Microsoft Ignite 2021 was as hot as the previous installments. New services were introduced and a lot of upgrades to the existing ones were also shown. The event was held from 2nd to 4th of March 2021 and the information released is too much to ingest if you try going through it all at once. Some of you might have attended the event while some may have missed it. And with all that is happening around us, it is quite possible to forget the key takeaways from a virtual event.
That is why we decided to go through the event ourselves and bring you all the major news and announcements from the event in case you missed it. So without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
Here are the highlights of the Microsoft Ignite 2021:
- There were some major changes and updates announced in Azure Networking, Azure Active Directory, and Azure Spring Cloud. In Azure Spring Cloud we saw improvements and updates in Semantic Search Capability and Azure Synapse Pathway.
- In Power Platform: AI capabilities for chatbots, Robotic Process Automation (RPS) for Window 10 Users, and a low code programming language Power FX was announced.
- When it comes to Microsoft Team the newly announced features and updates include Teams Connect to add people to Teams meetings without an account, Endpoint Transfer to seamlessly switch between devices during an ongoing call, and Presenter Mode with three styles. Webinar capabilities were also announced in Teams.
- In regard to Microsoft 365, updates and new features were announced for Microsoft Mesh and Azure Security Center.
Various new Azure Cloud services were made available in Microsoft Ignite 2021. Let’s take a brief look at them:
- As many as 30 new built-in connectors were added to Azure Sentinel which is Microsoft’s Security Information Event Management (SIEM) service. These new connectors were added for Cisco Umbrella, Microsoft Dynamics, VMware, and Salesforce Service Cloud.
- Support for role-based access control was added to Azure Machine Learning.
- A new service for migration has been introduced. Organizations can now move their applications from one Azure region to another whenever a new region is introduced using Azure Resource Mover. Billing will be unique to the Azure Platform.
- A new communication service has been introduced. Azure Communication Service platform is a managed service to integrate voice, video, text, and data communication.
Some updates for the Azure Active Directory were also announced. Let’s take a look at them:
- Support for password-less authentication has been added to the Azure Active Directory. Using this, employees of an organization will be able to sign in using the Microsoft Authenticator App, Windows Hello for businesses, or compatible FIDO2 security keys.
- Support for header-based authentication apps has been added to the Azure Active Directory Application Proxy. Using this, header-based applications will be able to natively link to Azure Directory.
- Azure AD External Identities will enable Azure Active Directory to gain access to an organization’s customers and partners. The first 50,000 monthly active users with External Identities are going to be free for all tiers.
- Customers will be able to upgrade from Basic SKU to the Standard SKU of the Azure Public IP without needing to change their public IP address using the Azure Public SKU upgrade.
- Customers will now have the option to control how traffic is routed between Azure and the internet using the Azure Networking Routing Preferences. They will have the option to optimize for performance or cost. These options have been named “cold potato routing” and “hot potato routing”.
Azure Spring Cloud
A service for developers of Spring Boot-based Java applications has been introduced that is considered to solve a number of infrastructure and maintenance problems. This service is known as Azure Spring Cloud Service.
For customers requiring extra security, a new GA feature has been introduced. Managed Virtual Network deploys Azure Spring Cloud with an extra added layer of security. Another GA feature that has been added is Autoscale for Azure Spring Cloud.
Azure Spring Cloud service has been made available in 7 more Azure regions, which make the total number of regions with Spring Cloud availability 18.
Semantic Search Capability in Azure Cloud
Microsoft has taken Semantic Search Capability a step further by introducing this new semantic search capability in Azure which will enable developers to search results based on user intent instead of keywords etc. This is a huge step forward.
This service uses advanced machine learning techniques to understand the intent of the user and then return the most relevant search results.
Azure Synapse Pathway
Migration from a legacy or cloud data warehouse is being accelerated and simplified by Azure Synapse Pathway. By providing an automated translation of existing business logic, migration has been made easy by Azure Synapse Pathway. This downloadable tool will enable customers to access resources such as SQL Server, Netezza, and Snowflake, with Teradata, BigQuery, Redshift. More resources will be added to the list.
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Microsoft Power Platform
New Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities have been added to Power Virtual Agents in this new version of Microsoft Ignite, allowing experts in the field to build smarter chatbots.
A big announcement related to Microsoft Power Platforms was that Microsoft is bringing Robotic Process Automation or RPA to all windows 10 users with the new desktop application “Power Automate”. This desktop application will allow users to automate their personal desktop experiences with macros. The best part about this feature is that it is available free of cost to all Windows 10 users.
Another major announcement related to Power Platform was Microsoft’s low code programming language called Power FX. It has been designed with the intent to become the most dominant programming language across all of the power platforms.
An amazing Teams feature that was introduced in this Microsoft Ignite was Teams Connect. This feature will allow users to incorporate anyone, internally or externally, into an individual Teams channel without having to add them to the Teams themselves.
Another important Teams feature that was introduced is Endpoint Transfer which will allow users to seamlessly transfer their audio between devices mid-call. So a user can transfer their audio from laptop to phone or phone to laptop mid-call without any interruption.
Another big addition to teams was Presenter Mode. This mode allows presenters to customize the appearance of their video feed and content. It has 3 styles. The first one is StandOut which will cut out your silhouette and drop it right in front of the presented content. The second one is SideBySide which places your camera screen directly alongside the slide deck. And the third one is Reported, which will give the user a show-looking feel by showing their silhouette alongside the slide deck.
Video Hard Mute function is another addition to the teams. It is the ability to disable attendee video during meetings. Meeting organizers will be able to outright block a user from turning their camera on.
This is one of the major reveals of Microsoft Ignite 2021. What it means that customers will be able to use the Microsoft Teams web portal as a webinar platform.
Tenants e3 and above can welcome up to 1000 interactive participants in a webinar. These participants can interact with polls, chat, turn on their cameras, etc.
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Attack simulation training, which is a crucial and valuable component of Microsoft Defender for Office 365’s protection against phishing and ransomware was announced.
Some other major updates and news include the following:
Microsoft Mesh is the company’s next-generation mixed reality collaboration platform. Mesh can be thought of as what augmented reality in Microsoft Teams meetings could be. It could allow people to meet virtually in a way that simulates presence and incorporated space.
Mesh is being designed to support a slew of devices including Hololens, Oculus, smartphones, and even desktop computers.
Via integration with the Azure Firewall Manager, the security status of Azure Firewalls is now available in the Azure Security Center dashboard. Customers can generate fast reports on top of security data with new reporting capabilities in preview for Azure Security Center.
With such updates and the addition of advanced features, it can be hard to keep up and maintain the skills that are required to learn and work on these services. ITProTV offers training to help keep your skills up to date.