Microsoft Ignite: “IT now stands for innovation and transformation”
This week about 23,000 IT professionals from around the world meet in Atlanta to attend the second Microsoft Ignite Conference to learn about the latest innovations in security, intelligence and the Cloud. On Monday, what attracted all attention were the keynote presentation and the innovation keynote.
First keynote on digital transformation
During the first keynote, Julia White (Corporate Vice President), host of the session, explained that those who refuse to learn, adapt, change and evolve will be left behind and that is why it is so important for every company to catch the train of digital transformation. Scott Guthrie (Executive Vice President) emphasized the challenge of digital transformation. Our society is undergoing a digital shift as the amount of mobile and digital devices and the amount of data continuously grow. The role of the IT industry is to help customers successfully achieve their digital transformation. The solutions to reach the transformation will be based on security, intelligence and the Cloud platform.
Microsoft announced the most secure browser for the enterprise with Microsoft Edge combined with a new protection technology called Windows Defender Application Guard. It will protect from attacks on employee devices and across enterprise networks by preventing untrusted browser sessions.
Other announcements are intelligence sharing between Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection and Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, the introduction of Office 365 Threat Intelligence to intercept threat and respond to security incidents and Microsoft Azure Information Protection to classify, label and protect sensitive data.
Analytics and Intelligence
With the continuous growth of data, it is always more complicated to find out what is relevant or not and what to do with it. Cortana can now search content on OneDrive and the web. With Delve Analytics (now rebranded myAnalytics), users can see how they work and spend their time. Microsoft featured the conversion of digital ink to intelligence in a new Office feature planned to be released next year: OneNote transposed and solved a handwritten mathematical formula.
Microsoft announced a strategic partnership with Adobe where Adobe brings its Marketing, Creative and Document Cloud Services to Azure.
The general availability of Windows Servers 2016 and System Center 2016 has been announced, Windows Server 2016 now including a free access to the commercial Docker engine.
Finally the second technical preview of the Azure Stack includes new features like Azure Key Vault and Queue storage.
Second keynote on innovation and artificial intelligence
Satya Nadella (Chief Executive Officer) closed the first day with a keynote on democratizing artificial intelligence from the intelligent agent to intelligent application, intelligent services and intelligent infrastructure.
The agent that Nadella refers to is Cortana. It can use machine learning to find commitments made in an email and reminding you to do so.
Regarding applications, the goal is to improve applications with better intelligence, such as a swift keyboard application to which you add neural networks to better predict the next word a user will swipe.
The services are based on Cortana Intelligence Suite. The bot framework helps make it easier for users to build intelligent bots for applications. Cognitive APIs will also be part of the services, for example, Uber asks their drivers to take selfies to verify their identity with image recognition.
This part focuses on Azure and its intelligence features such as the computational network toolkit (CNTK), a platform that can be used for advanced AI research or TensorFlow, an open-source software library for numerical computation designed for the purposes of conducting machine learning and deep neural networks research.
Now the company is investing in field-programmable gate array (FPGA) support on every computer node in Azure to develop the “most intelligent cloud”. Essentially, they tremendously expand their computer power and are putting an “AI supercomputer” in Azure.