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Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021 recap!

9 min read

Hello there! It’s time for another Microsoft Ignite event and for another recap of the keynotes we’re about to hear and see remotely today. As is customary, I will be recapping the main keynote sessions today and point to any additional links and content I find while watching the keynotes. You can find a collection of the announcements at the end of this post. Ensure to refresh this post, as I will frequently be updating this throughout the first day of Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021.

If you’re wondering why I’m referring to the event as Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021, it’s because we had Microsoft Ignite 2021 in March this year. You can view the full session catalog here.

Should I miss anything crucial, I’d love it if you could point that to me via Twitter (@jussiroine)!

You can find the Book of News here. Derek Martin also has a very cool page on all the new announcements here.

Microsoft Ignite opening with Satya Nadella (view)

It’s the time! Satya Nadella’s keynote starts now! He isn’t in his usual home office, or at least the background view is now different.

As is customary, Mr. Nadella sets the lay of the land for what to expect from Ignite, but also a more holistic industry view on what and where IT is going next. Hybrid work first, it’s definitely a megatrend by now – and I guess we’ve all been part of this for the past year and a half by now. He also mentions the great reshuffle, that I’ve seen in recent days being mentioned.

Also, 41 % of people surveyed are considering leaving their current employer. Second, a hyper-connected business is crucial – as in, building one. I really like how Microsoft ties the narrative to recent events, such as supply-chain issues. Every business process will be enhanced with AI, and will be digital. Perhaps so, but I’m not expecting that to happen overnight.

The pace is fast, so I’m skipping some of the more “out there” figures and numbers that are thrown around. Complexity will increase, and cybercrime will increase. The cost of cybercrime is expected to increase to $10 TRILLION by 2025. I’m not sure how many zeroes that is, but it’s plenty.

A new Microsoft cloud diagram! Now the industrial clouds are part of the big picture. A total of 90+ new updates will be announced during Ignite. Some of those are big, splashy announcements such as Microsoft Loop. Others are smaller yet important updates.

Also, the Microsoft Customer Experience Platform is announced.

Azure Arc gets plenty of love also.

Next, three main emerging ideas. AI first. I guess that’s to be expected. More than 95% of Fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft Azure, and the goal is to ensure AI innovations end up as services available in Azure.

Megatron-Turing NLG, 530 billion parameters. Impressive. I think. I’m not entirely sure what this specifically allures.

Azure OpenAI service announced, it seems to encapsulate GPT-3 as an Azure Cognitive Service. Great! I’ve been expecting this. See here for details.

As someone said last time we had Ignite, the keynotes are more and more business-focused now. I agree this time around also – but this is perhaps better, as the pace is very rapid now. A lot of examples are thrown around customer relationship management, supply chains, and how inserting product X from Microsoft will help a company solve problem Y. Usually, it’s Microsoft Teams as X.

And now, the Metaverse. For me, this feels like a revival of the Mixed Reality vision from circa 2018. It will be interesting to see if it picks up this time around.

Perhaps this side image sheds a bit more light on how Microsoft plans to approach the Metaverse.

Here’s a picture of the immersive process in Metaverse, using Microsoft Teams.

But why do the avatars have no lower torso?

It’s an interesting demo, yet I’m not entirely sure if this era of virtual avatars, non-awkward-MR-headsets and seamless experience is here just yet. I’ll definitely keep an eye on the progress with the Microsoft-envisioned Metaverse.

And that’s it with Mr. Nadella! Fewer surprises, but very smooth, good pacing, and all the core topics were highlighted. Next, we dive into more specific topics.

Microsoft Cloud Conversations with Judson Althoff (view)

Judson Althoff taking the stage now. This feels and seems a bit more high level – I hear supply chain mentioned again.

It’s a set of conversations focusing on how technologies are adapted to different industries. Okay, I was setting up for a few screenshots, and the Judson Althoff keynote wrapped up in the meantime. Moving forward!

Empower everyone for a new world of hybrid work with Jared Spataro (view)

Next, Jared Spataro.

Partially, I miss the live keynotes. Anything could happen. The pre-recorded sessions are perhaps a bit too polished. But first, Windows 11. I guess we’ve all had a chance to upgrade to Windows 11 by now, and the stream of news in recent months has revealed everything there is to know about Windows 11. Microsoft Loop is the new app for collaborative work.

See details here. It certainly looks interesting.

It spans OneNote, Teams, and Outlook – will start rolling out later in 2021.

Moving next to Context IQ. It embeds with Microsoft Editor, very interested to see how this eventually works with real work and multiple accounts and tenants.

Microsoft Teams Connect enables seamless work with an extended team across tenants. Other Teams innovations such as a virtual green room were also quickly shown.

The idea with collaborative apps is that you can expand your business apps to Teams, or expand Teams to work with or close to your business apps. A sample shown from ServiceNow, that has integrated Teams directly to the solution.

A few examples of Teams capabilities, such as focused webcam views and PowerPoint capabilities.

Cameo mentioned, allowing you to embed your webcam feed within a PowerPoint. Looks great. Cameo will be available in early 2022. Microsoft Mesh (the Metaverse approach) will be available for preview during H1/2022.

Microsoft Viva then, it’s now generally available. It includes Connections, Insights, Learning, and Topics.

And that’s a wrap for the Teams-focused keynote. We’re back with Judson, with the next guest. I’ll try to pick up something useful from this. It’s a showcase for Unilever and how they’re utilizing Microsoft Viva.

Build a hyperconnected business with Alysa Taylor and Charles Lamanna (view)

And right off the bat, we switch to a customer case showing Heineken. This seems to be a recurring theme – give more space to show what customers are using, rather than focus on technology and new updates. I’ll make coffee while I’m waiting for the actual keynote to resume. She is now recapping bits and pieces from Mr. Nadella’s session, so I’m still drinking coffee.

A high-level demo on Supply Chain Insights, part of Dynamics 365.

 

Charles Lamanna next, and shifting our focus to Power Platform. He officially announces Context IQ now. Available some time in 2022. See details here.

Voice Channels for Dynamics 365 Customer Service is also now generally available. A lengthy demo on how the Xbox support utilizes this capability.

Microsoft Customer Experience Platform officially now also announced.

I have zero knowledge about this, so I dug up this link, that at least tries to tell the marketing story behind this. The demo shows how data generated by a customer for an e-commerce solution can be leveraged using this service.

A rapid demo of T-Mobile utilizing Process Advisor, part of Power Platform.

I’m slightly worried that the hottest technologies – such as RPA shown here – do not warrant a proper demo from Microsoft, but a very high-level showcase from a customer.

And that’s a wrap!

Innovate Anywhere From Multicloud to Edge with Scott Guthrie (view)

Without missing a beat, we move to ScottGu’s session.

Microsoft Cloud is now available in more than 60 data centers. Very impressive!

Now we get to dive a bit deeper into Azure, starting with hybrid and multicloud. For this, we have Azure Arc.

Azure Arc on VMware vSphere is announced. Other updates include Azure Virtual Desktop on Azure Stack HCI, Azure Arc-enabled data services updates, and Microsoft Defender extension to AWS. See the links at the bottom of this blog post for more details.

SQL Server 2022 Preview announced!

Azure Synapse Link Dataverse is generally available today.

From here, it’s a quick tour through the capabilities in Cosmos DB.

Azure Container Apps announced, allowing you to run container apps without needing to manage the platform (Kubernetes). See docs here.

GitHub Copilot mentioned, this was announced previously.

PowerApps gets a new Pay-as-you-go pricing model, which allows for costs to be managed through the Azure subscription, as opposed to via Microsoft 365 licensing.

And that’s it with ScottGu. One more to go! Hang in there!

Protect Everything with End-to-End Security with Vasu Jakkal (view)

Finally, let’s focus on security.

It’s a bit of an education journey here, as the security landscape is quite wide and complex with the Microsoft Cloud. Microsoft Defender for Business announced – for small and mid-sized businesses (up to 300 employees).  Preview soon. Details here.

Bi-directional detection & response announced for Microsoft Defender and Azure Sentinel.

A few smaller announcements, specifically for Microsoft Information Protection.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps (which used to be called MCAS, or Microsoft Cloud App Security) now has better multicloud capabilities.

And Microsoft Defender for Cloud is what we used to know as Azure Defender and Azure Security Center. Also, Microsoft Endpoint for Linux was announced. Be sure to dive deeper into these through the breakout sessions!

And this concludes the keynotes for tonight. Phew, we made it!

Announcements

In closing

I will update the announcements list in the coming days when I trawl through the numerous little updates and announcements. The keynotes were a bit “meh” for me – perhaps I was (again) expecting slightly more technical, and less polished customer showcase reels. Thank you for reading, and don’t hesitate to ping me via Twitter (@jussiroine) if you have any questions!

 

Jussi Roine

Jussi worked in the past for Microsoft as an Azure Developer Audience Lead. It was fun, but his passion was building something from scratch. He now runs North Advisors, that focuses on Azure and Power Platform consulting and support. During his spare time, he also co-produces the ravishing Ctrl+Alt+Azure podcast, with new episodes each week.