Ignite 2022: Microsoft accelerates on low-code and MDM

At its Ignite 2022 customer conference, Microsoft unveiled a host of innovations. Themes nevertheless stand out, such as low-code around the Power Platform and mobility management with Intune.

Whenever CIOs talk about using low-code tools to facilitate development by more users, a recurring theme is how to ensure proper governance of the applications produced. Microsoft heard them loud and clear, and at its Ignite 2022 event in Seattle this week, it showcased a series of additional governance capabilities and other improvements for its Power automation platform.

The vendor also previewed management capabilities for automated workloads in its Entra Identity governance solution, compliance reporting tools to monitor the deployment of Windows updates to workstations, as well as a series of updates to its Azure cloud computing platform.

Power Automate at the service of employees

Microsoft has therefore experimented with ways to generate workflows with Power Automate, describing in natural language what users want to achieve and letting an AI build the corresponding flow. This feature, currently in preview, will still require employees to establish connectors for automated workflow inputs and outputs, and modify them to ensure it behaves as expected.

Given the possibility of ambiguity in natural language, CIOs may want to tighten the governance of applications built in this way – and with the latest managed environments for Power Platform, Microsoft will help them. Previewed in July, it is now available to everyone.

Provide control and balance

A feature is emerging, Weekly Digest, to help admins see the usage level of each Power app, drawing attention to the most used ones and scavenging resources from unused apps. There are also tools to limit app sharing by security group or number of users, so that apps don’t go viral in the enterprise until they’ve been thoroughly tested and channels are put in place. place to communicate the changes made. These features will be important to CIOs, according to Kyle Davis, vice president and analyst at Garner, which focuses on low-code adoption. “When it comes to newbie and low-code development, governance is top of mind,” he said.

For its part, Managed Environments is more an evolution than a revolution, he added, saying: “There is really nothing there that someone could not build for himself if he wanted to “. Indeed, Managed Environments has its origins in Microsoft’s Automation Center of Excellence starter kit, intended for companies to define their own best practices in the governance of Power applications. But as the editor himself admits, customers have found that it requires a lot of manual work and expertise. According to Davis, CIOs who seek the simplicity of low-code development often want similar simplicity in managing it. Managed Environments’ ability to deploy controls with just a few clicks will be enticing. “It’s easier to do things on a large scale,” he said. “What Microsoft offers with Managed Environments is something you don’t really get from other low-code software vendors in a similar space,” he added.

“Managed Environments adds value to existing Power Platform Premium capabilities,” the firm said. (Credit: Microsoft)

Environmental awareness requires solutions

Not all of the announcements made at Ignite were about Power Platform, however. The publisher also had a lot to say about updates to its Azure cloud infrastructure offering and an update to Syntex, its AI content management tool. However, CIOs will surely be alert to other innovations that could help them reduce management budgets or redeploy staff to free them from routine tasks. In this sense, features have been added to Microsoft Sustainability Manager, an environmental reporting tool for companies, including an extended data model to help them estimate greenhouse gas emissions called “Scope 3” by the their entire supply chain, and an emissions impact dashboard for Microsoft 365 showing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the use of Microsoft’s SaaS productivity suite.

Azure Deployment Environments, previewed at the event, gives enterprises a way to apply project-based patterns to every development environment they create. Similar to the managed environments Microsoft is building for low-code applications, these templates will help development teams consistently maintain best practices from project to project with minimal disruption. efforts, the company said.

Cost reduction, another concern of CIOs

Another management feature, Azure Automanage, is now available for Azure VMs and provides additional capabilities, including the ability to remediate VMs without restarting them, reducing downtime costs. For variable workloads in the Azure cloud, the firm is introducing the ability to mix standard and Spot VMs in the same scale set, giving CIOs deep discounts available for Spot VMs as their computing needs vary .

With Azure Automanage, the firm wants to ensure the automation of operations in complete security. (Credit: Microsoft)

But Microsoft also wants customers to see Azure as a cost-effective solution for basic workloads. The Azure IT Savings Plan, available by the end of October, offers a discount to customers who commit to spending a minimum hourly amount on computing resources for one to three years; consumption beyond the minimum commitment will be billed at the usual rates.

Intune takes the lead

Microsoft is revamping its brand image around endpoint management: Intune, which was previously a component of its Mobile Device Management (MDM) offering, is now the umbrella brand for its entire line of endpoint management products, such as Configuration Manager, with the promise of more products to come. At Ignite, the company is previewing endpoint privilege management features, such as the ability to temporarily grant users limited administrative permissions, as well as automatic on-the-fly patching. combining Intune and Defender.

Intune offers management of on-premises, cloud, mobile, desktop, and virtualized endpoints across platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems. (Credit: Microsoft)

In January 2023, it will add Tunnel so employees can securely access company resources from their own devices without having to enroll them first. Finally, in March 2023, a premium endpoint management service bundle called the Advanced Management Suite will be launched.

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