Azure Announcements From Microsoft Build

We’ve already discussed our enthusiasm for Microsoft’s robust global data storage model, Azure Cosmos Database DB, but there were a lot of other exciting takeaways from the Build Conference. Take a look at some these offerings, and the potential for a more fluid, creative, intelligent, and mobile workflow.

Fluent Design

Microsoft is highly focused on creating seamless transitions across devices. These include a cloud-powered clipboard so that you can copy on your desktop and paste on an array of mobile devices, as well as expanded functionality for the Surface Pen, which can now be used to strike through data in tables, among other things. All of these advances dovetail with a concept Microsoft refers to as “fluent design,” which extends basic mobility to create a much more organic user experience (UX). Dynamic headers, windows that resize fluidly without eclipsing menus and toolbars– these changes are meant to transition mobility so that it’s not simply a method for consuming data across platforms, but for creating content.

Graph

Graph is the muscle behind much of this push, coupled with Cortana. While Graph has been doing the heavy lifting of connecting apps for a while now, its mission has been expanded. It’s now responsible for tracking a much broader spectrum of activity including communication and web usage and offering you a fluid timeline interface that allows you to navigate back and forth with ease. Cortana will assist in this process by offering to pick up where you left off when you transition to a mobile device, regardless of whether you run Windows on your phone.

Azure IoT Edge

As the IoT expands, Microsoft is looking to increase the role of smaller, cloud-connected devices by transitioning them from merely collecting and transmitting data to actually handling some of the processing workload. Doing so provides data in real-time, enabling you to make faster decisions. In settings with safety considerations, the speed of the Edge network may actually save lives. And on a more workaday level, brief cloud disruptions will no longer affect your workflows. The programming tools involved are familiar ones, and include Java, .NET, and Python. Microsoft has demonstrated Edge technology on devices as small a Raspberry Pi, which gives you some sense of how broad a net you could cast. Think of Edge-connected technology as an AI ecosystem, one that offers a constant stream of real-time data from literally millions of devices. The Edge has the potential to reduce the amount of information you need to store in the cloud, so it’s a cost-saving measure, as well.

Development Tools

In addition to all of these other offerings, Microsoft is continuing to move toward a more collaborative and crowdsourced development model. All developers are now free to publish to Microsoft Teams, and Microsoft is working to make their apps more accessible to end users. They’re also offering higher visibility to ISVs who host their software on Azure, and Microsoft employees will be incentivized to promote ISV offerings. New capabilities and Graph APIs will allow developers to hit the ground running as Microsoft rolls out all of their announced changes.

Global data storage, increased mobility and fluidity, AI that increases both the pace of data collection and its application– Microsoft has its foot on the digital accelerator. And it looks like an exciting ride.