Live Blogging – Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

I am live blogged this from the video stream.

No – I am not at the event. And yes, my coverage will be sarcastic as usual. It would be boring otherwise 🙂 This is an event for social networking with partner head honchos who are there for a big party. That’s not my scene apparently. So I am here at the office, watching the keynote live and live blogging. I expect lots of “cloud and devices and experiences and all that jazz”. Expect Nadella to use lots of big words and images.

We open with a pointless video of people climbing hills and herding sheep. Now there’s a story of immigrant buskers who block the way on Grafton Street in Dublin. Feckers! They play the opening song. The sound mixer should be shot – no bass. This performance goes on for quite a while. After 16 minutes, they wrap up.

Phil Sorgen (‎Corporate Vice President – Worldwide Partner Group, Microsoft) comes out. Live. Wow, he’s usually recorded – see the awful Azure on Open videos.

image Microsoft corporate VP, Phil Sorgen

He talks about the partner awards. Boring. No blogging here. There’s a sparkler in the ceiling. Not quite fireworks.

Partners came in from over 130 countries. He is giving us a sense of where Microsoft is headed. The goal of the conference is to show partners how Microsoft will grow their business and why they should invest in more Microsoft solutions.

Office 365 is their fastest growing business ever. We’ve seen that here, with Ireland being a leader in market penetration for Microsoft, with a lot of credit going to my colleagues in MicroWarehouse.

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We now get the people, devices, application, data push. Expect him to talk about the new cloud license bundles including Intune, Azure RMS, and Azure AD Premium.

Oooh they are pushing a cult of personality thing with Nadella – quiet but confident. Oh my, Nadella is not talking today. He’s not on stage until Wednesday. That’s a bad move. Good sales: sell your story at the start because that’s the part of the conversation that people remember most.

Long gap – boring video and quotes. My life is not changed.

Now comes out Scott Guthrie – the man that runs the server business (including Azure), taking over from the recently promoted Nadella. Will this be a flood of Azure announcements like at Build?

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Yes, new features will be announced and demo’d this week.

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A large amount of big and small partners offering services on Azure, including legacy competitors.

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The Microsoft cloud is the only one that delivers on each of the three circles:

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Hyper-Scale or cloud-scale is not just the size of the data centre, but the local regions. Two new regions in the USA. Now there are 17 regions around the world. 2 times more than AWS, and 5 times more than Google offers. No one else comes close. You can run your apps closer to your customers than ever before.

A region contains up to 16 data centres clustered together. Each is the size of an American football pitch (52 yards by 120 yards – 2 passenger airplanes). Up to 600,000 servers can run in a region. This gives Microsoft a huge scale of economics, and allows customers to scale up/down with confidence based on need. Microsoft plans to differentiate based on enterprise support and hybrid cloud functionality, versus the only 2 competitors: AWS and Google.

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Azure government cloud for the USA: a dedicated instance run by US citizens with clearance. Means nothing to non-USA governments.

Hybrid cloud is unique to Microsoft:

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ExpressRoute ensures SLA and privacy over a private network

InMage was bought by Microsoft for providing DR replication from Hyper-V and vSphere to Azure. Huh!?!?!? News to me!!!! Will this solve the problems of Azure Site Recovery? From Mary Jo Foley http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-acquires-disaster-recovery-solutions-firm-inmage-to-strengthen-azure-7000031490/ and from Peter Egerton http://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2014/07/11/microsoft-acquires-inmage-better-business-continuity-with-azure/?wc.mt_id=Social_MSC_Announcement_DI. Looks like the product will be merged into ASR. Not a fix then.

Just tweeted by Mary Jo Foley: Microsoft Azure Continues to Deliver Rapid Innovation in the Cloud

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Now on to a demo by Scott Gu. He deploys a SharePoint farm of multiple machines from the gallery using a template in the new portal. This includes domain controllers. This is cool – kind of like a VMM service template. Checking the HA box makes each tier highly available.

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Deploy a server farm in minutes. You can do this sort of thing with VMs of your own. We see SAP, Oracle, Riverbed, and Barracuda in the gallery – Azure Certified Program where ISV partners can upload a VM to be in the gallery. Riverbed offers some nice optimization for latent network connections!

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Azure is on Open as of August 1st. Distributors have pricing since July 1st. The customer can use their Azure credit on any Azure service. There automated alerts to the customer and the partner of record (must be recorded) if credit is running low.

Now on to Power BI. *yawn for me* James Philips comes out to demo. Not the first time that I’ve seen this exact demo. Time out for me. Bob Duffy (Irish MVP) and Carmel Gunn are the only people on this planet who can do an interesting demo of this stuff.

Back to Scott Guthrie. Azure Machine Learning Service is launching today. This is a future prediction service based on data. And that’s that from Scott. Now for more “life changing” videos. Some fashion dude – yawn.

Brad Anderson, Corporate VP for Enterprise Client & Mobility (moved from the server group) enters the stage. No tight t-shirt to flash his “guns” today.

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Expect lots of enterprise mobility suite. How we work has changed. New graduates are always on and expect personalized surfacing of data. Today’s employees waste 1 in 5 days searching for information. They are bringing in personal devices (even if BYOD is banned). They want to use apps of their choice. They want to have mobile working in a workspace that suits them.

Freedom increases risk. 3.1 million smartphones were stolen in the USA last year. Lots of corporate data there. I think he said 1.4 million were lost. That’s more data.

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Microsoft is focusing on the end user experience. MSFT wants to give users the apps and devices that they love, but to keep the business secure.

Champion speed talker, Julia White is out on stage. I make fun – I hear she’s a great 1-1 interview. She normally talks Office. Now she’s starting with CRM Online, using a Windows touch app. There is some data browsing via Delve (uses Azure Machine Learning to show you information that you might be interested in, instead of you searching for it). Now some OneDrive for Business in O365. Note the 1 TB of data. Then some collaboration in Word Online. Some “Tell Me” to show the user how to do something in Word Online. Some security is need for the doc: so Azure Recovery Services will protect the doc wherever it goes. The destined customer will be restricted with what they can do with the doc.

Maybe a partner allows a specific customer to read the doc … but they cannot print, copy, or forward the doc to another partner. No more price lists or quotes shared with competitors!

In Ourlook Online, there are groups of people to enable discussion. I think these are Yammer groups – yup they are. Now PowerPoint app on an iPad.

Now a new feature: integration between EMS and Office 365 – MDM of the Office apps on a mobile device. The demo is a restriction of app usage and where data can reside. Only IT approved apps are offered when she tries to open a file. She tries to send an Office file using the native iOS app – the paste/attach option is blocked. The Outlook app allows a paste/attachment. Julia finishes up and back to Brad.

Julia showed the user experience. Brad wants to talk about the IT perspective. Start with the device itself. Put in policies, e.g. password policies, jailbreak restrictions. Enable users to bring devices in, but automate deployment like Wi-Fi configuration. Deploy apps in wrappers/containers to isolate corporate apps/data from personal apps/data. Microsoft goes beyond devices, and protects the file itself (RMS) wherever it goes. Embedding access rights into the file restricts who can access the file and how they can use it. Now on to a demo of EMS.

Intune is first. We can see the policies for things like Samsung KNOX or WiFi and VPN, app retrictions, and encryption policies. App restrictions include things like copy, paste, save as, and so on. He demos an email policy. Require encryption, prevent jail breaking, and require an unlock pin/password.

He talks about Azure RemoteApp now. It’s an easier way to deploy traditional apps to Windows, Android, MacOS and iOS than standing up RDS by yourself. Demo gods strike this down 🙂

Identity is provided by Windows Azure AD Premium. This powers SaaS apps. Cloud App Discovery allows you to ID SaaS apps being used by users without IT involvement. Discovered apps can be brought under management of IT – synchronize identity and control access to services, e.g. block access when the user leaves the company. Another usage: track user logins based on time and geography – you can force a user password reset or enable 2-factor authentication if a password has been phished.

And that’s Brad done. More quotes and videos to make you cry. I’m crying, alright. Is this Sesame Street?!?!?

Corporate VP of Office Division, Jone Case comes out to talk about the end-end commercial cloud.

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The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. This is a big thing that most of MSFT field and partners fail to see. This isn’t about point solutions; it’s about the entire integrated solution that gives users a joined up experience, and IT an easier deployment and management experience.

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27 million downloads of Office for iPad apps so far. CRM Online will come into Open licensing in this fiscal year (before July 2015).

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Product is just half of the story. Successful cloud partners engage on every part of the customer’s journey. There was an IDC study of successful of O365 partners. One UK partner makes £6 of services for every £4 of “software” sold in an O365 deal.

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A new program, Cloud Solution Provider, for partners to own the tech and SaaS invoicing via a single monthly invoice to customers. Rolling out through select partners in 48 countries over the next 12 months.

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The faster that customers get to usage of the product, the more likely that they are to renew and develop new services leads for the partner. O365 will be improved to allow automated provisioning. MSFT to do a partner attach for every new deal they sell directly – competencies are CRITICAL for this.

Signature Cloud Support is announced for partners. This is a unique tier of support for gold partners for Azure, Intune, Office 356, and Dynamics/CRM. Sounds like there’s unlimited break/fix support in this program.

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Partners need to stay engaged with the customer to get the annuity kickback from the customer. IMO, this is also a chance to get additional services. Wow – half are opening the renewal information emails, and only 15% are clicking the link to see the information. PARTNERS – this is easy money and you are losing it!!!

So called “door swinger” easy opportunities:

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22 million W2003 installations out there need to be upgraded before July 2015. There is a $6 billion business there.

Gavriella Schuster, GM Worldwide Partner Marketing and Programs (MPN). She’s in charge of that God-awful site.

Training is a blocker for partners to embrace the cloud. In September there will be 3 new partner cloud competencies. Partner success with customers will be a key piece of the entrance. MSFT are investing in 4 areas to enable investment:

  1. The first year of silver fee is being waived.
  2. Those who use the product internally, have 3 times the sales volume. Internal usage rights for O365 and Azure are increasing between 25% and 200% depending on your cloud competency levels.
  3. Unlimited cloud support for O365 and Azure through the Signature Cloud Support program
  4. 10% reduction in all on-premises competency fees.

COO Kevin Turner, one of the most divisive people in MSFT takes the stage. Didn’t he used to have a moustache?

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600,000 partners in 190 countries. Microsoft are making progress on transforming and are proud of what they have done so far.

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Everything is on the table. For example: partnering with old competitors such as Oracle, releasing apps on Android and iOS before Windows.

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More personal devices and services across all platforms. Ugh, they had to drag up Cortana (The Curse Of Zune).

To succeed we have to continually change and evolve. The old world of license-attach is not enough. The world has moved on, and we have to go with it. MSFT has 90% of PC market share, but the opportunity for total device share is HUGE (positive spin):

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When you only have 14% of the total device market share (the 90% of PCs included) you have to have a challenger mindset. We have to think like a market disruptor. We have to differentiate from the competition, with clear delivery of the message. We have to know ours and the competitor solutions. We have to have speed: deploy fast, succeed fast and fail fast (and learn from the mistakes fast).

Great tweet I just saw:

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The 5 key trends for mega-growth are:

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$191 billion market opportunity by 2020 in the cloud. MSFT is at the front of this charge. Get in on Azure now. O365 is running over the objectors. “This is the year of Azure and CRM Online acceleration”. I believe the Azure line. I’ve heard the CRM online line before, so I am sceptical of the latter.

A customer can go to the cloud on their terms (hybrid) if they have AD and System Center completely deployed.

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There’s a big push on Office 365 Pro Plus.  “This is the year of Azure”.

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Over the last 2 years, MSFT has ate VMware’s lunch, with Hyper-V continuing to grow and VMware losing share. Hyper-V is 4x cheaper with better technology. He calls out VMware partners to come on stage to be baptised 🙂 LMAO.

Here are the current and planned regions, data centers and nodes in the MSFT cloud in the next few months:

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Mobility is a force behind the Internet of Things (IoT). Windows Phone has 91% growth YoY. The other metrics are not impressive.

Now they play some video that we cannot see.  Mary Jo Foly tells me that it’s a third party Surface Pro 3 review video. Sigh! Partners do not have a distribution channel for this device and it has no place on stage at a partner conference.

At this point I am getting sleepy and I am losing interest in this overlong keynote. I’m going to stop typing until something new is said. Where’s the Oscars orchestra when you need them?

Good bit: Microsoft will not provide encryption keys to government (US or any). They will not disclose data to the US government that is stored in another place. They will not engineer backdoors. They will (and have) gone to court to fight the government.

53,000 partners transacted in the Microsoft cloud, up over 100% year on year. IDC says that cloud partners make MORE MONEY.

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Selling it is only the start – deploying and using it is the key piece. For example, Most System Center customers only using OpsMgr and ConfigMgr.

Microsoft will compete at the low end. For example, there will be $99 Windows tablets and $199 Windows laptops in the market in the USA for this Christmas.

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This Toshiba looks like a machine with the new install type. There was over 20GB free on the 32 GB Toshiba Windows 8.1 tablet that I handled recently.

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Microsoft will compete with partner/competitors in a competitive and respectful way, not the old way of Ballmer.

“Apple – great company” – Kevin Turner. Windows is too … cos Apple use it to make Macs.

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And that’s the end of 3.25 brutally long hours. I am glad I am not there because I would have to have a butt-ectomy from sitting on awful conference seats.

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