Yesterday, 24th September 2018 kicked off the Microsoft Ignite Event in Orlando. This event has been going since 2015 and is probably the biggest developer conference in the world with over 30,000 professionals in attendance this year.
This year’s conference seems really highly focussed on cloud and data. This is no real surprise as is a continuation of a long-running trend that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella started in 2014 where they began to really heavily focus on subscription models for pretty much their entire product line. The keynote is mainly a pitch towards their stakeholder investors and large business to promote the ‘big’ ideas for this year, rather than a focus on a specific product or service.
First discussion point up is Technology Intensity, which Satya defines as (Tech Adoption) ^ Technology Capability. This is pretty simple, businesses should be focussing on adopting technology that benefits their business and building technology capability that they can’t get elsewhere. For me, this is clearly a shout out to their Azure stack where business can take advantage of the Microsoft Stack, without requiring a need for on-site hardware (except a pc and an internet connection of course!).
There are some great resources out there about ‘Intelligent Edge’. Now, this is by no means a new idea and Microsoft put together an interesting animated short back in May to explain it in more detail which you can see here. In short, it is a way of describing the mass interconnectivity of every digital device in our modern day lives and using that data to enrich ourselves. Nadya goes on to detail several companies that have utilised the Microsoft stack in different ways in order to achieve their business goals.
I think the highlight of the Keynote comes next though. Nadya speaks strongly of the need to accelerate a businesses tech intensity and the challenge of how a business can continually improve customer engagement. He then invites the CEOs of Adobe and SAP on stage to discuss the ‘Open Data Initiative’.
What is the ‘Open Data Initiative’?
In short, there is so much data out there for both users and businesses that are locked away in their own silos. Whether that is a business like Adobe, a social network like Facebook or a series of devices from the Internet of Things, the data is there waiting to be unlocked.
Initially, this is an agreement between Microsoft, SAP and Adobe to open up their data between products and allow greater insight for the end user but is also an open invitation to all business to join the initiative to enrich the business process and drive customer experience. How this will actually work, I’m not too sure as there are surely some data protection considerations here. That will likely come out quickly once the initiative kicks off though.
Trust and Security
Nadya then does onto to discuss security in the ‘digital estate’ and gives some examples of how Microsoft is taking steps to protect both the business and end user. This introduces the Azure Sphere, which is a means of an end to end security model for the smallest of devices, using Microcontrollers (MCUs).
Finally, there is an announcement of AI for Humanitarian Causes with some slightly fluffy examples of how this might actually work.
The focus here is clearly on data and security with stronger integration for big data through small devices.
It’s an interesting way to end the Keynote as it places one of the biggest emphasis on the smallest device. Curiously, this comes only very shortly after Amazon’s announcement of an MCU for Alexa to enable new devices. I’d be very curious to see how the security model for these Alexa chips compares to Azure Sphere, but that’s a post for another time.