Key Takeaways from Microsoft Inspire 2020

Sumeet SabharwalCloud Computing, Partners

With the world going virtual, this year’s Microsoft Inspire was no exception. The format spanned the entire gamut of Microsoft’s leadership in their virtual home offices with Microsoft leveraging its digital prowess to manifest interactive VR experiences, like Judson Althoff’s keynote session and Brad Smith’s tour of Seattle. The overarching theme for partners was the pressing need for a ‘purpose-driven digital’ organization in an increasingly socially responsible world.

The past few months have been the largest at-scale virtual workspace paradigm shift. This was reflected in the four key FY21 priorities that Gavriella Schuster, Corporate Vice President, Commercial Partner outlined for the Partner group. This list included Remote Working, Business Continuity, Security, and Cloud Migration. The underlying measures of success remain unchanged between Azure Customer Adds (ACA), Azure Consumed Revenue (ACR), IP Cosell, etc.

Across the two days, the key highlights relevant to Service Providers include:

  • Azure continues its dominance, especially on the hybrid front: With new services, expanded global footprint, Azure Stack HCI, Azure Lighthouse security updates, Azure Migrate enhancements, Microsoft continues to make Azure the cornerstone for enterprises.
  • The potential for value-add services on top of Azure is huge: For every $1 of Azure, the partners and supporting ecosystem generates $9 in revenue.
  • Microsoft 365 is staying ahead of the fast-changing remote workplace; with video meeting fatigue a real problem; Teams continues to gain impressive market share with 900% growth and has become a key facet of virtual collaboration, before, during, and after meetings; new Endpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP) features come native to Windows 10 and the new Edge browser to protect sensitive data.
  • Remote work has increased the need for integrated security with 8 trillion threats/day; increased phishing attacks warrant a need for end-to-end security with a zero-trust paradigm that now comes natively integrated into all the key platforms including Azure Active Directory and Windows Virtual Desktop; Azure Sentinel is enabling new use cases to proactively detect sensitive data flows in Teams.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), Microsoft’s Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform on Azure continues to mature, offering simplified management, enhanced security with MFA, multi-session Windows 10, and improved economics tied to streamlined licensing. As reflected in our own experience in working with our clients, COVID has further accelerated adoption as clients have sought to enable their remote workforce across key verticals like Accounting, Legal, and Healthcare.

In Satya Nadella’s keynote, he positioned the current crisis across three phases: response, recover, and reimagine. My favorite quote across the two days came from Satya:

“Digital tech intensity is key to both resilience as well as transformation, and that’s what you see with the partner opportunity as well”.

We all bear the collective responsibility to define what comes next and leverage this opportunity to reimagine and shape our future in a bolder way, both for ourselves and our clients.