The big push and talk at Ignite this year was all about Azure, Office 365, AI and the combination thereof. In fact, it was discussed so heavily that it can be easy to miss anything that isn’t part of that ecosystem. However, there were several new product releases announced at Ignite this year.
Exchange 2019 is going to be coming out at the end of 2018. This will be (surprisingly) an on-premises release that you can install in your datacenter. Not much has been announced around any new features or other new capabilities. The reason this release is important, however, is that it means that Microsoft is committing to support on premises at least until 2029 (since you get five years of mainstream support and then five years of extended). It’s doubtful there will be another on-premises Exchange offering after 2019. So if you haven’t moved to Office 365 yet, there is plenty of time left to figure out if you should, or when you should.
Skype for Business 2019
Skype for Business 2019 is also going to be coming out at the end of 2018 as well. It has been stated officially that this will be the last on-premises release of Skype for Business, though, so don’t hold your breath for new features. Everything is going to be moving into Office 365, notably through the merger of Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams, which was another big announcement made at Ignite. Again, Microsoft is committing to support your on-premises installation through at least 2029 due to the 10-year support cycle. That means there is plenty of time to wait for feature parity of Teams, as well as to plan your overall migration to the Teams infrastructure.
To go along with the above Office server applications, Office 2019 is going to launch at the end of 2018 as well. This will still be available as a perpetual license as opposed to a subscription. Not much has really been announced as to what this will include, but count on it all coming to the subscription version of Office long before this perpetual release. The key thing here is if your business isn’t yet in the cloud, we’re getting a commitment to at least a long migration period. Whether or not it makes sense to buy perpetual versus subscription involves some math and feature discussions that we can help with.
SQL Server 2017
Another major product announcement was SQL Server 2017. This one caught a lot of us by surprise, because SQL just had a release last year (2016), so another so soon was unexpected. This isn’t a minor release, either, getting the full feature parity between SQL on Windows and Linux. That’s right, folks, now you can just pick your Windows or Linux distro and roll out SQL. Additionally, SQL 2017 supports “Adaptive Query Processing”, “Graph data support”, and most notably, the ability to run in containers. There will, of course, be some caveats around how exactly you run it in containers, but it’s nice to see the innovation there from the beginning.