Doing more with less with the Microsoft Cloud

Doing more with less with the Microsoft Cloud

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The following is an excerpt from my remarks at Microsoft Ignite this morning.

We are living through a period of historic economic, societal, and technological change, but for all the uncertainty we continue to see in the world one thing is clear: Organizations in every industry are turning to you and your digital capability to help them do more with less, so they can navigate this change and emerge much stronger.

You are the change agents who make doing more with less possible – less time, less cost, and less complexity, but with more innovation, more agility, and more resilience. Doing more with less doesn’t mean working harder or longer. It means applying technology to amplify what you can do and ultimately what an organization can achieve amid today’s constraints.

Over the past few years, we’ve talked extensively about digital transformation, but today we need to deliver on the digital imperative for every organization. And it all comes down to how we can help you do this with the Microsoft Cloud. No other cloud offers both best-of-category products and best-of-suite solutions.

At Ignite, I walked through five key imperatives for every organization.

Be data-driven and optimize with Azure

It all starts at the infrastructure layer, and how we are helping you build agility and optimize your business with Azure. Moving to the cloud is the best way to align your IT investments to scale with demand, so that you can do more with less.

Azure is the only cloud that supports all organizations and all workloads, from enterprises to startups, to highly regulated industries. Azure is the world’s computer. We have more than 60 data center regions connected by 175,000 miles of fiber, but it doesn’t stop there. We want to help you deliver the power of Azure anywhere. That’s where Azure Arc comes in.

Azure Arc extends the Azure platform so you can build applications with Azure services that can run across on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud environments. As Kubernetes adoption takes off, you can use Arc to run containerized applications with Azure Kubernetes Service on Azure Stack HCI, Windows Server, Windows devices, and Windows IoT, enabling a consistent experience from cloud to edge. And we will enable AKS to run on even more platforms going forward.

We also want to help you modernize your infrastructure from the ground up, taking a systems-level approach, starting with compute. Our new Azure VMs with Ampere Altra ARM-based processors operate the highest clock speed of any ARM-based processor available in the cloud today and are more cost-effective and power efficient, without compromising on performance.

With new premium SSD v2 disk storage, we offer the most advanced general purpose block storage solution available, designed for performance critical workloads that consistently need sub-millisecond latency combined with high IOPS and throughput.

And with Azure Elastic SAN, we offer the industry’s first cloud-native, fully managed storage area network service. It offers massive scale and enables customers to seamlessly transition their SAN data state to the cloud without having to refactor their application architectures.

When we say the trusted computing platform for all organizations and all platforms, we mean it. Azure is the only cloud provider enabling highly-regulated industries to bring their most sensitive applications to the cloud.

Azure Confidential Computing can help you protect data while in use, thanks to enclaves that protect and isolate code and data in a Zero Trust environment so that customers can prevent even Azure as the cloud provider from gaining access. We provide the broadest and deepest set of virtual machines, containers, and services, powered by the latest confidential capable CPUs from Intel and AMD, as well as confidential GPUs from Nvidia.

And we continue to expand our Azure Confidential Computing portfolio with Confidential VM Node Pools on AKS, enabling a seamless lift and shift of Linux container workloads and Confidential VM options on both Azure Virtual Desktop and SQL on Azure VM. I was also excited to announce the preview of Azure Managed Confidential Consortium Framework, which allows developers to build, deploy and manage highly sensitive multi-party applications.

Now, let’s turn to data.

With our Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform, we provide a complete data fabric, from operational stores to analytics and data governance, so you can spend more time creating value and less time integrating and managing your data estate.

Our goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive end-to-end data platform, so you don’t have to wrestle with the complexities of building and operating cloud scale data infrastructure yourself.

Analytics alone on our Intelligent Data platform costs up to 59% less than any other cloud analytics out there. And today, we’re going even further. When it comes to our operational databases, Azure Cosmos DB will now support distributed relational data with support for native PostgreSQL. This offers the best of both worlds: the scalability and the high performance of a NoSQL, as well as the familiarity and the benefits of a relational database.

When it comes to analytics, with Azure Synapse, organizations can put their data to work much more quickly, productively, and securely, generating insights from across data sources. We offer out-of-the box link connectors for Azure SQL, Cosmos DB, and Dataverse, and we are working with many partners to deliver link connectors for even more hybrid and multi-cloud data sources.

Finally, when it comes to governance, all of these operational and analytical capabilities are fully integrated with Microsoft Purview. With Purview, organizations can scan, catalogue, lineage-trace, and configure data management and access policies across the entire data estate.

And we know this is a team sport. We are working across our entire partner ecosystem to ensure category-leading solutions are deeply integrated with everything I’ve talked about.

Deliver efficiency with automation and AI

Now, let’s talk about our second imperative: delivering efficiency with automation and AI. When it comes to doing more with less, AI is the ultimate amplifier. It’s going to change what an application looks like, what the design language of an application is, and how it gets built and gets delivered.

We are committed to making the promise of AI real for you and doing this responsibly. We have built next-generation supercomputers in Azure that are being used by us and OpenAI, as well as customers like Meta, to train some of the largest and most powerful AI models.

Azure provides almost 2x higher compute throughput per GPU and near linear scaling to thousands of GPUs, thanks to world-class networking and systems software optimization. And for inferencing, Azure is more cost effective than any other cloud, delivering 2x the performance per dollar.

In Azure, we also offer the best tools across the ML lifecycle, from data preparation to model management. Data scientists and machine learning engineers can use Azure Machine Learning to build, train, deploy, and operate large scale models at scale.

We ourselves, along with our partners, are using all of these capabilities to train state-of-the art AI models. We are seeing exponential progress in their practical capabilities and are at a real inflection point. We have trained Turing for rich language understanding, Z-code for translation across hundreds of languages, and Florence for breakthrough visual recognition.

The other massive thing we have been doing is our work with OpenAI. We have trained the GPT family of models for human-like language generation, DALL-E for realistic image generation and editing, and Codex for code generation in more than a dozen programming languages.

And, at Ignite, I talked with OpenAI co-founder and CEO Sam Altman about our work together, and how we are turning these breakthroughs into capabilities for our customers, announcing that we will bring the power of Dall-E to the Azure OpenAI Service. Sam also showed a demo of OpenAI’s latest Codex prototype:

We are bringing these advances to our first-party Microsoft services too, including the new Microsoft Designer. We fundamentally believe that AI will not only amplify what we can do but also augment our curiosity, creativity, and imagination. Designer is your personal design generator powered by AI models, including DALL-E 2. It creates new designs that the world has never seen before and that are uniquely yours.

I showed how useful this could be for a small business, for example:

Innovate with a cloud developer platform

We’re also applying these AI models to transform how people build software, which brings us to the third imperative: innovating with the most comprehensive cloud developer platform.

With GitHub Copilot, we are applying Codex to suggest code and entire functions in real time, right from your editor, turning natural language into coding suggestions. It draws context from the code you’re working on to finish the lines you start and even suggest entire functions.

Just like the rise of compilers and interpreters, we believe AI-assisted coding will fundamentally change the nature of software development, giving developers a new tool to write better code, easier and faster. Developers tell us they feel more fulfilled and less frustrated when coding, and ultimately are able to do more with less. 

We are bringing the same principles and capabilities behind Copilot to Power Platform. With Express Design and Power Apps, you can upload a hand-drawn sketch and it will be converted into a working app within seconds. It’s that easy. You can also describe what you want to do in natural language, and Power Apps will generate a list of most relevant Power FX formulas for you to choose from. The code essentially writes itself.

And, we are going even further, bringing AI-powered Copilot capabilities to Power Automate. You can describe what you want to automate, and it’ll generate suggested flows to jumpstart your Flow creation:

Reenergizing your workforce

Now, let’s turn to our next imperative: reenergizing your workforce. We are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime change in work patterns. We’re not going back to 2019. We need to accept that and find a new path forward, and we need to directly address the lessons we have learned over the past couple of years.

Our latest Work Trend Index identifies three clear priorities for every organization: We need to stop the endless productivity paranoia. People are working more than ever, but leaders still worry employees are not getting the job done. We need to embrace data over dogma, and realign organizations around the most important work. We need to embrace that people come to the office for each other, not policy. And, as leaders, we need to re-recruit our employees. Re-recruiting doesn’t end when the job offer is accepted. Leaders must continuously help their employees learn new skills or risk losing them.

Employees must be empowered and energized to do meaningful work so that they can thrive. To do so, organizations require a new system to build human, social, and knowledge capital across the entire organization. You need to help people feel aligned to the company’s mission, purpose, and business priorities. You need to help them connect with each other, wherever they are and whenever they’re working. You need to help them continuously build new skills in the flow of work, and you need to have all these things working in harmony to have a workforce that thrives.

That’s what Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva enable.

With Microsoft 365, we provide a complete cloud-first experience that makes work better for today’s digitally connected, distributed workforce. Customers can save more than 60 percent, compared to a patchwork of competitive solutions. Microsoft 365 includes Teams, plus the apps you’ve always relied on – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, as well as new apps for creation and expression, like Loop, Clipchamp, Stream, and Designer.

And it’s all built on Microsoft Graph, which makes available to you information about people, their relationships, and all their work artifacts, in one interconnected system. Thanks to the Graph, you can understand how work is changing and how your digitally distributed workforce is working.

This is so critical, and it all comes alive with the new Microsoft 365 application. It provides personalized recommendations, powered by the Graph. It brings together all your favorite productivity tools, as well as the third-party solutions you choose to add.

Now, let’s talk about Microsoft Teams. Work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to be great at sync, async, in-person, as well as remote collaboration.

Teams supports all the ways people work today. It has become essential to how hundreds of millions of people meet, call, chat, collaborate, and do business. And, we’re announcing new Teams features today at Ignite to help you not only have better meetings, but to change meeting culture too.

This includes Teams Premium, which delivers advanced meeting protection so you never have to worry that your most sensitive conversations might be shared, and also Intelligent Recap, which uses AI to assign tasks during meetings and call out important moments in the recording.

The killer app, of course, for Teams is the Teams App platform, and how it has become the organizing layer for all the applications you can use to run your business. Just like mobile devices completely transformed how people consume software, we’re seeing collaborative applications in Teams transform how people work together.

Collaborative apps represent a paradigm shift in how apps are built. Instead of apps being the focal point where users go, collaborative apps bring business workflows, data, and insights to where users are. More than 1,600 third-party applications are available on the Teams app store today, and more than 100,000 companies have deployed their own custom line of business applications in Teams.

American Airlines, for example, has used Power Apps to build a collaborative application that brings together ground crews with its flight crews, in order to speed turnaround times at its gates:

When it comes to new collaboration patterns, our approach extends to where people work so you can unlock productivity wherever you are. With Teams Rooms, we’re bringing Teams to a growing ecosystem of devices and space configurations to help people stay connected and participate from anywhere.

And I’m very excited to announce that Cisco will become a Microsoft Teams Room certified device partner and will run Teams Rooms on Android natively on their room systems. The certified device portfolio will include multiple meeting devices and peripherals, with more to come.

Our approach to space extends to the metaverse, and how we’re bringing together the digital and physical worlds. We’re taking an approach to ensure that our software can benefit users on all their favorite devices. Just yesterday, we announced with Meta that we are bringing Teams immersive meeting experiences to Quest, so you can connect, share and collaborate in VR, as though you’re together in person.

And today, I was thrilled to announce the private preview of Mesh avatars in Microsoft Teams globally. Customers will be able to build their avatars in a way that reflects their identity and can represent them in meetings, giving them the flexibility and choice to be present without ever having to turn on a camera.

And, we’re not stopping there. We want to help you evolve and manage your space for both hybrid and in-person work. The hybrid workplace today is too often completely ad hoc. Leaders are being asked to rethink their real estate portfolio with limited data, and employees are being asked to go into the office, with limited understanding of why they should have to come in.

And that’s why we’re announcing Microsoft Places. We want to help you turn your space into a place. A space becomes a place when people give it meaning. Think about the importance of the Outlook calendar for orchestrating when people meet and collaborate. Places will do the same for where:

Finally, let’s talk about Microsoft Viva. When work is increasingly happening anywhere, anytime, the employee experience needs to adapt accordingly.

Viva is the first employee experience platform for hybrid work. It brings insights, connections, purpose, and growth into the flow of work to empower employees and teams to do their very best. Viva provides one system for leaders and employees to receive actionable insights and feedback, connect the entire company from the frontline to the CEO, align on an organization’s goals, and learn new skills so that they can collectively drive better business outcomes.

Just last month, we announced the availability of new capabilities that bring business goals into the flow of everyday work, making it easier to share OKRs and track progress across the organization. Think about how powerful that is: When all your objectives and key results are shared across the organization, everyone gets aligned.

Viva helps every employee excel, and we are also extending Viva with tailored solutions to meet role-specific needs. For example, Viva Sales, which became generally available last week, provides sellers with a unified view of their activities, bringing real-time CRM data directly into their customer interactions across Teams and Outlook. And we’ll have more role-specific solutions coming in the near future.

Just like we are building Teams, Viva, and Places for the new era of work, there are two other platforms that I want to talk about, and that’s Microsoft Edge and Windows.

With Edge, our mission is to build the most secure and most productive browser. Edge is the browser for business. Edge makes it easier to protect your organization’s data as well as your privacy online.

And I was very excited to introduce Edge Workspaces, a new experience which enables everyone working on a project to see the same websites and files in one place, so that they can stay on the same page. Instead of sending links over e-mail or chat, you can open an Edge workspace and access a shared set of tabs:

When it comes to Windows, we have fundamentally redesigned the operating system, from the client to the cloud, for hybrid work. Windows 11 is designed for the future of work today. From the new PCs we announced this morning, to the expansion of our cloud offerings, Windows continues to evolve to work the way you do. And with Windows 365, we are transforming how you experience Windows by bringing together the power of Windows computers with Azure computing.

Protect everything, everyone, everywhere

As the pace of threats accelerates, security is a top priority for every organization. Protecting is complex and can get expensive. Every organization experiences this: The more agile you become, the more your security teams struggle to manage risk. And the more connected we become, the faster a successful attacker can move laterally through the enterprise to their target.

For far too long, customers have been forced to adopt multiple disconnected solutions from disparate sources that don’t integrate well and leave gaps. We offer a better option, a natively integrated security solution that is supported by a vibrant partner ecosystem.

It starts with Microsoft Entra, our new vision and portfolio for identity and access. It extends to Microsoft Purview, as well as Microsoft Priva to help you manage privacy, and Microsoft Intune to protect your endpoints and manage them, and of course, Microsoft Defender and Sentinel.

You get a comprehensive solution that closes gaps and works for you at machine speed. On average, customers save more than 60% when they turn to us, compared to a multivendor solution.

Our approach extends to all clouds and all platforms, and we are investing to protect you. Today, we introduced new innovations in Defender for Cloud, including enhanced security posture management that will help you focus on the most critical risks and provide built-in multi-cloud security recommendations. The new Defender for DevOps helps you secure the entire development lifecycle in a unified DevOps security management across multiple environments.

We’re also adding automatic attack disruption to Defender to limit lateral movement and help you stop ransomware before it gets a chance to encrypt your data. And we are adding new identity governance capabilities to Entra, providing even greater control over digital identities across on-premises and the cloud so that only the right people are granted the right access to the right resources at the right time, which is so critical in a world where everything is just one login away.

 ***

I’ll end where I started. These are the digital imperatives for every organization. And what I’ve shared with you is just a snapshot of what you’ll see this week at Ignite. We’re introducing more than 100 updates across the Microsoft Cloud in order to help you do more with less.

These are your building blocks. Ultimately, it all comes down to the outcomes you drive with these platforms and tools, and how you’re able to use them to transform your company, your industry, and the world.



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