By John Filippis, Strategic Engagement Manager, Quorum
So here I am.. sitting in an auditorium filled with 2500 people, a light show, cameras and a background soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mykonos nightclub in the middle of a Greek island summer. Yes it’s show time for Microsoft Ignite 2015 and it is about to kick off with the keynotes. This year Sarah Vaughn, the Developer Experience and Evangelism lead at Microsoft opened up proceedings with a warm welcome and a quote from Bill Gates:
“We over estimate what will happen in 2 years and underestimate what happens in 10 years”
Why that statement is profound and relevant in the context of Ignite 2015 is because I believe we are now experiencing a major transition in the way that people are wanting to interact and connect with the world around them. As a result IT now needs to be more flexible and agile that it has ever been and what was once set in IT stone is now being eroded at an ever increasing rate.
Microsoft are responding to this shift and have formulated their longer term vision of “Mobile First-Cloud First” as the double helix of a DNA that will shape its products and services of the future.
So as Sarah Vaughn introduced the keynote speaker, Brad Anderson the Corporate VP for Enterprise Client & Mobility (ECM) and his keynote theme “The Intelligent Cloud”, I asked myself the $64,000 question…
”How does one architect a Mobile First-Cloud First platform in the next 2 years so that we can be satisfied on the overachievement of our goal at the end of Bill Gates’ 10 year window??”
The good news was I didn’t have wait long for an answer. Brad Anderson kicked off his keynote by stating that Microsoft’s vision is to “to empower every person on the planet to achieve more”. In order to achieve that goal he said the following ambitions need to be fulfilled:
1) Make personal computing more personal
2) Reinvent business productivity
3) Build the Intelligent Cloud
All noble ambitions, but in order to deliver those three key components a platform architecture needs to be established to underpin and support them. It is here that Brad Anderson unveiled a very important aspect of Microsoft’s vision for an Aldous Huxley inspired “empowered person” utopia of the future.
In this future, people are going to want (demand and expect are likely better adjectives) a mobile computing experience that is to quote Brad “trustworthy, flexible, integrated and intelligent”. Running that Microsoft marketing speak through my translator means it has got to be Secure, work from anywhere, work with all my data and applications, know exactly who I am at all times and fix itself so it can keep on working, whatever happens.
So what kind of a model would deliver such utopian attributes?
Well here is one that Brad had prepared earlier..
In the model there are four layers Devices, Identity, Cloud applications layer and the Enterprise Mobility Management layer which are all neatly arranged to allow you to “achieve more”.
Taking the model apart one Lego block at a time and you can see how it all fits together.
At the Device layer the OS and the device are whatever you want them to be Apple, Android or Windows it is your call (as it should be). A device is just like an ATM, do the banks really care from which ATM terminal people connect from to withdraw their cash? I think not…so just like the ATM network this model complies with anyone, whatever their choice of end point operating system or device.
Moving to the Identity layer is where it gets interesting for me and it is here that I agreed 100% with Brad when he said that “Identity has become the new perimeter”. As more data is now living and breathing outside the corporate perimeter Identity then becomes the common thread across all devices and operating systems for users. The user is now essentially a “mobile perimeter” as they roam from device to device and from cloud to cloud. It’s for this reason that compromised Identity credentials is of primary concern to security planners as identity theft as become one of the most commonly used attack vectors.
Therefore the key to success in any utopian plan for “Mobile-Cloud” nirvana will need to have secure Identity management at its core. It was a very key point and I hope that resonated with the delegates as much as it did for me, because it’s vital for success of any such plan. Microsoft are responding to this layer by offering the cloud based Azure Active Directory and its associated Identity access tools as the source for this new age identity management and it looks like it will fit the bill.
The Application layer looked simple enough, it is simply Office 365 as a core base that then latches to other cloud enabled applications that are either loaded directly through Office 365 integration or through other entry points.
The Enterprise Mobility layer is another key component that like Identity will either make or break any “Mobile-Cloud” strategy. Device management has always been a key challenge for IT as device sprawl and user behaviours have made it very difficult to keep IT on top of all the moving parts. It is here that I think Microsoft have a strong position in being able to try and bring all mobility operation tasks under a single umbrella which they call the Enterprise Mobility Suite or (EMS).
The EMS is a four headed beast that consists of Identity, Devices, Applications and Security. For Identity its all about Identity and Access management. For Devices its Mobile Device Management whether iOS, Android or Windows; for Apps its all about Mobile Application Management (MAM), Desktop Virtualisation and Azure RemoteApp; for Security it’s all about Azure Rights Management and Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Analytics.
Put the EMS puzzle together with your cloud applications, throw in an identity that defines you and your level of access along with a mobile device of your choice then you start to get the picture of how the brave new world of “empowering people to do more” securely from anywhere is going to be created.
I listened carefully to Brad as he passionately emblazoned this new vision of tomorrow and demonstrated some of the features of the current EMS toolsets for the audience for an hour. At the end as the applause rung around the room I pondered what people thought of this architecture of the future.
Some may have taken it all in and started exploring the realities of deploying this brave new world in their heads. Others may have missed the point completely and were happy to go to their next session unmoved by the four layer utopia that Brad had served them.
So what is the Moral of this keynote story ?
Irrespective of delegate opinion, at the end of the keynote speech as they exited the auditorium like bees to the tune of Ellie Goulding, one thing was for sure. That IT and the world of electronic connectivity is now rapidly evolving to newer echelons of personalisation and integration with people lives. The future, is an identity (not device) centric platform that is data and application personalised whilst being accessible securely from anyplace at anytime; this experience is all to be delivered and derived from an trusted engine that sits to a great extent, outside the traditional corporate perimeter as a conglomerate of delivery points.. the “Intelligent Cloud”.
The agile platform attributes demanded of the new Intelligent Cloud era are now hard parameters in any IT platform design and are no longer a “nice to have”.
Microsoft’s architectural plans for delivering this new Mobile First-Cloud First, identity centric world that is “trustworthy, flexible, integrated and intelligent” have been laid.
Now it is just a matter of building it and based on what I saw during Brad’s keynote, I don’t think it we will be that long before we get there either… Bill Gates was right.
Check it out…. https://msftignite.com.au/