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September 25, 2017updated 01 Jul 2022 9:32am

Microsoft Ignite: Quantum computing, Cloud & AI kick off the show

Microsoft are marching boldly into the future by making moves into areas such as quantum computing.

By Tom Ball

At the Microsoft Ignite 2017 event, the tech industry behemoth outlined new initiatives intended to pave the way into the future of business.

Artificial intelligence combined with cloud and mixed reality is the powerful concoction that Microsoft believes will allow customers to visualise what they can expect from business in the future. Other cutting edge technology trends including quantum computing have taken centre stage at this major event.

Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 have been expanded, and in the case of the latter, artificial intelligence is being brought into play to further disrupt traditional processes. Microsoft are also leveraging the hybrid cloud, making the SQL Server 2017 available on Linux and Docker.

Nick McQuire, Vice President, Enterprise Research, CCS Insight said: “Whilst Satya Nadella’s Ignite keynote showcased progress across mixed reality, Office, LinkedIn and Azure, the firm is not losing sight of future breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge and quantum computing. These are now playing increasingly central roles in its positioning for the future.”

CBR highlights the biggest announcements from Microsoft Ignite so far.

Quantum computing

Microsoft announced the arrival of a new programming language that is intended to be used to leverage the power of quantum computers. This will involve deep integration of the programming language into Visual Studio, set to create useful simulations for developers running Microsoft Azure locally.

Developers will be able to use these new capabilities to debug programs, in addition to bringing quantum algorithms on board. This move could potentially prove to be an important step toward leveraging quantum computing.

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When presented today by CEO, Satya Nadella, quantum computing was considered as one of three nascent technologies that would be essential to the future of Microsoft. The other two of the three important nascent technologies are AI and AR.

Nick McQuire, Vice President, Enterprise Research, CCS Insight said:“Ignite was Microsoft’s first public push into quantum computing, putting it squarely against key rivals Google and IBM in cloud computing’s next big arms race. Although wide scale quantum-based solutions won’t arrive for another decade, Microsoft is now showcasing its new tools that put a marker down on the next shift in computing and cloud services. Along with artificial intelligence, this is the next frontier of competition amongst the major cloud providers.”

Microsoft 365 expansion

Microsoft 365 has been sharpened up with the addition of two new solutions intended to better equip schools and frontline workers.

Within this enhancement, new search capabilities will be available, coupled with developments in IT management that assist customers in remaining secure and compliant. This has been linked to the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation arriving in May 2018, helping customers prepare with only months to go.

Microsoft 365 F1 will include the standard tools, but more interestingly, it will be capable of supporting new devices, and it will be able to support StaffHub, all in all providing a more formidable professional bundle. The question could be raised as to which professional areas Microsoft may target next with a bundle.

New intelligent search capabilities form the core of this big announcement, working toward a system of intelligent communication that will be based on Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is the company’s group chat service, aimed at replacing Skype for business purposes.

Dynamics 365 AI solutions

The new AI solutions for Dynamics 365 are set to impact critical enterprise scenarios, services and apps for major disruption to established, traditional processes.

Dynamics 365 is centred on drawing together technological capabilities to enhance visibility, and streamlining traditional processes.

Artificial intelligence is arguably the top tech trend at present, with it being linked to a variety of disruptive use cases within the enterprise.

Nick McQuire, Vice President, Enterprise Research, CCS Insight said: “As expected, artificial intelligence was a major theme across the keynote and the technology has emerged a critical strategic focus for Microsoft. Despite the hype and heavy implications around the technology, CEO Satya Nadella continues to reinforce Microsoft’s cloud attributes that are helping it establish early leadership in this field. This is emerging the new battle ground for cloud supremacy.”

Microsoft Azure hybrid approach

General availability has now been opened for SQL Server 2017, which will also be available on Linux. In addition to this, a containerised version will be available for Docker. This news is considered an important landmark given the wider availability.

The popularity of the Linux version has also been gauged as it received in excess of two million downloads of the SQL Server for Linux Docker image in the preview period.

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The Linux version will however be missing some elements that require elements from Windows, for example, Windows authentication and a feature for clustering support will be absent from the newly arriving Linux variant.

Hybrid cloud is a combination of third-party cloud, private cloud and on-premises; using this method, workloads are not shackled to just one platform. Flexibility is the main advantage of this system, with benefits to cost and added options intended to be the main attraction.

HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure stack

HPE have announced that ProLiant systems will be available for the Microsoft Azure Stack, providing customers with the opportunity to streamline their Hybrid IT environments for greater efficiency.

It is intended that ProLiant for Azure Stack will allow for Azure-consistent services to be managed and run on-premises. Principally this would make it easier to manage both software and firmware updates, while also enhancing speed for customers to handle workloads.

This initiative is intended to be beneficial in terms of cost, but also operationally, a move incorporating HPE’s focus on putting partnerships first, and endorsing collaboration. Involved in the project to bring ProLiant to Azure Stack are the likes of DXC Technology, Veeam Software, Sogeti, NTT Communications, PwC and Wipro.

Mike Neil, corporate vice president, Azure Infrastructure and Management, Microsoft Corp, said: “Customers are looking to build modern applications across cloud and on-premises environments that meet business policies and regulatory requirements… With HPE ProLiant for Microsoft Azure Stack, customers can innovate on a truly consistent, high-performance hybrid cloud platform that will increase agility, enhance innovation and control costs with the right mix of cloud and on-premises that is under their complete control.”

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