2023 Wrap-Up – latest announcements from the Broadcom/VMware acquisition and Microsoft Ignite review.

EPISODE - #54

2023 Wrap-Up – latest announcements from the Broadcom/VMware acquisition and Microsoft Ignite review.

Published on January 16, 2024

Episode Transcript

Josh Rubens

Good afternoon and welcome to episode 54 of the Leading IT Podcast hosted by Tom Leyden, CIO at Longview, and myself, Josh Rubens, the CEO at Cloud Solutions Group, which are now called Empyrean. So if you’re new to the podcast, welcome. And if you’re a returning listener, thanks for coming back. The purpose of our show is for IT leaders to discover unique and valuable insights into current trends from both sides of the vendor-client paradigm.

And we like to tackle relevant and time-sensitive topics like cloud, AI, cyber security, infrastructure, strategy, and leadership, and how to deal with emerging IT threats and opportunities. On today’s show, it’s our end of year show, and we’re gonna get into the latest news from the Broadcom acquisition of VMware, and we’re also gonna run through the recent Microsoft Ignite conference highlights. So we’ll kick off into some news. Tom, do you wanna get started?

Tom Leyden
Sure, mate. Well, first of all, I can’t believe it’s the end of the year. How fast has this year gone, Josh?

Josh Rubens
I know, crazy Christmas is coming. And if you can’t see, I’m up in Broad Beach in the Gold Coast, so that’s not a background. That’s actually where I’m at. And that’s the sea. That bit of blue there you can see is the actual ocean.

Tom Leyden
next time you should do it on the beach I reckon then we’ll do that. And, not, in your bathers not, yeah, not, not in your bathers.

Josh Rubens
Yes, yes, I don’t people would appreciate me. people would appreciate me. No, no, they wouldn’t appreciate me there. There may be some others there, yes.

Tom Leyden
All right. Anyway, a bit of news, not news about the beach, but this is obviously a lot going on. I think, I just want to kick off with, your friend Sam Altman is the CEO of OpenAI. You know, he’s credited with a lot of stuff. Been a crazy year for that guy, right? So he got sacked and then Microsoft was gonna bring his team across and he got reinstated. So he’s been working on a coin.

As well. I don’t know if you’ve seen this Josh. So they’ve got a coin called WorldCoin of course. So they’re gonna dominate. They’re gonna take over Bitcoin apparently with this new coin. Why do we need it? I’m not really sure yet but what they’ve got, so their little gimmick is that you need to scan your eyeball to verify with this coin. So they’ve got all these. They’ve got 200 odd eyeball scanners around the world and you can go there and scan your eyeball.

Josh Rubens
Mm-hmm.

Tom Leyden
and you can get access to this particular coin. So there you go, I thought, what, that’s interesting and a bit weird.

Josh Rubens 
Alright, so what are they doing with it? They’re just making it more secure? Is that the angle? What’s the angle here?

Tom Leyden
Yeah, it’s like it’s an identity and payment system. So it’s meant to be a highly trustable identity and finance system. So interesting. And the one to watch, I mean, he’s not a stupid person, right? So I think it’s kind of his next big thing. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

Josh Rubens 
Right.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, wow. So a bit of news just on the local front, as I mentioned before, Cloud Solutions Group has changed its name to Empyrean, so which is spelled E-M-P-Y-R-E-A-N. So Empyrean doesn’t mean I’m an emperor, as a few of the gags that have been going around, it’s got nothing to do with that. It means it means it means above the clouds, above the clouds. So…

Tom Leyden
What does it mean Josh?

Josh Rubens 
So a few reasons why we’ve done it. So firstly, the name Cloud Solutions Group was very relevant in 2010 when cloud was starting and people were out looking for solutions. So it worked back then, but yeah, the market’s changed a lot in 13 years and customers we feel are looking for things above the cloud, so AI, which we keep talking about, cyber security and the cloud layer is ubiquitous. And the focus has moved, we think,

above and that’s where sort of we’ve sort of renamed not only renamed but also you know evolved our offerings to be more, you know more relevant to the current state and what’s coming next and the final straw was people thought we were Citrix because Citrix were had rebranded themselves also to cloud software group also CSG and They’re not that popular at the moment. They’ve been putting up their prices 50% a year for the last

two or three years. So we didn’t want to be associated with that. So yes, sort of a big, big change for us, but it’s exciting. It all sort of went live last Tuesday. So on the, what was that now? So the 12th of December. And yeah, so exciting, exciting times for us. And yeah, looking forward to it, to a big, big 2024. Now getting onto actual news. So the Broadcom acquisition of VMware finally

went through, I think it was an odd, I think it was nearly 570 days. I think the last holdout was the Chinese government, but obviously Broadcom managed to negotiate their way past that. And there’s been a couple of really big, big announcements. So the first one is they’ve announced they’re going to divest of their end user computing division and of Carbon Black. So there’s two.

two divisions that they’re getting rid of. So the end user computing division is sort of their whole virtual desktop, the VMware virtual desktop product, Workspace ONE. And Carbon Black was a sort of a antivirus sort of next generation antivirus tool that VMware acquired. It was a pretty good product. And they haven’t done a heap with it, but they’ve announced they’re gonna divest that. So it’s sort of straight up.

Josh Rubens 
bang, they’re getting rid of two really big divisions. The response to the market has been that they think it’s going to be positive for those divisions. So they’ll get some focus if they get sold off. And yeah, because they’ve been in the shadow of the hypervisor and the hybrid cloud products of VMware, and that they could get some focus. So one of the main people who have shown interest, particularly in the

virtual desktop component is Citrix. So that would be interesting, Tom, if Citrix acquired it. What do you think about that? I think you might be on mute.

Josh Rubens 
Yes, I’ll just make a note of that. All right, three, two, one.

Tom Leyden

So yeah, look, it’s interesting to see what those Citrix will do with it. How does it fit into their current offering? Well, I guess we’ll see what happens. Carbon and Black, you know what the security thing is a crowded market, isn’t it? There’s consolidation in this space. So it’d be interesting to see where they go with that. Is it just bought, is it consumed by someone else already doing that and swallowed up by one of those big vendors? I reckon that’s what would happen.

Josh Rubens 

I mean, if Citrix buy them, I mean, there’ll be pretty much monopoly on VDI, except for the cloud vendors. So it sort of makes sense that Citrix would buy them. That would be interesting. I wonder if the equivalent of the ACCC or the SEC over in the US would allow that to go through. That’s quite interesting. Another vendor that could buy the VDI product could be someone like Amazon. I mean, they’ve got their Workspace one, but they haven’t really…

Yeah, they haven’t really got much. Can’t see Microsoft doing it. So yeah, and the Carbon Black, maybe it would just be a venture capital firm. They’ve got some customers, it’s profitable. So yeah, interesting to see that they sort of came straight out of the gate with that. Yeah, so that was pretty big. And the even bigger news is the licensing change, which came out the other day. So I don’t know if you saw this. This was…

This was pretty huge. So now there’s a bit here to go through, because I know most of the people watching and listening have VMware customers and have licensing. So I’ve done a bit of research. So there’s a bit here to cover off. But the essential, the first thing to note is that their Broadcom will no longer be selling perpetual licensing. So perpetual licensing is gone.

Tom Leyden
Okay. Right. So what does that mean? It’s a subscription only.

Josh Rubens 
It’s going to move to subscription only. I think there’s been, I’ve managed to get a couple of quotes through in the last week. So I think there might be, they were saying it from the day of announcement, which was last week, but I think there might be a bit of a, seems to be a bit of a grace period. Otherwise, why would I be getting quote – perpetual licensing quotes still? But very quickly, it’s going to change. I mean, I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone.

So essentially.

Tom Leyden
What does that mean? I mean, does it mean it goes up in price, for everyone, is that what we’re talking about?

Josh Rubens 
Well, it hasn’t really. So that was what everyone was scared of, is that everything was gonna go up. So they’re simplifying the portfolio. So they’re gonna have basically two major product classifications and a couple of add-ons. So they’re gonna have really two main products and then you can buy some add-ons to them. And from a subscription point of view, it means you can either buy an annual subscription or a term subscription. So it will be like a, I’m gonna buy a three year subscription so you’ll get a perpetual

license for three years, at which at the end of the three years your support will run out. You’ll no longer be supported. So, and the other change is they’re moving from socket-based licensing to physical core-based licenses. So, if you’ve got dual, you know, hosts with dual 16 core physical core CPUs, you would be buying 32 licenses of whatever it is, whether it’s vSphere, vSAN, whatever it is.

Tom Leyden

Okay, sure.

Josh Rubens 
So that’s also another change. So not virtual cores they’re moving to physical cores So essentially when customers support runs out, they will no longer be able to renew their support. They’re gonna have to trade in their licenses for these subscription licenses. So they’re not gonna have to give back the keys, but they’re gonna have to do a trade in and they’ll get discounts based on, from what I understand, there will be consideration taken to the existing investment. So they will have to trade in and they’ll no longer be able to renew support on their perpetual licenses. So that’s pretty big, Tom. That’s pretty huge. If you’re running a VMware environment on-prem, it’s a lot. However, the pricing so far I’ve seen actually looks really good on par with what it was previously.

Tom Leyden
Yeah right, yeah. It’s frustrating, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Rubens 
So the concern about them jacking it up was at this stage hasn’t been realised. And so that’s good, because I think if there was a small 20% increase, customers would take it. But if it was 50, 60%, customers would be seriously looking at whether it’s Nutanix or Hyper-V or cloud or whatever, people would be looking. But it seems to not be the case, which is really good. So now I just…

Tom Leyden
Yeah, yeah.

So bringing it in line with a lot of other vendors, really. So if we’re going from perpetual to subscription, it’s pretty standard these days. Bit of a headache for IT managers around the world. And explaining that to their CFOs is why this is going on, but yeah, just have to suck it up by the sounds of it.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, I mean, you know, and for a vendor the size of VMware to be bought, you know, 69 billion acquisition. I mean, that’s huge, right? That’s I mean, it’s hard to if they can be bought. Yeah, I suppose the only people you think couldn’t be bought would be Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Or maybe I recall given the size. But so I just want to go through the packages. So they’re going to have two categories of in their portfolio. So it’s going to be something called.

vSphere Foundation, and the other one is going to be called VMware Cloud Foundation. So from VMware Cloud Foundation, this is for customers who, using hybrid cloud, want to do a lot of automation with VMware. They’ve actually reduced the subscription list price by half straight away. So they’ve dropped, so they really want to encourage customers to go there. So they’ve halved the list price, which means when you’re getting discounts, it should be

significantly lower than it was before. And the other one is called vSphere Foundation. There are, for smaller customers, there’s two other offerings. So there’s the Essentials Plus kit. So that’s if you’ve got a small site or you’ve only got 20 or 30 virtual machines. That’s essentially you get vSphere Essentials Plus, which has been around for a while, which gives you HA, vMotion, vCenter.

but it’s limited to three hosts, to three physical hosts. So if you’re a small site and you want to connect it to a SAN, you’ve got that. There’s something called vSphere standard, which is for customers who just want to use entry-level vSphere with vCenter standard. And then there’s the vSphere foundation, which is, I think, where a lot of our customers will go, where you get a bundle. So you’re getting vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCenter standard. You get vSAN Enterprise.

and you get 100 gig for free, so which means there’s going to be some capacity charging going on. You get the ARIA Suite standard, which is that Vrealize operations and Vrealize log management, which is all their automation tools. So they’re going to be bundling that into a product called Vsphere Foundation, which is where I think most customers are going to go. And I have not seen any pricing for that yet, so I don’t know.

Josh Rubens 
I had a chat with VMware rep that I know late last week and they were saying from what they’ve seen, it looks good, comparable, if not cheaper. But again, that was not an official source. That was a VMware salesperson. So take it however you like it. And then you can add on to that vSAN enterprise. You can add on their disaster recovery service. You can add site recovery manager.

Tanzu and there’s a bunch of other things that you can add on. And then the other offering was the VCLOUD Foundation, which includes Enterprise Plus, VSAN Enterprise, RSWOOD Enterprise, NSX, and a whole bunch of other things there. So they’re really pushing customers down those two paths. So that’s a really big change. So simplification of products, because a big complaint has been that VMware has had too many products.

It’s confusing to manage all the licensing. So they’re simplifying and go, right, you can have, you know, you can have a, yeah, a meal deal. If you don’t want a meal deal, well, if you don’t want the fries, bad luck. Don’t eat them, essentially. That’s it. All right. So, yeah. So that’s, what are your thoughts there, Tom?

Tom Leyden
Yeah
What does this mean? Does this mean that they’re just gonna start to run this thing like a bit of a cash cow? Is it going back into product innovation or? We don’t know yet, it’s too early to know. But it feels like they’re just consolidating and driving money from it.

Josh Rubens 
Well, they’re looking to invest more in just those products. So they’re really focusing on.

Hybrid cloud workloads, so the message from Hock Tan, who’s the CEO on the investor core was, we want VMware to be the place where customers run their hybrid multi-cloud workloads. So they’re gonna invest in R&D on that, and we’re gonna get rid of the EUC piece, and carbon black, and that’s where we’re really gonna focus. So that, look, could be good.

Tom Leyden
So yes, it’s a lot, you know, anyway, there’s a lot of information there. So, if you’re a smaller customer, you’d be looking at Essentials Plus or vSphere Standard. If you were not using vSAN, if you were a bit larger, sort of above 20 or 30 virtual machines and you’re using vSAN, like most of our customers, you’d probably be looking at vSphere Foundation.

with some add-ons, if you want to do NSX with the NSX firewall, you have to buy that as an add-on to vCloud Foundation. So that’s a bit of a gotcha. You have to buy vCloud Foundation and get the NSX firewall as an add-on. And yeah, so that’s what I meant. So there was a lot there. And I sort of, we don’t normally spend that much time, but certainly our customers and a lot of the listeners are definitely big VMware clients. So I thought it was worth time. If any of you have any more questions about it.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, reach out to me. Happy to have a chat, help and discuss.

Tom Leyden
And what do you think Josh, in terms of VMware take up, is it sort of steady as she goes, or you seeing new customers coming on board with VMware or transferring workloads over, or is it more of a historical legacy product? What do you see?

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, good question. So steady issue goes definitely. And we’ve seen a lot of people and definitely encouraged a lot of people to move away from SAN to the vSAN to the hyperconverged. And then so maybe a simpler on-prem environment. And then with some of those workloads, where suitable moving to the public cloud.

Josh Rubens 
So that’s sort of hybrid. So not having everything on prem, but having what works. So that’s sort of what we’ve been encouraging customers to do. Sorry that was a long one.

Tom Leyden
That’s where it fits, yeah. Yeah, very good. All right, mate, we got, we got, no, that’s good. And, you know, I love talking about licensing as well. It’s one of my favorite topics. But we should talk about the, no, well, maybe we just jump into the Microsoft world, mate, because there’s so much to go through, right? There is so much.

Sorry, back to you on the news.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, sure. There is, there is, there is. All right, so Ignite, so it was a little while ago and the big takeaway I got was particularly if you watch the Sachin Adela keynote, which was one of many, but it’s all AI, even more so. And they’re sort of saying Microsoft is the copilot company and they want copilot to be the new UI.

Josh Rubens 
to interact with the world and your organization’s knowledge and it will be there to help you act on that knowledge. So that was the big thing for me.

Tom Leyden
The thing and I think also they said they want to be the world’s computer Pretty simple. We are the world’s computer. They sound like some sort of James Bond to fill it, but that’s okay. I Get where they’re going. They just want to be the computer for everyone all the time everywhere. That’s my take away. I was – my other like smile. I take away from that speech was that they are colossal nerds They love it. They are in the element. Don’t you reckon?

Josh Rubens 

They are and they’re smart and they’re ahead of the game and they know it. And they know it, you know, there’s nothing, the only thing worse than a nerd is a smug nerd who’s right. And he’s on top and he’s kicking ass and everyone else is following.

Tom Leyden
Absolutely. If anyone ever said, absolutely, if anyone said nerds are gonna take over the world, they just need to point at that video to say, and this is what I’m talking about. This is where nerds take over the world, this moment. I love it, love it. Ha ha ha.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, look at Satya. He is the ultimate nerd and what a legend. I love it.

Tom Leyden
They don’t hold back either. They’re so happy to just go straight CEO of the world’s biggest bloody company, straight into technical, straight into the detail. Absolutely love it. Fantastic.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So the first thing that I announced, which is more of interest than of specific relevance to everyone, is their chip, their hardware chip announcements that they made. So Microsoft is getting into the chip manufacturer, into the silicon manufacturer. So there was two. There was the Cobalt.

Josh Rubens 
So we just, it was designed specifically for Azure, will be available for clients next year. So it’s based on the ARM architecture. So performance, power efficiency and cost effectiveness. So that’s pretty big. So it’s taken on all the big boys, the Intel’s and then the other one was the Maia 100, M-A-I-A 100, which is their GPU. So it’s an AI accelerated chip. So it’s all about, you know,

AI workloads, OpenAI, Bing, Copilot, ChatGPT, et cetera. So that was, that’s huge. I mean, you know, it’s not gonna affect IT managers around the world today or anyone listening immediately, but that’s, it just shows that Microsoft, as we said, they’re covering all the angles. They’re not leaving any part of the market unaddressed, they want all the dollars.

They don’t want some of the dollars, they want all the dollars. So that was, what are your thoughts on that Tom?

Tom Leyden
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, it wasn’t even clear who, they’re selling it to themselves as far as I could work out. So they’re just making, they’re making the infrastructure to put in their own servers in their own data centers. So it wasn’t even, I wasn’t clear with, so do we buy these chips in our next laptop, so our next service? No, that’s not like that. This is for us to make our AI run even faster. Okay, all right, that’s cool.

Josh Rubens 

Yes, and probably keep Nvidia honest when they’re selling, when they’re buying their chips off them and say, hey guys, we can do this. So otherwise, the other one that I liked from the Azure point of view was this Azure boost. Did you see that one? So essentially it’s a solution that you can select for certain workloads. So Windows and Linux, there’s certain sizes it supports where you need extreme performance. So it will offload server virtualization processes onto purpose-built hardware and software, so it frees up the CPU resources. So networking, storage, also security, as I mentioned, CPU performance, so ridiculous speeds. So things like up to 200 gig per second network bandwidth, IOPS up to 650,000 IOPS. So they’re talking about.

For throughput, for remote storage, local storage up to 17.3 gigabytes per second and 3.8 million IOPS. That’s a lot. That’s wow. That’s a big San. And also some NIST compliant security. So if you need, if you’ve got something that needs that, it can give you that. So yeah, really interesting where there’s particular workloads that need that sort of performance and obviously AI workloads, probably machine learning, come to mind as needing those sorts of things. So yeah, I thought that was interesting.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, it was fascinating. And then they invented their own network as well. Not satisfied with just normal network. They had to build their own network to be even faster.

Josh Rubens 
Yes, yes, yes. There must have been a meeting where, you know, Sachin Adela said, I want to rule the world. I want everything, everything on the pie. Here’s the pie. I want something on every single one of them. There was also this comment around, did you see, so they’re talking about SLM. So instead of large language models, small language models.

Tom Leyden
Oh, yes, that’s right.

Josh Rubens 
So really good for smaller workloads, maybe local workloads on computers, mobile devices, which can go up to 2.7 billion parameters. That’s not, that’s still a lot. So things like common sense, math reasoning, logical reasoning, so that’s interesting that they’re moving into that space. So that will be maybe the future of these language models is small and large. So what’s, you know, depending on the use case.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, yeah, so you combine them. So you have your own small ones for your own internal usage, your own company usage, and you combine that with the large ones, and you pay Microsoft for the pleasure of doing so.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah.

Yeah, did you see the Azure AI Studio preview announcement? Yep. Did you want to run through that one Tom? Or do you want me to if you got?

Tom Leyden
Yes, yes I did, yes, yes. Well, it’s interesting, so basically what they’re trying to make it easy, they’re making it very easy for everyone to get into AI. So you can start to do this with no or minimal code, you can create your own tests and experiments. My initial thoughts was it was quite basic, but it’s obviously gonna grow, it’ll grow in power. I think it’s available for most people, I think if you’ve got an Azure subscription at some level, you can download that.

and get straight into it right now. I think a lot of people have tried to do that with mixed results. I think they just want to rush something out with my personal view and say, look, you can do it yourself and you can, definitely worth a try, but I think it’s more in the experimental space.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, and that’s something we’ve been certainly experimenting with ourselves. So it is a preview, which is, you use the market as guinea pigs in inverted commas So read that. So it’s a sort of one-stop shop for building AI solutions. They built in that sort of what they were calling cognitive search, which has been renamed Azure Search, integrated One Lake and Fabric into it as well.

You can extend it to Windows now, so you can work on it from Windows at the edge, so you can work on it locally on your machine. So I thought that’s really good. So I think people should be looking at AI studios and building your own language models, your own versions of GPT. And the one, and the advancements that I saw that were really exciting was this Azure AI Vision. So the new release around things around vision capabilities to analysing images, read text, detect faces, and the stuff around video, I thought was, that sort of blew my mind. So the ability to search video. So that’s pretty amazing. So it’s called efficient video content search. So you’ll be able to transform video into a searchable format using LLMs and something called video indexes insights. So you’ll be efficient searching.And then, yeah, so you’d be able to use your, have natural language interaction and search through video as well as text. So that’s pretty.

Tom Leyden
It’s pretty cool. So they summarized videos. I’d like to see this in action. I’m not sure how good it is. I think they’re targeting meeting videos. I think that’s what they’ve got. The use case is you record your meetings and then it just takes overnight. So we’ll talk about that in the Teams stuff as well, won’t we?

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So video to text summary. So that looks exciting. And then the AI search, which was previously called Azure Cognitive Search. So it’s Vector Search. So Vector Search is where, instead of just doing keyword search, it converts text into numbers, which large language models are really good at searching. And it’s a lot smarter than just looking at keywords, it looks at a lot more parameters to give you really good logic out of data and documents and images. So that’s also all sort of baked into Azure OpenAI to the Azure Studio as well. So that was big. And then the other one was Fabric, which has been around for a while. It’s now GA. So it’s now in the market. Yeah. So did you ever have a look at Fabric?

Tom Leyden
yeah, we’re all over it. I think this is the smart thing. So I think Microsoft recognise is that If you want AI to work in your organization, you need to get control of your data. And so they’re putting a huge effort into making the whole data platform really a lot easier to start to pull together.

And if anyone’s gone through this exercise of trying to pull together corporates data they’ll know that typically it’s a massive mess. It’s very hard to get to, it’s poorly labeled, poorly understood, and it’s very difficult to get a comprehensive view of your organization’s data.

So Microsoft’s come along and they’ve created this, the Fabric, which is part of their broader intelligence platform, or whatever that’s called. And Fabric creates, basically it’s Power BI on steroids. So it’s a Power BI interface. But then behind that, all your data, your data engineers can actually pull together your data sets and give them meaningful labels and actually make them accessible for your staff. The idea with that is once you’ve got your data under control, you can then start applying AI models on top of your data and then drive some really interesting

apps out of that. And I think the AI piece is coming, or it’ll be released in the future, but the fabric piece is available right now.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, so all the Microsoft data products, such as Data Factory, all the Synapse offerings, some of the ones we mentioned in the, when we talked about the Power Platform Conference show, if you want some more detail on that. But what the one lake sort of sits under the fabric is the umbrella term, one lake. And then if you remember they have the shortcuts, so you could connect to lots of different data sources without actually having to move the data, whether it’s in, you know.

AWS S3 or other data sources or data bricks or snowflake or whatever. And so it allows you to have persistent data governance and a single capacity pricing model. So no proprietary log in. So it’s a single, you know, a single view into all your data, which as you mentioned, you know, makes it really easy. And they have released something called Fabric Copilot.

So what that means is that the users will be able to use natural language to create data flows, data pipelines, generate code, build models, visualize results, integrate with the Azure OpenAI service models. So what I think they’re trying to do is say, well, you don’t particularly need to be a data scientist now to work with your data. You don’t need to spend months. You can now use your Fabric Copilot to do a lot of things for you. So that’s, yeah, that’s pretty huge.

Tom Leyden
It’s good on a marketing blurb. I think in reality, there’s a lot of work to make that outcome possible. But that’s what we’re trying to achieve, right, is to make your data accessible to the broader firm. So we’re really getting behind that, actually. We’re trying to get our data under control and right into that platform so that we do have a really powerful data asset for the firm.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, that’s the key So a couple of small ones. vSphere can now be managed by Azure Arc. So if you want to do a hybrid, hybrid estate, so if you’re running Azure on public cloud and vSphere on-prem, you can now use Azure Arc to, you know, as a single point of management for both, sort of overlaying the Azure security governance and management capabilities as a consistent operating platform across your Azure and VMware, obviously VMware want you to go the other way and use their stuff.

to manage but you know choose your poison whatever suits you and there’s a new defender so defender for API so as part of defender for cloud so it’ll natively integrate with Azure API management so you can get visibility into your API’s how to improve their posture how to prioritize fixes and detect threats etc so Microsoft’s continuing to broaden out the defender offering to be you know

to compete with and if not improve on the other major players, the crowd strikes and others in the market. So those were the two small ones. Now the big one was this new SharePoint Premium, Tom, did you, the announcement of yet another new product called SharePoint Premium, did you see this?

Tom Leyden
yeah, and a new licensing regime to support that as well. So this looks like an AI-driven version of SharePoint. Have you seen it in action, Josh?

Josh Rubens 
No, it’s been announced and it’s cut. So what I think they’re doing is, if you recall, they announced this syntex.

something called Syntex and also SharePoint Advanced Management. So those are all gonna go under this SharePoint premium banner, and then allow Microsoft to charge you more money for the, you know, yeah, for the pleasure.

Tom Leyden
Well, no, I think there’s a bit more, there’s more to it than that. I mean, the cynicism aside, I think what they’re saying, yeah, they’re saying that there’s a lot of unstructured data in your SharePoint environments, and that includes OneDrive and the files behind OneDrive, of course. I think what they’re trying, look, with this premium feature, we’re gonna unlock a lot of that data in your unstructured things, and then we’ll introduce the co-pilot experience to your unstructured data, which means that you’ll be able to access it and be smarter.

and better. are. So the broad concepts there, how it looks in practice, I’m not sure yet.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, so I mean, what I’m seeing and you’re probably seeing is a lot of customers are moving away from on-prem file servers and moving everything into SharePoint. That’s what we’re definitely seeing. The benefit of having the search, the nice front end, collaboration capabilities. Obviously, it creates a lot of AI, helps with AI, creates some governance and security challenges, which is where the whole purview is.

suite comes into play and then the SharePoint’s the backend for OneDrive and Teams, how all that works and all that knowledge management. So yeah, we’ve been doing a lot of engagements of late around helping customers with that. That seems to be everyone seems to want to migrate from their on-prem file server to SharePoint to migrate their data. There has been historically a cost issue because of a storage cost issue. So we’re

So SharePoint storage, so every tenant gets a terabyte of SharePoint storage and then 10 gig per 365 license. So if you had 100 365 licenses, you would have two terabytes of SharePoint storage and you were paying 20 cents US a gig for everything above that. And I’ve got customers who, some of them could be spending 15 to 20 grand a month. So that’s a lot.

So one of the main things which we spoke about a while was the archiving, the M365 archiving solution. So that is now in paid preview, so customers can finally start using it. So you can move out of date content to older, to cheaper storage, and it preserves their versions, metadata and security, and it’s all within the Microsoft trust boundary. But once you’ve archived the content, users can’t access it and search it. But however, admins can still search it and do e-discovery and all that, and all that sort of stuff. Correct, correct. So it’s available in public preview for customers. The cost of it, so finally I found the cost, it’s five cents a gig a month, US. Which is pretty good, so I compare that to 20 cents a gig, US, it’s pretty good. Yeah.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, right, okay. So you can find it and restore it, yeah. Okay.

Good. It’s cheaper. It’s cheaper, but yeah, it’s still premium, isn’t it, for this stuff, right?

Josh Rubens (37:28.142)
It is, but you are getting some services. And I suppose if you’re a customer who’s paying 20 grand a month for your SharePoint storage and you’re now paying five grand a month, that’s probably pretty good. However, when you want to reactivate the data after seven days, they’re going to charge you 60 cents a gig to reactivate the data. Uh-huh, uh-huh, yeah. So that does…

Tom Leyden
Okay, that’s good. That’s a win.
Brilliant, isn’t it?

Josh Rubens 
That does help the, you know, I want to move my file server in. So there is a cost. There is a cost reduction there because there hasn’t been a lot of hasn’t been a lot of options there. Other things like they’re saying syntex will still go is there’s things like features called content experience and solutions. So using AI to keep content fresh, integrating automation, content governance with.

with Purview as well around managing the data lifecycle. eSignature, so they can have it. The eSignature one was good.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, this is good. So just to pause on that content. The eSignature was good, but also the content management. So it starts to label your files for you, which is something that’s been a massive problem. So no user ever labels their file ever. I’ve never seen someone go, oh, this one’s secure. But this thing will actually go through and say, oh, you know what? You’ve got a whole bunch of bank accounts these hours in this document. So let’s start labeling this document properly and securing it properly. So from a, gold. Okay, right, yeah.

Josh Rubens 
Purview, you need Purview to do that. Purview is doing the labeling. The Microsoft Purview is what does the data classification and security and all that sort of stuff. So you need it together. So there is that, the e-signature piece is coming out early in 2024. They’ll have their own. DocuSign and Adobe will be launch partners. So if customers are using them, they will integrate. But obviously they’re gonna try and get customers off that.

Tom Leyden
It’s great right.

Josh Rubens 
on to their own. So these new Pay As You Go services will be generally available by the end of this month. And the other one that we’ve been waiting for, we mentioned before, is the backup, the M365 backup tool. So they’re gonna charge you 15 cents a gig a month for that backup storage. So that’s also, yes, yeah.

Tom Leyden
Okay, right. Which adds up, that adds up pretty quickly. Yes.

Josh Rubens 
So I don’t know anything about what the licensing cost on the M365 backup that hasn’t been mentioned, but the storage cost is there. So I’m not sure if there’s going to be an additional licensing cost for it. But knowing Microsoft, I’m assuming they’re are based on, not being a sceptic here, but based on past experience, is a likely prediction of the future is there will be a licensing cost for it. So…

Yeah, so that was huge. I thought that SharePoint Premium is gonna be, that’s gonna be like Teams Premium, that’s gonna be big.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, it is. Like I said, I’d like to see it in action. I’d like to see what it could do. The talk’s great. It sounds really useful and valuable, but I’d like to see that in action before I commit to it too hard.

Josh Rubens 
Do you want to get into the teams? Do you want to go start going through the teams news, Tom, have you got that? I’ve got it. You go for it if you want.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, Teams, just a few things to point out. So Teams, they put a lot of effort into creating efficient meetings. And by that, they’re doing things like, you know, essentially recording the meetings and then creating transcripts and then working out what the action points are automatically and then allocating tasks and whatnot to that. So, yeah, amazing stuff. Again, I’d definitely love to see it in action. But then also they’re doing things like measuring how people contribute to Teams.

And actually there’s a bit of work around, okay, who dominates the calls, who’s not saying much. And then that sort of feeds back into what they call the adoption dashboard. But, sounds kind of crazy to me, but it’d be really interesting to see how that goes. And then what they’re saying they’re gonna do is actually report on how efficient your meetings are being run.

So great news for all those who sit through really boring meetings dominated by one or two people. Hopefully they get some quite direct feedback about how to run their computers.

Josh Rubens 
You know what I love about this, Tom? I think the way we both research the Ignite News reflects how we talk about both sides of the vendor paradigm. So I’m being a vendor, you being a customer. So you look for things that are good for a customer and I look for things from the other side. I looked at the team’s news, I pulled out totally different stuff. So I love how we, between the two of us, we’re gonna cover, we’ll cover all the…

All the stuff. So the stuff that I thought was, I’m having a go time, I think it’s, I love it. Hopefully, hopefully people. So there’s things called voice isolation in Teams meeting and call. So it’s an AI feature where you can do advanced noise suppression. So you can make it that it will really, that it will recognise an individual’s voice and will filter only their voice during the meeting, the calls when you’re talking, which is awesome. Decorate your background.

Tom Leyden
I know, no it’s true, it’s good.

Tom Leyden
Yep.

Josh Rubens 
So instead of having to use a pre-canned one, yeah, so that was, you can use AI so you can add different things to your background.

Tom Leyden
I picked up on that. Yeah. So hang on. But also it’s going to remove the crap in your background as well. So when you’ve got like a pile of crap, it’s going to scrub that out. Okay.

Josh Rubens 
Yes, yes. Yeah. It’s like that Google phone ad, you know, where you can change things. So you can use add a plant, remove clutter, forward chat. How good will that be to forward chat? Yay. You can share messages. In Teams chat, you could forward a chat. Not that easy to do it. Try doing it. Try doing it at the moment.

Tom Leyden
What does it mean for a check?

Tom Leyden
Right, okay, cool.

Oh really? Okay.

Josh Rubens 
The other thing that’s cool is for Teams Rooms. So you can now deploy Teams Rooms using Windows autopilot. So that’s been a real pain getting Teams Rooms set up. And then talking about the meeting summarization. So they’re now using Microsoft’s whiteboard and copilot in Teams. So they’ll be able to not only summarize, they’ll also visualize the spoken points, organize them in whiteboard. So you can see.

Tom Leyden
That’s good. Yep.

Josh Rubens 
And then they’ll be available as a whiteboard file, and then people can access them via Teams OneDrive and share.

Tom Leyden
and AI will suggest ideas. How good is that? Someone in the audience goes, here’s a better idea than you muppets. Here’s some new better ideas. You idiots. That’s great.

Josh Rubens 
Yes.

So those are the ones. I just love how we look for different stuff. The other stuff is Copilot and Outlook is coming, so helping you prepare for meetings, scheduling meetings. So we’ll look at your diary, look at your emails, look at your files, and we’ll do all that for you. So that’s going to be ready early 2024. So that was more the collaboration and the rest of the news was all security. And there was a lot. There was a lot of security. Yeah, John, you go first. Okay.

Tom Leyden
I had a few in the pro, before you get security, yeah, yeah. Cause I think in productivity there was, I thought the other big announcement was the merger of the to-do planner and project. I think it’s actually quite a big deal because we all battle with, oh, do we use planner or is it to-do? Or is it, whatever, is it a project? And like, you know what, it’s one bloody thing. That’s what it is. It’s just tasks as a project, you can allocate amount. So I thought that was a big.

Josh Rubens
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tom Leyden
step forward, that’s obviously been taking a long time in the making, but bringing those things together makes life a lot easier for everyone.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, it’s going to be called the Planner app. It’s going to be unified into Planner and it will be available in spring 2024 in Teams. Yeah.

Tom Leyden
was out there spring. So, okay, so March-ish, is that right? Yeah. All right, and then security, do you want to just get into it? Hey, there’s so much to talk about.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, okay, so there’s a lot here. So the main ones is there’s gonna be embedded copilots within all the Microsoft security tools that you’re using. So Intune, Entro, which is Azure AD, in Purview, in the cloud posture management. So you’re gonna have an embedded copilot. So that was the first thing. So it’s just around really improving your tools. So essentially, hopefully you wouldn’t need to be, you could be a less experienced IT security person and be able to get, you know, better outcomes for the business. So within Purview.

Yeah, around Entra So look at investigate identity risks or troubleshoot your tasks. So things like why did this sign in require MFA? IT admins, they can ask about users, groups, sign-ins, permissions, and instantly get a risk summary, steps to remediate and recommended guidance for each risk. So that’s pretty cool. Intune, so it’ll be embedded in, you’ll have a copilot in Intune that will generate policies.

gather device information in purview. Again, it will generate a summary of risks users. So again, cloud posture management. so I don’t think we need to keep going on about that, but each of the Microsoft tools are gonna have, are gonna have an uplift in smarts and usability using with a copilot.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, I thought one of the interesting points was that they were saying that security admins receive more than 50 alerts a day and then they only get to 50 to 60, 60 to 70 percent of them. So with AI, they start to, you know, start to drown out the noise so that you can then focus on the real alerts and then do something more intelligent, right? That’s what you want AI to do is remove all that shitty noise and then focus on the real issues.

Josh Rubens 
Yes, now the big one is, so Microsoft Defender 365 is now being renamed Defender XDR. So it’s been expanded, extended section response, so beyond M365, so now it protects Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, as well as Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud, so again, Microsoft are really wanting to compete with, yeah, and then they’re now.

Tom Leyden
comprehensive. Yeah.

Josh Rubens 
there’s been complaints with the multiple login portals. So you’re now gonna have a single portal for Microsoft Defender XDR and Sentinel. So you’ll have a unified experience. You can still have the separate portals, but now you can manage it all with your copilot all in one place. So that’s huge. That is really, really big news. Big news, sorry. And they’ve announced this thing called auto deployed decoys.

So you can use AI to create these decoys, that decoy identities and roles and assets in your organization that will, you can sort of put out there for, defend attackers to come in and you can catch them and sort of like chaos monkey for your security environment basically. So they’ve got that. Oh, and the other big news is now using with Defender and Purview, you can put.

you can protect your AI applications within an organization. So Purview and Defender for Cloud has gone to market with support for over 400 LLM apps, so straight away. And then Microsoft Purview data loss prevention will be able to prevent data that shouldn’t be to be cut and pasted into prompts, prevent it being shared. So…

amazing that Microsoft already have got solutions for that in place. So they’ve made it enterprise ready from the start, which is amazing.

Tom Leyden
Yeah, this is incredible.

Yeah, I think they’ve had, obviously with language models, they’ve really thought about the corporate impact of running language models within your environment, right? Because they start to surface a whole bunch of information that maybe you shouldn’t have access to or whatever. They’ve actually applied the security layer in advance if you’re starting to run your own security, own language models. So hopefully it works, you know, hopefully that stops people accessing stuff they should never have seen in the first place.

Josh Rubens 
Yes, I just drill into that a little bit. So, discover data security risks, including sensitive data shared with copilot, risky use of copilot. It will honor your information protection security labels and restrictions and sensitivity labels, which I mentioned earlier. So where you want to automate the labelling of documents using purview and classifying documents. So if it’s got, you know, credit card or driver’s license, so, and purview will prevent that. being either put into Copilot or coming out of Copilot. You’ll be able to audit it using Purview audit. You’ll be able to run content search using Purview eDiscovery and all your manage retention policies and all that sort of stuff. So Purview is huge. All customers with the new PII laws should be looking at Purview very seriously. You get a bit of it with your M365 business premium.

But if you want to do the automation of labeling, you need to buy the add-on, which is an F5 security and compliance add-on. It’s not that expensive. And that will give you, as well as the full Defender XDR and a few other things that will give you the ability to automate the labeling. Because as you said, users will never classify and label their own documents. Other cool things around Purview is you can now support SQL.

Tom Leyden
Never do it.

Josh Rubens 
So you can protect and classify data in SQLs and not just in unstructured data, but also structured data. That’s really cool, because that’s always been a gap and also in other clouds and not just in the Microsoft, even things in S3. And then if you have Defender for cloud, you can also cover off third party SaaS applications as well. So it’s really, you know, becoming a, what used to be an M365 centric tool, Microsoft have really invested in, you know, broadening out.

Tom Leyden
Yeah right, cool.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, broadening out the capabilities of Purview. Yeah. All right, so I’ve got one last bit left. Over to you, what else have you got?

Tom Leyden
Oh, look, mate, you’ve covered the big things. I think there’s some gold in there. There’s like, if you read through all the documentation, there’s these lists, they’ve done so much. And then occasionally you read these like, like kind of crazy things that they’re doing as well. Like one I picked up with this next generation business conduct detection. So they’ll go through and detect if people are misusing AI or chat or whatever, and then report it.

So if you all have an informal discussion with someone and perhaps you’re using some fruity language or doing something that’s a bit naughty, they’ll jump on you. They rate your chat and then they report it to someone. And then all of a sudden the police will come in and the corporate police will be all over it. So yeah, so they’re really, it is a bit of a big brothery type thing, isn’t it? They’re kind of watching everything, they’re pulling all your data in and they’re seeing what corporates want with this stuff. Like do they want to report on it?

on this kind of conduct. And if they do, it’s, they can.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah. So the last bit I have, yeah, you go, sorry Tom.

Tom Leyden
One more thing, they’ve got a business continuity center. If you saw that as well, Azure business continuity center. So they’re trying to get in top of the DRBCP thing, which was usually a bit of a massive gap, right? You’ve always had to do your own thing on top of that. Not ready yet, my view of that. Only supports the West Coast US. So that’s the only place you can have a business continuity. The rest of the world, we have to wait. We just have to wait.

Josh Rubens 

So I’ve got a couple more sort of security things. So now they’ve, the Microsoft Security Service Edge. So this is the Zero Trust Network Access Zscaler takeout solution that Microsoft announced. So there’s two products here. There’s one called Microsoft Entra Internet Access, which is for access from any device to any cloud or internet web-based application.

And the other one is called Private Access. So that’s where you’re accessing on premises applications, which historically you would use something like a VPN or a virtual desktop tool. So they now have things on the Private Access site. So this thing called VPN replacement, so that they can now support things like both TCP and UDP, private DNS support.

So customers can seamlessly move to sort of an identity centric zero trust. Everything’s based on identity with conditional access policies. And then you can basically enforce based on a bunch of factors around location, profile of device, IP address, all those sorts of things as to what a customer will do. And then multifactor authentications to all on-premises applications. So that’s been a bit of an issue.

So we’re, you know, for a reason why customers were using VPNs and now, yeah, so you basically you have a client. So they’ve got clients now for Windows, Android, Mac OS and iOS, they’ve increased the amount of POPs point to presence around the world. So again, it’s becoming a genuine option against VPN. And then in the internet access, so now, you know, again, this is the Zscaler.

Tom Leyden
PPA.

Josh Rubens 
So they’ve got token theft protection, so protecting against man in the middle attacks, a software gateway, the whole bunch of features there. So I would really, so if you’re using Zscaler, and again, Microsoft want you to consolidate, and it does make sense to consolidate, I would definitely have a really good look at the security service edge and those two tools. And then there’s some updates on the identity side. Microsoft’s…

Tom Leyden
So is the money.

Josh Rubens 
there’s an option to have Microsoft manage conditional access policies where Microsoft will automatically enroll you into conditional access policies based on your licensing and what you want to do. So you can sort of pass it off to Microsoft. And the other one is certificate-based authentication. So this has been one that has prevented from customers moving to full cloud or cloud-based authentication is those applications that needed certificate-based authentication. Now Microsoft are offering it.

so customers can really start looking at moving, you know, that’s sort of almost been the last bastion of on-premises servers. Well, now, you know, people can start really seriously thinking about getting rid of that and moving to full cloud-based authentication, which has, you know, which has a lot of benefits. So that was it. It’s a bit of a long one today, but it is our last one for…

And it’s been a little while, so we want to deliver some value. So Tom, what are we? That’s year, what, 20, 21, 22? Is that four years, Tom? Four years, four years. And yes, yes. No, thank you, Tom. I really appreciate you put up with me. And you’re a good man. I appreciate it, hopefully. And also, thank you out there for sticking with us. I hope you’re enjoying it and getting value. And Tom and I are looking forward to.

Tom Leyden
four years and going strong Josh going strong. Likewise.

Josh Rubens 
2024, we are particularly as Empyrean with a new name, some of the new services to help around AI, AI preparation, cybersecurity, power platforms, going strong, cloud optimization. So, we’re doing lots of stuff. So if you have any questions, comments, wanna chat, have a chat around your VMware licensing or wanna have a chat around Purview or any of these things, please reach out to me at my email, jrubens at Empyrean IT.com.au

So not Cloud Solutions Group. So it’s E-M-P-Y-R-E-A-N-I-T My Cloud Solutions Group one will still work. I’ll still get it. And Tom wishing you and your family, Merry Christmas, good holidays. Everyone out there, hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday, whatever you celebrate, and a good break. And I think it’s been a big grind this year, Tom, you’d agree. It’s been a bit of a grindy year for IT.

Tom Leyden
But it’s been a good year. I mean, there’s so much going on. I’m looking forward to next year as well. I think, I don’t know, there’s such a transformative year this year. And I think next year is gonna build upon that as well. I think we’ll get some more focus on AI and all the data’s going on, all the changes going on. I think that should really refocus a lot of IT. So a lot to talk about in the new year. Josh, recharge.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, it’s been an exciting week. Exciting. Yes.

Tom Leyden
recharge over the break and we’ll come back. A big shout out all to our special guests as well throughout the year. I think we’ve had some great guests as well. Some really good guests. I really enjoyed the mouth guard IAT story. I thought it was just a really innovative example of what’s going on. And yeah, hopefully we get some more great guests in the new year as well. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Rubens 
Yeah, we had Heinrich and David, we had some fantastic guests. Yeah, so thanks again. Please subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and leave us hopefully a five-star review so that more people could benefit, and we’ll look forward to keeping you up to date in 2024. Thank you very much.

Tom Leyden
Thank you.

 

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