’s Future with OneDrive for Business Relevant Session 2: I Sync, Therefore I Am: A Deep Dive on OneDrive Sync Capabilities and Roadmap
The Next Version of Windows Server Embraces DevOps
Not everything exciting was collaboration-based though. Some of the most exciting news came out of the data center stack. Case in point, after 10 years, Microsoft has announced Nano Server. Unlike Server Core, it is completely headless (no GUI) and is truly the base OS only without any “side-by-side” packages. The footprint is only around 400MB, resulting in a smaller core process set and ultimately, a smaller attack footprint.
Nano Server addresses four main customer concerns – the amount of reboots needed, server images are too large, lowering OS VM consumption and the security around additional unneeded components. This new type of Windows Server is optimized for the cloud and cloud-born applications. The real point here is to start getting Windows into the DevOps tool chain, resulting in IT efficiencies and driving business value quickly. Both Nano Server and Server Core are meant to be the targets for DevOps.
Relevant Session: Nano Server: The Future of Windows Server Starts Now
Even More Automation is Coming with Operations Management Suite (OMS)
Microsoft is taking System Center and System Advisor to the next level, bringing both on-premises and cloud-based products under one management suite for log analytics, change tracking and management. The implications for IT are huge. This is not a Microsoft-only play, Microsoft has built this toolset from the ground up to support the typical Microsoft stack, but also AWS, VMware, Linux, and OpenStack.
OMS will aggregate your logs and allow you to not only check the logs, but perform advanced analytics so that you can act on them. Better yet, you can build automation around these analytics in response to various results. You can take all this data and turn it into modifiable or read-only dashboards for your fellow IT staffers or executives.
There’s a free trial with 500MB of daily log uploads that will keep seven days of data that you can use as long as you’d like!
Relevant Session: Microsoft Operations Management Suite
Other Items to Consider:
- Windows 10 is coming out this year! Have you tried it? Sign up on Windows Insider and give your feedback! One note though, don’t load it up on your Surface 3 (Surface Pro 3 is OK). There were some great tips for deployment.
- Microsoft Continuum (technically announced at Build), will allow developers to develop applications once and auto-scale across PC/laptop, tablet and mobile screens. Imagine hooking up your phone through an HDMI cable and having a full PowerPoint application!
- Microsoft has opened up the Office APIs to allow developers to connect to 3rd party applications. For example, if you want to add Do functionality to your Outlook meetings, go for it!
- Before Ignite, it was announced that the Azure Site Recovery would support VMware VMs and physical servers. There was an excellent demo showing this technology and, as we’ve previously mentioned, DR is a great entry point into Azure.
- Who thought Active Directory could get any better with Windows Server vNext? With time limited groups memberships and a “Just in Time” forest, Microsoft has made some interesting leaps forward. AD FS upgrades will become easier with Windows Server 2016. Also, your login pages for AD FS can be customized to your unique brand.
If you would like to hear more, Arraya’s Microsoft Practice team can run through some of the topics that were announced at Ignite and help you get going! Visit www.ArrayaSolutions.com today to schedule a meeting with an Arraya Account Executive. Also, be sure to follow Arraya on Twitter, @ArrayaSolutions, for all of the latest company and industry updates.