Microsoft Ignite 2021 Announcement Roundup

Our team here at Xgility was excited to virtually attend Microsoft Ignite 2021 last week along with over 100,000 global attendees to watch the keynote addresses, attend the sessions, participate in training, and catch the latest announcements around Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, Security, and so much more.

Throughout the event, Microsoft showcased innovative and new ways they are helping organizations and people stay connected, secure, and thrive in the hybrid work world with cloud-powered solutions.

According to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, people often think of 2020 as the year work moved home. But in reality, it’s the year work moved to the cloud.

And moving forward, the cloud will continue to play a critical role as organizations accelerate their digital transformation and adapt to the realities of a hybrid workforce that require flexibility to securely work from different locations and with different devices. Azure cloud services will be more important than ever to help companies survive and thrive in a constantly evolving world.

So Many Announcements: Here’s What Our Team is Excited to See Roll Out

Our team is excited about the announcements from the event – especially as we learned about the new features, functionalities, and products that we can leverage to help our clients increase both internal and external collaboration, enhance their meetings experiences, safeguard their workforce and data, improve processes and integrate them across applications, accelerate cloud adoption, and unlock the power of the cloud to help modernize and develop apps, build hybrid networking solutions, migrate data centers, and so much more.

I reached out to three of our directors here at Xgility to learn what announcements particularly caught their attention. Here’s what they had to say.

JoAnna Battin, Director of Strategy & Advisory Services

I’m excited about Microsoft Teams Connect. Over the past year, we’ve seen an increasing demand for external guest access for our customers.  But we’ve also seen ongoing challenges and confusion – due to gaps in functionality – when our clients set up Teams and try to implement the right controls and security to separate external users from internal information. With Microsoft Teams Connect, now we can help clients combine internal collaboration with external guest access sharing by separating Channels by audience, thus removing duplicative Teams while also maintaining the security around the data.  It’s a great new addition and I’m excited to be able to streamline the recommendations for users.

Also, several of the new features and functionality announced at Ignite focus on their new approach to encouraging “employee experience.” Many of the technical features and functionality that just a year ago were attractive from a technical perspective have now been reimagined from the employee perspective. This is a direct result of the pandemic and how organizations must now think about their workforce – and attracting and retaining valuable employees.  For example, Microsoft Teams has accelerated the rollout of so many new features that enhance the employee experience – especially around meetings, chats and collaboration, security, and more.

What might not be as apparent is Microsoft’s introduction of Microsoft Viva. Microsoft has stated that Viva is a combination of AI features and technical functionality presented in a way to enhance the employee experience.  In fact, Project Cortex will no longer be called by name, but its features are integrated into Microsoft Viva. Microsoft Viva will provide employees with information, insights, and knowledge to increase productivity and gather information quicker, easier, and in a comprehensive way – thus enhancing the employee experience.

Learn More:
Flexible Work is Here to Stay: Microsoft 365 Solutions for the Hybrid Work World »

Greg Schneider, Solutions Factory Director

The new IT governance and security features in the Power Platform will be a game-changer for our clients. Microsoft is releasing a slew of new targeted capabilities that will allow admins to put up the right guardrails for governance and security to protect data within the Power Platform.

Admins will be able to enable environment – and tenant-wide data exfiltration governance, fine-grained data loss prevention rules for connector actions and endpoints, and Data Loss Prevention support for custom connectors. These will help address concerns for IT and security teams – especially when it comes to citizen developers – often preventing the organizations from using Power Apps.

I’m also glad to see they’re incorporating more monitoring capabilities and reports in the Power Platform. Now clients will be able to view new tenant-wide analytics, usage and maker activity reporting for Power Apps and Power Automate, and inventory reporting. These all give full visibility to what their employees or developers are building and how these apps and flows are getting used. Armed with those insights, we can help address low adoption rates or see where there are issues with apps – and make the right corrections to ensure their apps are helping – not preventing – their staff from using them to increase productivity and efficiency.

Learn More:
Solve IT Governance and Admin challenges with New Features for Power Platform »
Announcing New Power Platform Capabilities at Microsoft Ignite »

David Simsik, Cloud Infrastructure Architect

Over the past year, we’ve been helping our clients implement a Zero Trust model – a security strategy that combines maximum flexibility with maximum security. So, I was happy to see new features coming out to help manage identifies, address threat protection, and ensure compliance.

External access is a common requirement for our clients – and the new Azure AD External Identities will help meet those needs. A strong Zero Trust approach requires that we treat access requests from customers, partners, and vendors just like requests from employees: verify every request, allow users to access the data they need only when they need it, and don’t let guests overstay their welcome. With Azure AD, you can apply consistent access policies to all types of external users. Generally available starting this month, Azure AD External Identities is a set of capabilities for securing and managing identity and access for customers and partners. Self-service sign-up user flows in Azure AD apps make it easy to create, manage, and customize onboarding experiences for external users, with little to no application code.

There are also updates for Azure AD Conditional Access, the policy engine at the heart of Microsoft’s Zero Trust solution, now uses authentication context to enforce even more granular policies based on user actions within the app they are using or sensitivity of data they are trying to access. This helps appropriately protect important information without unduly restricting access to less sensitive content.

And several updates for Azure Security Center and Azure Defender are now available. Windows Server 2019 in Azure Defender has improved security alerts experiences as well as endpoint detection and response (EDR) support. Azure Security Center has improved the integration of network security and new reporting capabilities. The improved alerts experience includes an improved triaging experience with better performance for larger alert lists, alignment with Azure Sentinel’s incident experience, and additional alerts from the Azure Resource Graph.

Learn More: 
Identity at Microsoft Ignite: Strengthening Zero Trust Defenses in the Era of Hybrid Work »
Microsoft unifies SIEM and XDR to Help Stop Advanced Attacks »
4 Ways Microsoft is Delivering Security for all in a Zero Trust World »

And More Announcements

Microsoft Teams
We can’t overlook all the new features coming to Microsoft Teams. I’m excited to see the new Dynamic view in Meetings that intelligently arranges the elements of your meeting for an optimal viewing experience. As people join, turn on video, start to speak, or begin to present in a meeting, Teams auto-adjusts and personalizes your layout. The dynamic view is rolling out soon.

And the new Presenter Modes are a meeting game changer. Use Presenter Mode to step up the production level of your presentations and customize how your video feed and content appear to your audience. Standout Mode shows your video feed as a silhouette in front of the shared content. And Reporter Mode places content as a visual aid above your shoulder just like a news story. Side-by-Side Mode displays your video feed next to your content. Presenter mode will be available soon.

Other new Microsoft Teams features rolling out include 1,000-person interactive webinars with moderation control, 20,000-person view-only broadcasts, meeting attendee reporting. Teams mobile experience enhancements, Teams device enhancements, security and compliance features, and much more.

Learn More:
What’s New in Microsoft Teams »

Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 was another hot topic throughout the event as they announced new capabilities that will help businesses adapt and evolve to elevate customer experiences. One announcement stood out in particular: A new powerful and seamless integration of Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 that includes embedded Teams collaboration experiences in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

Learn More: 
Announcing new Dynamics 365 capabilities at Microsoft Ignite »

So, That’s a Wrap!

You can learn about other announcements for Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Microsoft Teams, Identify & Security, and other announcements in the Microsoft Ignite 2021 Book of News »

Please reach out to learn how we can help you and your organization empower your workforce to be more collaborative, productive, and secure with the Microsoft Teams, the Power Platform, Azure AD, and other Microsoft endpoint and security tools. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »