This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Complete coverage from the Ignite 2016 conference
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What to expect from Office 365 services as Ignite conference nears

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With the Ignite conference approaching, what developments can we expect for Office 365 services?

With the Microsoft Ignite 2016 conference on the way, the question on users' minds is what to expect from the show and from Office 365 services in general.

According to experts, part of the theme of this year's Ignite conference will be how Microsoft is helping companies to unify their data, which resides in the various services in Office 365, via the Azure cloud, Microsoft's platform as a service environment to host cloud services.

"They're showing us an Azure and O365 environment that really is one-stop shopping," said Scott Robinson, a SharePoint and BI expert.

Part of the reason that integration of Office 365 services is possible is because of a common back end through Azure.

"One of Microsoft's key differentiators is using Azure to host these services," Robinson said. "I was told that they're not just replatforming back-end systems on cloud service, but retooling them for database tech that is beyond what we've been using for the past 15 years. They have made this a universal platform. So when we use OneDrive or SharePoint, it's the same under the hood, so it's easier for these services to work together."

Robinson also talked about the growing maturity of services like Delve and Office Graph in Office 365. These services are becoming more intelligent and context aware, but they still have a distance to travel.

"They released these projects prematurely and marketed them in a confusing way," Robinson said.

These services were released, but their cloud enablement was mature in their original incarnations, making tasks like searching hybrid deployments with files in the cloud and on premises difficult, if not impossible. Those obstacles are minimizing as Microsoft develops its applications for the cloud first, now, then ports those development changes to on-premises deployments. Hybrid has been a key theme since last year's Ignite.

"There is a graph API that allows an enterprise developer to access all that data, Exchange data, emails, contact information, all the files that are stored in O365, and port them out through a single portal to other applications. It's all in one endpoint," Robinson said. "You also get it in the intelligent context of Delve. If that's not a tempting game changer, I don't know what is."

Robinson also noted that Ignite will offer sessions on best practices regarding which Office 365 service to use when, given the overlap of these services. Services like Groups overlap with functionality in SharePoint. Yammer and Skype overlap as well, as do SharePoint and OneDrive for Business. Microsoft recognizes these confusing overlaps and will address some in the sessions at Ignite.

"When do I use Groups? When do I use Yammer? When do I use OneDrive? When do I use SharePoint? Ignite is offering sessions on helping to sort that out. Best practices in when to use which service."

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