Microsoft Ignite 2017 General and Azure Keynotes Summary

Last month I attended the Microsoft Ignite 2017 conference in Orlando Florida.  Microsoft Ignite 2017 is one of the biggest tech conferences this year and there were more than 25,000 people in attendance at the Orlando Orange County convention center.

I my opinion it was a great conference with all kind of activities to learn about Microsoft and their partner’s offerings as well as interact with Microsoft staff, partners, customers and fellow geeks.

I put together a summary of the keynote sessions I attended, and I hope you enjoy it.

General Keynote at Microsoft Ignite 2017

The General Keynote started with Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO where he talked about Microsoft’s vision and how the Microsoft technology and services platform can help organizations with their digital transformation.  He spoke about how we should not focus on the technology per se and instead to focus on what we can do with the technology.

He also spoke about the advancements Microsoft is doing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and mixed reality, which is the overlaying of your real-world view with holographic computer graphics or virtual reality visuals through the use of a headset integrated with a complex series of sensors and cameras.   At this point there was a cool demo of how Ford is using mixed reality technology with Microsoft’s mixed reality headset, the HoloLens.  In the demo Microsoft showed how a Ford Engineer and a Designer can work interactively in a 3D hologram projected onto a real vehicle and provide real time design reviews and recommendations. This kind of review used to take weeks of back and forth between team members and now it can be done in hours, the meeting can be recorded, and notes can be shared among team members. It is impressive how this technology has the potential to revolutionize how people will work in the near future.

More information about the Microsoft HoloLens and Ford collaboration can be found here.

Satya also spoke about how organizations can take advantage of the integration of the Dynamics 365, Microsoft 365, and Linked-in platforms to create Artificial Intelligence first applications.  Such applications utilize AI technologies to support the user of that application in maximizing the value they get out of it.  Another interesting topic of discussion that Satya covered was how organizations are using Azure technologies like machine learning in areas like cancer research, mining, packaging and precision medicine.

To close the Keynote, Satya brought to the stage a group of scientists to talk about the research that Microsoft is doing in the Quantum computing field.  Microsoft’s approach in Quantum computing includes teams of people from different fields like physics, advanced mathematics and computer science working together to reach the goal of creating a Quantum computer.  During the talk we saw a quantum chip that Microsoft created that works at extremely low temperatures to enable its use.  Once Quantum computing becomes a commercial reality the application of this technology will be used to help in the resolution of many big problem type challenges like: global warming, fighting diseases, security and more.

Microsoft is developing a quantum software stack that includes quantum simulators.  Developers interested in knowing more can find more information here.

If you want to watch the full keynote it is now available below:

Azure Keynote

This keynote was hosted by Scott Guthrie who is Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group.  This keynote had a lot of information for different audiences like IT professionals that focus on infrastructure, development, data, AI and security.   The session was loaded with many customer case studies, demos and announcements.

The first slide of the deck showed that 90% of the Fortune 500 companies are using the Microsoft cloud platform today.  Microsoft wants to make sure that customers understand that the platform is Enterprise ready and showed the names of companies like GE, BMW, Toyota, Heineken, Rolls Royce and many others.  This is one way they look to reassure customers that if these large multinational organizations are using their cloud platform then they can use it too. Right after that slide we saw a video where some of these companies were talking about how they use Microsoft Azure to achieve their business objectives.

Corey Sanders, Microsoft’s Director of Compute in Azure, did a demo to show the end to end Azure management experience.  In this demo he showed the large M-series virtual machine type that has 128 v-CPUs with 3.8 TB of RAM.  This kind of machine can be used to run large SQL databases, SAP Hana, or even be used as a virtualization host and take advantage of the nested virtualization capabilities of the platform.   Corey also showed 3 levels of nested virtualization in this demo.  Azure is the only cloud provider that has this capability right now. He then showed the new PowerShell experience within the Azure web portal itself. This is a capability that many people have been requesting for some time.  In addition we saw new features in the Virtual Machine management interface blade, like Disaster Recovery, Update Management, Inventory and Change Tracking. These new capabilities improve the admin experience of the Azure VM and IaaS services. The update management capability set is also able to manage multiple machines in Azure as well as on-premises.  This presents a single place to manage the updates of all the machines either in the Azure or on-premises for infrastructure management professionals.

The next section of the keynote was dedicated to the development audience, specifically for mobile cloud developers when a demo of a Xamarin solution.  The impressive live demo showed being able to debug code for an iPhone App from a Windows PC with Visual Studio connected via Wi-Fi. This greatly improves and speeds up the developer experience in testing mobile applications.  Microsoft also demonstrated their commitment to containers by showing how the Docker integration into Visual Studio works.

After the Visual Studio demo, Microsoft presented a video that featured UPS.  The key message in this segment was that people might think about UPS as a packaging company however, UPS sees itself as a technology company first, that also does logistics.  The video showed how UPS uses Xamarin, Visual Studio, Azure and a Bot framework to create innovative applications and services for their customers.

Azure Stack was featured for the start of the Hybrid Cloud segment.  Scott Guthrie explained the scenarios and use cases in which Azure Stack can be used.  It was also announced that Azure Stack started to ship that same day worldwide and will be sold initially by Dell EMC, Cisco, Lenovo and HPE.

The next segment was dedicated to the Microsoft data platform.  It was announced that SQL 2017 was now considered generally available on  Windows, Linux and Docker containers.  Then followed another customer case study of a start-up company using SQL on Linux and a cool demo of SQL 2017 running in a container.  Microsoft also announced that traditional SQL enterprise capabilities like in-memory table, role level security, compression and many other features are now available in all SQL editions including SQL Express.

SQL is the only data platform that is available on-premises and also in the cloud with Azure SQL as a full managed database.  There is also new database migration service that can be used to migrate on-premises SQL or Oracle database to Azure SQL.

Scott also showed how an enterprise customer evaluated the cloud migration of its workloads and found that the migration was 70% more cost effective with Azure than AWS.  Considering the benefit of using the on-premises Windows and SQL licenses that can be used in the Azure and the few changes required to the applications to run in Azure, saving millions of dollars in migration costs was demonstrated to be a reality that is achievable by all.  To close the data platform segment, we saw Azure Cosmos DB capabilities discussed.

Nowadays there is no Microsoft presentation without AI being part of it and the Azure Keynote was no exception.  We saw the new capabilities of Azure Machine learning and the announcement of the new Machine Learning Workbench that will help data scientists to build models and run experiments easily in an agile environment.

To close the session Microsoft showed the new capabilities of the Azure Security Center.  They also announced the cost management portal provided by Cloudyn will be free for all Azure customers.  Also, the new Azure Reserved Instances that will allow customers to save even more on the cost of Azure Virtual Machines was also detailed.

If you want to watch the full keynote it is now available below:

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About Carlos Betancourt

Carlos is a Sr. Solutions Architect for professional services pre-sales at Softchoice. Working within our Professional Services, Carlos creates solutions based on Microsoft Azure that help our customers along their cloud journeys.