Cloud & Mobility dominate Microsoft's 2015 agenda

Interview with Ole Kjeldsen, Technology Director, Microsoft.

Cloud first and Mobile first are top of Microsoft's agenda for 2015, according to its Danish Technology Director. All of the products and services that are sent into the market support the Cloud's vast computing power, combined with agile mobile data collection.

“The two dominating focus areas for Microsoft in 2015 are Cloud and Mobility,” says Ole Kjeldsen, Technology Director, Microsoft Denmark. “We naturally also focus on such trends as Big Data, social computing and Internet of Things, but everything is driven by Cloud and Mobility.”

Ole Kjeldsen explains that Internet of Things can, for example, provide for interesting analyses that can generate knowledge we did not think possible.

“Yet much of Internet of Things is only possible because we can load data from mobile devices and sensors. In the same way, we can only crunch the vast amounts of data from Internet of Things in the Cloud, since the computing power needed will only rarely be available in a traditional data centre. So Cloud and Mobility are the be-all and end-all.”

IoT for elevators

On the subject of Cloud and Mobility, Ole Kjeldsen describes how Microsoft has helped the elevator conglomerate ThyssenKrupp with a major global Internet of Things installation. ThyssenKrupp have connected sensors to most of the components in their elevators, so that they can register basic functionality such as the number of times a cable is extended, or a button is pressed. This function data is stored in the Cloud using Microsoft Azure Intelligent Systems Service, from where algorithms can be used to generate an analysis of the relevant component’s lifetime, and whether the elevator needs servicing.

“A core demand for ThyssenKrupp is to optimize their servicing operation. This is partly because service represents their biggest expense and there are huge savings to be made by optimising the processes and partly because elevators which do not work create customer dissatisfaction. Today, they can replace a component before the elevator breaks down. They can automatically order the component in good time, since a notification is transmitted from the system to the component supplier, and the component can be distributed automatically out into the support network well in advance, to avoid waiting for the replacement “ says Ole Kjeldsen.

“We have five to six similar IoT cases ongoing in Denmark within production and supply chain management and we also notice the public sector beginning to show an interest in this area. Analyses of this type would be a natural in the roads and traffic area.”

Explosion in consulting assignments in 2015

Like everyone else in the market, Ole Kjeldsen and Microsoft can also see how Cloud is the business area that currently shows the fastest development. “The consulting assignments deriving from the Cloud explosion are piling up,” he says.

“Our customers tell us that it’s not a question of whether they will use the Cloud or not, but solely a matter of what they will use the Cloud for, how much they will move up, and how quickly. Today, many only use the Cloud for disaster recovery, yet more and more would like to use it more actively, because the potential savings are enormous. They need a lot of help with this process, to analyse which elements of their infrastructure and application layer should be placed in the Cloud, and also to ensure that all statutory provisions are observed during this process. It also has to be determined whether there is any sensitive data requiring special handling. Assignments like these are set to explode in 2015.”

Management and IT governance

Ole Kjeldsen explains how he can also see the platform handling area increase in scope and importance during 2015. Very few companies base their entire IT environment on just one provider, so they have a wide range of products from many different producers.

“There are challenges in terms of, for example, device management and IT governance across the many platforms. Consultants who master this discipline will be in high demand,” says Ole Kjeldsen, going on to mention Microsoft Intune, which

provides Cloud functions for the administration of PCs and mobile devices. Companies can use Microsoft Intune for the administration of all client computers in the organisation from one and the same cockpit, including Windows, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, Apple iOS and Android devices. Software packs can be transferred and published, and administration and security policies, as well as hardware and software, can be configured and implemented, without a local infrastructure.
“You can even handle your application portfolio in the Cloud in the same way as you handle your on-premise application portfolio,” says Ole Kjeldsen.

Fine tuning and tweaking

Ole Kjeldsen concludes by naming two new IT roles that he tips will see a breakthrough in 2015. The first area is within IT security, where a coming new EU regulation, for example, will probably have the consequence that all companies over a certain size must have a person responsible for data privacy.

“Understanding data classification and privacy impact, and generally being in control of how data is processed, classified and handled – internally within the company and by subsuppliers – will be really big in the future.”

“I also think that data analysts will increasingly be in the limelight. It isn’t just a matter of being able to analyse the company’s own data, but just as much of being able to analyse external data sources and compare them with the company’s own data sets, in order to get new knowledge from the correlated data,” says Ole Kjeldsen, before concluding:
“In the old days, the database administrator played the lead role, since he knew how to fine tune and tweak the systems, to achieve performance optimisation. Today, IT is more about creating value. Value is created on the basis of analysis. This role is relatively new, and therefore undefined. If you can fill this space, it will be a real eldorado for any consultant.”

Azure Machine Learning

Microsoft recently released a beta version of Azure Machine Learning, which is a portal to create what are called predictive analyses. Azure Machine Learning makes more than 100 statistical models available, allows users to add their own models, and also includes free computing power and storage. The end-result is that companies of every size and in every industry can start to work with their data in a new way.

“We can see more and more players in the market that are not only beginning to gather data from their own production, but also collecting transactions from customer and partner dialogues. Naturally in accordance with current legislation,” says Ole Kjeldsen. “Some of them may not yet be quite certain what they will use the data for, but they do have an idea that the data will be of value at some point. The hunt for this business opportunity is supported by Azure Machine Learning.”

Windows 10: Cross-provider consistency

"A fitting description of Windows 10 would be cross-provider consistency," says Ole Kjeldsen prior to the launch of Microsoft's coming new operating system.

"The majority of our customers implement a range of different servers in our Azure platform. The ambition for Windows 10 is for the user experience to be as consistent as possible across providers."

"Within Microsoft's own portfolio of devices, the Windows 10 user experience must also be as consistent as possible. Naturally, there are screen difference issues when working from a smartphone and a PC, but we do get closer to a uniform experience."