Microsoft Azure News: 2020 Year in Review

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Hindsight is 2020, or so the old saying goes. With the year now almost wrapped up, it is time to take a look back at a wild start to the new decade. In a year defined by remote work, lockdowns, and high-tech, Azure experienced continued uptake, added new services, modified existing offerings, and continued to be a focus of financial performance.

The articles presented below represent Azure-focused news and articles that covered 2020’s most notable product changes and the topics that our audience was most interested to read about.

For many organizations, the number of hybrid infrastructure components continues to grow relative to on-prem. Hybrid promises to boost agility, while allowing on-prem systems to keep running, although costs around MPLS-connectivity are spurring faster shifts.

PwC partner, Paul Gaynor, explained how the major audit and consulting firm is using Azure for cybersecurity needs, including its use of Sentinel.

Cloud experts weighed in on the question of how to contain costs in the cloud. Potential mistakes abound: failing to turn off VMs, purchasing for peak capacity and not making future commitments to name a few. Too many companies remain entrenched in budgeting patterns from the pre-cloud era, but internal tooling and new strategies can help.

After entering public preview in May, Cloud for Healthcare became generally available across products such as Dynamics 365 Marketing, Customer Voice, Customer Insights, Azure FHIR and others at the end of October. The offering is aimed to provide tools for patients and care teams to share data, including integrations with third-party electronic health record systems.

With the election of Joe Biden as incoming US president in November, 2020, tech watchers assessed what a new administration will mean for cloud and data regulations. By some accounts, President Biden may favor expanded data privacy protections, more in-line with those already in-place in Europe, although there is likely to be bipartisan support for exceptions favoring law enforcement. In the meantime, US states continue to move ahead with their own data regulations.

Microsoft stunned many analysts when it secured the highly-competitive JEDI contract with the US Department of Defense in late 2019. Going forward, Microsoft’s wide-ranging technologies mean it may be well positioned to win new opportunities with other agencies and governments in need of cloud services. On the horizon: cloud projects with intelligence agencies, finance and health and human services agencies.

At its virtual, 2020 Ignite event, Microsoft leaders put the focus on business adaptation to Covid-19, AI, edge, IoT and hybrid cloud capabilities. Highly engaged preview customers are taking part in testing of Azure Communication Services, introduced in October.

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Microsoft announced the launch of Azure Purview as the year came to a close. The new offering tracks data lineage, conducts data discovery, and looks across Power BI, SaaS apps and cloud locations. Additionally, it adds sensitivity labels in Microsoft 365 Compliance Center.

How do cloud administrators curb costs in a crisis? When the global pandemic began nearly three-quarters of a year ago, experts advised customers to shift from IaaS to PaaS, swap out database servers and remove idle instances.

Microsoft CVP Tom Keane detailed the launch of Azure Space. The nascent effort will leverage its Modular Datacenter along with SpaceX Starlink technology to provide high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband.

IoT Digital Twins may have been one of the most discussed Azure offerings of the year, allowing modeling of real-world technology in digital space such as factories or even entire cities. The offering supports multi-dimensional modeling, physics-based simulations and AI. Developers can leverage SDKs, explorer samples and Digital Twins Definition Language, which provide modeling and validation tools. Digital Twins interoperates with IoT Hub, Data Lake, Synapse Analytics and Time Series Insights.

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Microsoft closed out July by announcing its annual Partner of the Year award winners. On the list was Informatica, providing big data, AI and data processing with Azure Synapse Analytics. A company VP shared Informatica’s journey with Microsoft and experiences using Azure services.

New and improved partnerships

Microsoft’s partnerships can serve to provide the most specific signals of where cloud services are gaining trust and traction in the market. While these agreements can often take years to reveal their true value,

Azure growth under a stock market microscope

Microsoft continued to impress Wall Street with revenue and earnings numbers that exceeded expectations and a resilient product lineup seemingly built to withstand the crises of 2020. Azure revenue growth was always an earnings headline, and while it descended from 2019’s even higher rates, it held steady over the final two quarters reported this year.

Photo by Henry Dick on Unsplash