Microsoft sparks up Ignite with fresh Azure, Office 365 features
Redmond also shows off SQL Server 2017 and internal Bing
Microsoft has kicked off its annual Ignite conference with a fresh crop of products and services for the enterprise.
Redmond is making Azure, Office, and Microsoft 365 the focal points of the rollout, talking up each product's benefits for business customers.
Azure stacks up and ships out
Among the big announcements this is week is the news that Azure Stack has begun shipping to manufacturers. The on-prem version of Azure will let companies run the Microsoft cloud in-house and transition older servers to Azure without having to worry about shifting data off-campus.
Microsoft is also offering a set of new migration services for companies looking to go from traditional SQL Server databases to an Azure SQL database, including the option to let customers transfer licenses to Azure. A new version of SQL Server, 2017, was also rolled out to add support for Linux and Docker containers, a first for the platform.
"The bottom line is that SQL Server 2017 delivers industry-leading mission critical performance and security with everything built in, including AI, now on the platform of your choice," offered Scott Guthrie, executive VP of the Microsoft cloud and services group.
Other updates for Azure include an expanded Security Center tool, support for CosmosDB with the Azure Functions serverless code, and updates to the Azure Machine Learning and Cognitive Services platform.
Skype and Bing given business suits, Office tie-ins
The Skype VoIP platform continued its push into the enterprise space with the integration of Skype for Business into Microsoft Teams. Companies can now use Skype chats to make group voice and video calls within the Teams collaboration tool and within Office 365.
Office 365 will be updated to integrate with LinkedIn, letting users and companies tie information from their LinkedIn profiles to their profiles within Office 365 directories. Microsoft is also planning to beef up the Office 365 search function itself.
Redmond also wants companies to consider letting Bing into their datacenters. Microsoft says it has launched a private preview of an internal Bing for Business search engine. As the name would suggest, Bing for business would let companies index and manage their corporate data privately with the Bing engine or in combination with web searches.
More Microsoft 365 options
A new bundle for Microsoft 365 will target what Microsoft calls "first line" workers, including those in sales, on factory floors, and medical staff. The F1 package will combine Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility tools. Towards that end, Microsoft said it has signed up HP and Lenovo to the Windows AutoPilot program, meaning hardware from both companies can be shipped with custom device configuration and apps already installed.
Microsoft is also aiming a new crop of Windows 10 S hardware at the frontline and education markets. The low-cost hardware would be intended for use with cloud services that don't carry heavy hardware requirements. ®