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3 things you need to know from Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021

Lars Klint
Lars Klint

This week, ACG was at Microsoft Ignite, which was in the cloud. That’s right, it was a 48-hour online event that showcased all of Microsoft’s latest products and services. It’s the biggest news in Azure this week, which is why, in this post, we’ll talk about three things you need to know from Microsoft Ignite Fall 2021.

But wait. “Microsoft Ignite?” you might ask. “Didn’t that already happen?” Don’t worry. It’s not déjà vu or a glitch in the Matrix — this is the second Ignite event of the year following Microsoft Ignite back in March.

Read on for the details!


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1. What is ubiquitous computing?

Let’s start with the phrase that embodies the updates at the conference: ubiquitous computing.

Ubiquitous computing is a super fancy term, traditionally used with IoT, that simply means everything has the potential to be connected, and we can benefit from that. Or, in a slightly more dystopian way: allowing computing to permeate all areas of life. The recent pandemic and change in how we work have pushed the need for ubiquitous computing.

First, it has rapidly pushed the timeline for hybrid adoption forward. This push toward hybrid and the shove to remote working has caused companies to scramble to hybrid models where they used to be on-prem.

It has also caused issues with remote workers who still need to have connections to their co-workers and the office when the office now doesn’t exist. I see those issues playing out at the conference with a push toward new hybrid offerings as well as quite a few upgrades with AI and Teams that are all designed to allow for co-workers to interact more seamlessly in a remote world.

Second, the desire for ubiquitous computing has led to an increased focus on Data Democratization. (Yes, I get paid extra for every $5 buzzword used.) In all seriousness, though, Data Democratization is all about enabling access to important data for all employees that need it, regardless of technical background. In almost every new service or update, there is a push to increase connectivity with other services and platforms and decrease the technical barrier of entry. At least as much as possible.

I believe you see this most with Power Platform updates and increased seamless security updates, including the development of the trust fabric. This concept also comes to light with the updates to Open AI Service and the new GitHub Copilot, which we’ll talk about more in-depth here shortly.

Before we move on, I would suggest that as you learn about the new services, consider how each service makes the technology more ubiquitous in your life and easier to use throughout the organization. Next up…

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2. Some noteworthy Azure developer updates

On the developer side of Azure, there were a few highlights worth calling out.

  • The most exciting and buzzwordy announcement from Ignite Fall 2021 was Azure Container Apps, a serverless application-centric hosting service where you don’t manage any underlying VMs, orchestrators, or other cloud infrastructure. It’s built on Kubernetes and will let you deploy microservices architectures much easier and faster.
  • Azure Logic Apps can now be used in conjunction with Azure Arc to run fully disconnected. This means you can use Logic Apps locally, on-premises, multi-cloud, and of course, still within Azure. Azure Arc enables a whole new range of Logic Apps integrations, which is kinda the point with Logic Apps. They also now support managed identities for even easier and more secure authentication flows, and there are updates to the designer experience too.
  • Azure Communication Services have two new updates. First, SMS shortcodes to deliver a high volume of messages with both sending and receiving capabilities, important for 2FA authentication and other high-volume messages. Second, Microsoft Teams integration for voice, video, and chat between websites, custom applications and to Teams users.
  • Other notable news includes Azure Service Bus supporting sending and receiving payloads up to 100MB, Web PubSub going into general availability, Azure Kubernetes Service supporting Java Enterprise Edition, and the Open Service Mesh (OSM) add-on for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) now generally available.

3. GitHub Copilot wants to make you a better developer

Finally, let’s take a minute to talk about GitHub Copilot. This is a fascinating service that highlights the opportunities and brings out some of the fears of new technology as well.

What is GitHub Copilot?

GitHub Copilot is an artificial intelligence tool developed by GitHub and OpenAI to assist users in coding. Essentially it combines with Azure Open AI to decrease implementation times and help coders focus on higher priority tasks.

It provides codes suggestions across a broad set of frameworks and languages such as Python, Javascript, Java, and dozens more. As the developer, you then have the opportunity to accept, reject, or modify the suggestions. As you edit the suggested code, GitHub Copilot will adapt to your edits and begin to provide suggestions that better match your coding style.

What makes this a fascinating concept is its duality. If it works as suggested, it will decrease entry barriers to project development and potentially decrease development costs and delays.

There will, inevitably, be concern over the quality of the suggestions as well as fears about developers being replaced. As a developer, though, I don’t think you should be worried. Developing code requires creativity and an understanding of human behaviors and business needs that are not even close to being solved with computing power alone.

The concern of code quality is a more valid issue. To partially address this, GitHub states that Copilot has been trained on billions of lines of public code. Some preliminary studies show that Python, Javascript, and Java work particularly well; however, more research would likely be needed before an immediate large-scale implementation into your dev environment. These are concerns that are generally solved with time as the service goes into production.

Discussions like this one at Ignite point to the future of development and the cloud — and it’s a major reason why I love attending conferences like Ignite.

There was more delicious cloud stuff to come out of Ignite than we could ever cram into a single post, so check out the recorded sessions, too, for more knowledge injection.

As we say on the A Cloud Guru team, when a major event has too much overwhelming knowledge to inject into a single person, but then you remember you have an awesome team to share it with: “Seek, and you shall cloud.” See you next time, and keep being awesome, cloud gurus!

Want to keep up with all things cloud? Subscribe to A Cloud Guru on YouTube for weekly Microsoft Azure news (plus news from those other cloud providers too). You can also like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or join the conversation on Discord!

Brian Roehm also contributed to this post.

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