While we miss the buzz and adhoc interactions with likeminded partners working in equal earnest to position themselves for the ever-expanding digital transformation opportunity, this year’s Inspire started off on an impressive note. Microsoft has clearly mastered the art of leveraging technology to its fullest potential in putting together virtual events, orchestrating the delivery of an exciting set of announcements while promoting real-time engagement, feedback, and messaging across attendees.
As a cloud MSP focused on migrating and managing workloads in Azure (including cloud desktops), a few key things caught our attention including:
- Cloud PC Launches as Windows 365: With remote and hybrid work increasing by 300% over pre-pandemic levels, Microsoft is getting serious about the Cloud PC offering. It is manifesting the vision of ubiquitous virtual Windows desktops delivered in a modern, cloud-native manner with the launch of Windows 365. This SaaS solution is complementary to Azure Virtual Desktops (AVD), with simplified management, economics, and integrated with Microsoft 365. It is positioned as a complete replacement of the traditional windows machine, bringing in persistent user sessions at a fixed monthly fee. As part of the M365 bundle, cloud PCs are purchased in the same motion as the rest of the M365 licenses.
- Security Remains at the Forefront: Given the exponential increase in cyberattacks (50M attacks daily) and the blurring of the traditional network perimeter, Microsoft emphasized that security, compliance and identity are core foundations for its entire tech stack. The pivot to remote everything only increases the need for an integrated, Zero-Trust security architecture (verify explicitly, grant least privileged access, assume breach) across all enterprises. Microsoft introduced a new unified portal called Microsoft 365 Lighthouse for MSPs to manage security services for clients. With this tool, MSPs can find and target threats, identify anomalous access, and manage device compliance issues. Microsoft also launched a cloud app security broker (CASB) that provides visibility and security governance across multi-cloud apps.
- Continued Focus on Enabling Workload Migration to Azure: With the Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP), Microsoft is expanding the breadth of applications, infrastructure, and data, including support for Azure Arc (Microsoft’s multicloud management plane). They have added new capabilities in Azure Migrate aimed at workload discovery and dependency mapping to reduce risk during migration.
- Streamlined Pricing for Azure Virtual Desktops (AVD): Microsoft is introducing a new monthly, per-user access pricing option for AVD aimed at streamlining licensing for ISVs.
We continue to be excited about the innovation and investment that Microsoft is making in Azure and the Modern Workplace, and look forward to helping our clients maximize their investments in both.