Microsoft Ignite 2021: Microsoft’s Priorities—Low-Code, Multi-Cloud/Edge, Intelligent Data Services

Charlotte Dunlap – Principal Analyst, Application Platforms

Summary Bullets:

• Microsoft broadens developer reach via new low-code language, Power FX, an open-source contribution on GitHub

• Arc-enabled ML brings Azure AI capabilities to multiple clouds and closer to the data

During last week’s Ignite mega developer conference, Microsoft’s technology announcements focused on app modernization including IT operations’ ability to access a common control plane among multi-cloud environments and ensure proper workload lifecycle management. DevOps teams are interested in extending multi-cloud management’s ML data services for developing apps and training models locally where the data resides, to reduce sensitive data transport requirements.

Enterprises are also keen to extend AI services on devices located at the network edge, including access to app development platforms with integrated low-code capabilities, to ensure broader app development participants in the digitization process. With these concepts in mind, Microsoft announced updates to flagship platforms including Power Platform and Azure Arc, including new capabilities to extend low-code app development and data services, expanding the ability to build, deploy, and manage intelligent applications.

Microsoft Azure is one of the industry’s earliest PaaS offerings as part of a comprehensive cloud model, which benefited from billions of dollars in annual investment. In recent years, Microsoft has been on a path to cloud-enable core technologies, such as Visual Studio development tools in support of hybrid cloud capabilities. At the same time, it has added new services including comprehensive developer and operations tools under the Power Platform brand (including intelligent automation and data/ML services), as part of Azure.

Over the past year, Microsoft has caused significant disruption in the low-code space following the success of Power Platform, a portfolio of developer and operations tools for addressing the complexities associated with app modernization, highly competitive when coupled with Azure’s backend integration and storage service. Power Platform supports the ability to create Power Apps directly from within Microsoft Teams, onboarding new low-code users. At Ignite, Microsoft focused heavily on its evolving Power Platform strategy.

During Ignite, Microsoft added to its story through enhanced developer tooling, data services, a new low-code open-source language, Power FX, spanning across Power Platform, and improved machine learning (ML) support as part of new multi-cloud management solution Azure Arc. While broadening developer interest via new OSS language Power FX, available via GitHub, FX is only available in Power Apps canvas apps and ultimately will only be used for app development within the constraints of the Microsoft Power Platforms. Microsoft also addressed enterprises’ need to extend AI services on devices located at the network edge. And as a comprehensive cloud offering, Microsoft highlighted new IaaS capabilities, which emphasize agility and flexibility for setting up infrastructure configurations, as well as improved performance of mission-critical applications, business continuity, and simplified cloud migration.

For further details and analysis on these announcements, please see Microsoft Ignite 2021: Microsoft Goes on the Offensive in the Cloud Wars via Low-Code and Data Services , March 8, 2021)


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