Microsoft announcements from its annual Ignite conference

Microsoft Logo

Last week, Microsoft held its annual Ignite conference in Chicago, Illinois. Ignite is the new name for a series of technical conferences targeted to IT Professionals, which replaces the earlier Microsoft Management Summit (MMS) and TechEd conferences among others.

During this technical event, several announcements were made which are summarized below.

Windows Update for Business

Windows Update for Business will be a free service for Windows Pro and Enterprise devices. Windows Update for Business is build on top of Windows Update and targeted towards end-user devices within business. Windows Update for Business will provide Distribution rings, maintenance windows, peer to peer delivery and will integrate with existing management tools like System Center. More information about Windows Update for Business can be found here.

System Center Configuration Manager vNext Technical Preview

In order to support management and rollout of Windows 10 once released. Microsoft will release a new version of its Configuration Manager product. Configuration Manager provides Enterprise Client Management capabilities. During Ignite Microsoft announced a technical preview of the next version of Configuration Manager. Microsoft expects to release this new version in Q4 of this year offering client deployment, upgrade and management of Windows 10. Microsoft also announced that it will release Service Packs for its 2012, 2012 R2 and 2007 versions of Configuration Manager which will support its new OS. More information about whats included in this technical preview can be found here. Also Microsoft Intune, which is a Software as a Service (SaaS) offering providing client management and Mobile Device Management (MDM) will also support management of Windows 10 (both the client as the phone OS). More information about Microsoft Intune announcements during Ignite can be found here.

Microsoft Azure Stack

Microsoft currently offers the Windows Azure Pack (WAP) as a Self Service Portal for managing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) private clouds. WAP provides the look and feel of the Azure management portal as offered by Microsoft in its public cloud offering. WAP works on top of Service Provider Foundation (SPF) in conjunction with System Center tooling. (Virtual Machine Manager). Even though the Azure Management portal and WAP provide the same look and feel, under the hood there are many differences and many features are not interoperable. Azure Stack, which will be based on Azure Resource Manager (ARM). With Azure Stack much techniques can be shared between the private cloud environments (based on Azure Stack) and public cloud environments (based on Microsoft Azure). More information about Microsoft Azure Stack and what it exactly is can be found in this blogpost from Daniel Neumann. Also the official announcement from Microsoft provides more information.


Microsoft Operations Management Suite (OMS)

Operations Management Suite (OMS) is a new Software as a Service (SaaS) offering from Microsoft. OMS extends System Center by providing Log Analytics, Automation, Availability and Security. It contains several products like Microsoft Operational Insights, Azure automation and Azure Site Recovery. Besides managing Microsoft only environments the Suite also supports workloads on Azure, AWS, Windows Server, Linux, VMware and OpenStack.


More information about Operations Management Suite (OMS) can be found in this blogpost.

In October last year, Microsoft released the first technical previews of the next version of Microsoft Windows Server and System Center. covered what’s new in these releases here and here. At Ignite Microsoft announced technical preview 2 for both Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016. For System Center new functionality was undocumented at that time, Microsoft only announced that some functionality now provided by System Center would be discontinued like for example System Center Orchestrator and support for XenServer in Virtual Machine Manager.

Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 contains the following new functionality:

  • Compute and Virtualization
    • Rolling upgrades for Hyper-V and scale-out file server (SOFS)
    • Hot add and remove memory and NIC
    • VMs continue running even if the compute cluster fabric service fails
    • Nano Server (covered by here)
  • Networking
    • Converged NIC across tenant and RDMA traffic to optimize costs
    • PacketDirect on 40G to optimize performance
  • Storage
    • VM storage path resiliency, allowing VMs to pause and restart gracefully in response to storage path failures
    • Aggregation of Storage Spaces across multiple servers
    • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
    • Storage Replica providing syncrhonous storage replication
  • Security
    • Host Guardian Service which is part of a trust and isolation boundary between cloud infrastructure and the guest OS
    • Just Enough Administration (JEA)
  • Management
    • PowerShell Desired State Configuration (DSC)
    • PowerShell Package Manager
    • Windows Management Framework 5.0 and DSC resource kit

More information about Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 2 can be found here.

System Center 2016 Technical Preview 2 contains the following new functionality as described in the What’s new for System Center Technical Preview.

The Technical Preview 2 is provided for the following products: Data Protection Manager (DPM), Operations Manager (OM), Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), Service Manager (SM) and Orchestrator. For Service Manager and Orchestrator Microsoft provides no information about what’s new. Ofcourse once released the products will be able to fully manage and run on the new Windows Server 2016 versions.

For the other products the following new functionality is introduced in this technical preview:

Data Protection Manager:

  • Continuous Protection for Mixed-mode clusters
  • Inquiry performance improvements
  • Enhanced Reporting

Operations Manager:

  • Maintenance Schedules which begin at a future point in time

Virtual Machine Manager:

  • Management capabilities for guarded hosts and shielded virtual machines
  • Add Azure Subscription feature and perform basic actions on Azure instances in those subscriptions.
  • Networking capabilities
    • Consistent naming of virtual network adapters, as seen by the guest operating system
    • Simpler, more reliable methods for applying network settings consistently to hosts
  • Storage provisioning and management capabilities
    • End-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) for storage
    • Support for storage tiers
    • Support for Storage Spaces Direct (with Windows Server Technical Preview)
  • Management capabilities for hosts, host clusters, and Scale-Out File Server clusters

Besides the products described above also other products were announced and released in a technical preview, like Office 2016, Skype for Business broadcasting, Office Delve, SharePoint 2016, Exchange Server 2016, SQL Server 2016, Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) and Office 365 enhancements.