Microsoft Ignite 2019 Recap

Sessions and vendors and shiny new stuff.

When I was told that I was going to have the opportunity to attend Microsoft Ignite earlier this year, I was really excited. Not only was I going to get the chance to escape the bitter Pennsylvania cold, but I’d also get the chance to learn a ton and experiment with Microsoft’s cutting-edge tech. Monday started off strong with Satya’s Vision Keynote; Satya is a brilliant speaker, and the announcements this year were everything I could have hoped for. While I’d hardly consider Microsoft Endpoint Manager to be something ‘new,’ I’m very happy thaty they’re finally unifying their branding all the same. Microsoft has been very vocal about the future of endpoint management in the enterprise being co-management, but SCCM and Intune have seemingly always been treated as two completely unrelated products. With any luck this will eventually lead to simultaneous feature availability and, eventually, to the fabled single pane of glass for endpoint management.

I was also very interested in the applications of Project Cortex and in what they’re doing with Power Automate (formerly Flow). While Cortex is only capable of scraping your 365 stack currently, the (confirmed) plans for third-party connectors are very exciting. Nobody likes writing documentation, so imagine if you could have the power of machine learning write KB articles for you after having scanned your ServiceNow instance for common issues. Think of a world where you are notified about about a major issue before your help desk even knows it’s happening. That would be amazing enough, and that’s before we start to get into the other applications of this sort of tech. If you already have something scraping your 365 stack for reoccurrances of certain keywords, there’s no reason why you couldn’t be automatically alerted if people outside of a given department start talking about potentially classified information. We were also shown the TruGreen demo about 100 times through the course of the week, but honestly it was probably warranted. Flow/Power Automate has always been a really cool piece of tech, but now that it can easily integrate with legacy LoB applications I can foresee much wider adoption.

The sessions I attended mostly lined up with what I could see myself using in the workplace; I put a heavy emphasis on MEM and the Azure endpoint security features, with a sprinkling of other topics as I could make time for them. I learned a ton about what’s coming down the pipeline with Autopilot, with Azure Active Directory, and with a slew of other technologies that I’m really looking forward to implementing. And, of course, when I wasn’t in sessions, I spent a lot of time talking to vendors (both ones we work with currently and new ones) in The Hub.

Microsoft is far from the only company that makes annoucements during Ignite, and I was happy to have the opportunity to get demos on some of the other stuff released during the week. The wonderful people at Citrix provided us with a great demo on their Intelligent Workspace, which I’ve always been really curious about. Our HRIS system at work is far from easy to work with, so the possibility of integrating “microapps” for common uses like inputting PTO or timesheets into something that our users are already familiar with sounds awesome. We also had a great talk with the Program Lead for Windows Update for Business at a Microsoft-sponsored social one night that was hugely informative; as I’m in the process of implementing WuFB in our environment currently, it was great to have her validate some of my concerns and confirm that my approach is following best practices.

All in all, Ignite was an incredible experience, and I’d love to do it again next year. In the meantime, though, I’m going to do my best to apply what I’ve learned so that we can use this new tech as a stepping stone to what’s coming in the future! See you next year, Orlando!