Top 4 Takeaways from the Microsoft Ignite Conference, 2016

Microsoft Ignite, bills itself as THE technology conference of the year. This year, the Microsoft Ignite conference was held in Atlanta, GA from September 26-30. This was the second year for Ignite which consisted of a consolidated format that replaced conferences like TechEd, SharePoint Conference, and Microsoft Management Summit.

As Director of Engineering for KnowledgeLake, I was there. Don’t worry if you weren’t able to make it to the Ignite conference, because I attended many of the sessions. Here are my top four takeaways:

1. SharePoint’s Future Is Bright

There were over 200 sessions at the Ignite conference that touched on all aspects of SharePoint including roadmap, hybrid, SharePoint 2016, Office 365 and SDKs. A lot of attention was paid to the new SharePoint Framework (SPFx). SPFx is billed as a new client-side framework that enables developers to build rich client-side solutions on-top of SharePoint. SPFx allows web developers to leverage their preferred open source toolkits (React, Knockout, and Angular) to deliver a responsive mobile first-user experience. SPFx seems positioned to fill a void in the SharePoint SDKs that will enable developers to deliver the next generation of solutions for SharePoint.

2. Containers for Windows?
Ignite conference
If you are unfamiliar, containers are a lightweight alternative to full machine virtualization allowing for isolation and portability of software from machine to machine. Over the past three years, containerization has become mainstream with open source tools like Docker, but so far, it has only served the Linux community. Seeing an opportunity to help their Azure initiatives, Microsoft made significant changes to the kernel in Windows Server 2016 to fully support containerization. The release of Windows Server 2016 with Docker support and the upcoming release of Azure Container Services for Server 2016 should give Microsoft a lift in both on premises and Azure VM deployments.

3. Democratizing Artificial Intelligence (AI)

From the Ignite keynote to the final breakout sessions, it was obvious that Microsoft is making huge investment in bringing AI to the masses. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated that “We are pursuing AI so that we can empower every person and every institution that people build with tools of AI, so that they can go on to solve the most pressing problems of our society and our economy.” Examples of this new technology include Cortana, SwiftKey, Skype Translator, Bot Framework and Cognitive Services. These amazing new tools seem to be just the tip of the iceberg, as Microsoft announced that they have formed a new AI Research Group that employs 5000 computer scientists and engineers to focus on brining AI into the entire Microsoft stack. Microsoft’s amazing Ignite conference educated me on their next generation of tools and technology.

4. The Cloud

For the past several years Microsoft has focused significant resources into Azure to deliver PAAS, SAAS and IAAS offerings to their entire ecosystem. For Ignite the focus was on increasing the accessibility to Azure including network bandwidth improvements by up to 50% leveraging NVGRE, the general availability of Azure DNS and finally the Azure Stack private cloud which promises to bring a hybrid experience for enterprises to leverage Azure for the public and private cloud.

With the focus on Azure at the Ignite conference, it was the perfect opportunity to introduce KnowledgeLake Capture Server Professional – a highly flexible, cloud-ready platform designed to enable decentralized organizations to centralize document imaging, processing, content management, indexing, reporting and monitoring from one cloud-based application.

“This conference also inspired me to start tinkering with these new tools to see what new and innovated features I can add to the KnowledgeLake suite of products. I can’t wait to take a deeper dive with Docker, Cognitive Services and of course the SharePoint Framework.”

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