In Case You Missed It - Microsoft Ignite 2017 Edition

If you did not get a chance to make it over to the 2017 Microsoft Ignite Conference in sunny Orlando, Florida this year in September, no need to worry, we have covered and summarized the most important topics for you here.

Frank Sander, Hybrid Cloud Management Manager at COMPAREX

An article by Tommy Scalici, Hybrid Cloud Management specialist at COMPAREX

Exchange Online Geo Tenancy

This new feature is in Preview at select tenants and scheduled to be generally available in the first quarter of 2018. It allows organizations with users around the globe to place their mailboxes in Microsoft Datacenters where they reside. For example, a multi-national organization, will benefit from this. It will allow, for example, COMPAREX, whose Office 365 tenant is EMEA based, move the mailboxes of their U.S. based users into a North American Datacenter. This will slightly improve performance as well as help with data compliance and residency. The same is coming for OneDrive, SPO, and Teams data. Here you can view the entire recorded session on this topic from Ignite. 

Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate is a new free tool from Microsoft that allows organizations to prepare for a migration to Azure. Microsoft has integrated Cloudyn to help with analytics and cost optimization into Azure. This new tool also performs a very nice application and dependency mapping. Essentially, we can replace Cloudamize with this new service and it would be a great addition to an Azure Unified Cloud Management (UCM).

Azure File Sync

Also announced in the same session with Azure Migrate, Azure File Sync (currently in technical preview) allows a standard Windows File Server to synchronize the files stored on the server into Azure Blog Storage. The data can then be backed up and even mapped to in the event of a file server failure. Azure File Sync will also allow administrators to tier their data. This means that they can keep their most frequently used data on premise and their infrequently used data in Azure. This is a nice replacement for organizations that don’t need a feature-rich StorSimple device.

Saying Goodbye to Passwords

A strong message throughout the conference was around security. Given the recent headlines on the topics of data leaks, hacks, and malware, this is no surprise. There are some great new features available within Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) on Windows Server 2016. Microsoft is pushing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) integration for everything, the use of Windows Hello to log into your PC as well as Office 365, using PINs in conjunction with MFA and Bi-Metric devices (iPhone TouchID and Face Detection), as well as some new options within ADFS on Server 2016 to prevent and mitigate brute force attacks against ADFS using some Geo-IP intelligence. Also, Microsoft has added MFA support for RSA, Duo, and Trusona. Here is a recording for this conference session that was held at Ignite 2017.

Azure Security Center

Building on the security message, Microsoft stressed the importance of turning on Azure Security Center in the Azure tenant. This is a free tool (free for Azure Resources only) that allows administrations to view all of their Virtual Machines (VMs) and show any vulnerabilities such as unpatched systems, systems missing AV / Malware Protection, non-encrypted disks, open Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) ports, etc.  It’s a free tool that anyone using Azure should make use of. There is no harm in turning it on. You would be surprised what you find out about your machines running in Azure.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Augmented Reality (AR)

If you were able to live-stream the Keynote address from Satya Nadella , you quickly read between the lines that AI is going to be very big this year. Microsoft announced that Bing for Business  (B4B) is in preview for select Office 365 subscriptions. Microsoft did a demo that showed how an organization can utilize Bing for Business (new and now in preview) to import, for example, a company handbook, and using the AI features in Bing for Business, type in “How many vacation days do I get each year”? One would just assume that B4B is just performing an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) read of that data somewhere in the handbook, but nowhere in the handbook is “How many vacation days to I get each year” spelled out. With the technology of AI, Bing for Business was able to figure that out. Microsoft also demonstrated the use of the pesonal assistance software Cortana, integrated with Exchange Online and an HR system. The employee was able to just tell Cortana, “I’m going to take vacation next week”. Automatically, the employee’s time was checked in the HR system, paid time off booked, and even the employee’s out-of-office message was automatically set in Outlook for next week.

For Augmented Reality, Microsoft demonstrated the use of their Hololens linked with Team and Skype for Business on how people could meet in AR as well as collaborate together on projects as if they were standing next to each other. Very cool!

SAP on Azure

Microsoft has been moving at lightning speed and they are going to surpass Amazon Web Services in terms of who has the better platform. I am confident of this. There was a lot of buzz around Microsoft encouraging customers to move their on premise SAP environment into Azure. Azure can now support up to 20TB of RAM on their SAP HANA Large Instance VMs! SAP customers no longer have an excuse not to move those large environments into Azure. Microsoft is sponsoring partners who will move customers into SAP HANA in Azure .

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Leipzig, 20.10.2017

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