Microsoft Ignite 2021

Microsoft presents a series of innovative technology in multiple areas, which not
limited to cybersecurity, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams and the
PowerApps low-code/no-code platform. Let’s check out the most critical updates.

Modern Workplace


Microsoft Ignite, one of the most important technology innovation events of the year, ended in early March. Microsoft presents a series of innovative technology in multiple areas, which not limited to cybersecurity, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams and the PowerApps low-code/ no-code platform. Let’s check out the most critical updates.


Session 1: Modern Workplace

Session 2: Microsoft Azure

Session 3: PowerApps

Session 4: Security


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Session 1: Modern Workplace


1.1  Outlook


Microsoft is introducing multiple time management updates for Outlook to help users better manage their calendars and schedule tasks.


Outlook calendar board: Generally available

An update to the Outlook calendar that adds a free-form view to the traditional grid view, is now available in Outlook on the web. The calendar board view provides a customizable visual tool for organizing and managing calendars, files, reminders and to-do lists in one place.


Suggested times: Generally available in April to business customers who use their work account in Outlook for iOS and Android

It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to suggest times when participants are available for meetings, which can be difficult to see on a small screen. Outlook mobile will use AI to understand the meeting owner’s commitments, priorities and preferences and to suggest times to meet when attendees are free, even if the meeting owner isn’t.


1.2  Microsoft Teams


Microsoft Teams Connect: Generally available later in 2021

It helps organizations collaborate seamlessly with customers, partners, suppliers or other external parties through shared channels, is now in private preview. Microsoft Teams Connect leverages the deep collaboration capabilities that Teams brings together, such as chat, meetings, app collaboration and real-time document co-authoring, all while maintaining control over how users access data and information.

With shared channels, users can add individuals to a single channel rather than to an entire team. Each shared channel will appear within a user’s primary Teams tenant alongside existing teams and channels, providing convenient access within their current flow of work.


PowerPoint Live in Teams: Generally available

Presenters often share their desktops in virtual meetings, providing limited ability for the audience to interact. With PowerPoint Live in Teams, presenters can deliver richer, more inclusive experiences and lead meetings more confidently with notes, slides, meeting chat and participants all in a single view. Attendees can personalize their experience by privately navigating the content at their own pace or using high-contrast mode to make content more accessible.


Presenter mode: Available in April, with more options coming soon

Presenter mode empowers presenters to customize how their video feed and content appear for the audience. New options coming soon are Standout, which shows the speaker’s video feed in front of the shared content; Reporter, which shows content as a visual aid above the speaker’s shoulder; and Side-by-side, which shows the presenter’s video feed alongside their content as they present. Standout will become generally available this month, with Reporter, Side-by-side and other options coming soon.


Dynamic view: Generally available

Dynamic view intelligently arranges meeting elements for an optimal presentation. Presenters can now place the gallery on top so participants appear at the top of the meeting window, helping maintain more natural eye contact with the audience. In addition, the participant gallery automatically adjusts when the meeting window is resized.


New gallery views in Teams Rooms: Generally available, include Together Mode and large gallery.

These views enable everyone in a meeting to see meeting content whether the room has one screen or two.

Microsoft now certifies hardware with audio and video optimized for Microsoft Teams meetings and calling. Certified monitors are the Dell Video Conferencing Monitor and the Poly Studio P21. These monitors integrate a microphone, speaker, camera and lights (only in P21). Employees simply attach their PC via USB to get started. The new P15 Video Bar from Poly is an easy-to-mount peripheral that transforms an existing monitor into a high-quality Teams endpoint. Another Teams certified peripheral, the new Cam130 by Aver, integrates lights as well, allowing users to present their best selves in video meetings.


Invite-only meetings controls: Generally available in April

Invite-only meetings controls help ensure that only intended participants join a meeting.


Disable video: Generally available in the July

This feature is intended to limit potential disruptions, along with other capabilities such as Invite-only meetings and recently announced chat moderation controls.


End-to-end encryption (E2EE) for 1:1 Teams calls: Available to commercial customers in July

Teams will support end-to-end encryption for organizations to help customers meet their security and compliance requirements by providing an additional option for conducting sensitive online conversations. For example, a call from an IT admin giving an employee her password over Teams could be conducted with E2EE. In this first release, customers will have the ability to enable E2EE for 1:1 unscheduled Teams calls. Customers will be able to specify which members of their organization can use E2EE. Future updates will be made available to support customers’ evolving compliance needs, including expanding to scheduled calls and online meetings.


Teams multigeo support: Generally available in July

Multigeo support for Teams data will give multinational organizations greater control over the location of specific data centers where their Teams data is stored, down to the team and user level. Similar to the multigeo capabilities available to customers with Exchange Online and SharePoint Online, this update helps organizations meet specific data compliance and regulatory standards in certain countries and in highly regulated industries.


Support interactive customer webinars for up to 1,000 attendees: Generally available in April


End-to-end webinar: Generally available in April

The support includes custom registration, rich presentation options, host controls (such as the ability to disable attendee chat and video) and post-event reporting. Teams webinars can also seamlessly scale to a 10,000-person view-only broadcast experience — and, during this time of increased remote work, 20,000-person broadcasts are available through the end of this year. Select Teams webinar capabilities, including registration, 1,000- and 20,000-attendee limits and attendee reporting.


Deliver webinars via Teams: Generally available

It works as part of Dynamics 365 Marketing campaigns.


Export webinar contacts directly from Teams into Dynamics 365 Marketing: Available later in 2021

With this function, it enables engagement with audiences before, during and after events.


Microsoft Viva: Generally available, will soon expand features

Microsoft Viva is the first employee experience platform built for the digital era, bringing together tools for employee engagement, learning, well-being and knowledge discovery directly into the flow of people’s work. The modules are Viva Connections, Viva Learning, Viva Insights and Viva Topics.


Teams desktop experience of Viva Connections: Generally available in April and no additional charge to existing Microsoft 365 and Office 365 customers

It provides a curated, company-branded experience including news, conversations and other resources for employees. With Viva Connections, employees will receive personalized information delivered to the desktop apps and devices they use every day, such as Microsoft Teams. A mobile experience will also be made available in summer 2021.


Viva Learning: Public preview in April, will share pricing and packaging details when it becomes generally available

This app in Teams creates a central hub for learning where people can discover, share, assign and learn from content libraries across an organization to help make learning a natural part of their day.


Viva Insights: Available now in the Teams app store in public preview. Initial set of personal insights with no additional charge to existing Microsoft 365 and Office 365 customers. Manager and org leader insights as an add-on through Workplace Analytics.

New personal wellbeing features, such as the virtual commute experience unveiled at Microsoft Ignite 2020, will begin rolling out as part of the Viva Insights app in Teams.


Viva Topics: Generally available as an add-on for Microsoft 365 customers

It automatically organizes content and expertise across an organization, making it easy for people to find information and put knowledge to work.


1.3  Microsoft 365 Office Admin


New cloud-based capabilities within the Microsoft 365 Apps admin center are now available. These updates are intended to help admins manage Office apps as a service and better manage IT costs.


Cloud-based admin capabilities now generally available are:

·       Servicing Profile for General Purpose devices, including Exclusion dates and Deadline

·       Inventory and Security update status

·       Reliability and performance trends by app and channel

·       Reliability advisories

·       Diagnostic coverage

·       Integration with Service Health Dashboard

·       Ability for IT admins to allow users to update their channel

·       Skip and Roll back


New admin features released to preview are:

·       Servicing Profile Restore/Pause/Resume by device and Azure AD group

·       Start Small (Support for Azure AD Groups)

·       Performance advisories

·       App health scores

·       Device-level reliability

·       Add-in health – app level

·       Reliability in Productivity Score


Session 2: Microsoft Azure

A new semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered cloud search service for mobile and web app development, is now available in preview. This capability enables developers to deliver results based on user intent as opposed to a keyword-based search, which is the industry norm. Semantic search leverages some of the most advanced natural language models to improve relevance and ranking of search results. It uses concept matching, synonym search and other techniques to deliver a more personalized search experience for users.

In addition, a new SharePoint connector makes it easier to ingest and explore SharePoint content within Azure Cognitive Search.


Form Recognizer, an Azure Cognitive Service, is introducing support for pre-built identification documents (IDs) and invoice extraction, plus the ability to read data in 64 additional languages (raising the total to 73).


The new pre-built IDs feature will enable automated extraction of data from worldwide passports and driver’s licenses, helping customers avoid manual data entry and improving services like online banking transactions and hotel registration. ​


Data extraction from invoices will further help customers extract text, key-value pairs and tables from documents to produce structured data that reflects the relationships in the original file without manual data labeling or intensive coding.


Language support will expand to 73 this month from the existing nine: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch (all generally available), and Simplified Chinese and Japanese (in preview).


Azure Machine Learning (Azure ML), an enterprise-grade service that helps customers build and deploy models rapidly, has several new capabilities.


Azure Arc now supports Azure ML. Customers can sign up to access the preview today. More information on this announcement can be found in the Azure Hybrid, Azure Infra, Azure Migrate section.

Support for large-scale, interactive data preparation in Azure ML, backed by Azure Synapse Spark, is now available in preview. This builds upon recently released capabilities for data professionals working in Azure Synapse to seamlessly collaborate with data scientists using Azure ML. Data scientists can now prepare data and do feature engineering on big data directly from Azure ML notebooks, saving time and optimizing workflows.


Azure Percept, a family of devices and services, is now available in preview. Azure Percept powers real-time insights at the edge through hardware accelerators integrated with Azure ML and Azure Cognitive Services. More information on this announcement can be found in the Azure IoT section.

Multiple updates to Azure’s analytics tools are now available. These updates are designed for easier customer deployments, increased reliability, cross-platform capabilities and deeper insight. Azure’s analytics tools help businesses stay nimble in an increasingly complex market.


·       With the launch of Azure Synapse Pathway, customers can simplify and accelerate migrating from a legacy or cloud data warehouse to Azure Synapse Analytics by providing automated translation of existing business logic. Azure Synapse is a limitless analytics service that brings together data integration, enterprise data warehousing and big data analytics to provide real-time data insights. This downloadable tool enables customers to access resources such as SQL Server, Netezza and Snowflake, with Teradata, BigQuery, Redshift and others coming soon. This allows automatic translation of more than 100,000 lines of SQL code in minutes, eliminating one of the main hurdles in migration.

·       Azure Stream Analytics, now generally available, has been updated to provide support for single tenant dedicated clusters. ​Azure Stream Analytics Dedicated provides single tenant hosting for increased reliability with no noise from other tenants. Customer resources are “isolated” and perform better during bursts in traffic.

·       Multiple updates are available for Azure Purview, a unified data governance service that facilitates the mapping and control of organizational data no matter where it resides — on-premises, in multicloud or software-as-a-service (SaaS). Azure Purview is integrated with Microsoft Information Protection, which means the same sensitivity labels defined in Microsoft 365 Compliance Center can be applied.

·       Azure Purview’s ability to automatically scan and classify data residing in AWS Simple Storage Services (S3), SAP ECC, SAP S4/HANA and Oracle Database is now available in preview. With this update, customers can automatically scan and classify data residing within various on-premises data stores using the Azure Purview Data Map. In addition, this data can now be discovered across the organization.

·       Azure Purview’s ability to scan Azure Synapse Analytics workspaces is now available in preview. With this update, customers can discover and govern data across their serverless and dedicated SQL pools in Azure Synapse workspaces. This expands on Azure Purview’s existing tools, enabling customers to scan data across various sources via out-of-the-box connectors in the Data Map.


Four new updates for Azure Cosmos DB are now available to help customers build or modernize scalable, high-performance apps. These updates enable cloud-native and real-time analytics through the generally available integration with Azure Synapse Link. The preview of additional features will give customers enhanced security, control, flexibility and accuracy.

·       Azure Synapse Link for Azure Cosmos DB is now generally available. Azure Synapse Link for Cosmos DB enables cloud-native and near-real-time analytics to be run over the NoSQL data in Azure Cosmos DB, including MongoDB. Azure Synapse Link breaks down the barrier that has long existed between online transactional processing (OLTP) and online analytical processing (OLAP) systems by linking Azure Cosmos DB to Azure Synapse Analytics.

·       Mongo v4.0 server support in Azure Cosmos DB API for Mongo DB is now generally available. Mongo v4.0 server support in Azure Cosmos DP API for Mongo DB makes it simple for developers to leverage the database for error handling with multidocument transaction support and retriable writes. It also gives users more flexibility to process data, with support for many new aggregation operators, and makes it easier for developers using MongoDB v4.0 to migrate to Azure Cosmos DB. Customers can now benefit from the extended transaction support already in Core API to MongoDB data by more easily modeling transactional business logic without the complexities of error-handling logic.

·       Azure Cosmos DB Continuous Backup and Point-in-Time is now available in preview. This provides ongoing backups and enables customers to recover and restore data from any point within the past 30 days. Continuous backup and point-in-time restoration mean customers don’t have to worry about accidental changes (such as writes and deletes) to their databases or containers. If an unwanted change or error happens, they can restore their data to its previous state.

·       Cosmos DB role-based access control (RBAC), now available in preview, provides customers with enhanced security for data in Azure. The introduction of RBAC with Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) integration enables customers to assign “roles” to users and applications, which provides a granular, well-defined way to control data access from users and applications. Customers can determine the identity used to perform a database operation by retrieving the information in diagnostic logs.



New datacenter in northern China

To meet growing customer demand in China, Microsoft will establish a new data center region in northern China. The new region will enable more customers to innovate and collaborate with the Microsoft Cloud, including Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Power BI.​

Azure Resource Mover, which provides portability between Azure regions and is unique to the Azure platform, is now generally available. Azure Resource Mover allows new customers to create applications in existing regions and migrate them upon new region launch or move into regions with availability zones (AZs) if not planned for their region. Azure Resource Mover moves multiple resources among Azure regions and performs dependency analysis for the workloads to ensure a successful move.


Azure Arc, released last year, is receiving multiple important updates. Azure Arc is a set of technologies that enable simplified management, faster app development and consistent Azure services anywhere. Customers need the ability to run applications across on-premises datacenters, multiple clouds and edge devices.


Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes is now generally available. Azure Arc-enabled Kubernetes allows organizations to connect, manage and govern any Kubernetes cluster across datacenters, multicloud and edge from Azure. Customers can deploy a common set of Kubernetes configurations to all their clusters, right from the Azure Portal, consistently and at scale. Azure Arc also enables developers to centrally code and deploy applications securely to any Kubernetes cluster in any location using GitOps.


Azure Arc-enabled machine learning is now in preview, meaning customers can innovate with Azure Machine Learning to target any Kubernetes cluster for model training, on-premises, in multicloud and at the edge. Organizations can leverage their existing Kubernetes infrastructure investments to lower cost and increase operational efficiency as they extend machine learning to run close to where the data lives and autoscale compute anywhere. In addition, Azure Arc provides management, consistency and reliability so that all resources can be managed through a single unified pane. With a simple one-click deployment of the machine learning agent, data scientists and developers can build models using familiar tools in Azure Machine Learning, without having to learn Kubernetes. All models, irrespective of where they were built, can be stored and tracked in a central location in Azure Machine Learning for sharing, reproducibility and audit compliance. Starting today, customers can sign up here to access the preview.


New capabilities have been added to Azure Automanage to simplify operations for Windows Server virtual machines (VMs). Azure Automanage, which is now in preview, helps customers reduce day-to-day management tasks with automated operations across the entire lifecycle of VMs in Azure. With Automanage, IT admins can manage their VMs with point-and-click simplicity, individually or at scale.

New capabilities in Azure Automanage for Windows Server help customers enable rebootless security patching for new Windows Server VMs. These new enhancements allow for the deployment of security patches in seconds, helping protect servers against critical threats.

For customers who want to automate management of other workloads, Azure Automanage has been expanded to Linux. With this preview, Azure Automanage will now support major Linux distributions.


Azure Backup: General available

It provides data protection capabilities for business-critical workloads in a simple, secure and cost-effective manner.


Backup Center: Generally available

It enables centralized backup management for Azure Virtual Machines , SQL in Azure Virtual Machines, HANA in Azure VMs and Azure Files. Additional Backup support is in preview for Azure Disks, Azure Blobs and Azure Database for PostgreSQL servers.

With Backup Center, customers can get an aggregated view of their inventory across subscriptions, locations, resource groups, vaults and even tenants using Azure Lighthouse. The seamless integration with Azure Policy and newly added capabilities for tag-based Azure Policies enables governance at scale and simplifies tracking for compliance. Customers can also monitor jobs, filter based on operation type and further leverage backup reports for richer insights. Backup Center also provides information on resources not yet configured for backup.

Azure Backup now also offers archive support for Azure VMs and SQL server running on Azure VMs via PowerShell in limited preview. Users of this feature can save by storing backups in lower-cost archive storage tiers.


Several Azure Disk Storage product enhancements for running mission-critical applications on Azure are now available in preview, including:

·       Azure Premium SSD and Standard SSD, which offer zone-redundant storage (ZRS) support to protect data in the event of a zone failure, a key feature to provide customers with high availability for mission-critical workloads. Disks with ZRS also provide a recovery point objective (RPO) of zero that minimizes data loss and helps ensure successful data recovery.

·       Performance tiers on Azure Premium SSD, which provide sustained higher performance for a planned event like a seasonal sales promotion, giving customers the flexibility to scale performance without increasing the disk size by selecting a higher performance tier. Customers can now upgrade performance tiers on Premium SSDs without any downtime to avoid disruption to their workloads.

·       Auto-key rotation of customer-managed keys, which gives customers the option to automatically update all their disks, snapshots and images using the same encryption key when a new version of a key is generated. Customers no longer need to manually update all their Azure resources and can ensure that their data is always secured with the latest key versions and that they meet their organization’s security and compliance requirements.


An expanded set of Azure migration tools and services to help customers transition their businesses to the cloud has been released:

·       Azure Migration Program (AMP), which provides expert assistance to simplify cloud migration, will offer expanded support for application modernization scenarios in the coming weeks. AMP will support modernization of popular web apps, including .NET, Java and LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) apps. These apps can be modernized to a customer’s choice of compute (i.e., Azure Kubernetes Service or Azure App Service) and database (i.e., Azure SQL or MySQL or PostgreSQL). This expansion builds on existing support for migrating datacenter infrastructure, databases and virtual desktop infrastructure, thereby enabling coverage for a rich set of migration and modernization scenarios spanning applications, infrastructure and data.

·       FastTrack for Azure, a technical enablement program that helps with deployment of cloud solutions, now offers new services: 1) Accelerating production deployments for cloud native applications so customers can receive deployment best practices for Kubernetes, OpenShift, serverless and event-driven workloads; and 2) Support for Hybrid/Azure Arc deployments starting with servers.

·       Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework, a collection of documentation, guidance and tools to help customers accelerate their cloud adoption, has added new best practice guidance on adopting hybrid and multicloud approaches. ​This new guidance enables customers to take advantage of the benefits of hybrid and multicloud adoption while also ensuring consistent security, governance and compliance across the board.

·       Azure Migrate, the central hub of Azure cloud migration services and tools, offers three new capabilities, now in preview. These new capabilities allow customers to discover and assess their SQL servers and databases for migration to Azure from within the Azure Migrate portal. The hub also now includes an app containerization tool, with support for ASP.NET and Java web applications, to help customers migrate applications to containers running on Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Lastly, the new Azure PowerShell module adds support for the Server Migration tool’s agentless method of migrating VMware virtual machines (VMs) to Azure.

·       Azure Migrate’s unified discovery and assessment capabilities for Windows, Linux and SQL server now allow customers to discover and assess their SQL servers for migration to Azure and their databases from within the Azure Migrate portal.

·       The new Azure Migrate Azure PowerShell module is now available in preview. Azure Migrate Azure PowerShell has added support for the Server Migration tool’s agentless method of migrating VMware VMs to Azure. Customers can now configure and manage replication of servers to Azure and migrate them to Azure VMs using Azure PowerShell cmdlets in an automated, repeatable manner.     


New capabilities have been released for Azure Monitor, which provides a rich set of enterprise-ready capabilities to ensure customers have complete observability of their hybrid environment, while maximizing availability, reliability and performance.

For Azure Monitor application insights, customers writing Node.js apps on Linux App Services can now onboard to Application Insights for application monitoring, without making any code changes, using auto-instrumentation.


New advancements and functionalities are available across Azure Networking services:

·       Azure load balancing options are available this month. Azure load balancing options include a guided experience to help customers choose the load balancing options that match their architectural and application requirements. Azure Load Balancer, now generally available, supports load balancing across IP addresses in the backend pool. Previously, network interfaces associated with virtual machines (VMs) could be added only in the backend of a Load Balancer. This feature enables flexibility to load balance across containers in addition to VMs and VM scale sets associated with their load balancer.

·       Azure Public IP SKU upgrade is now generally available. Azure Public IP SKU allows customers to upgrade and retain the same IPs without management overhead or notices to their end customers and now supports the ability to upgrade from Basic to Standard SKU. In addition, any Basic Public Load Balancer can now be upgraded to a Standard Public Load Balancer, while retaining the same public IP address. This is supported via PowerShell, command line interface (CLI) templates and API, and is available across all Azure regions.

·       Azure Networking routing preference, which lets Azure customers choose how their traffic is routed between Azure and the internet, is now generally available. Azure customers can choose to optimize for performance (Microsoft network) or cost (ISP network/open internet). These options are also referred to as “cold potato routing” and “hot potato routing,” respectively. Egress data transfer price varies based on the routing selection. ​This update will give customers more flexibility to optimize their underlying routing network for performance or cost on a per workload basis. ​Azure routing preference had been previously released in preview.


Additionally, there are two network security updates now available in preview.

·       Azure Front Door is now available in preview. Azure Front Door has been upgraded to provide secure cloud content delivery network (CDN) service with integrated intelligent security capabilities enabling cybersecurity teams to protect and accelerate apps, APIs, websites and content delivery in just a few clicks.

·       Azure Firewall Premium has been upgraded with next-generation firewall, now available in preview, which provides enhanced security with intrusion, detection and prevention system capabilities​ required for highly sensitive and regulated environments.


Multiple new Azure services and features to enable customer hybrid networking scenarios are now available or coming soon, including:

·       Azure Route Server, now available for preview, facilitates dynamic routing between network virtual appliance (NVA) and virtual networks. By establishing the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) peering between an NVA and Azure Router Server, customers can inject IP addresses (i.e., routes) from their NVA to their virtual network and let the NVA learn what IP addresses their virtual network has. Azure Route Server is a fully managed service with built-in high availability.

·       ExpressRoute IPv6 Support, to be released to preview later this month, will support both IPv4- and IPv6-based private peering in availability zones (AZs). IPv6 will enable key internet of things (IoT) scenarios. It will simplify enterprises’ migration or expansion to Azure even as they run out of IPv4 addresses in their on-premises network.

·       New ExpressRoute Gateway metrics are now available for preview. ExpressRoute Gateway metrics enable users to monitor the count of routes learned, count of routes advertised, number of virtual machines (VMs) in the virtual network and frequency of routes changed for their ExpressRoute gateways, and set up alerts to manage capacity accordingly.

·       New ExpressRoute Portal Experience, now generally available, allows users to have a more complete peering and Global Reach configuration experience in Azure Portal.

·       Azure Virtual WAN now offers integration with VMware SD-WAN in preview. This allows customers to connect all branch offices and remote locations to Azure through VMWare SD-WAN. Users can now manage last-mile connectivity and dynamic path optimization through VMWare SD-WAN and leverage global connectivity, routing intelligence and security through Azure Virtual WAN, benefiting from a complete Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution.

·       Virtual WAN Remote User VPN Features are now available in preview. Virtual WAN Remote User VPN Features enable 100,000 remote users to connect to a Virtual WAN hub in a region (increased from the previous 10,000 limit). It will allow remote users to authenticate using any combination of Certificates, Azure Active Directory and Radius Servers. It also offers custom IPsec parameters for remote user VPN. Finally, it will connect multiple Radius servers to a single Virtual WAN Hub for Remote User authentication.

·       Scalable Bastion Gateway will be released in preview later this month. Scalable Bastion Gateway will allow users to increase the size of Bastion gateway to support as many as 500 concurrent sessions and decrease the gateway size when the usage demand goes down. Bastion will support native Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) authentication integration for Linux VMs deployed on Azure.

·       Advanced VPN diagnostic features, including Packet Capture, the BGP Dashboard and VPN Connection features, will be released in preview this month. Packet Capture helps customers troubleshoot their connectivity issues and inspect the traffic flowing through their VPN gateways. The BGP Dashboard provides an all-up view for customers to see their route exchange between Azure and their on-premises networks. VPN Connection features (Reset, Show SA, Modes) allow customers to have fine-grained control and visibility to their VPN tunnels for monitoring, troubleshooting and management.


Windows Server 2022: Available in preview

It enables customers to run existing and new business-critical applications with confidence on Azure, on-premises and at the edge. Windows Server 2022 introduces advanced multilayer security, hybrid capabilities with Azure and a flexible application platform. As part of this release, Windows Server is getting secured-core capabilities to secure systems that would run workloads on Windows Server 2022. Secured-core server builds on technologies such as Windows Defender System Guard and Virtualization-based Security to minimize risk from firmware vulnerabilities and advanced malware. The new release also provides secured connectivity by introducing several new capabilities such as faster and more secure encrypted HTTPS connections and industry standard SMB AES 256 encryption. Windows Server 2022 improves hybrid server management and has an enhanced event viewer and many more new capabilities in Windows Admin Center. Furthermore, this release includes improvements to Windows containers, such as smaller image size for faster download, simplified network policy implementation and containerization tools for .NET applications.


Azure IoT: Coming soon

Azure IoT is a collection of services and capabilities that meet customers where they are, from the edge to the cloud. Azure IoT includes security and operating systems for devices and equipment, along with data and analytics that help businesses build, deploy and manage internet of things (IoT) applications. The following updates are now available or coming soon, as indicated:

·       Device Update for Azure IoT Hub: Available in preview in the western United States, Asia and Europe

It enables automatic updates to help keep IoT devices current and secure. Customers can use this end-to-end platform to operate, maintain and update IoT devices at scale, reducing development and maintenance costs. ​It enables customers to publish, distribute and manage over-the-air updates for everything from tiny sensor devices to gateway-level modules. ​It also scans updates for malware and allows a device to verify their integrity and provides various management controls and reporting capabilities.

·       NXP Semiconductors N.V.: available in preview in November 2021 and generally available in early 2022

It announced in early March that it is developing a new microprocessor built with Azure Sphere, a platform designed to enable more secure connected devices. This new chip, the “NXP i.MX 8ULP SoloLite-SA built with Azure Sphere and NXP i.MX 9 multi-chip series,” is meant to empower any organization to create highly secured IoT devices. ​It includes a secured-by-design approach to the silicon, which includes the Microsoft Pluton security subsystem, and layers security through the secured Azure Sphere operating system, up to the cloud-based Azure Sphere Security Service. It also provides ongoing updates and security improvements for the lifetime of the device.


Azure Percept: Available in preview

Azure Percept is a comprehensive, easy-to-use and secure platform designed to help customers build, apply and operate artificial intelligence (AI) models in lower-power edge cameras and audio devices, is now available in preview. Azure Percept powers real-time insights at the edge through hardware accelerators built to integrate seamlessly with Azure AI and Azure internet of things (IoT) services. The combination of hardware, pre-built AI models and Azure services enables uses like object detection, shelf analytics, anomaly detection and keyword spotting at the edge.

Azure Percept Studio simplifies AI lifecycle management at the edge with tools for developers, including a library of pre-built Azure AI models for object detection, shelf analytics, secure spaces, vehicle analytics, command and control, and more. Customers with low-code or no-code experience can quickly customize, train and deploy AI models locally or in the cloud. Data remains secure whether in transit or at rest with layers of protection for Azure Percept edge workloads and models. Zero Trust ensures that device security posture is continuously monitored and governed. Data is encrypted using Azure Percept’s AI model lifecycle management for secure access anywhere through authorized systems.


Azure Percept works out of the box with Azure AI, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Machine Learning and Azure Live Video Analytics, and is integrated with Azure IoT services. The family includes:

·       Azure Percept DK, a deployment-ready development kit with a carrier board, mounting tools and Azure Percept Vision, a camera-enabled system on module (SOM) for rapid scenario-based customization.

·       Azure Percept Audio, a voice-enabled SOM with a four-microphone linear array that can enable voice activation and customer commands on local microphone-enabled devices.

·       Azure Percept Studio​, a complete step-by-step platform that brings together AI tooling, Azure IoT services, device provisioning and edge AI lifecycle management at the edge.


Mixed-reality services Azure Remote Render and Azure Object Anchors are now available.


Azure Remote Rendering: Generally available

Renders complex models in the cloud and streams them in real time to devices. ​This service brings high-quality 3D content and interactive experiences to mixed-reality devices, such as HoloLens 2, enabling users to interact and collaborate with highly detailed 3D content. Bentley Systems is leveraging Remote Rendering-based immersive processes to visualize infrastructure assets remotely to reduce time spent, lower costs, improve safety and minimize traffic disruptions. Other partners including HoloLab Inc. and BIM Holoview have leveraged Remote Rendering to create applications to visualize high-fidelity renderings of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) layouts for the engineering and construction industries.


Azure Object Anchors: Available in preview

Azure Object Anchors leverages 3D models of objects, trains in the cloud using artificial intelligence (AI) and uses the trained model to enable holographic alignment to physical objects. With Object Anchors, developers can enable automatic alignment without the use of markers — saving money, reducing errors inherent in manual alignment and improving overall user experience.


Microsoft Mesh:

New mixed-reality platform Microsoft Mesh powers collaborative experiences with a feeling of presence– meaning users feel like they are physically present with one another even when they are not. People can interact with 3D content or engage with one another through Mesh-enabled apps across any platform or device – including Microsoft HoloLens, virtual reality (VR) headsets, smartphones, tablets or PCs.


Microsoft Mesh can be used to:

·       Collaborate, create and communicate;

·       Help each other solve problems;

·       Train together from anywhere; and

·       Design new things.


Microsoft Mesh is designed to connect people across a range of devices and platforms as they engage with mixed reality, enabling them to participate and create as one through immersive experiences. Users will be able to connect as avatars or as holographic versions of themselves, build a common understanding with shared 3D content and leverage a common identity across platforms, all powered by the enterprise-grade security of the Azure cloud. ​Customers can download the Microsoft Mesh app for HoloLens 2, now available in preview, and request access to the AltSpaceVR app with new capabilities for work.

For developers, Microsoft Mesh simplifies and speeds up app development with easy-to-integrate modules to enable presence and collaboration in their mixed-reality applications. Developers can join the Mixed Reality Developer Program to get updates.


Azure Monitor for Windows Virtual Desktop: Generally available in April

Windows Virtual Desktop provides a unique virtual desktop infrastructure solution with capabilities that include improved deployment tools, security enhancement and integration with Microsoft Teams. Azure Monitor for Windows Virtual Desktop provides a centralized view with all the monitoring insights and visualizations needed to debug and troubleshoot issues and operate at scale. With the latest updates, customers can:


·       View a summary of host pool status and health;

·       Find and troubleshoot problems in the deployment;

·       Understand and address user feedback; and

·       Understand utilization of resources and make decisions on scaling and cost management.


Session 3: PowerApps

Microsoft Power Automate Desktop: Available to Windows 10 users at no additional cost

Microsoft Power Automate Desktop, which offers robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities that easily automate time-consuming manual work. Customers can begin creating automated workflows between apps and services to synchronize files, get notifications, collect data and more.


Power BI Premium: Available in preview, price list release on a per-user basis

This includes architectural updates for across-the-board improvements to performance, stability, and security. Premium Gen 2 delivers enhancements for every Power BI Premium customer, including:

·       Flexibility to license per user or per capacity;

·       Faster processing — up to 16x performance boost with Microsoft managed architecture;

·       Autoscale to automatically add capacity when needed; and

·       Consistent and reliable cost management with utilization metrics.

Power BI Premium enables analysts and business data users to create and analyze business intelligence (BI) reporting. For enterprises and IT admins, the new Power BI Premium offers major improvements in governance and scale with features like Microsoft-owned resource management, utilization metrics, autoscale and integrated security.


Microsoft Power Fx: Generally available

Microsoft has published the first low-code programming language, Microsoft Power Fx, for logic customization across the Power Platform. This language, with origins in Excel, is available now, with implementation being open sourced on GitHub later this year.

Currently used as the language to develop canvas apps in Microsoft Power Apps, Power Fx will eventually become the consistent language across the Power Platform. Expressed in text, it’s a low-code language that makers can work with directly.

Power Fx leverages the knowledge of Excel users to reduce barriers for citizen developers getting started with low-code development. Professional developers can accelerate their app development with the simplicity of formulas and code using their favorite professional developer tools.


Power Platform Admin Center: Available in preview and partial launch in April

Power Platform is introducing features that enable IT pros to implement enhanced governance and security for low-code tools and automation. As low-code adoption grows, governance and security are increasingly important.

The features include a new Power Platform admin center and capabilities, security improvements and reporting enhancements. Some features are now available in preview; others will launch next month.

IT professionals will benefit from key improvements in data loss prevention (DLP) and administration of Power Platform with new admin controls and reporting and new security standards implementation.


Power Virtual Agents with AI: Released in preview

New artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities within Power Virtual Agents have been enabled subject-matter experts to build smarter chatbots.

These new AI-infused features enable chatbots to engage more naturally and more accurately and are designed to help organizations and citizen developers feel more confident about addressing customer and employee needs with chatbots at scale.


New AI capabilities in public preview are:

·       Topic overlap detection helps improve triggering accuracy by finding overlaps between topics, reducing the need for the bot to ask clarifying questions before triggering a topic.

·       Topic suggestions from chat transcripts analyzes chat transcripts from previous conversations and provides suggestions for new topics.


Session 4: Security

Attack Simulation Training: Generally available, extended to all Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 customers

Attack Simulation Training, which helps customers detect, prioritize and remediate phishing risk, is now generally available in Microsoft Defender for Office 365. Attack Simulation Training uses neutralized versions of real attacks to simulate the continually changing attacker landscape, enabling highly accurate and up-to-date detection of risky behavior, with rich reporting and analytics to help customers measure their progress.


Azure Sentinel: Now in public preview or generally available

Azure Sentinel, a scalable, cloud-native security information event management (SIEM) solution. These updates help expand extended detection and response (XDR) integration for Microsoft, which has the most integrated SIEM and XDR in the industry today with shared incidents, schema and user experiences between Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Sentinel. These updates are:

·       Shared incidents, schema and user experiences between Microsoft 365 Defender and Azure Sentinel, now in public preview.

·       New built-in security orchestration automated response (SOAR) playbooks to create automation rules, block suspicious IP address in Azure Firewall, isolate endpoint device with Microsoft Intune and update risk state of a user with Azure Active Directory Identity Protection.

·       Over 30 new built-in connectors that simplify data collection across multicloud environments including Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce Service Cloud, VMware and Cisco Umbrella.

·       Connectors to Azure Storage, Azure SQL, Azure Kubernetes Service and Azure Key Vault now in public preview.

·       Data ingestion improvements including normalized data for networking and health reporting for connectors.

·       Improvements in analytics now in general availability: alerts enrichment for custom fields, entity mapping, notebooks for investigations and hunting.

Forrester Research has named Microsoft Azure Sentinel as a “Leader” in the Forrester Wave™: Security Analytics Platform Providers, Q4 2020.


Microsoft 365 Defender: Now available in preview

Defender for Endpoint and Defender for Office 365 customers can now investigate and remediate threats from the single, integrated Microsoft 365 Defender portal. These updates are Microsoft’s latest step toward creating the most integrated extended detection and response (XDR) solution. Expanded capabilities and additional features now available in preview include:

·       Unified alerts, user and investigation pages for deep, automated analysis and simple visualization.

·       Extended email alert capabilities in a new email entity page. This provides a 360-degree view of email alerts, with relevant context.

·       A new Learning Hub where customers can leverage instructional resources with best practices and how-tos.


Threat Analytics: Now available in preview

A set of reports from expert Microsoft security researchers that help customers understand, prevent and mitigate active threats. This release extends the proactive guidance of Microsoft security researchers, which had previously been available only in Defender for Endpoint.




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