Unless you're an ICT type, you'll have a hard time slogging through the techspeak that crowds the Microsoft press release shown below. But parse the tech terms and you'll find some important advances for government users.
For one thing, Microsoft has created a dedicated cloud just for U.S. government customers. It is hosted in the continental U.S. and managed by U.S. personnel. Some government agencies are uncomfortable hosting sensitive information in other countries.
For another, Microsoft has enhanced its "hybrid cloud" solutions. This lets an organization host some things in the public cloud and some things on its own private cloud, and move seamlessly between the two. Again, this will be of great value to agencies that are uncomfortable letting sensitive information out of house. They can keep the sensitive stuff in house and host other things in the public cloud, which is typically much less expensive.
For another, Microsoft is releasing a data analytics tools that can tap into very large data sets using familiar tools such as Microsoft Excel. This will let city employees gain access to insights without needing to retrain on exotic new programs. -- Jesse Berst
Microsoft unleashes fall wave of enterprise cloud solutions
New Windows Server, System Center, Visual Studio, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, SQL Server, and Dynamics solutions will accelerate cloud benefits for customers.
REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced a wave of new enterprise products and services to help companies seize the opportunities of cloud computing and overcome today’s top IT challenges. Complementing Office 365 and other services, these new offerings deliver on Microsoft’s enterprise cloud strategy.
Satya Nadella, Cloud and Enterprise executive vice president, said, “As enterprises move to the cloud they are going to bet on vendors that have best-in-class software as a service applications, operate a global public cloud that supports a broad ecosystem of third party services, and deliver multi-cloud mobility through true hybrid solutions. If you look across the vendor landscape, you can see that only Microsoft is truly delivering in all of those areas.” More comments from Nadella can be found on The Official Microsoft Blog.
Hybrid infrastructure and modern applications
To help customers build IT infrastructure that delivers continuous services and applications across clouds, on Oct. 18 Microsoft will release Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Together, these new products empower companies to create datacenters without boundaries using Hyper-V for high-scale virtualization; high-performance storage at dramatically lower costs; built-in, software-defined networking; and hybrid business continuity. The new Windows Azure Pack runs on top of Windows Server and System Center, enabling enterprises and service providers to deliver self-service infrastructure and platforms from their datacenters.
Building on these hybrid cloud platforms, customers can use Visual Studio 2013 and the new .NET 4.5.1, also available Oct. 18, to create modern applications for devices and services. As software development becomes pervasive within every company, the new Visual Studio 2013 Modern Lifecycle Management solution helps enable development teams, businesspeople and IT managers to build and deliver better applications, faster.
Enabling enterprise cloud adoption
Recognizing that most enterprises will take a hybrid approach to cloud, Microsoft wants to help customers utilize their investments in on-premises software solutions toward the adoption of cloud computing. On Nov. 1, Microsoft will offer Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers access to discounted Windows Azure prices, regardless of upfront commitment, without overuse penalties and with the flexibility of annual payments.
As another part of this effort to reduce cloud adoption barriers, Microsoft on Monday announced a strategic partnership with Equinix Inc. Building on recently announced partnerships with AT&T and others, this alliance will provide customers with even more options for private and fast connections to the cloud. Customers will be able to connect their networks with Windows Azure at Equinix exchange locations for greater throughput, availability and security features.
Governments are among the most demanding enterprise customers. To help U.S. federal, state and local government agencies realize the benefits of public cloud computing, Microsoft is introducing its Windows Azure US Government Cloud. This will offer U.S. government customers a dedicated community cloud for data, applications and infrastructure, hosted in the continental U.S. and managed by U.S. personnel. Windows Azure has been granted FedRAMP Joint Authorization Board Provisional Authority to Operate, making it the first public cloud of its kind to achieve this level of government authorization.
Data platform and insights
As part of its vision to help more people unlock actionable insights from big data, Microsoft next week will release a second preview of SQL Server 2014. The new version offers industry-leading in-memory technologies at no additional cost, giving customers 10 times to 30 times performance improvements without application rewrites or new hardware. SQL Server 2014 also works with Windows Azure to give customers built-in cloud backup and disaster recovery.
For big data analytics, later this month Microsoft will release Windows Azure HDInsight Service, an Apache Hadoop-based service that works with SQL Server and widely used business intelligence tools, such as Microsoft Excel and Power BI for Office 365. With Power BI, people can combine private and public data in the cloud for rich visualizations and fast insights.
People and devices in the cloud
The proliferation of cloud applications, data and consumer devices is moving many enterprises to a bring-your-own-device model. The new release of Windows Intune, also available Oct. 18, combines with System Center Configuration Manager to help IT departments give mobile employees security-enhanced access to the applications and data they need on the Windows, iOS and Android devices of their choice. This unified management environment for PCs and mobile devices complements the new access and information protection capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2.
Further, with Windows Server 2012 R2 Microsoft is introducing the Microsoft Remote Desktop app, available for download in application stores later this month, to provide easy access to PCs and virtual desktops on a variety of devices and platforms, including Windows, Windows RT, iOS, OS X and Android.
Software as a service business solutions
The next major version of the company’s CRM solution, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Fall ’13 will be available later this month, helping make customer interactions more personal via contextual information for deeper insights than the previous version, delivered on a variety of devices.* The on-premises version is expected to be available later in the fall for deployment either in-house or hosted by a partner. More information is available here. In addition, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 R2 is now available, offering small and midsize businesses interoperability with Office 365, full multitenant support, and a range of tools designed to support large-scale hosting of the application on Windows Azure.
More information on Monday’s announcements can be found at the Microsoft News Center.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
* Devices include Windows 8 tablets and iPad tablets with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013; Windows Phone 8, iPhone and Android phone shortly following the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013.