Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Microsoft Intelligent Cloud Architecture Bootcamp in Bellevue. This was an intensive week of presentations, training, and hands-on workshops. Primarily I came away impressed by how fundamentally Microsoft have changed their company. They are no longer the ‘Windows company’, but a platform computing company at global scale. They have also transformed their technology offering from a proprietary based strategy to one of openness, embracing, no actually encouraging, open source technologies.
During the week I learned a great deal about the capabilities within Microsoft’s cloud platform – Azure. Here are just a few highlights that Surefire will be investigating incorporating into our products and solutions to enable breakthrough capabilities for our customers:
1. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
This is one that Microsoft have simply nailed. Azure AD is the backbone of their IAM capability, and it is absolutely impressive in its scope, depth, reliability and security.
Want single sign-on? You got it, out-of-the-box.
Secure? Far more secure than anyone else can make it.
Need compliance to a specific regulation or standard? Microsoft has the top 72 of them covered.
It has reached the point that it is probably just irresponsible to use anything else.
2. Modern Workloads
Microsoft has invested heavily in supporting modern Microservices workloads in containers both for their own heritage .NET technology stack using Service Fabric, and for the more open source stacks more popular in some verticals, such as Java on Linux, using Kubernetes. Yes, Microsoft might not just catch up, but leap frog AWS with first class native Kubernetes support, in a fully managed service.
And then there’s ‘serverless’. A potentially game changing way of building and running next generation applications and services that are massively scalable and reliable at a very efficient cost.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Azure has a deep and rich capability in AI already today, and Microsoft appear to be investing heavily to build on this even further. With pre-built AI services available such as: OCR, Object recognition, and Language translation (this being at human parity!), and a capable and growing toolkit for training your own AI, the possibilities abound.
So in summary, Microsoft definitely convinced me that their Azure offering is transforming completely away from the proprietary ‘Windows world’ to an open, trustworthy, and extremely powerful compute platform.
Companies such as Surefire can take advantage of this to deliver highly innovative products and services that will enable our customers to more fully engage with their customers in a meaningful way, creating a sustainable strategic competitive advantage.
Mark is Head of Development at Surefire Systems and is strongly focused on rapidly and frequently delivering business value and crafting solutions that delight our customers.