This article is part of our Conference Coverage: Microsoft WPC 2016 conference coverage

Microsoft unveils cloud platform to power business apps

AppSource exposes Microsoft Graph data from Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to create business insights

Microsoft has unveiled the latest update to its cloud strategy with what CEO Satya Nadella describes as a “platform of opportunity” for third-party developers.

Speaking at the annual Microsoft worldwide partner conference in Toronto, Nadella said: “The future starts with our mission. Every decision we make is to empower every person and organisation on the planet to do more.”

Referring to the shift in IT from large central systems to desktop computing, he said Microsoft democratised technology. “I would not be here if it was not for this ecosystem and the ability to get technology to every corner of the world.”

According to Nadella, digital transformation is top of the agenda at every business. “CEOs have a desire to use digital technology to change business outcomes. Every place where there is operating expense, there is increasing drive for efficiency – which means opportunity for digital technology. Every customer is building digital technology. Every small business will be a digital business,” he said.

Nadella unveiled technology for the Microsoft cloud, dubbed AppSource, a marketplace for Azure-powered Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics-based applications that are able to share data.

“Moving to the cloud means calendars, projects and work artefacts are exposed as a rich graph infrastructure,” he said. This real-time data that resides in the cloud can be used to build new information products, exposed via Microsoft Graph.

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With AppSource, it is possible to create purpose-built microbusiness applications with modern interfaces, said Nadella. “We are creating a platform of opportunity with AppSource to create solutions to extend everything we do in Office 365 and Dynamics 365,” he said.

This platform approach will enable third-party software companies to extend the data services Microsoft exposes in Office 365 and Dynamics 365 to build and tailor business applications.

Rolls-Royce is using the Microsoft platform to expand the services it offers its airline customers. The jet engine maker said it planned to extend its TotalCare service using Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite and Cortana Intelligence Suite to diagnose issues with aircraft engines.

Rolls-Royce said it expected the software to enable it to improve airline efficiency. With a 1% fuel saving equating to $250,000 per aircraft per year, the partnership is expected to save airlines millions of dollars, Microsoft claimed.

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