Did You Visit Ignite? Here Are All the Highlights You May Have Missed!

Microsoft Ignite 2021 is over, and this year, 150,000 technology leaders from around the world met for a digital event experience that was 48 hours of pure learning, networking, and excitement. Here is our recap of Microsoft’s big announcements and releases for Azure. Which have got you buzzing?

Azure Arc for Kubernetes (AKS)

Azure Arc allows users to extend Azure management policies and services anywhere, which means that customers can code and ship their applications from Azure, to any Kubernetes environment, no matter where that is.

At Ignite, MS announced that Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes is out of preview, and generally available, so that organizations can connect, manage and govern any Kubernetes cluster across disparate data centers, multi-cloud environments, and edge, directly from the Azure Portal.

Developers can now centrally code and deploy applications in any location using GitOps, and for machine learning, Azure Arc now also supports Azure Machine Learning in preview, so that developers can even build models without learning Kubernetes. All models, no matter where they were originally built are now trackable and able to be stored in one central location.

Listen Up DevOps – Low Code Experiences are Going Next Level

If you’re already a fan of Power Platform on Azure, you’ll know that low-code apps and automations are the future of enabling citizen developers to get their hands dirty, even if they have limited coding or technical experience.

Azure announced two updates for Power Platform at Ignite, too. Firstly, Microsoft Power Automate Desktop, which is a RPA (Robotic Process Automation) extension that is now available for Windows 10 users, and secondly, Microsoft Power Fx. This will be a new language based on Excel, and specifically for low-code builds. This announcement helps bridge the gap organizationally between business users and technical developers, allowing all stakeholders to use a commonly known language to create and enhance applications.

Data and Analytics – Introducing Azure Synapse Pathway

In Satya Nadella’s opening Keynote address, he named sovereign data and ambient intelligence as one of the 5 key drivers of the next generation of cloud innovation. It’s no surprise then that many of Azure’s Ignite announcements were around improving the capabilities around handling data and analytics.

Azure Synapse Analytics is the existing Azure analytics service that allows data stakeholders to gather insights by aggregating data warehousing, integration, and analytics into a single experience. Azure Synapse Pathway was announced at Ignite, allowing customers to scan any source system, and have their scripts automatically translated into TSQL, supporting migration from Teradata, Snowflake, Netezza, AWS Redshift, SQL Server, and Google BigQuery, in minutes, and with no manual rewriting whatsoever.

Some of you may already be benefiting from Azure Purview, the unified data governance service that Azure launched back in December 2020. Purview automatically scans, classifies and governs datasets, and customers can now use the same technology to scan Synapse workspaces, for both dedicated SQL pools, and also serverless. Customers can also now use this technology to scan and classify data in a more hybrid way, including any data that is being held in AWS S3, or on-premises in Oracle DB and SAP ERP instances, too.

Machine Learning, AI, and IoT Updates

Azure Cognitive Search is the only cloud search capability that uses AI to help you gather more relevant content, at scale. This new search offers semantic search capabilities that can browse user intent, not only keywords, and uses natural language processing, concept matching, synonym search, and more. Users can now search and explore SharePoint content from within Cognitive Search, too.

Probably the most exciting announcement at Microsoft Ignite, and one that has got the whole community talking, is Azure Percept. Designed to offer AI-driven insights anywhere, without the need for an internet connection, and at the edge, Azure Percept will help customers to build, apply and operate their AI models in hardware such as edge cameras or audio devices, and is now available in preview.

As expected, Azure Percept will integrate with both Azure AI and Azure IoT services, and as a result of the feature-rich services it can use, will be able to offer use cases from anomaly detection and object detection, to keyword spotting, tracking, and shelf analytics. New offerings include Azure Percept Audio to allow voice-activation such as customer commands, and Azure Percept DK, a deployment-ready development kit that includes a carrier board, mounting tools, and a visual camera-enabled system on module (SOM) called Azure Percept Vision. These capabilities make it perfect for any IoT industry use case from connected and autonomous vehicles, to cashier-less retail, drones and aerospace, agriculture, and more.

Developers will be able to use Azure Percept Studio to simplify AI lifecycle management at the edge, using low-code/no-code experiences to deploy AI models on the cloud or locally, no matter how much experience they have. The Studio includes AI tooling, IoT services, device provisioning, and edge AI lifecycle management at the edge.

It’s Only the Start!

Microsoft Ignite may be over, but the learning is just beginning! Check out the after-party to access more exclusive Ignite materials.

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