Cloud First – Mapping Strategy to Microsoft Azure Services

If you have ever attended a conference and wondered how you can translate a visionary statement like Cloud First (note: Absence of Mobile First), and how does that strategy play out all the way down to individual cloud services?

If you have, like me, this strategy map might help. I pieced it together from public statements at the recent Build conference so that our team talks strategy, rather than technology, first with our partners.


Satya at Microsoft Build 2017 highlighted an augmented set of strategies aligned to the Microsoft mission and vision. In the June end of year US Fiscal report we see this highlight that research and development efforts focus on three interconnected ambitions:

  • Reinvent productivity and business processes.
  • Build the intelligent cloud platform.
  • Create more personal computing.

Productivity is the first and foremost objective. Invent new scenarios that in turn create opportunity for our partners and help businesses accelerate their digital transformation . Cloud computing is foundational to enabling any organization’s digital transformation. Cloud computing is foundational to enabling any organization’s digital transformation

Cloud computing is drawn out into two related categories Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge.

In this age of ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence, we need compute capabilities that extend the power of the cloud to mobile and IoT devices. Microsoft wants to empower developers to build applications for this new era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.

At the Build conference Microsoft announced many new Azure data and cloud services to help developers more easily build modern and intelligent apps. These services were designed to enable intelligent app principles (multi-device, artificial intelligence and serverless) and built with Microsoft software design principles (empowering people, inclusive design, and building trust in technology).




Intelligent app principles:

Intelligent cloud and intelligent edge

Software design principles:

· Empower people, Inclusive design and building trust in technology.

· Underscored by Fluent Design to Amplify human ingenuity (Harry Shum)


· See inclusivity Activity Cards (PDF)

· Day 1 Keynote

· Day 2 Keynote

· Day 3 Keynote: The Business of Code

· Keynote Recap with Scott Guthrie

· Keynote Recap with Kevin Gallo

In case you missed Build and related areas this is my recap, aggregating much of what is out there:

Microsoft Build 2017 announcements:


This is not an exhaustive list – for more announcements see the Build 2017 blog

Each reader may take away different perspectives from the hundreds of announcements. This summary is intended to capture major new services.



Cosmos DB

Globally-distributed, multi-model database service (super low latency) Technical Overview Video

MySQL and PostgreSQL as a service

Managed Database Services - Public Preview

Azure Cloud Shell

Get authenticated shell access to Azure from virtually anywhere (including in portal in browser and in mobile)

Visual Studio for the Mac

The “IDE loved by millions”, now on the Mac. Video:.NET Core and Visual Studio for Mac

Cortana Skills Kit

Allows developers to build or integrate already created “skills” into their apps so that users can interact with their services using Cortana commands

Xamarin Live player

iOS and Android emulation straight from the IDE

New Cognitive Services

Intelligent APIs extended by Bing custom, Custom vision, Decision service and Video indexer

Azure IoT Edge

A service that enables Microsoft and third-party offerings at the edge and distributes cloud intelligence across a wide range of IoT devices.

Other Preview announcements

There are a few announcements that were not released, not major or not “new”. Some were updates to an existing announcement.



Azure Managed Applications

Customer or partner managed applications deployment from Azure marketplace. See Video and Samples

Azure Apps (See keynote too)

See details

Azure Database migration service

Simplifies the migration of existing on-premises SQL Server, Oracle, and MySQL databases to Azure,

Visual Studio Snapshot Debugging for Azure

A snapshot of your in-production Azure app when an exception occurs or at other points of interest

Service updates

Sound bites quotes and numbers

  • Microsoft by the numbers
  • Windows 10 Operating System (OS) is now present on 500 million devices
  • 100 million commercial Office 365 Active Monthly Users
  • 90% of Fortune 500 using Microsoft Cloud – grown from 85% last year
  • 12 million organisations using Azure Active Directory
  • Cognitive Services include a set of 29 cognitive services and 22 APIs categorized across Vision, Speech, Language, Knowledge, and Search. Now used by 568,000 developers from more than 60 countries
  • More than 130,000 developers have registered to build with the Bot Framework


A few keynote or other significant examples



There was a swathe of updates to the Windows platform. Many had impacts on the intelligent app services and design principles. Most of the Windows announcements could be found on the Day 2 Keynote. These include




What’s new with Serverless?

The idea of building powerful solutions without worrying about infrastructure, is another intelligent application principle highlighted at Build. There were many preview announcements which will help developers, including:

Build Sessions


Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft is aiming to make the power of AI available to everyone, from developers and data scientists to tech enthusiasts and students. A core part of bringing AI to developers is Cognitive Services. Harry Shum talking about a paradigm shift to conversational AI - “Moving away from a world where we’ve had to understand computers to one where computers understand humans”

With many new Microsoft Cognitive Services, it is now the industry’s broadest offering of AI services. New services include:

New service

Cognitive Services Labs

Try soon to be available services

Custom Vision

Project Prague

an SDK which enables gesture-based controls in your applications

The Video Indexer combines several existing Cognitive Services into a neat service that provides insights into videos

PowerPoint Translator

Office add-in for PowerPoint that enables presenters to display translated subtitles in real time

Cortana Skills

Allows developers to easily create intelligent, personalized experiences for Cortana.

Build sessions


What’s new with the Microsoft Bot Framework?

Bots, as part of the artificial intelligence principle, took an impressive step forward beyond the previous years “conversations as a service” strategy. The new announcements enabling scenarios for enterprise and well as more general intelligence applications. Now bots appear to be more capable, pointing towards more composable applications that service multiple channels.



BUILD Sessions

Adaptive cards


An Adaptive Card is made of composable visual building blocks, described in JSON that automatically adapt to the host’s branding, UX, theme, layout and modality.

Designing conversational UI for bots (and humans)

Bot payments


Allow bots to buy with an API and streamlined checkout process

Bots speech


Natural language understanding

Bots and Cortana Skills


Bots can be part of personal and corporate digital assistance across devices (and 145 Million users)

Bots and Cognitive Services


Bots now see hear, interpret and action

New SDKs


Microsoft Bot Builder – Real Time Media Calling SDK

Bot Analytics


Metrics for developers on usage of Bots



Cortana, as a new Microsoft Bot Framework Channel


IOT Edge

Deliver cloud services to your edge devices

Enabling intelligence on IoT edge devices means enabling analytics and insights to happen closer to the source of the data. The IOT Edge principle talked about enabling intelligence on a range of devices with local intelligence. The primary announcement was the Microsoft Azure IoT Edge which extends the existing IoT gateway offering. Some announcements on the edge include:

  • IOT Video - Workplace Safety Demonstration

Microsoft Office

Office connected many of the intelligent app principles by providing the data discovery required through the Microsoft Graph and a productivity and bot home through Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Graph

Build sessions
Microsoft Teams

What’s new with Microsoft Teams?



There were a wide set of data announcements, predominantly focused on new databases as a service,

Other, non category, announcements

** Don’t forget the Build tour near you..