Azure, Microsoft 365, More Get Big Enhancements

New products and enhancements for the "new business normal" and beyond.

Lynn Haber

July 21, 2020

4 Min Read

There’s no shortage of news at the Microsoft Inspire 2020 digital event, running Tuesday and Wednesday. Partners heard about enhancements and new products in Azure, Microsoft 365, business applications, and security and compliance. There is also customer and partner enablement news, as well as new sustainability initiatives.

The global pandemic is hitting partner and customer businesses hard — and there’s nothing “normal” about “new business normal.” But Microsoft partners learned that the vendor’s global channel chief, Gavriella Schuster, is focused on supporting partners as they help customers in current environment and beyond.

In addition to announcing enhancements and new products supporting customer and partner enablement, here’s a roundup of other Microsoft Inspire 2020 news.


It seems like there’s no stopping Microsoft Azure. In the vendor’s most recent financial results, for the quarter ending on March 21, Azure year-over-year growth was 59%.

Azure news from Microsoft Inspire 2020 fall into three buckets — Azure apps and infrastructure, data and developer tools.

Microsoft launched the next generation of Azure Stack HCI, first introduced in March 2019. The newest member of Microsoft’s hybrid portfolio is a native and fully integrated Azure service. Azure Stack HCI allows customers run virtualized application on hyperconverged infrastructure.

Next-gen Azure Stack HCI solutions provide the latest security, performance and hybrid enhancements. There’s a new deployment wizard to set up an Azure Stack HCI cluster, connect to Azure and take advantage of Azure Stack HCI native integration with core Azure services. The new version also includes free extended security updates (ESU) for Windows Server 2008 virtual machines running on it, and a new Stretch Cluster feature to extend a cluster from a single site to multiple sites.


Microsoft’s Talal Alquinawi

“We are also offering the flexibility of running Azure Stack HCI on existing hardware if it matches our validated node solution,” Talal Alquinawi, senior director, Azure marketing, wrote in a blog.

Microsoft also announced new Azure updates to support customers’ migration to the cloud. These enhancements include: Azure Migrate advanced specializations; support for Azure VMware Solutions assessments and app compatibility (in public preview); and Azure shared disks, new features and networking enhancements.

In the Azure data bucket, Microsoft-supported distribution of Hadoop is now generally available; Azure Blob Storage; Network File System 3.0 on Azure Blob Storage; and a preview of Azure Data Factory’s managed VNet support.

The company also announced HashiCorp Consul Service on Azure for secure service discovery and service mesh across environments for developers.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 announcements include a rollout of the Microsoft Lists app, available mid-August; universal print, now available in public preview; and a redesigned Yammer that connects entire organizations across critical apps, now generally available.

There are a handful of Teams-related news announcements. Read about them here.

Business Applications

Microsoft made four announcements in this category.

The first is Power Platform solutions, including the release of the pre-built Power Platform Solution to help customers process employees returning to the office. The solutions cover: location readiness; employee health and safety management; workplace care management; and location management.

The news around Dynamics 365 includes Dynamics 365 Customer Voice; Connected Store availability; and fraud protection enhancements.

Security and Compliance


Microsoft’s Alym Rayani

Microsoft intends to focus on the security needs of companies’ more distributed workforces.

“To help companies with the visibility they need and better protect their data, we are announcing new capabilities across Microsoft 365 and Azure,” Alym Rayani, senior director, Microsoft 365, wrote in a blog.

Available in public preview is …

… the new Endpoint Data Loss Protection (DLP) solution. Endpoint DLP builds on the labeling and classification in Microsoft Information Protection and extends existing DLP capabilities in Microsoft 365.

The company also announced new Azure Sentinel connectors that simplify security data collection and threat detection.

There are new communication compliance features for Microsoft 365 in public preview, as well as new Insider Risk Management for Microsoft 365 features. These features enhance detection and remediation capabilities. They too are in public preview.

Another security announcement — the new Microsoft Double Key Encryption. This allows users to protect the most confidential data while maintaining full control of the encryption key. It’s currently in public preview.

The vendor also announced Endpoint Data Loss Prevention within Microsoft 365.

Sustainability Initiatives

In January, Microsoft made a very ambitious announcement — a plan to reduce and remove its carbon footprint by 2030.

To achieve that goal, Microsoft on Tuesday announced a new coalition, “Transform to Net Zero.” The goal is to accelerate business action toward a net-zero carbon economy. Microsoft will also provide cloud customers with a new Microsoft Sustainability Calculator.

Details of a new supplier code of conduct sustainability requirement will be shared with suppliers.

The company announced that its data centers will be diesel-free by 2030. The first investment is to Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, also announced in January.

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About the Author(s)

Lynn Haber

Content Director Lynn Haber follows channel news from partners, vendors, distributors and industry watchers. If I miss some coverage, don’t hesitate to email me and pass it along. Always up for chatting with partners. Say hi if you see me at a conference!

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