Microsoft's latest AI offerings for developers revealed at Ignite 2023

Microsoft's Ignite 2023 spotlights an array of developer advancements from Azure AI innovations and confidential computing enhancements to integrative data solutions.
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor
Software engineer

Prior to today's Microsoft Ignite 2023 event, the Redmond company sent us a huge document containing a detailed listing of its main announcements. Microsoft has a strong focus on enhancing and innovating in the areas of cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and developer tools.

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I've decided to pick seven areas I think will be of the most interest to developers. Here is my quick rundown:

Launch of Azure AI Studio

If I were to pick one major announcement out of everything Microsoft is spotlighting, it would be its launch and preview of Azure AI Studio.

Accompanying this article is a complete deep dive into Microsoft's Azure AI Studio announcement, so I'm not going to go into a great deal of depth here. Pop on over and read that article as soon as you're done with this one.

The key point is that Microsoft has created a toolkit that provides many of the technologies necessary for building AI-based solutions into an integrated platform that organizations can use to build their own AI-based solutions.

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The offering includes data analysis tools, predictive modeling tools, natural language processing tools, computer vision tools, speech recognition tools, recommendation engines, custom model building tools, as well as automation and analysis and reporting capabilities.

Azure AI Services and machine learning updates

Azure AI Services is the overall name for Microsoft's complete collection of AI tools and platforms. Azure AI Studio is just one component of that.

Beyond Azure AI Studio, Microsoft is introducing new features like a guided system that walks developers through the steps of model creation from beginning to end, and a comprehensive repository that developers can use to store, organize, and manage their machine learning models.

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These tools help provide an improved AI development lifecycle, facilitating designing, building, and deploying AI-centric applications.

Azure OpenAI Service enhancements

Azure OpenAI Service is Microsoft's cloud-based service that provides access to OpenAI's models and service offerings. Microsoft is announcing new multimodal capabilities like DALL-E 3 for image generation and GPT-4 Turbo, which ups OpenAI's considerable game in generative text.

Azure Confidential Computing

In many secure applications, data is often encrypted in transit, and also when it is stored. These are typically described as data in motion and data at rest. But there is another area where data is in active use and is often not encrypted: During computation.

This is when data is in memory and is being processed. With more concern over cyber threats, and persistent attacks, it's not necessarily feasible to trust the active computing environment without safeguards.

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Confidential computing adds encryption updates, uses secure enclaves, and enhances privacy and security, all with an eye towards compliance and trust.

Microsoft is announcing improvements to its confidential computing offerings, including the introduction of new virtual machines, enhanced security and privacy that focuses on robust cloud computing process protection, and additional security services for secure and private cloud services.

Integration of Microsoft 365 Data in Fabric with Native OneLake

Microsoft 365 Data in Fabric is how Microsoft describes the integration of Microsoft 365 data across Microsoft's entire digital framework, mostly embedding and utilizing 365 data across Microsoft's services and applications.

OneLake is a unified data lake service offered by Microsoft as part of its overall fabric offering. It is meant to be the central repository for key data within an organization.

Microsoft is announcing the integration of these two offerings, which are intended to streamline data analysis, especially for large-scale applications. The intent is to make data more accessible and substantially easier to manage within enterprise environments.

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This should be of particular interest to developers who are working on complex applications that are data intensive.

Updates in Azure SQL and Azure Cosmos DB

Microsoft is introducing dynamic scaling and vector search to Azure Cosmos DB. The company is also introducing enhancements intended to increase efficiency and productivity, as well as focusing on providing cost-effective solutions for cloud management. They are also working on improving user experience, along with the developer use experience.

Azure infrastructure developments

Microsoft is announcing a continued focus on the overall Azure infrastructure offering. A component of this is the announcement of their development of custom silicon, essentially Azure-specific chips for AI applications. The company is also introducing new features that enhance cloud and performance, bundled under the name Azure Boost. Microsoft is also launching virtual machines that are specifically tailored for AI and high-performance workloads.

More here on ZDNET

Be sure to poke around ZDNET for more coverage on Ignite 2023. My colleagues and I have spent quite a bit of time putting together a comprehensive series of articles to help you understand the innovation that's coming out of Microsoft, especially in this game-changing year of AI.

You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Be sure to subscribe to my weekly update newsletter on Substack, and follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz, on Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtz, and on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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