Last week was an exciting week for the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. We held AzureCon, one of the world’s largest virtual cloud events, and more than 150,000 of you tuned in to learn how we’re advancing the intelligent cloud for organizations of all types – from NASCAR, http://bit.ly/1MUcpz8 and Alaska Airlines, to the United Nations Development Programme, Rockwell Automation and more. Hear first-hand from our customers about how Azure continues to help them transform their business in these videos.
At AzureCon, we outlined the road ahead for the cloud – from big data and predictive analytics, to the Internet of Things, to trends like containerization and microservices, and cutting-edge cloud infrastructure – to highlight how Azure is changing what’s possible in business today. But transformation doesn’t have to be complicated. At Microsoft, our mission is to make cloud innovation a simple and affordable reality – all while offering you the most unique value. Through consistency and seamless integration across cloud and on-premises, unmatched product capabilities, flexible pricing and best-in-class support, we are committed to making sure that Azure is the best public cloud for running Microsoft software, or any software.
A cloud at your pace
To support your journey to the cloud, we are committed to giving you the best pricing and flexible options. The Azure Compute Pre-Purchase plan, which we unveiled at AzureCon, is an example of this commitment. This new offer is designed for predictable compute workloads and can provide you up to 63 percent cost savings when you pre-purchase one year of compute. And if you’re moving a significant number of workloads to Azure, but at a moderate or less predictable pace, the new Azure Compute Option provides great pricing with more budget flexibility. Run any compute instance in Azure with discounts up to 60 percent in exchange for add-ons to your Windows Server annuity licenses. More information on these two offers is available here. In addition, we also recently announced price reductions on our popular D Series virtual machines by up to 27 percent and on our A8-11 virtual machines by up to 60 percent off standard prices. These are just a few examples of how we’re committed to giving you the best pricing and the most flexible options in our cloud.
We also continue to hear from you the importance of enabling hybrid scenarios. This includes the use of your Microsoft software across your datacenter, Azure and third party hosted datacenters. Extending on our support to Bring Your Own Licenses (BYOL) to Azure, we are now making it possible for you to bring your existing Windows Server licenses to Azure, just as you can with other popular Microsoft products, such as SQL Server and SharePoint today. We will also make it possible for you to run Windows 10 on Azure. Simply put, we’re ensuring that Azure is the best place to run Microsoft software. Look for more details soon.
Want to learn more about the innovations that make Azure the most complete cloud experience? Check out the summary of last week’s AzureCon announcements below:
An open and flexible cloud
- Azure Container Service is a new open source container scheduling and orchestration service that builds on Microsoft’s partnerships with Docker and Mesosphere. With Azure Container Service, you can create and manage scalable clusters of host machines onto which containerized applications can be deployed, orchestrated, and managed. Watch this video to learn more.
- Azure HDInsight, a fully managed Apache Hadoop cluster service with a broad range of open source analytics engines including Hive, Spark, HBase and Storm is now generally available. With this release, you can now configure these clusters to run using both a Windows Server Operating System as well as an Ubuntu based Linux Operating System.
Enabling IoT and Big Data
- Azure IoT Suite is now available for purchase. The suite leverages our cloud platform to let you easily build and scale IoT projects. In addition, the new Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT program offers you a whole ecosystem of partners whose offerings have been tested and certified to help with your IoT needs. Watch this video to learn more.
- Cortana Analytics Suite, a fully managed big data and advanced analytics suite available to purchase. Watch thisvideo to learn more.
- Expanded Azure Data Lake capabilities, including Azure Data Lake Store, Data Lake Analytics and HDInsights. With Visual Studio integration, you can take advantage of simplified authoring, debugging, and optimization of big data code. We also introduced U-SQL, a new language that unifies the benefits of SQL with the expressive power of user code. Working with big data no longer requires your entire team to learn new skills before they become productive.
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse, including recently released Power BI integration, is now broadly available as the first enterprise-class cloud data warehouse that can dynamically grow, shrink and pause compute in seconds – enabling you to pay only for the query performance you need. Watch this video to learn more.
Great performance in the cloud
- N-series, a new family of Azure Virtual Machines with GPU capabilities, were announced and will be previewed in coming months. These VMs are based on NVidia’s M60 and K80 GPUs and designed to serve remote visualization and large scale compute scenarios. Watch this video to learn more.
- DV2, our next generation of D-series Virtual Machine instances based on customized 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon® E5 v3 (Haswell) processors are now generally available. These instances are up to 35% faster than the current D-series instances and one of the most performant options in the public cloud today.
Trust at hyper-scale
- New Azure regions in India – Central India in Pune South India in Chennai and West India in Mumbai – making Microsoft Azure the first hyper-scale public cloud provider in India.
- Azure Security Center is the first-of-its-kind security service that gives you an integrated, end-to-end visibility and control of your Azure resources, helping you stay ahead of threats easily. Watch this video to learn more.
- Financial Services Compliance Program is a new program for financial services companies to stay on top of global financial regulatory oversight and risk management requirements. Watch this video to learn more.
True hybrid cloud
- ExpressRoute advancements including ExpressRoute for O365 and Skype for Business which is now generally available. You can take advantage of Office 365 using ExpressRoute for performance and privacy improvements in connectivity. Watch this video to learn more. We also announced the ability to connect to Microsoft Azure’s Government Cloud via ExpressRoute. Finally, new pricing plans for ExpressRoute are now available provide more flexibility in choosing the right plan based on your data usage.
- Azure File Storage is now generally available. Azure File Store leverages the widely used SMB 3.0 protocol for secure connections with applications both on-premises and in the cloud. Watch this video to learn more.
Comprehensive, integrated app development
- App Service Environment is generally available with a fully backed SLA for securely running and scaling all of your apps. Watch this video to learn more.
- Azure CDN with Akamai. A new partnership with Akamai will enable integration of Akamai’s industry-leading CDN capabilities into Azure, expanding Azure CDN’s capabilities, scale and geographic reach. Watch this video to learn more about Azure CDN capabilities and our new partnership with Akamai.
- Azure Mobile Engagement, which enables user segmentation, app user analytics, and contextually-aware smart push notifications and in-app messaging across devices to maximize app usage, retention and monetization is now generally available.
- Live Encoding for Azure Media Services for delivery of high quality video, under a variety of network conditions, to every device for the live streaming of events – as battle-tested by Super Bowl XLIX and the 2014 Winter Olympics is now generally available. Watch this video to learn more about Azure Media Services.
Check out the keynotes and drilldown sessions from AzureCon to learn more about what Azure can do to enable your journey to the cloud!
This article excerpt, by Microsoft Azure Team, originally appeared here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en…/
On September 22, 2015, Microsoft released Office 2016 to the masses. At first glance, you may not notice much has changed since Office 2013. But when you look deeper, you will find some interesting and productivity-enhancing differences.
For years we’ve been promised wonderful benefits from cloud computing, and Microsoft Office 2016 is trying to deliver on those promises. It’s designed to meet our expectations of what a cloud-based, mobile-ready productivity suite can and should be. Only time will tell if Office 2016 actually delivers the goods, but the initial reviews are promising.
Here are 10 things Microsoft Office 2016 offers as it aspires to be the last productivity suite you are ever going to need.
1: Real-time co-authoring
Co-authoring has been around for a long time for many Office apps, but with Office 2016 that collaboration can now take place in real time. That means you will be able to see what your co-conspirators are doing in a Word document or PowerPoint presentation as they do it—and conversely they will be able to see what you are doing. It won’t even matter where you are or what device you are using.
2: OneNote notebook sharing
OneNote is one of the most useful applications available in Microsoft Office, and it is also one of the least appreciated. Office 2016 allows you to share a OneNote notebook with as many people as you want. And because OneNote works with text, images, worksheets, emails, and just about any other document type you can think of, it can be a great central resource for a team working on a project. That is, if they know to use it.
3: Simplified document sharing
Office 2016 simplifies sharing of documents by adding a Share button to the upper-right corner of your Office apps. Clicking that button will give you one-click access to share your document with anyone in your contacts list. You don’t even have to leave the document to do it. That does sound pretty simple.
4: Smart attachments
If you’re like me, you have to send email attachments just about every day. In previous versions of Office, adding attachments to an email required you to navigate to the location where the document was stored. You can still do that in Office 2016, but if the document in question was one you worked on recently, it will now show up in a list of shareable documents right there in Outlook. Essentially, Office 2016 keeps a universal recently worked on list for you.
5: Clutter for Outlook
Like most of us, you probably get a ton of email every day. Wading through the Outlook inbox to prioritize each email takes time and hampers your ability to be productive. Office 2016 adds a new category to your inbox triage toolbox, called Clutter. You can designate certain emails as low priority and they, and future similar emails, will be deposited automatically into a Clutter folder in Outlook. So now you have four categories for email: important, clutter, junk, and delete.
6: Better version history
Collaboration and creativity can be a messy process, with shared documents changing drastically over time. Office 2016 compensates for potentially lost ideas by keeping past versions of documents and making them available directly from Office applications under the History section of the File menu.
7: New chart types in Excel
The ability to visualize data with an Excel chart has always been a welcome and powerful capability. However, the list of available chart types found in previous versions of Excel needed an update. Office 2016 adds several new chart types to the templates list, including Waterfall, which is great chart if you like to track the stock market. Other new chart types include Treemap, Pareto, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Sunburst.
8: Power BI
Between the release of Office 2013 and Office 2016, Microsoft spent a great amount of time and capital acquiring technologies that shore up its business intelligence and analytical applications. Power BI, a powerful analytics tool, now comes bundled with your Office 365 subscription. Knowing every little detail about how your business is running is essential information, and Power BI can bring it all together for you.
Delve is another new tool that comes with an Office 365 subscription. The best way to describe Delve is as a central location that gives you access to everything you have created, shared, or collaborated on using Office 2016. It is another recently worked on list, only this version of the list is stored in the cloud—so you can access it from anywhere with any device using the Office 365 Portal.
10: Purchase choices
Office 2016 is generally available only as a subscription. Even if you buy a boxed version of Office 2016, you are buying access to an annual subscription, with one exception. If you purchase the Office Home & Student 2016 box, you pay a one-time fee of $149.99 for just the basic Office apps.
Microsoft has definitely stacked the deck so that the best bang for the buck is a subscription to Office 365, which includes Office 2016 plus all the cloud services. Businesses should be looking at one of the Office 365 for Business subscriptions. It is also going to be your best deal.
This article excerpt, by TechRepublic, originally appeared here: http://www.techrepublic.com/bl…/
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WebRTC and other real time protocols including Object Real Time Communications (ORTC) that eliminate the need for plug-in software to function (but work natively in a browser) will have a lasting effect on communications. As noted in the 2015 WebRTC State of the Market Report, over half of businesses are already using WebRTC in some form or plan to use it in 2015, and over three-quarters of respondents will use it next years and beyond. However, these protocols won’t replace Unified Communications platforms; rather they will complement the solutions that are already available today. What they do mean however is the final nail in the coffin for legacy voice only PBXs in business as you just won’t be able to compete if you can’t communicate.
The effect of Microsoft’s Skype for Business strategy on Unified Communications cannot be underestimated. Lync (now Skype for Business) integration was already table stakes for others’ UC elements and platforms, and the move to evolve Lync with Skype features and integrate users is profound. Microsoft’s latest release of APIs for its Edge browser to enable ORTC is also significant here.
Unified communications has enabled collaboration, and collaboration features such as screen sharing have brought people (not just employees) together to work in ways are increasingly efficient and effective. Collaboration has also moved helped contact center agents become engaged with customers in a way that builds the kind of relationships needed to engender loyalty and grow business revenues. The integration and alignment of platforms like contact centre and UC is significant for consumers and business alike and will drive new business models enabling customer engagement when, where and how they like. Be ready for the anywhere, anytime business!
55% Of Enterprises Predict Cloud Computing Will Enable New Business Models In Three Years
- 69% of enterprises expect to make moderate-to-heavy cloud investments over the next three years as they migrate core business functions to the cloud.
- 44% of businesses are relying on cloud computing to launch new business models today, predicting this will increase to 55% in three years.
- 32% are using cloud computing to streamline their supply chains today. Senior executives predict this figure will rise to 56% in three years, a 24% increase.
- 59% say they use cloud-based applications and platforms to better manage and analyze data today, reflecting the increasing importance of analytics and big data enterprise-wide.
These and other insights are from a recent Oxford Economics and SAP study of cloud computing adoption, The Cloud Grows Up. You can find the study here (no opt-in). In late 2014, Oxford Economics and SAP collaborated on a survey of 200 senior business and IT executives globally regarding the adoption and use of cloud technology. Oxford Economics’ analysts compared the latest survey with one completed in 2012 looking for leading indicators of cloud adoption in enterprises. They found many C- and VP-level executives are taking a more pragmatic, realistic view of what cloud technologies can contribute. Enterprises are moving beyond the hype of cloud computing, putting in the hard work of launching new business models while driving top-line revenue growth.
Key takeaways from the study include the following:
- Top–line growth (58%), collaboration among employees (58%), and supply chain (56%) are the three areas enterprises expect cloud computing to impact most in three years. The greatest gains will be in the areas of supply chain (a 24% jump), collaboration among employees (20%) and increased agility and responsiveness to customers (17%).
- Developing new products & services (61%), new lines of business (51%) and entering new markets (40%) are three key areas cloud computing is transforming enterprises. With a 35% increase, developing new products and services is the most dominant strategy enterprises are relying on to grow their businesses.
- 58% of enterprises predict their use of cloud computing will increase top-line revenue growth in three years. 67% see the cloud changing skill sets and transforming the role of HR.
- 74% of enterprises say innovation and R&D are somewhat or mostly cloud-based. 61% say they will have developed new products and services in three years as a result of adopting cloud technologies.
- Enterprise cloud security strategies are maturing rapidly. From 2012 to 2014, strategies for ensuring the security of API and interfaces increased 24%, from 20% to 44%. Additional concerns that increased include virus attacks (up 19%), and identity theft (up 16%).
- 31% of respondents say the cloud computing has had a transformative impact on their business. 48%, nearly half, state that cloud computing has had a moderate impact on business performance. The majority believe cloud computing will have a significant impact on top-line revenue growth in three years.
- 67% of enterprises say that marketing, purchasing, and supply chain are somewhat and mostly cloud-based as of today. Cloud-based adoption has reached an inflection point in enterprises, with functional areas having the largest percentage of workloads running on cloud-based apps. Enterprise senior executives see the potential to improve innovation, R&D, and time-to-market via greater collaboration using cloud technologies.
This article excerpt, by Louis Columbus, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1gCW7he
This article excerpt, by Derrick Wlodarz, originally appeared here: http://bit.ly/1CLbzC4
This article excerpt, by Irwin Lazar, originally appeared here: http://ubm.io/1KO1TcN