On Monday 29 February the Microsoft Cloud Roadshow (formally the Azure Tour) came to London, UK. A free, two-day technical training event for IT Professionals and Developers that provides best practices and insight directly from the experts who build and run the cloud services across Office 365, Microsoft Azure and Windows 10.
There were a number of sessions available to choose from, primarily aimed at either infrastructure professionals or developers.
Keynote – Empowering your journey to the cloud
First up was Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft.
Brad’s message began with the transformation that is currently happening in IT as we transition to the Cloud, and if you haven’t started… it may already be too late.
Microsoft considers it has three ambitions to assist businesses in their journey to the Cloud:
- Reinventing business productivity
- Building the intelligent cloud platform
- Creating more personal computing
But why the Cloud for transformation? In short, three reasons:
- Efficiency – Fast time to value / Pay for what you need / hybrid scenarios
- Agility – Speed / Flexibility / Elastic scale
- Differentiation – Unique customer experiences / New business models / IoT
Every organisation has their own unique journey to the Cloud. Many have already started with SaaS solutions. Some have started with migrating their in-house VMs to IaaS.
Here are some examples of enterprises that have already leveraged the Microsoft Cloud:
- Marks & Spencer
Next we had an insight into a customer science company, Dunnhumby. Twenty-five years ago they began analysing customer data to deliver a bespoke digital experience.
They chose Azure is it gave them the flexibility to deliver solutions without needing the up-front investment typically needed. Time to market was also a factor… Azure gives the company an ability to deliver a solution in record time.
Dunnhumby makes use of machine learning to gain more intelligence from the customer, which in turn enables them to deliver a better, more customised experience.
Brad recommends the book Lean Startup – it details how constant innovation can create a lean business.
The Microsoft Cloud
Microsoft’s Cloud consists of a number of products:
- Productivity & SaaS Apps – Power BI, Office 365
- Enterprise Mobility – Office 365
- Data Analytics – Microsoft Dynamics
- Cloud Infrastructure – Azure Stack
Data sovereignty is a huge concern for Microsoft, and they are committed to ensuring your data is kept safe and in your locality. Microsoft have announced they are building a new datacentre in the UK, which will be up and running by the end of 2016.
Secure Mobile Productivity
Users want to be able to come to work and have the same level of connectivity as they have in their personal lives.
Office 365 together with Delve gives users a single-pane for managing their communication. It gives access to documents, marketing material, etc. It brings users across the enterprise together collaboratively.
Personal Analytics gives users the ability to drill-down into the work to see exactly where their time is being spent. Consider it an intellectual FitBit if you will.
Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection proactively monitors links to protect users and their credentials.
Brad notes that before he can publish his blog it has to be review by legal…
Marks & Spencer was foundered in 1888. They’ve transformed how they deliver IT by using the Microsoft Cloud. They select Microsoft as the tools are well known and understood. They use technology to balance their users work and life.
Using Skype for Business and Yammer. M&S have increased productivity. OneDrive allows for the secure storage was corporate files, and OneNote allows increased collaboration between staff.
It’s clear M&S are “leaning in” to the challenging transformation that is coming to IT.
Data & Analytics
Microsoft have been building a data warehouse in Azure which enables customers to bring their data in for analysis. Using the Azure SQL Data Warehouse, customers can scale up and down to meet their needs.
Tony Petrossian gave a live demonstration on how it worked. Amongst the cool features shown was the ability to pause the warehouse. When paused, customers only pay for the data storage (which is encrypted at rest). When analysis is needed again, the instance can be restarted again.
Databases can then be connected to PowerBI dashboards.
“It’s all about the apps”… and Azure App Service was created to assist developers with creating and managing apps through the Azure Management Portal.
The next session is “Extend your Datacenter to the Cloud“.