Microsoft Channel Chief Gavriella Schuster says the company is “going big in security this year”—including with several Microsoft 365 security announcements at the Inspire 2020 global partner conference this week. The company is making a number of announcements at Inspire around Microsoft 365, the Teams collaboration app and Microsoft’s business applications segment, which includes Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform.
When it comes to security, “we’ve definitely seen huge demand from our customers through COVID for more security solutions, as they’ve realized they don’t quite have all the security solutions that they need,” said Schuster, corporate vice president for Microsoft’s One Commercial Partner organisation, in an interview with CRN. “Then you add on applications like Windows Virtual Desktops and M365. And then on the side you bring in Power Platform, and you bring in security—and those are all of the wrappers that enable our partners to have that profitable business.”
Ultimately, “in this coming year, we’ll work with partners who are doing all of those things—to put together a playbook for partners to follow. Because at this point, our playbooks have been fairly solution-specific,” Schuster said. “What we need is this multi-solution [approach]—but we haven’t had enough partners doing all these multi-solutions to be able to come together and help us build it.”
What follows are five key updates being announced at Inspire 2020 in Microsoft 365, Teams and Microsoft business apps.
Microsoft is using Inspire 2020 to make several announcements about Teams as the collaboration app surges in usage. For Microsoft Teams Rooms devices--which provide “premium meeting room experiences,” according to the company--can now be managed by Microsoft partners within the Teams Admin Center. The devices can also be managed in-house.
Meanwhile, the Microsoft Teams Rooms Premium cloud-based IT service is now generally available, Microsoft said. The solution allows customers to have a certified partner, or Microsoft itself, manage the operations of their Teams rooms.
Microsoft is also announcing the new Power BI personal app for Teams. The app, which will be available in August, will give users “a single place for all their data visualizations and a place to find more data from across their organization,” Microsoft said. Meanwhile, developers of Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents chatbots will be enabled to create, manage and use their apps/bots inside of Teams through new native app experiences, the company said.
Additional updates for Teams, which will enter public preview in July, include the ability for partners and developers to “extend the Teams meeting experience” by building apps that are integrated as a new tab within Teams meetings, Microsoft said. That way, users can add apps to the meeting controls bar, “providing easy access for meeting participants,” the company said.
Microsoft 365—a suite that brings together Windows 10, Office 365, device management and security—is seeing several announcements in connection with Inspire 2020. The suite will get the new Microsoft Lists app starting in late July, allowing users to “track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customizable views, rules and comments to keep everyone in sync,” Microsoft said. The app also includes templates to provide an easier way to start lists, and Power Platform integrations are enabled as well. The Lists app will also be coming to Teams in August and to iOS sometime later this year, Microsoft said.
Meanwhile, the Yammer collaboration app is also getting a new design, Microsoft disclosed in conjunction with Inspire. Yammer will now have “a reimagined user experience for both web and mobile built with the Fluent Design System [that is] loaded with new features and integrations that power communities, engagement and knowledge across Microsoft 365,” Microsoft said. New capabilities include “featured conversations” for improved visibility of key conversations and support for external guests in communities.
Microsoft 365 Security
Security for Microsoft 365 is a top focus for the announcements at Inspire 2020. Microsoft said that new security capabilities are aimed at providing greater visibility around security issues and improved data protection, which are crucial for organizations that currently have large numbers of remote workers.
Microsoft introduced a public preview for Insider Risk Management and Communication Compliance features for enhanced detection and remediation in Microsoft 365. With the Insider Risk Management feature, security professionals benefit from improved quality of signals from end-user activities—such as expanded signals from Windows 10 (including movement of files to a USB drive or shared over the network); native signals from Teams/Exchange/Sharepoint; and endpoint security signals via Microsoft Defender ATP. For Communication Compliance, security professionals will be enabled to more effectively detect violations of compliance regulations and codes of conduct.
Another key Microsoft 365 security capability now in public preview is Double Key Encryption, which enables protection of important confidential data as well as encryption key control. The feature provides two keys for data protection—one of which is controlled by the organization and the other by Microsoft—which prevents others from viewing the data since they would need to have both keys.
At Inspire, Microsoft is also unveiling Endpoint Data Loss Prevention, which complements Microsoft 365‘s current data loss prevention capabilities. Crucially, Endpoint Data Loss Prevention—which will be built into Windows 10, Office apps and the Edge browser—does not require an additional agent to prevent unwanted transfer of sensitive data. Organizations will “immediately” get alerts in the Microsoft 365 compliance center (Activity Explorer) when access of sensitive data occurs, Microsoft said. Endpoint Data Loss Prevention is now in public preview, the company said.
Dynamics 365, Microsoft‘s combination cloud CRM and ERP system, is getting several updates in connection with Inspire 2020:
- Dynamics 365 Customer Voice aims to improve customer responses by enabling organizations to "capture and incorporate real-time feedback into a unified view of customers and drive action in the moments that matter," Microsoft said.
- Dynamics 365 Connected Store is a tool that leverages data sources such as video data and IoT sensor data to "deliver triggered alerts and actionable recommendations that can make your retail spaces more efficient," Microsoft said. Connected Store is now in public preview.
- Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection, while already available, is now adding Account Protection and Loss Prevention capabilities. Account Protection can counteract fraudulent access of accounts, creation of fake accounts and takeover of accounts, Microsoft said. Meanwhile, Loss Prevention identifies possible instances of fraud on returns and discounts that stem from omni-channel purchases.
Microsoft‘s Power Platform—which includes Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate—is also seeing new solutions introduced at Inspire 2020. The Power Platform solutions are pre-built and customizable, and are aimed at helping organizations safely bring employees back to their workplaces. They include Location Readiness for determining the readiness of buildings for reopening; Employee Health and Safety Management, providing tools to employees such as checking into work remotely and self-screening before entering the facility; Workplace Care Management, for managing COVID-19 cases and identifying hot spots; and Location Management, which includes tools for facility managers to monitor occupancy, safety procedures and health supplies.
“Our partners are critical in bringing these solutions to our customers,” Schuster said in a blog post. “This was evident during our initial COVID-19 response in March and April, with solutions such as the crisis communications template, which enabled customers to quickly stand up customized solutions for their specific needs because our partners were there and ready to help.”