Microsoft Cloud and Mobility solutions

Microsoft held its Cloud and Mobility Summit at the Allstream Centre in Toronto on December 3rd and 4th.  The event was divided into two separate days, one for cloud and one for mobility. Each day provided introductions to Microsoft’s cloud and mobility solutions – both what is available today, and what we may see in the near future.

The basic theme was “reimagine your business in a cloud-first, mobile-first world.”  The first day – Cloud Platform solutions – was divided into two streams:  decoding the future (including the Internet of Things), and transforming today.  The headline was:  transform your business with cloud solutions.

The second day – Mobile productivity – also had two tracks: mobility, and productivity.  For this day the headline was: Untether your team to get more done – wherever and whenever.

Here are a few things I thought were notable:

  • In the keynote speech I believe I heard that only 1 in 10 CxO-level executives feel they understand cloud. I find this to be very low, given that one of them is the CIO. It is disturbing if cloud computing is still a mystery to the majority of senior managers, even if the technical details are complex. That may indicate the Gartner Hype Cycle still has a ways to go.
  • Identities and identity management in the cloud are important for various reasons. Azure Active Directory and the integration of on-premises AD and Azure AD is an advantage for Microsoft given AD is the largest directory in the world, with 750 million accounts. Azure Active Directory is also included in Office 365. Identity management is a key part of the “control plane” for cloud computing.
  • Hybrid cloud is a preferred deployment pattern. The whole concept of geographic distribution and virtual location is evolving. The difference between on- and off-premises will grow less distinct, especially in a mobile world.
  • Microsoft appears to be embracing the multivendor nature of cloud computing, and is increasingly a promoter of standards. This, in my opinion, is a welcome development.
  • Software-defined everything is increasingly the norm. The idea of Software-Defined Networks has expanded into software-defined storage. Managed virtualization could even be called software-defined computing. We are heading, in my opinion, towards a “Software-defined IT Ecosystem.”
  • Discovery will be an increasingly important area for cloud applications and data, with app stores and the app ecosystem expand. How will public and enterprise search evolve to suit a cloud-based world?
  • The Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite, which includes Azure Active Directory, Intune and Azure rights Management Service, and the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite, which includes Office 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Windows Enterprise, were discussed. The latter begins the transition to per-user licensing and provides a more cloud-like pricing approach.

For many organizations, Microsoft’s developments with Azure and Office will help to support the adoption of a “cloud-first, mobile-first” strategic direction. The presentations also seem to resonate with the research on millennial workers of Don Tapscott and the ideas on Systems of Engagement from Geoffrey Moore.

In general, I thought the sessions provided a good overview of the potential for innovation with both cloud and mobility, as well as highlighting many of the challenges and considerations that can arise.  You should check out the various presentations at the Microsoft website.

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