I rolled into the driveway this morning at around 1:30am after completing my 5th Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (#WPC14). And as in years past, I have to say that this is one of the most effective and productive events out there. Thanks again to Microsoft for a stellar event, and for giving your partner ecosystem this great opportunity to come together to both celebrate our wins and to make lasting connections.
As many of you know, I am heavily involved in the MS partner channel, having co-founded the Seattle chapter of the international Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP.org) for which I just concluded 3 years serving as chapter president. In addition to writing articles for the Microsoft Partner Network (#MPN) DigitalWPC website, this was my second year participating on the Social Squad along with my good friends and fellow community members Jeff Shuey (@jshuey), Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), Nikkia Carter (@CarterMcGServ), Liza Sisler (@Perficient_MSFT), Dux Raymond Sy (@meetdux), and Kelvin Kirby (@KJKirby). I have to say, it is very cool to be sitting up in the press box with folks like Barb Levisay (RCPmag.com), Scott Bekker (also RCPmag.com), and Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) with an amazing view of the keynote events. Looking forward to participating again next year.
Aside from the great view, its been an opportunity to discuss some of the major announcements being made in real-time, and sharing those thoughts via tweets and blog posts – and in discussions with some of the analysts and experts sitting around me. Some of the announcements included:
- Not surprisingly, a continued push around cloud
- The creation of 3 new Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) cloud competencies for partners, including Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions, Cloud Productivity, and Cloud Platform
- Following Azure, Dynamics Online soon available in open licensing
- Launch of the Azure Certified program
- Expansion of capabilities and control for cloud partners (such as being able to bill their customers for O365 licenses directly) through the Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider program
- Much of the vision shared by Microsoft leaders was around a suite of ‘experiences’ across devices, which allowed presenters to showcase both hardware and software. New channel chief Phil Sorgen on Monday talked about connect every single device to a cloud experience, and positioned Microsoft with a “market challenger” stance toward future opportunities
- Scott Guthrie made the claim (and then backed it up with customer and partner evidence) that Microsoft is the only company that can truly deliver hyper-scale, enterprise grade, and hybrid solutions for the cloud (via Azure). He also pointed out that they are the only leader is all four Gartner cloud magic quadrants:
- Cloud infrastructure as a service
- Enterprise application platform as a service
- Public cloud storage services
- x86 server virtualization
- Satya Nadella’s first keynote as CEO, as expected, focused almost entirely on the cloud OS, telling the audience that Microsoft’s (and our) opportunities in the future will be about
- Enterprise-grade cloud infrastructure
- People-centric IT solutions
- Insights from big data
- Modern app development services
One other notable was how much Microsoft emphasized some great customer and partner evidence from the past year, hearkening back to a May 2014 post by Josh Waldo from the Worldwide Cloud Partner Strategy Team at Microsoft which highlighted an ebook and profitability research from IDC.
Between keynotes and content sessions, I spent much of my time in partner meetings and on the exhibit floor talking to various product and service providers to get some insight into the ebb and flow of the channel. As I was sitting at lunch on Thursday with a partner, discussing some of our takeaways from the conference, I remarked that the shift toward the cloud feels like it has finally taken root, and through various partner and customer evidence we are really beginning to see not just sales and marketing positioning, but real movement of small, medium, and enterprise customers toward Microsoft’s cloud vision that was outlined over past WPC events. From my perspective, customers are beginning to understand the real costs of moving to the cloud (which is why hybrid is becoming a larger part of many strategies) and the real benefits. While the transition of the enterprise will take longer than Microsoft marketing teams are hoping, the movement is visible.
And for those who missed them, I also presented two sessions in the social hub, which you can find here:
If you missed the Monday and Wednesday vision keynotes, don’t worry – they’re still available online for streaming at http://www.digitalwpc.com/Community/Pages/Home.aspx