Personal Assistants. Are they relevant, or just a fad like the Nintendo Wii? There seem to be personal assistants being added to everything, from smartphones, to watches, to speakers. And now, a Personal Assistant is coming to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft is reviving Clippy to be the Cloud Assistant you need for helping work with and maintaining your Microsoft Azure cloud resources.

Personal Assistants are great at helping with very specific tasks like setting reminders and using voice commands to get stuff done. Imagine if you could verbally tell Clippy to “Delete Resource Group” and it’s just done. Or, imagine if you could just say “Create new Windows Server 2016 VM using a Scale Set and a static public IP address”, and poof Clippy just gets it done. Wouldn’t that be like magic!?

Ok, I must admit Microsoft hasn’t committed to bringing Clippy back. Well, at least not yet! I have shared an idea on the Microsoft Azure Feedback site to “add Clippy personal assistant to the Azure Portal.” Please go to that link and Vote or post a Comment to show your support or disdain for bringing Clippy to the Azure Portal.

This started to be a funny geek joke, but… What if Microsoft made a voice enabled assistant that could help you maintain your IT Infrastructure, automate Azure resource management, or even configure and maintain your automated builds within Visual Studio Team Services. While bringing Clippy back and putting him in the Azure Portal seems funny, this is something that could come in the next few years anyway thanks to AI and Machine Learning.

As Personal Assistants advance they will start to become extremely useful and competent at repetitive tasks that could be automated away. Imagine a world where your job in IT is not just augmented with StackOverflow and Google searched, but you also have the help of a Personal Assistant. This Personal Assistant could be smart enough to perform all kinds of easily done, repetitive IT tasks, like setup a CI/CD build from a VSTS Git repository to an Azure Web App, or help you provision cloud resources, or make configurations changes more quickly and easily.

Imagine if you could set an Azure Web App Connection String to your Azure SQL Database by just saying, “Hey Clippy, set the database connection string for the PTOCalendar Web App to connect to the PTOData Azure SQL Database.”

Once Personal Assistants can translate spoken language better (they’re almost there today with the level of accuracy needed!), can be programmed with technical tasks, and can have the ability to infer meaning and remember context, then we’ll be ready for Artificial Intelligence driven Personal Assistants to help us with all kinds of tasks that will make our jobs easier.

This could be a rather interesting future, and I’m confident that it will eventually happen. Also, imagine when these assistants are able to build simple CRUD-based enterprise software completely automated without a human programmer!

Please head over to the “add Clippy personal assistant to the Azure Portal” page to vote and comment. What if this become one of the top voted for feedback items, I’m curious what Microsoft’s response would be to the idea of bringing Clippy to the Azure Portal. Aren’t you curious?

Also, please comment on this post with any thoughts you have on the ideas I’ve shared. I’m interested to hear what other people think about the future of personal assistants!

Thanks!

Posted by Chris Pietschmann

Chris is a Microsoft MVP and has nearly 20 years of experience building enterprise systems both in the cloud and on-premises. He is also a Certified Azure Solutions Architect (both MCSD and MCSE), a trainer, and Cloud Advocate. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.

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