On November 18th 2015 at the Connect (); conference Microsoft announced the long awaited public release of Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Graph, previously known as Office 365 Unified API, has been out in the wild for quite a while, but in a BETA form. In my opinion it’s one of the most exciting developments to come out of Microsoft in a long time and I think shows direction Satya Nadella wants to take Microsoft.
So what is Microsoft Graph?
Microsoft Graph allows you to access many Microsoft cloud based services through a single endpoint. No longer do you need to query a separate API endpoint for Exchange, another for SharePoint and another for OneDrive all with their own unique authentication mechanism and syntax. Microsoft has centralised all of these calls under a single RESTful API. The API has been designed to be highly intuitive with Microsoft taking the opportunity to generalise product names in to understandable services – no Exchange mentioned, instead there’s Messages, Calendar and Tasks. No OneDrive or SharePoint Document Library it’s Drive – you get the point.
All this is great and helpful to end users and developers alike but by requesting these resources in the context of “me”, the requesting user, the Microsoft Graph comes alive. Make a request to “/me/” and you’ll get all of your profile information from Azure AD or “/me/manager/” to get your manager. There’s a service provided by Microsoft to test and try out the API called API Explorer; I recommended taking a look, you’ll be surprised at the quality and quantity of data.
How is this going to help make your solutions intelligent?
Microsoft Graph puts you at the centre of all these services allowing you to navigate between entities and relationships as needed. Microsoft could have stopped there, but instead they exposed the graph data to their Machine Learning Service. The result is access to intelligence and insights about how you and the people around you work. As you and your colleagues access files, send emails and arrange meetings, signals are sent to Microsoft Graph so that it can form a better picture of you and your circles of influence. Delve is Microsoft’s product that can display this information in a visually engaging way for employees and if you have Office 365, you can start utilising it straight away. It’s an Office 365 service that provides a way to visualise content that’s relevant to you – that’s content authored and accessed by you and also content by colleagues the Graph believes relevant to you based on your interactions.
In my opinion, and this is only opinion, Microsoft will continue to add services that push signals to Microsoft Graph – Yammer conversations, CRM Online contacts, Xbox? Who knows where it might go. What we do know is that whilst the Graph is closed to external signals at the moment it won’t always be. Once the service matures there are plans to provide external systems to push custom signals in to the graph. You’ll be able to add signals for your ERP actions, SalesForce opportunities, Unily interactions, each signal improving the quality of the insights and intelligence. The potential to discover business information, connect with colleagues with similar content and connections and break down traditional silos is limitless. I’m excited to be working alongside Microsoft, bringing these technologies to market and really making our data work for us. This is only the beginning of Microsoft Graph’s story.
BrightStarr is already integrating these new technologies into our Intranet as a Service product, Unily, and our custom solutions. To find out how we can help you leverage these services and get more from your enterprise data get in touch.