All The Machine Learning Features Announced At Microsoft Ignite 2021

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Recently, Microsoft held its annual global IT conference, Microsoft Ignite 2021, virtually. The event announced a number of AI-based features and updates across the cloud platform Azure and other business applications. 

Like every year, the session started with a keynote speech from CEO Satya Nadela. His talk focused on the critical role of the public cloud.

During the keynote speech, Nadella touched upon five key attributes that will drive the next generation of innovation in cloud: 

  • Ubiquitous and decentralised computing
  • Empowered creators & communities at every place
  • Expanded economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce
  • Sovereign data and ambient intelligence
  • Trust by design

Let’s look at all the machine learning updates and features announced at the recent Ignite 2021 event. 

Alex Kipman, Mixed Reality Technical Fellow at Microsoft, unveiled Microsoft Mesh — a new mixed-reality platform powered by Azure. Microsoft Mesh enables presence and shared experiences from anywhere on any device through mixed reality applications. With the Microsoft Mesh SDK, you can build collaborative, cross-platform mixed reality applications faster using AI-powered tools for avatars, holoportation, spatial rendering, and more. Mesh contains tools to enable holographic rendering, immersive experiences, spatial maps, and multi-user sync. 

Microsoft has announced the public preview of Azure Percept. Percept is a platform of hardware and services that intends to simplify the ways in which customers can use Azure AI technologies on the edge, including taking advantage of Azure cloud offerings such as device management, AI model development and analytics. 

Azure Percept will assist customers in building and managing edge AI solutions. The platform intends to simplify the process of developing, training and deploying edge AI solutions. Roanne Sones, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft’s edge and platform group, said the goal of this new solution is to give customers a single, end-to-end system, from the hardware to the AI capabilities, that “just works” without a lot of technical know-how.

Azure Purview

To enable customers to discover and govern data, Microsoft introduced its unified governance service called Azure Purview. Users can now use Azure Purview to scan Azure Synapse workspaces across serverless and dedicated SQL pools.

Azure Arc is a set of technologies that extends Azure management and services to any infrastructure. The developers at Microsoft created Azure Arc to enable the flexibility and agility customers are seeking to innovate anywhere while providing governance and security. Azure Arc enables customers to run Azure services in any Kubernetes environment, whether it’s on-premises, multi-cloud or at the edge. At Ignite 2021, the team announced the expansion of  Azure Arc enabled services to include Azure Machine Learning. Now, users can enable the Azure Machine Learning agent to run on any OSS Kubernetes cluster that Azure Arc supports.

Azure Synapse Pathway

Azure Synapse Pathway helps customers simplify their migration experience to Azure Synapse. With this tool, users can now scan their source systems and automatically translate their existing scripts into TSQL. Azure Synapse Pathway will support customers migrating from Teradata, Snowflake, Netezza, AWS Redshift, SQL Server, and Google BigQuery. 

Semantic Search on Azure Cognitive Search is said to offer the best combination of search relevance, developer experience, and cloud service capabilities available on the market. At the heart of Azure Cognitive Search is its full text, keyword-based search engine built on the BM25 algorithm. With Semantic Search, users can avail a ranking algorithm that will use deep neural networks to rank the articles based on how “meaningful” they are relative to the query. 

Form Recognizer is an Azure Cognitive Service and an AI-powered document extraction service that understands any document. The service applies advanced machine learning techniques to accurately extract the text, key or value pairs as well as tables from documents. The document extraction service has several features, such as simple extraction, customised results, flexible deployment, among others.

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