Whenever CIOs talk about using low-code tools to enable citizen development, a recurring theme is how to ensure appropriate governance of the applications produced.\n\nMicrosoft has heard them loud and clear, and at its Ignite 2022 show in Seattle this week, it introduced a range of new governance capabilities and other enhancements for its Power automation platform.\n\nIt also previewed new management capabilities for automated workloads in its Entra Identity governance tool, new compliance reporting tools for monitoring the roll-out of Windows updates on enterprise desktops, and a host of updates to its Azure cloud platform.\n\nPower to the people\n\nEven low-code may seem like a foreign language to some workers, so Microsoft has been experimenting with ways to enable them to generate workflows with Power Automate, describing in natural language what they want to achieve and leaving an AI to build the corresponding flow. The feature, now in preview, will still require workers to set up connectors for the inputs to and outputs from the automated workflow, and to tweak it to ensure it behaves as intended.\n\nGiven the scope for ambiguity in natural language, CIOs may want to reinforce governance of applications created in this way \u2014 and with the new Managed Environments for Power Platform, Microsoft will help them do just that. First previewed in July, it\u2019s now generally available.\n\nChecks and balances\n\nA new Weekly Digest feature enables admins to see how much use each Power app is getting, directing attention to the most used and reclaiming resources from unused ones.\n\nThere are also new tools to limit sharing of apps by security group or number of users, so apps don\u2019t go viral across the enterprise until they\u2019ve been thoroughly tested and channels are set up to communicate changes to them.\n\nThose features will be important to CIOs, according to Kyle Davis, a VP and analyst at Garner covering low-code adoption.\n\n\u201cWhen it comes to citizen development and low code, governance is front and center,\u201d he said.\n\nManaged Environments is more of an evolution than a revolution, he added, saying, \u201cThere really isn\u2019t anything there that someone couldn\u2019t build for themselves if they wanted to.\u201d\n\nIndeed, Managed Environments has its origins in Microsoft\u2019s Automation Center of Excellence starter kit, which enables enterprises to define their own best practices for Power app governance. But as the company itself acknowledges, customers found that this required a lot of manual work and expertise.\n\nDavis said that CIOs looking for the simplicity of low-code development are often also looking for similar simplicity in its management. Managed Environments\u2019 ability to deploy controls in a few clicks will be appealing. \u201cIt makes it easier to do things at scale,\u201d he said.\n\nThe option to limit usage of an app to a few cubicle neighbors makes sense too, he said, because, \u201cYou can just yell across the hallway, \u2018Hey, I\u2019m going to make a change,\u2019 and everyone\u2019s aware,\u201d while a change departmental app would need to go through a proper process. \u201cWhat Microsoft offers with Managed Environments is something that you don\u2019t really get from other low-code vendors in a similar space,\u201d he said.\n\nEnvironmental awareness\n\nNot all the news at Ignite concerned Power Platform, however. Microsoft also had plenty to say about updates to its Azure cloud infrastructure offering, and an update of Syntex, its AI content management tool. Computerworld has the low-down on Syntex, but CIOs will want to be aware of other innovations that may help them trim management budgets or redeploy staff away from routine tasks.\n\nThere are new features for Microsoft Sustainability Manager, an environmental reporting tool for enterprises, including an extended data model to assist them estimating so-called Scope 3 emissions of greenhouse gases by their entire supply chain, and an Emissions Impact Dashboard for Microsoft 365 showing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their use of Microsoft\u2019s SaaS productivity suite.\n\nAzure Deployment Environments, previewed at the show, offer enterprises a way to apply project-based templates to each development environment they spin up. Much like the managed environments Microsoft is introducing for low-code applications, these new templates will help development teams consistently maintain best practices across projects with minimum effort, the company said.\n\nCost cutting\n\nAnother management feature, Azure Automanage, is now generally available for Azure VMs and has new capabilities including the ability to patch VMs without rebooting, reducing downtime costs.\n\nFor variable computing workloads in the Azure cloud, Microsoft is introducing the ability to mix Standard and Spot Virtual Machines in the same scale set, enabling CIOs to profit from the deep discounts available for Spot VMs as their computing needs vary.\n\nBut Microsoft also wants customers to see Azure as an economical solution for base workloads. Azure savings plan for compute, available later this month, offers a discount to customers who commit to spending a minimum hourly amount on computing resources for one to three years; consumption above the minimum commitment will be charged at regular rates.\n\nStaying Intune\n\nMicrosoft is reshuffling its branding around endpoint management: Intune, previously a component of its enterprise mobility management offering, is now the umbrella brand for its whole range of endpoint management products such as Configuration Manager \u2014 with the promise of more to come. At Ignite, the company is previewing new endpoint privilege management capabilities such as the ability to temporarily grant users limited admin permissions, and automated app patching by combining Intune with Microsoft Defender. In January 2023, it will add Microsoft Tunnel so employees can securely access company resources from their own devices without having to enroll them first. And then in March 2023, a new bundle of premium endpoint management services called Advanced Management Suite will be introduced.