Written by Rob Quickenden, Cisilion CSO
With Microsoft‘s 2019 Ignite conference fully kicked off in Orlando, I’ve been scouring through the blogs, tweets and LinkedIn posts to summarise the main (and my favourite) highlights from the opening days.
As expected, there were a lot of hot Teams and Azure announcements, but with so many ‘smaller’ releases throughout the days ahead, this will likely be out of date before I finishing writing!
1. Microsoft Teams
A wealth of new features & integrations from Cisco & Zoom
We had some big Microsoft Teams announcements, with the much-anticipated rollout (this week) of secure private channels. Also announced was the early 2020 rollout of pinned channels, multi-window chats and meetings. Microsoft also announced new integrations with To Do, Microsoft Planner, Project, Outlook, Yammer and the newly updated Power Platform.
2. Breaking down the vendor wars
Improved meeting room & interop between Cisco & Zoom
Microsoft and Cisco have announced a partnership to work together to simplify the interop between Microsoft Teams Rooms and Phone System with Cisco Webex room devices and IP voice gateways respectively. This includes three new initiatives to help customers to get more out of their current investments:
- Cloud Video Interop (CVI): Cisco Webex will introduce an interop solution that will be certified as a Microsoft Cloud Video Interop (CVI) solution and will allow Cisco Webex Room devices and SIP video conferencing devices to join Microsoft Teams meetings with a reliable interop experience. Coming early FY20.
- Direct Guest Join, for Meeting Room Devices: Cisco and Microsoft are also working together on a new approach that enables meeting room devices to connect to meeting services from other vendors via embedded web technologies. They announced a new “direct guest join” capability from their respective video conferencing device to the web app for the video meeting service.
- Direct Routing for Phone System: At the heart of Microsoft Teams Direct Routing are Session Border Controllers (SBC). Since many customers also use Cisco Networking technology including SBCs and want both companies to provide joint solutions that do not require replacement of key infrastructure. Support for Cisco as a certified SBC is due in CY2020.
Zoom and Microsoft also announced that they have worked together to enhance conference room interoperability and simplify how users connect to third-party meetings.
This Zoom and Microsoft collaboration provides interoperability between the Zoom conference room solutions to provide streamlined meeting experiences. This will mean Zoom Rooms will be able to join Microsoft Teams meetings and Microsoft Teams Rooms will be able to join Zoom meetings, all without the purchase of additional licenses or third-party services. This is coming early CY2020.
3. Microsoft Flow
Renamed to ‘Power Automate’
So this might take some time to grow on me, but Microsoft Flow is being renamed to Power Automate. The name change was announced to allow the platform to ‘better align’ with the wider Power Platform. Microsoft Flow (sorry, Automate) is also getting new a bunch of new features including Robotic process automation (RPA) for automating complex processes that span legacy and modern applications.
4. New: Microsoft Endpoint Manager
Brand new Integrated Solution
Microsoft Endpoint Manager is an integrated solution that promised to centrally and securely manage all of the endpoints across an organisation. This is the next major milestone that brings together Microsoft Intune and System Center Configuration Manager functionality while also adding new intelligent actions and analytics.
Endpoint Manager will deliver a unified, seamless, end-to-end management for Windows, Android and Apple devices, apps, and policies without the complexity of migration or disruption to productivity.
Expected in Q1 of 2020, Microsoft has also said they will be making Intune available to all existing SCCM customers for Windows PC management, meaning that starting on 1st December 2019, customers can start to co-manage these devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and start using cloud-powered features like Autopilot and Desktop Analytics.
5. New: Chromium-Based Edge
Set for January 15 2020 Release
One of my favourite #GeekOuts right now – Microsoft has said that January 15 2020 will be the official release date of their new Chromium–based Edge browser for Windows and Mac. Microsoft announced that a ‘release candidate’ build is available to download today in more than 90 languages which can be installed alongside the Canary, Dev, or Beta builds you may already be running or testing.
If you are a big Google Chrome fan, I urge you to try this out – it’s a really great browser and has loads of enterprise features built right in including native integration with your Office 365 environment.
6. New: Office Mobile app for iOS & Android
Consolidated app with all your Office favourites
I’ve been using this for a while (well, a week or so) and today Microsoft is making this generally available for preview. The new Office Mobile app for iOS and Android combines Word, Excel, and PowerPoint functionality into a simple single mobile app, similar to the old Office Hub on Windows Phone for those that remember it! The new app has a really useful comes with an ‘Actions’ pane, with easy access to common tasks, including scanning documents.
7. New: Project Cortex
Microsoft 365 app leveraging AI to help better organise company data
Microsoft today, announced Project Cortex, the first new Microsoft 365 app since the announcement of Microsoft Teams that uses AI to analyse business data and in turn create a kind of neuro–knowledge network. The app will be able to organise data into different projects and customers, making it easier for employees to find important info that can be buried in documents, conversations, or videos across their hybrid IT environment.
This to me sounds a bit like Delve on steroids and one I need to read a bit more on (as I’m sure you will too), but it seems to be able to recognise data in documents and pull them together into actionable and useful information.
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