Microsoft Tries To 'Ignite' the Public with Its Vision
A three-hour keynote touched on a bit of everything, including Microsoft Azure, Windows and security.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized three themes at his company's biggest show of the year, laying his vision of the future. Those themes: making personal computing more personal and secure, bringing together productivity and process, and providing more agile back-end infrastructure.
Days after courting developers to build apps for its new Universal Windows Platform at the Build conference in San Francisco, Microsoft deluged more than 23,000 IT pros attending its inaugural Ignite conference in Chicago with a barrage of new offerings to manage and secure the new platform and the entire IT stack.
Nadella talked up how the company's new wave of software and cloud services will enable IT and business transformation in line with the ways people now work. He also highlighted the need for better automation of systems, processes and management of the vast amount of data originating from new sources such as sensors.
Among the new offerings revealed during the keynote presentation were: Azure Stack, which brings its Microsoft Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud to on-premises datacenters; Microsoft Operations Management Suite, to administer multiple server OSes including Linux, clouds and VMs; and Windows Update for Business, while making the case for Windows 10 for enterprise users.
Nadella talked up the company's focus on "productivity and platforms" tied with the shift to cloud and mobility, saying everything Microsoft offers aims to bring all of that together in line with the changes in the way people work, and new data types generated from sensors and other Internet-of-Things-type nodes.
"Every layer of the IT stack is going to be profoundly impacted," Nadella said in the keynote session. "This sets up our context. It sets up the tension we have as we set out to manage this IT landscape. We want to enable our IT professionals and end users to make their own choices for their own devices, yet we need to ensure the security and the management. We want to enable our business units to choose the SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] applications of their choice, yet we want to have the compliance and control of efficiency."
SQL Server 2016 will be "the biggest breakthrough in database infrastructure," with a technology called Stretch, allowing a single table to stretch from the datacenter to Azure. Microsoft released the second preview of Windows Server 2016, and is readying System Center 2016 "to make it possible for you to have Azure in your datacenter, which is consistent with the public cloud Azure," Nadella said. The new Microsoft Operations Management Suite will provide what Enterprise Mobility Suite provides for client device management to datacenter administration, said Corporate VP Brad Anderson.
The company also gave major airtime to new security wares including the release of the new Advanced Threat Analytics tool, which, among other things, manages activity in Active Directory logs. The company also is moving from its traditional Patch Tuesday delivery of security updates, which takes place on the second Tuesday of every month, to "rings" of security releases that will start with the delivery of Windows 10.
For the most part, Microsoft emphasized its new release wave and how it will integrate with key platforms, notably iOS and Android. But in a departure, Windows Chief Terry Myerson couldn't resist talking up Microsoft's added security features on Windows, and the company's new wares to keep Windows even more secure, taking a shot at Google Inc. "Google just ships a big pile of [pause for emphasis] ... code, and leaves you exposed with no commitments to update your device." It was intended to showcase Microsoft's new focus on providing regular security updates for Windows.
Joe Belfiore, corporate VP for the Microsoft Operating Systems Group, showcased the new Windows Hello technology, tied to the company's new Passport authentication service, coming to Windows 10. While Windows Hello will support all forms of biometrics, Belfiore showcased Windows 10 using facial recognition to authenticate into Windows 10. Belfiore also demonstrated many popular features in Windows 7 that will reemerge into Windows 10 and new features, like Cortana, the new personal assistant that will provide answers to questions. "My mission is to convince you and give you the tools with the belief your end users will love and desire Windows 10," Belfiore said.
Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.