Microsoft Ignite 2021

Expert Insight

Microsoft Ignite 2021 Key Updates

It’s been a year of innovation for Microsoft, from the revolutionary Windows 365 Cloud PC to Microsoft Inspire and the introduction of Windows 11. The ground-breaking announcements continued at the virtual 2021 Microsoft Ignite conference last week, with a strong theme of hybrid work throughout.

You can watch the full Microsoft Ignite experience below – or keep reading for our chosen highlights…

As our Technical Director Alex, said, not to be confused with Marvel’s Multiverse…

The Metaverse is the new buzz word of the moment and simply means a digital space holding digital representations of people and things. You can almost think of the Metaverse as a new, interactive internet space for users to communicate and work with others.

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, states that he ‘cannot overstate how much of a breakthrough’ this is:

“As the digital and physical worlds come together, we are creating an entirely new platform layer. In a sense, the Metaverse enables us to embed computing into the real world, and the real world into computing, bringing real presence into any digital space.”

Crucially, Microsoft are working on ensuring that users can personalise their digital representations in order to further break down physical constraints and connect those in diverse locations. The Microsoft update featured two key capabilities to continue the Metaverse evolution:

  • Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces – Previewing in early December, this solution utilises AI powered skills to gather observational data, unlock insights about your environment, and provide a real-time response to trends and patterns. This can be used to help gain new perspectives on specific scenarios such as customer behaviour, in industries such as retail or manufacturing.

  • Mesh for Microsoft Teams – Rolling out in the first half of 2022, Microsoft Mesh for Teams will use personalised avatars and virtual spaces to allow people in physically different locations to share the same holographic experiences, making remote meetings more immersive from any device.

Microsoft Ignite also introduced a variety of major AI breakthroughs across Microsoft Azure services, aimed at assisting businesses manage and secure their data and applications across hybrid and multi-cloud environments with Azure Arc.

Utilising Azure Arc, IT service management can take advantage of Azure’s security, management and governance capabilities for Windows, SQL Server, Linux, and Kubernetes deployments – whether that be in their datacentres, at the edge, or in a multi-cloud environment.

Teams Connect is all about making external collaboration between organisations easier than ever. Through creating a new Shared channel on Teams, users can share these channels across multiple organisations, allowing seamless communication, collaboration and sharing without leaving your own tenancy.

Further Microsoft Ignite updates include the announcement of Microsoft Loop – the new Office collaboration app that syncs across Microsoft 365 applications. Essentially the newly branded Fluid components, Loop consists of three core elements:

  • Loop components: Pieces of content organised into pages inside the Loop application, that also sync across Microsoft 365. This means that content shared in Teams for example, can also be edited with the Loop application, with real-time updates.
  • Loop pages: Flexible canvases for individuals to share and collaborate on Loop components together. Here, users can additionally share components created outside of Loop.
  • Loop workspaces: Similar to a project board, Loop workspaces are shared spaces where users can view all components, pages and tasks.

Context IQ is the integrated AI experience that turns insights into actions across Microsoft 365. This set of capabilities essentially predicts, seeks and suggests information to users, right when they need it, in order to accelerate collaboration with Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365.

Last but certainly not least, Microsoft Defender for Business. As a top cyber security company, we’re very excited about the new Microsoft security endpoint solution coming into preview soon. Aimed at SMB’s, Defender for Business aims to improve both the cyber security management and cyber security operation for businesses with up to 300 users, in an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution. Capabilities include:

  • Threat and vulnerability management
  • Attack surface reduction
  • Next-generation antimalware and antivirus protection
  • Endpoint detection and response
  • Automated investigation and repose
  • APIs and integration

Defender for Business delivers industry-leading managed security tools at a flexible price to suit your individual business requirements. Once available, you’ll be able to purchase these Microsoft security essentials directly through Microsoft or your chosen Cloud Solution Provider (CSP).

These new advancements announced at Microsoft Ignite offer hyper-connectivity, technological flexibility and end-to-end security to businesses, in order to optimise the new world of hybrid work. The core theme throughout the event was undeniably focused on strengthening the connections between people and organisations wherever they reside.

These are just our chosen highlights, but Microsoft Ignite actually saw over 90 new services and updates announced!

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we empower our clients with cutting edge, secure cloud technology and ensure they take full advantage of the power and value provided by the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

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