Wednesday 27 December 2017

Microsoft paints a cloudy picture for EDU.

At this years annual Ignite conference for developers and IT professionals, Microsoft outlined in some detail what a Windows based system will look like in the future.  There was no ambiguity, it was laid out very clearly with template designs, business scenarios and migration strategies and the story is this;

Microsoft want you to work from the cloud using Azure as a service infrastructure and Office365 as your productivity platform.

You can still have on-premises servers but it’s increasing likely that these will be used to support legacy requirements or as an aid to consume cloud resources more effectively.

Going forward, Azure Active directory will replace local Domain Controllers with  Modern Authentication with direct links to third party SaaS providers while device management moves away from Group Policy to a MDM model all controlled through InTune.

The new deployment strategy does not require imaging servers. A Windows10 device can now be placed under policy control and upgraded to Enterprise licensing without local  systems being involved.  Software upgrades and security updates will be pushed out from Redmond’s centralised patching system without any requirement for WSUS or System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM),

The device in the users hands will become far less important. I’m not sure Microsoft really cares anymore whether you are using a Microsoft Surface or a iPad so long as you are consuming resources and licensing from Azure and Office365. The user will always have a more complete experience running MS Windows but if you want to run the Office365 Android apps on a Chromebook, that’s just fine so long as there’s an Office365 licence to back it up.

Data will be stored and accessed directly from cloud storage using protocols that are far better suited to a the mobile environment than a Windows server file share. New services such as Microsoft Teams for Education will be cloud only.

Are you seeing a picture emerge?

This is Microsoft’s vision for the modern workplace and it’s how many business already operate using competing platforms such a Google’s GSuite for Business.

It’s a “cloud first” approach.

You don’t even have to guess what the future is going to look like any more, it’s a published strategy with product roadmaps, timetables and working examples.

So why is education still investing heavily in complex local infrastructure with fixed point PC’s running expensive, locally installed, proprietary software ?

It’s not how a modern startup company would work today, let alone in ten years time when this years student intake walks out the gate. It’s an outdated, expensive approach that’s moving further and further away from what a student will experience in the workplace.

So let’s make a New Year resolution to start thinking seriously about designing educational IT like it’s 2018 and not 2008.

Cloud first is cheaper, better, more innovative … and to be honest you no longer have a choice.