A closer look at the big developments and sessions on the ground at Ignite
Microsoft host an annual conference on the Gold Coast, ‘Microsoft Ignite’. They get to showcase new technologies and platforms, engage with partners and customers and generally share information on their platforms, tools and services. This is my first time attending – not having a Microsoft technology background, I’m interested in the direction Microsoft are taking, particularly with concerns to Cloud Services, Analytics & Machine Learning and their embrace of Open Source.
Three companies using Cloud technology in innovative ways
After an inspiring keynote covering off a range of topics in which we discovered how companies such as BMW use IoT (Internet of things) to constantly analyse their cars in almost real-time. We also saw how Rio Tinto are taking a “public cloud first” policy and are aggressively migrating to Azure. My personal favourite was how Rolls Royce have flipped their entire business model using IoT and machine learning to analyse the huge amounts of engine telemetry data they receive and offer managed contracts to airlines.
Microsoft’s containerisation approach
We also learnt about Microsoft’s direction with concerns to containerisation through advanced container service capabilities in Azure and Windows Server 2017, the ability to use pretty much any container orchestration technology (think Apache Mesos, Kubernetes, Docker Swarm) and the integration with Visual Studio 2017 and Visual Studio Team Services for development and deployment. It was interesting to see how Azure Stack will facilitate a true hybrid approach enabling workloads to be seamlessly deployed to either or both environments.
Customers use cases for advanced Microsoft technologies
Customers came on stage to talk about how they are embracing Microsoft technologies in their organisations. One customer leverages machine learning and the cognitive API suite to democratise easy to use enterprise BI as a service offering and has been widely adopted by a number of industries locally and internationally. Another organisation uses Machine Learning IoT to analyse weather data for agriculture, advising on when best to plant and harvest.
Azure Logic Apps
There was a demonstration on how “Azure Logic Apps” can be used to string together disparate services to create powerful conditional workflows. This technology alone has so many implications in how we can architect applications on the Azure cloud. I wrote a recent blog on the full suite of Azure Integration Services, which you can read more on here.
‘Blockchain as a Service’
I attended myriad workshops, the most interesting of which was the talk on Blockchain and how Microsoft are offering a “Blockchain as a Service” on the Azure Cloud. They explained the difference between Blockchain 1.0 and 2.0 and how Smart contracts are in use today and helping drive innovations across many industries not least Fintech and InsurTech. I plan to devote a future article to Blockchain, it’s a complex subject and has far reaching implications for how we architect systems for the future.
To summarise, the overarching themes were the services Microsoft offer over its traditional IaaS/PaaS compute, networking and storage services. The Analytics and Machine learning capabilities, together with their easy to consume cognitive APIs, will lead to some interesting experiences in due course. “Serverless” computing environments using Azure Functions and “Logic Apps” to chain together heterogeneous applications and services, fundamentally changes the way we think about traditional application architectures. I’m keen to talk to organisations about how Bulletproof can help enable their customers through better experiences, leveraging these and many other services.
Over the coming weeks I’ll write further blogs exploring how these technologies and services work and where they may be applicable in real world scenarios.