Microsoft 'Ignites' Interest in its Enterprise Software

At its its inaugural Ignite conference in Chicago, Microsoft provided myriad new offerings to manage and secure its new Universal Windows Platform and the entire enterprise IT stack.

In a keynote, CEO Satya Nadella explained how the company's new wave of software and cloud services can tansform business practices to align them with how people work. Nadellla emphasized that enterprises need to improve upon system automation, 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 Azure IaaS and PaaS cloud to on-premises datacenters; Microsoft Operations Management Suite to administer multiple server OSes including Linux, clouds and VMs; and Windows Update Service 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 to our IT professionals and end users to make their own choices for their own devices, yet we need to ensure the security, the management. We want to enable our business units to choose the SaaS applications of their choice, yet we want to have the compliance and control of efficiency."

Nadella emphasized three themes: making personal computing more personal and secure, bringing together productivity and process and providing more agile back-end infrastructure. Just about everything Microsoft offers will be updated.

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 take 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. "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 Microsoft's 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.

About the Author

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.