The biggest news at Microsoft Ignite was all about Azure

microsoftMicrosoft’s flagship Ignite conference just wrapped up, and I still have Azure on my mind. The cloud computing platform received considerable attention at the conference, and for good reason: Connectivity and security improvements, as well as new partnerships, set the roadmap for its future.

Microsoft presented dozens of advancements, innovations, and upgrades at Ignite, from nifty upgrades (improvements to the Surface Pen allow it to cross out and delete text) to functional enhancements to core products (Exchange 2016 has better interoperability with SharePoint 2016). Other big stories included Docker’s inclusion in Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft’s push to “democratize AI.”

But the biggest news during the conference was Adobe announcing it’s moving its Software as a Service (SaaS) applications to Azure. A vendor of this size and diversity moving to Azure signals that other enterprises must consider moving their critical applications and services into the cloud. Veeam and Veritas also announced tie-ins to the Azure platform, which continues to gain momentum.

That’s due in part to continued improvements – here are three of the latest we learned about at Ignite.

1. A new focus on connectivity. The number of companies networking into Azure is increasing. But that’s maxing out the number of IPV4 addresses available, so Microsoft is focusing on Azure’s IPV6 connectivity. More reliable connectivity will be critical as more organizations turn to Internet of Things capabilities that are supported in the cloud. Those features will be available for Windows Servers and Linux-based virtual machines.

2. Security is still a priority. Microsoft has continued beefing up security and announced enhanced application gateways that sync with different web application requirements. This improvement secures end users’ communications and encrypts that data, which should help protect organizations in the event of a breach.

3. Differentiating work and personal files. The new Azure Information Protection is taking data-loss prevention to the next level; the smart software can distinguish between personal and work files. More advanced password protections ensure data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, and file permissions can be added (or cut) long after data is created and edited. These may not be the most glamorous improvements, but they’re important security measures that protect data across desktops, phones, and tablets.

Big partnerships, incremental improvements

No doubt, the Adobe-Microsoft Azure partnership is the big news from this year’s Ignite. But for IT departments, the smaller Azure improvements will prove equally beneficial – if not more so – in the long run. Microsoft’s focus on security and connectivity (not to mention some portal improvements for billing management and network health monitoring) provides even more credibility to this cloud platform.

What did you learn at Ignite? Let us know in a comment below.

Bill Carolan contributed to this post.

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