July 28, 2020
Now that Microsoft Inspire, the company's biggest partner event of the year, has concluded we'd like to give you an overview of our highlights of this year's event. While there was much news about Windows Virtual Desktop, Microsoft Teams, the new commerce experience, as well as updates on partner programs, incentives, and certifications and competencies, this year also saw an increased focus on sustainability and inclusiveness.
Broadly speaking, Microsoft sees 4 core partner priorities for FY21, with customers expecting support on these from partners, while also focusing on the cost of things:
- Remote work
- Business continuity
- Cloud migration
Below we will go into a bit more detail on these. Please also visit the company's 'book of news' and its blog. Most, if not all, keynotes and sessions will also be available on-demand soon.
Please join us again in September, when Microsoft's next big event, Microsoft Ignite, will also take place online.
1. Working remotely
With the COVID-19 pandemic and a virtual Inspire, Microsoft was strongly focused on how its partners have been supporting companies, educational institutions, and other organizations, in working remotely from home.
For instance, Microsoft Teams now sees over 4.1 billion Teams meeting minutes per day, as well as 75 million daily active users. No wonder Microsoft wants you to think of Teams as a new platform and it has released hundreds of updates and new features including:
- New standard and premium Teams meeting rooms, for better meeting room experiences.
- A more natural to use 'together mode' and 7x7 gallery.
- New features geared towards firstline workers, such as walkie-talkie mode and shifts schedule assistance.
- The release of Dataflex, a low-code data platform to more easily build and deploy apps (with 600+ partner-built apps already) and intelligent chatbots.
To further boost partner opportunities in Modern Work and security, Microsoft is also making six types of investments over the next year:
- New offers - new SKUs and promotions soon available via CSP.
- Cloud economic resources, a framework for saving cost & value calculators.
- New competencies - more advanced Teams and Security specializations.
- Sales incentives - doubled sales incentives for acquiring new customers.
- Usage incentives - advanced workloads for Teams & Security now eligible.
- Cloud Accelerator Workshops - to drive new business & customer growth.
2. Business continuity
To quote Gavriella Schuster (Microsoft VP - Commercial Partner) "being in the cloud is no longer an option, it's a business imperative".
Windows Virtual Desktop, the multi-session Windows 10 desktop running on Azure, was definitely one of the stars of this years Inspire. With 1 billion Windows 10 monthly active devices, migrating workplaces to Windows Virtual Desktop offers a huge opportunity for consultation and managed services.
Other news included:
- An extended partnership between Microsoft and Citrix with Citrix Managed Desktops to enhance the capabilities of Windows Virtual Desktop.
- An extension of the FY20 partner incentives, where partner rates have been extended until September 30.
- The release of the Power Platform return to workplace solution to help customers reopen their business and return to physical workplaces safely.
- Two new Microsoft playbooks, to help partners build a lasting cloud practice: the Microsoft Azure center of excellence playbook available soon, and the App Innovation Practice Development playbook, available now.
With the shift to remote work comes a need to bolster the security of customers' IT infrastructure, apps and devices, and the data stored on them. With (high upfront) cost being an issue for many customers, partners need to simplify security.
For that reason, Microsoft once again communicated the importance for partners to move towards managed services, with subscriptions and monthly billing. With the current momentum requiring increased security as the next big opportunity for partners to increase their managed services practice, by leveraging Microsoft security solutions and adding their own solution on top of that.
Updates and news included:
- New connectors announced for Azure Sentinel to include insights from third-party solutions networks, firewalls, endpoint protection, and vulnerability management.
- MFA and Identity Management support in Azure Lighthouse for just-in-time access.
- A new Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Prevention solution for Microsoft 365 going into public preview, and double key encryption and new signals for insider risk management being added to identify risks and prevent data loss.
4. Cloud migration
With a 59% Azure revenue growth, Microsoft keeps reminding partners to focus on migrating from on-prem to the Azure cloud. For FY21 Windows and SQL server migration is a top priority.
Microsoft is also very keen on getting more ISVs to move their business apps onto Azure, with a push of the Azure Marketplace and the option for ISVs to use its CSP partners as an additional sales channel. Speaking of CSP partners, with the introduction of the new Azure Plan, Microsoft also emphasized the need for partners to transition away for the existing CSP Azure offers.
Azure and cloud migration-related news included:
- Microsoft announcing the next generation Azure Stack HCI, hybrid cloud capabilities that deliver a native and fully integrated Azure service and to integrate data centers with the cloud.
- New and updated features for hoster and outsourcers, such as new capabilities for Azure Migrate, Microsoft’s hub of tools for datacenter assessment and migration, free and subsidized Azure technical training, partner funding, and support via the Azure Migration Program (AMP) and a new generation of Azure VMware Solution, to seamlessly extend or completely migrate existing on-premises VMware applications to Azure.
- The general availability of Shared Disks, for easier migrations of existing on-premises Windows and Linux-based clustered environments to Azure.