Microsoft 365 to aid businesses in $4.5T intelligent edge and cloud era

Gelo Gonzales
The newly announced all-in-one enterprise IT suite combines productivity suite Office 365, Windows 10 OS, and security solution Enterprise Mobility + Security, designed with the 'modern workplace' in mind

NADELLA. "While there is tremendous growth opportunity, we are not building solutions solely to support conspicuous consumption. We are also working to make a positive impact in the world and continue to be encouraged by the enormous potential for partners to have local impact that ultimately has a profound global impact," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as he ended his Microsoft Inspire 2017 keynote. Photo from Microsoft

WASHINGTON DC, USA – “We have an unprecedented opportunity,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in his Microsoft Inspire 2017 keynote speech on Monday, July 10, at the Verizon Center.

It’s an opportunity that is rooted in the rapid disruptions that technology, at its pace today, brings. Disruption, for a long time now, has been a buzzword in the tech scene.

Nadella said it’s being brought about by the move from a “mobile-first, cloud-first world” to one that is rooted in the “intelligent edge and the intelligent cloud.” (WATCH: Part 2 of Microsoft Inspire 2017 Day 1 keynote)

The “edge” are the consumer-facing devices and equipment including your smartphones, game systems, cars, and airplanes – devices with which we interact and from which data can be collected that can then be processed in the cloud. Microsoft calls them “intelligent edge” and “intelligent cloud,” referring to these components’ integration with connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI). 

As the world’s most advanced communities and countries move towards these hot, new innovations, there is disruption – much in the same way there was disruption when the world transitioned from desktop computers and dumb phones to smartphones and other mobile devices. 

Nadella, reflecting Microsoft’s overall sentiments, believes every disruption presents an opportunity. Disruptions can leave companies behind – but with the proper adjustments, disruptions can also be used as an opportunity to achieve things, such as capturing a larger part of the market. 

In Microsoft’s view, the world is looking at a $4.5-trillion market being opened up by intelligent edge and cloud – an exponential boom from the days of the PC, a market that ended up being valued at what now feels like a relatively paltry $25 billion.

EXPONENTIAL EXPANSION. The original PC market was $25-B. The client-server era was 10 times in value, at $250-B. The market value of the next shift, mobile and cloud, grew by 10 times too at $2.5-T. The intelligent edge and intelligent cloud era is expected to be nearly double the previous one at $4.5-T. Photo by Gelo Gonzales/Rappler

The challenge now in succeeding in this fertile new grounds is by being able to think and go beyond current product categorizations and business models, said Nadella. “We are making progress, but future growth depends on our collective ability to transcend current product category definitions and business models.” 

Microsoft appears to be beginning with itself as it introduced a number of innovations and new products at the conference, designed to be scalable for both big business and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs).

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is an all-in-one suite that sees the tech giant streamlining some of their most important products. It combines productivity suite Office 365, their operating system (OS) Windows 10, and security solution Enterprise Mobility + Security. The company describes it a “complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees.” 

Microsoft talked about the new, transforming workplace, and that the new, streamlined Microsoft 365 is designed to assist with this transformation. 365’s suite of features reflects Microsoft’s belief that today’s employees are “multi-device” users. They need to be able to access their documents, files, and applications across devices – desktops, laptops, phones – without losing functionality.

EDGE DEVICES. Edge devices – phones, computers, appliances, game consoles, vehicles – encircle the "intelligent cloud" onto which information collected from devices can be uploaded to.  Screenshot from Microsoft

Microsoft with its streamlining also aims to simplify IT management. Instead of having separate software suites to update and maintain, Microsoft 365 will make IT specialists feel like they’re only managing one comprehensive suite. 

Microsoft announced that 365 will come in two forms: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise. 

365 Business is for SMEs with up to 300 users. Worldwide, it will be available in Q4 2017 at US $20 per user, per month. It will also come packaged with these 3 other tools:

  • Microsoft Connections – an email marketing service
  • Microsoft Listings – offers a way to publish your business information on top sites
  • Microsoft Invoicing – a tool that creates professional invoices
  • MileIQ – software that tracks mileage while driving for business purposes

365 Enterprise is for large organizations. It includes Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise and Enterprise Mobility + Security. 365 Enterprise is an upgrade from Business, and features more tools backed by AI and machine learning, and enterprise-grade intelligent security, and huge scale IT management and employee connectivity. 

Enterprise is offered in two plans: E3 and E5. Both will be available on August 1, 2017. For rates, customers will have to contact Microsoft sales here

Inspire is Microsoft’s conference for partner vendors and the enterprise and business sector. It runs from July 9 to 13, 2017 in Washington DC, USA. – Rappler.com

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.