With a record-breaking 17,000 attendees, Inspire 2017 – Microsoft’s premier event for partners – kicked off today in Washington D.C.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella provided the opening keynote, in which he recognised the critical role partners play in enabling Microsoft’s customers to transform their businesses across industries.
“The ability to take a small business and make them more productive, take a large multinational, digitally transform them and make them globally more productive, to make the public sector more efficient in every country – that’s the depth and breadth of impact we’re having, no other ecosystem has that,” Nadella said. “…We celebrate not our technology, but the success our customers have using the technology we create. That’s what defines us most uniquely as an ecosystem.”
Nadella went on to explain the rapid paradigm shift that is happening right now, resulting in an era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. “It’s not just technology that’s exciting, but the opportunity it creates,” he explained. “Every aspect of society is being transformed and the opportunity is greater than ever before.”
Microsoft has made a number of significant announcements at the event, including the unveiling of a new offering called Microsoft 365, which brings together Windows 10 and Office 365 into a single subscription plan. According to the company, Microsoft 365 represents a new and more cohesive approach to how Microsoft goes to market with its commercial offerings, and reflects the shift its partners and mutual customers are making – from viewing productivity, security and device management as individual workloads, to seeking a comprehensive approach to secure productivity. Microsoft says the offering is great for partners, too. It represents a significant opportunity to increase deal size, differentiate their offerings, and grow their managed services revenue. According to Forrester Consulting, Microsoft 365 Enterprise increases partner revenue opportunity by more than 50% vsersus selling and deploying Office 365 alone.
Microsoft has also used Inspire 2017 as a platform to announce, alongside its launch hardware partners, Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo, that Microsoft Azure Stack is now available to order. Azure Stack is an extension of Azure that brings the agility and fast-paced innovation of cloud computing to on-premises environments and enables entirely new hybrid cloud scenarios.
“Azure Stack offers a truly consistent hybrid cloud platform, providing an ideal fit for customers who want flexibility without having to build applications in a different way,” explains an official press release. “From Azure datacentres to the edge of the cloud – whether miles underground in a mine shaft, away at sea on a ship, or on a factory floor dependent on continuous real-time operation – Azure Stack enables modern cloud applications that meet all business and regulatory requirements. A truly consistent hybrid cloud helps customers execute on their cloud strategy faster, and in a way that makes the most sense for their business.”
Also at the event, executives from KPMG, Schneider Electric, Sephora, Adobe, Track’em and more are demonstrating how they are driving digital transformation in their respective industries. KPMG, for example, is working with Microsoft to create the KPMG Digital Solutions Hub and, with KPMG ‘Clara’ on Azure, will be the first of the big four professional services firms to bring its auditing platform to the public cloud.
Microsoft is also showcasing how it is making its higher-level cloud services available as embeddable building blocks for partners. Power BI is a great example of this, and has been available as a partner-embeddable building block for nearly a year. Now Microsoft is expanding on this through Dynamics 365 for Sales, Service and Operations and PowerApps.
ISV Cloud Embed has also been unveiled. Later this year, Microsoft will extend the number of higher-level services available as embeddable “building blocks” to include: Dynamics 365 Embedded; Microsoft Flow Embedded; PowerApps Embedded; and Power BI Embedded. In addition to being able to embed and build atop these new capabilities, partners also receive critical go to market benefits, based on deal volume, to support their business. ISV Cloud Embed, like all Microsoft partner programmes, delivers increased benefits based on usage and deal transaction volume. Go to market support is provided at all tiers.