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Microsoft Ignite 2021: 4 Top Takeaways From Scott Guthrie And Judson Althoff

Guthrie, who heads Microsoft’s cloud and AI group, and Althoff, who heads the worldwide commercial business, used keynotes at Ignite to discuss the future of Azure, Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.

As cloud technology advances in the coming years and customers become more comfortable with adopting it, the cloud is going to become an “ingredient” in “everything that happens in the world,” a top Microsoft executive said during the company’s Ignite 2021 conference this week.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a physical device in the world that, five or 10 years down the road, will not have an IP address and will not be in some way cloud connected,” said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president for the tech giant’s cloud and AI groups.

During keynotes at the virtual Ignite 2021 conference, Guthrie (pictured) and Judson Althoff, executive vice president for the worldwide commercial business, shared their visions for the biggest opportunities with Microsoft’s cloud-focused strategy.

What follows are four top takeaways from Guthrie and Althoff’s keynote sessions at Ignite 2021.

Microsoft Focused On ‘Business Outcomes’

FedEx gains new insights on the 15 million-plus packages with the help of Azure Synapse. Coca-Cola cut the number of security applications in half and moved them to Azure. And BMW uses Microsoft Dynamics 365 to send wholesale leads to dealer partners in real time.

These were some of the examples Althoff used to highlight the variety of actions large enterprises can take with Microsoft’s products and suites, but also how the company is less interested in which brand brought the company across the finish line.

In a virtual presentation that included interviews with Microsoft customers all over the world in front of various green screen backgrounds, Althoff delivered the message that Microsoft is invested in a variety of technologies and strategies and that it won’t steer customers toward the technology du jour. Sometimes, a solution is more involved and requires assets from across the Microsoft portfolio.

“If all we did for you was lift and shift your assets to the cloud, we would be doing you a disservice,” Althoff said. “We’ve really made sure that technology is the servant of the business outcomes.”

Interoperability Is A Focus

In Guthrie’s question-and-answer session with Merrie Williamson, vice president of Azure apps and infrastructure at Microsoft, Guthrie said that interoperability remains a top value for Microsoft’s product suite.

“We had a lot of customers that used our products on premises, and that promise that you can both use our capabilities, in our cloud, on premises and in other people’s clouds, stitching that together into a solution or a set of solutions, I think is also one of the things that makes Microsoft unique,” Guthrie said. “I don’t think there is any other vendor in the cloud space that has the depth of hybrid and the depth of multi-cloud support that we have.”

Azure Sentinel, Microsoft’s next-generation SIEM to investigate issues and monitor an environment, works not only with the Azure cloud platform, but also with on-premises and Amazon Web Services environments.

“We’re also really trying to make sure that this hybrid multi-cloud approach is something we’re thinking about, broadly, inclusive of security,” Guthrie said. “You’ll see us continue to invest heavily there in the years ahead.”

Part of the glue enabling hybrid and multi-cloud project approaches is Azure Arc, Guthrie said, which also has updates headed its way.

Security Is A Balance

Microsoft spends more than $1 billion a year on its own security and uses thousands of security experts to protect its cloud, Guthrie said. But just as important is supplying customers with the tools to secure their own assets.

“Security is both something that we need to watch and to work on, but it’s also something that, as you build apps and deploy things, you also need to make sure that you’re looking at your own code and looking at your own way of configuring things as well,” he said.

Azure Policy Support, for example, allows IT professionals to set security policies centrally and expand to every app in the Microsoft Cloud. Microsoft Cloud also publishes a Security Score for free with suggestions on how to improve security.

Microsoft has announced updates for Azure Security Center and Azure Defender. The security status of Azure Firewalls is now available in the Azure Security Center dashboard through integration with the Azure Firewall Manager. New reporting capabilities in preview for Azure Security Center enable customers to create quick reports on top of security data.

Power Platform Gaining Traction

The Ignite 2021 conference included a number of announcements for Power Platform, the company’s business apps platform for users without backgrounds in development, engineering and data science.

The platform has seen some success -- Guthrie said that Power BI is “the leading BI tool in the world” with almost all Fortune 500 companies using it. But ultimately, getting non-engineers to accomplish tasks that once required an advanced specialty or that once required extensive coding frees up employee time and speed up customers’ operations.

“Our mission statement, as a company, it really is to empower every person and every organization in the world to be able to achieve more,” he said. “That is the foundation and mission statement of our company.”

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