A Look Back before Microsoft Ignite 2017

Ignite, Microsoft’s conference for the IT Pro and developer community kicks off on the Gold Coast this week. Myself, Michael Webster and Samer Haque will be in attendance to absorb the plethora of information on offer.

The sheer number of sessions on offer means that I won’t be able to get to everything I’d like, but I’m looking forward to attending a few key ones and meeting with the great partner and customer community in attendance.

Since starting at Insentra last April, my focus on Microsoft has been cloud services including Office 365, Azure (mostly Azure AD and IaaS), Enterprise Mobility + Security (primarily Azure AD Premium and Intune) and of course, Windows 10.

2016 In Review

2016 was such a busy year for Microsoft that it’s difficult to cover every release, everything new and things that no longer exist in the Microsoft space.

Here’s just a few that caught my interest in 2016:

Windows 10

Windows 10 Anniversary Edition was released in July. This was a pretty major release of Windows 10 and the version that we’ve subsequently seen enterprises starting to adopt.

I see so much potential in Windows 10 and eventually the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps. From a end-user perspective, Windows 10 has made these applications usable with the ability to replace many traditional Win32 apps. Imagine the end of application packaging, updates and management on Windows – the ability to provide users with a more stable platform is very compelling.

However, Windows 10 is primarily about physical PCs – Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 in virtual desktop environments presents challenges that earlier versions of Windows did not. Thankfully, there is a healthy community of ISVs (such as our partner, FSLogix) working to solve these challenges.

About FSLogix

FSLogix provides a number of solutions to improve user experience and help IT to simplify application management. As we see the increased up take of Office 365, our customers are implementing FSLogix solution to ensure Outlook and OneDrive work in hosted desktop environments.

Additionally, as IT looks to reduce management overheads involved in delivering a wide range of applications to their physical and virtual desktop estate, they’re leveraging FSLogix to manage access to applications, reduce images and control application licensing.

Office 365

Office 365 development continues apace and perhaps even feels like new features and updates are being delivered ever faster. Microsoft made available it’s Slack competitor in Teams. In some ways Teams makes Microsoft’s collaboration offerings more crowded – we have SharePoint, Outlook Groups, Yammer and Teams

An Office 365 tool that doesn’t seem to get as much visibility is Microsoft Flow. Flow is an automated workflow solution that can help reduce or eliminate manual tasks and is well worth checking out.

Azure AD

Azure AD continues to gain in relevance. As it’s closely tied to all of Microsoft’s cloud services (e.g. Office 365), it’s highly likely to be something your organisation will adopt if it hasn’t already.

Microsoft pitches identity as the “new control plane” and this is especially true as organisations have been adopting more and more cloud services and applications.

Enterprise Mobility + Security, Intune

In my personal experience, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) gained relevance over 2016, which was driven by the importance of Azure AD and device management (i.e. Intune).

Cross-platform Apps

A Mac has been my primary computing device for about 6 years now and I have often been asked why I use an Apple device when I build solutions built on Microsoft services. I’m not really asked this question anymore.

Things are certainly different now – the usability of Office 2016 is great, Microsoft provides plenty of cross-platform apps including Skype for Business, OneDrive, the Remote Desktop client, Visual Studio Code, and a Microsoft Teams client.

Other Notables

2016 was also the year that Microsoft got out of phone hardware and wearables. Not for want of a good platform and features, but stiff competition and being late to the game didn’t count in Microsoft’s favour.

Microsoft did, however, introduce the Surface Studio, which does show that Microsoft knows how to build great hardware and team it with their software to provide a very interesting end-user experience.

Finally, I can’t go past mentioning the LinkedIn purchase for a whopping $26B. How ever you look at it, that’s a lot of money and Microsoft has a lot of work ahead to make the purchase worthwhile.

Wrapping Up

We’ve got 4 days here on the Gold Coast and are planning to provide some additional information with a little insight as we go. Stay tuned for more.

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