With roughly 26,000 people in attendance at Microsoft Ignite 2019 in Orlando, the company has announced dozens of new features, products, and updates. Here’s the best of the show from TechRepublic and ZDNet.
Microsoft Ignite was a landmark year for the developer conference, with Microsoft taking a markedly more aggressive stance in positioning the benefits of Azure relative to AWS and Google Cloud, highlighting performance gains in Azure Synapse relative to Google BigQuery and Amazon RedShift. Azure is undoubtedly where Microsoft’s priorities, and futures reside, with the bulk of news announced at Ignite either directly relating or at minimum tying in to Microsoft’s cloud services platform.
Despite that head-to-head competition, Microsoft’s key Azure announcements are on Azure Arc, a solution that allows for management of external resources inside Azure’s native management interface, in an attempt to position Azure at the center of hybrid cloud deployments. This could be an appealing play for enterprises, particularly larger ones with extensive M&A stories, as simplifying hybrid cloud deployments in a budget-conscious way requires quite a bit less teeth-pulling or arm-twisting than budgeting a migration or re-architecture from one cloud platform to another.
Microsoft also touted their partnerships and focus on quantum computing, announcing partnerships with 1QBit, Honeywell, IonQ, and QC, and announcing Azure Quantum, their “full-stack, open cloud ecosystem.” Standard for a developer conference, Microsoft also promoted the quantum-focused Q# programming language, intended to make programming for various types of quantum computers and simulators running on classical computers a seamless experience.
This puts Microsoft in competition with IBM’s Qiskit and D-Wave Leap as learning platforms go, though Microsoft’s interests in GitHub and LinkedIn could be leveraged to promote adoption of Q#. Given how relatively early-stage into commercialization quantum computers are, there is plenty of space for alternative frameworks to coexist. That said, Q# does offer some advantages to programmers over languages not built in a quantum-first mindset, such as Python, that can ease pain points of working in a markedly different paradigm than classical computers, in a quality-of-life sense similar to the jump from C++ to Rust, for example.
In collaboration with Warner Bros., Microsoft also announced Project Silica, an experiment in storing data by etching it into quartz glass with lasers, demonstrating an etching of the original 1978 Superman film on a 75 x 75 x 2mm piece of glass, which is then subject to physical damage, including being boiled in water, baked in an oven, microwaved, flooded, scoured, and demagnetized, though the data inside is still readable.
While the durability of Project Silica lends to impressive potential as a long-term backup alternative to tapes, the potential cloud application for this is perhaps more appealing. Given the rapid creation of user data–such as photos– that needs to be accessible at a moment’s notice but may only be actually accessed a handful of times a year, the potential applications for this technology as a read-only stand-in for QLC NAND could be appealing in hyperscale deployments.