Today was the last full day of Conference and probably the busiest yet.
Starting with an 8 o’clock meeting with Pim Bultman, EMEA Director Hosting Solutions for Insight. While waiting for the Keynote to start we chatted about how Azure is going to impact us as a hosting MSP and our plans to take advantage of the recent extension of the CSP programme to include Azure services.
Pim also reminded me that as we are a partner on the Breadth programme that there was a session on this coming up in the afternoon, more of which later.
Vision Keynote – Achieving more, together
As the week has gone on the Microsoft mission statement about empowering everyone to achieve more has started to sound less cheesy and more meaningful. This was highlighted in the opening spot from Brad Smith, VP of Legal and Corporate affairs.
His presentation about the Microsoft approach to balancing the security and privacy needs of the individual, business and national governments was one of my highlights of the week. I would encourage people to spend 10 minutes reviewing this and also check out the Voices for Innovation site (http://voicesforinnovation.org)
Following Brad, both Steven Guggenheimer and Gavriella Shuster reaffirmed the general messages of the week. There were also some announcements about how we handle certifications and training. In particular, they also highlighted some of the new resources being made available to MS Partners, particularly around marketing and internal training and development. Some key things for us to get our heads around in the coming weeks:
– MS Partner Stories programme and the opportunity for marketing
– Dynasource programme
– Increased Azure Service Credits and Internal Use Rights
– Digital Stride
– Modern bIZ
– Bing Service credits
All of these thing are intended to help partners maximise revenue and minimise costs.
The session was wrapped up in typical fashion by Kevin Turner, the Yang to Satya Nadella’s Yin. While celebrating the New Microsoft and its willingness to work with apparent competitors, he still managed to get a few quick digs in at AWS and particularly Google. The final message about how we should measure our success by our customers success was a good sentiment to finish on.
I attended 3 sessions in the afternoon, cramming as much as I could in to the last full day. One on Office 365, one on Azure Managed Services and one on competing with Google in the modern workplace.
The office 365 session was interesting in that it highlighted a disconnect that some partners seem to have with Microsoft. This was the first session I attended where there was resistance from some partners to Microsoft direction of travel, particularly the steps Microsoft are taking to drive up adoption of workloads other than Hosted Exchange. There was a definite tension between Microsoft pushing for adoption of additional services and incentivising that, and the partners who just seemed to want to stick to migrating Exchange and be rewarded for doing that.
The Azure session was all about how to build a managed services business on Azure and it was particularly pleasing because the basis for the session was the Azure Breadth Channel pilot, which we are on (one of only 34 MS partners across Europe).
The final session of the day was primarily about the challenges for the modern workplace and how to compete with Google in this space.
This was done by simply highlighting a bunch of the really cool stuff that can be done right now with Office 365 and related products, and then showing that Google just can’t do them. The key items were:
– Security, transparency and privacy in regard to data
– Team Collaboration sites
– Compliance tools (data leakage etc)
– Social Networking
– Telephony Integration
And that was pretty much it. A mad dash back to the hotel before heading out to the big Partner Celebration event at Disney Hollywood Studios, which had been booked out for us for the night. Not a bad way to end a long day. All that’s left now is the UK Regional session, where we will get a uniquely British perspective on the weeks announcements.