What I Learned at Microsoft Build 2018

Microsoft held its popular Build conference in Seattle this week. Microsoft has a lot of different conferences throughout the year, but Build, as the name suggests, is focused on developers, current and future directions of Microsoft development platform and Microsoft cloud technologies. I was lucky enough to attend the conference in person and learn quite a few new things about Microsoft’s development story and how it will help us and our customers achieve their business goals better and faster. If you missed the conference, don’t worry; you can watch all sessions online at the conference’s website: I am sure Microsoft will also publish these sessions at Chanel 9 at some point, if they haven’t already.

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The theme for this year was Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Azure Enhancements. Not to say that Conference didn’t cover other topics, but keynotes and major sessions all focused on this theme. The Azure story is simple. Azure has been around for a while at this point. Microsoft has a solid stack of cloud services for both companies with small budgets and limited resources and companies with large teams and complex technology challenges (scalability, DevOps, Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployments, etc.). I will cover new Azure enhancements and offerings in a future blog post. If you are super curious about new Azure changes, Azure (Internet of Things) IoT Edge is the most interesting new feature in my opinion. Azure IoT Edge allows you to push your code to both Azure cloud and your remote IOT devices, including drones. Yep, you read it right, drones! Microsoft covered a lot of it in the first day’s keynote, so make sure to watch it.

AI and ML are a little more unique. What does that mean? Is CyberNet real yet? Fortunately, no, although it sure seems like we are heading in that direction fast. AI is the big focus of all major players in the industry. Like Microsoft, Google announced new AI enhancements to its own suite of products this week at Google I/O conference. However, what makes Microsoft apart from other companies is that they are focused on enterprise customers and solving business problems with AI and ML. Microsoft has always been big on AI. From Microsoft Kinect back in 2010 to Microsoft Holo Lens now, Microsoft has consistently pushed new AI capabilities to both consumers and business customers alike, but what’s been missing up until now is how AI and ML can make every day custom line of business applications smarter and make businesses more productive without involving cumbersome manual processes and human interaction.

AI can solve a lot of common business problems very quickly and reduce or even completely eliminate your manual labor overhead in some cases. For e.g., have you ever had to migrate and/or consolidate data from multiple sources to understand it better? Or perhaps re-structure and analyze old files in your organization to apply governance to them? Using AI you can discover data and restructure it by not only its location and type, but also by analyzing actual content of those files, like an actual human being would do. I see our customers run into similar business problems again and again and often times it takes a lot of time and lot of resources to get things done right manually. In short, the need for AI in business applications is very real and Microsoft understands this need and has new Azure offerings and .NET developer APIs to help customers. For developers, I would highly recommend focusing on ML.NET sessions. That will get you started in the right direction.

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