Microsoft Cloud and Mobility Summit – Devon Gillard

An informative and exciting summit was held by Microsoft on November 27th and 28th in Calgary.  Microsoft brought together many leading tech minds for two days of education, vision, and inspiration. I was fortunate to be in attendance for the Friday session focusing on Cloud Platform.

The day opened with a keynote speech by Jason Hermitage, Vice President of Marketing and Operations for Microsoft Canada.  His speech highlighted innovations Microsoft has made in their core mission as a productivity and platform technology provider. In a not so subtle reference to Google, Jason noted that Microsoft does not make 95% of their revenue from advertisements.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Jason Hermitage shortly after his speech. We discussed the challenge of keeping up with cloud innovations and the rapid transformation of our industry.  Jason noted that during the industrial revolution power stations were built right beside factories.  Now, we have a reliable electrical transmission network and power is consumed as needed.  Similarly, existing limitations in internet bandwidth and reach will eventually be overcome and computing power will be consumed as needed, without the local infrastructure investments common today.

Microsoft has expanded the devices to which they deliver productivity solutions. In the last year Microsoft has released Microsoft Office applications for Android and iOS, expanded cross platform development tools, and now fully support five distributions of Linux Microsoft in Azure. Large display screens showed a giant heart between Microsoft and Linux.

Speaking of Azure, the innovation on that front has been astounding.  Over the last year, more than one new feature or capability has been added to Azure each day!  What is Azure?  Simply put, it is Microsoft’s cloud platform for your applications, servers, backups, or processing needs.  Azure allows any business to move workloads into a geo-redundant worldwide network of datacenters and pay for processing power as it is consumed.  As an example, Microsoft Office 365 is hosted on Azure.

One of the areas touched on during the summit was Microsoft’s corporate citizenship, particularly as it relates to security and data confidentiality.  A principle reason some hesitate to move critical data to the cloud is concern about the security and confidentiality of their data. Microsoft publishes information regarding all law enforcement requests on their website, including US National Security Orders.  So far in 2014, no data content has been released as the result of any Canadian law enforcement request.  On the security side, Microsoft’s impressive multi-layer security approach includes internal system isolation and extensive penetration testing.

The most fascinating tidbit from the summit? The Microsoft datacenter in Ireland has an anti-tank moat surrounding the entire facility!  I do believe a business trip is called for to verify.


Devon Gillard
General Manager – Calgary

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