Earlier this month I headed to Toronto for Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, which brought together more than 16,000 attendees from across the globe. This year’s sold out event (a first in WPC history!) served up hundreds of informative sessions and plenty of opportunities to network with other partners. Over the course of the three day event the energy and enthusiasm was very visible across the entire partner community. Here are some of my key takeaways and top moments from WPC.
The conference kicked off with a keynote from none other than CEO Satya Nadella. During his presentation he touched on how innovation in digital technology is enabling us to transform how we do business and reaffirmed Microsoft’s biggest asset– its strong partner network. In his own words, “Microsoft has always been a partner-led company and will always be a partner-led company.”
I had the opportunity to join Aziz Benmalek, VP WW Hosting and Cloud Services, on stage for his keynote to discuss the latest strategies for Microsoft hosted offerings and hybrid opportunities, and to introduce Navisite’s Managed Azure offering. Azure remains the fastest growing offering within Microsoft – with more than 120K new Azure clients/subscriptions per month – serving as the anchor to Microsoft’s strategy and emphasis with partners. We were also joined by Michelle Bailey of 451 research who shared some interesting data points on the rise of multi-cloud. According to the firm’s research, in the next two years 29 percent of organizations will have multiple cloud environments to migrate workloads or data between different cloud environments.
Across the day, both in discussions with Microsoft and key analysts and partners, several other key insights emerged:
Cloud adoption is in early stages with over two-thirds of enterprise workloads ripe for cloud transformation
Digitization of enterprises is acting as tremendous catalyst to accelerate cloud adoption
Hybrid will continue to lead the way in enterprises with the need for a multitude of deployment models across public cloud (Azure), private cloud, and traditional bare metal
Service providers are uniquely positioned given that 70 percent of the spend above the infrastructure stack in managed services
Key to differentiation on the managed services side goes beyond exemplary client service, innovation, well-packaged solutions
Enterprise clients are increasingly outcome oriented and looking for one provider that can help them unlock agility by abstracting the increasing complexity of their IT fabric while providing enhanced levels of security and resiliency; it is not all or nothing and hybrid is the answer with workloads residing across a multitude of boundaries
Microsoft understands this better than anyone else and has built Azure with hybrid in mind
Partner Round Table
My colleague Duncan MacDonald participated in a round table on Premier Support with Microsoft and several other partners. The round table served as an opportunity for partners like Navisite who have successfully scaled their support practice to provide key suggestions and guidance on how Microsoft can provide a better client centric experience.
Left to right: Duncan MacDonald (Navisite), Jaime McMahon (ProServeIT), William Hole (US Licensing Group)
Highlights from the session include:
Microsoft’s plans to provide new stronger client centric packaging around Premier Support towards end of 2016/early 2017.
Microsoft stated that EMS (Enterprise Mobility Suite) is their fastest growing SKU as demand continues to grow for stronger support in this space providing a uniform approach to identity, mobility, and security complimenting the Office 365 stack.
Integration story between Office 365 and Azure continues to tighten as we see more SaaS services coming online to compliment the Office 365 suite – showing that the ecosystem continues to expand around a larger cloud-first strategy
Quality Partner Time
In between the various keynotes and sessions, we had the opportunity to sit down with several leading IT distributors and channel companies that Navisite works with to discuss how we can support their unique business goals while helping them to optimize their entire cloud stack. Many of the partners we work with depend on our deep experience and expertise in managing Microsoft environments to help them provide a layer of managed services on top of the Azure accounts they are selling to, to accelerate, plan, migrate and manage their overall cloud strategy.
And we couldn’t leave Toronto without having a little fun, of course. We sponsored a great evening event hosted by partner Avant Communications where we shared some cocktails and good conversation about all things cloud.
All in all, this year’s WPC was one for the books. I’m already looking forward to seeing what next year’s conference (this time in Washington, D.C.) has in store!
To learn more about Navisite’s managed Azure and managed cloud infrastructure services click here.