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Cloud technologies provide organizations with a competitive edge. 

In previous editions I have focused on the underlying technology on which the cloud functions, as well as, its ability to facilitate new business models. In this edition I will explore, at a very high level, some of the productivity tools that are available in the cloud via a SaaS distribution model.

End-to-End Security

As I emphasize in the whitepaper I published in September 2019, the first concern of any business in migrating to the cloud is the ensuring they have a strong infrastructure to build on. The internet is inherently insecure.

Microsoft Azure provides IT personnel with the tools they need to secure identities, equipment, data, applications and devices from end-to-end. Azure Active Directory, the Microsoft 365 Security and Compliance Center and Microsoft Intune provide complete visibility and control over all the organization’s digital assets.

Robust Application Development Framework

Microsoft has made substantial investments in the C# programming language, the Visual Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and Microsoft DevOpts that have largely fueled the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) boom.

  • The C# language has become a favorite among business application developers. Granted, it does not provide the programmer with the same level of control as lower-level languages, but it also eliminates the opportunity for many errors that could be exploited by savvy intruders. It has greatly increased the productivity of programmers and made it possible to introduce technology at a high-velocity.

  • Visual Studio allows application developers to use wizards to quickly setup frameworks for building desktop and web-based applications, as well as, applications that integrate with Azure technologies, some of which we describe later. Notwithstanding our own internal preference for C#, applications can be developed in over 30 programming languages using the Visual Studio platform.

  • Microsoft DevOpts provides an environment for a development team to plan, manage and collaborate on software development projects. In a Cloud environment development teams can be quickly set up and disbanded in a coordinated and controlled fashion. It is conducive to the Agile framework that has been widely adopted throughout the software development community.

This allows our engineers to quickly set up and take down development, testing and production environments and makes it possible for our clients to access advanced technology.

Cognitive Services

Computers can now see, hear, speak and make informed and efficient decisions. Technology in the Azure environment allows businesses to cost-effectively develop and deploy solutions aimed at achieving organizational objectives. In some cases, the objective may be to increase productivity, in others, to improve customer satisfaction. Cognitive Service APIs harness the power of machine learning and allow organizations to bring advanced intelligence into their products without the need for a team of data scientists.

Internet of Things (IoT)

Beyond the sensors and other equipment used to capture data such as geographic location, temperature, humidity, acoustics, etc., the Cloud provides the central repository for data collection and analysis. IoT solutions aimed at remote monitoring, industrial IoT, predictive maintenance and device simulation are provided in a SaaS for IoT platform. It provides for the central aggregation, storage, monitoring, analysis and predictive feedback required from a robust IoT framework.

Blockchain

Blockchain technology spawned the cryptocurrency boom, but the technology has practical applications in businesses of all sizes. The ability to render applications quickly and efficiently with Microsoft’s Blockchain Workbench provides small and mid-sized businesses with the ability to deploy the technology for data storage, digital identity management, smart contracts, authentication, application development, Blockchain IoT, among an ever-expanding set of practical applications.

Information Management and Distribution Platform

Although these technologies can be strategically deployed to solve business problems, most business users are not excited about parsing through the Azure stack. That said, the integrated Office 365 and Dynamics environment provides a means of interacting with these technologies in an environment that users are accustomed to. For instance, data collected in Azure IoT Central could easily be pushed into a PowerBI visualization that lives within Dynamics for Customer Service.

Again, our organization is platform agnostic, but Microsoft has done an exceptional job at providing singular, end-to-end access to advanced technologies that spans across departments and disciplines.

I am going to highlight some of those solutions we can deploy from the Cloud in the final edition of this series.