Inspire Day 1: 10 July 2017

Post 3: Day 1 of Inspire 2017

Apologies for the slight delay in posting today. We were pretty much flat out from the moment of waking up yesterday.

Feeling as fresh as daisies we headed off to the Verizon Center where the keynote addresses occur. For those not at Inspire or not in the know, due to the number of people attending, the keynote addresses are not held at the conference center but at a stadium within close proximity to the conference center. Just to give you an idea of numbers, there are just shy of 18000 people at Inspire this year.

Due to security measures the entrance to the Verizon Center was a major bottleneck for everyone trying to get in. The queues were long and tempers definitely frayed a little. While the security measures are definitely understandable one can’t help but think it could have better managed. We got in just in time for the opening address to start, so no harm, no foul.

The opening address was kicked off by Ron Huddleston introducing Microsoft’s new One Commercial Partner strategy for the new FY. The motion will focus on three areas, Build With, Go-To-Market and Sell With. Besides for sounding like it is going to remove a lot of the fragmentation that one does encounter when working with Microsoft it also adds another acronym to the Microsoft vocabulary (which I’m sure they are super stoked about). Customers are rated on their cloud revenue/consumption and divided in enterprise and small, medium and corporate (SMC). Sales teams will focus on driving usage and consumption of products and services which is a much needed change for the Microsoft Sales teams. I’ve chatted about the OCP motion with a number of other Partners. We’re all tentatively optimistic, but I suppose the proof will be in the pudding. Execution is going to be king here.

Next up was Satya’s address. As always Satya does not disappoint. First off, Satya reiterated Microsoft’s strategy of being partner-led. This message and execution in my opinion has never been stronger. This is unique in the world and one of the strongest motivations for Tangent having a relationship with Microsoft.

Azure is very obviously central to Microsoft’s strategy going forward with the massive $4.5T cloud opportunity on the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge being highlighted. To condense Satya’s address into this blog would do it a disservice and I would strongly encourage anyone who didn’t watch it to do so as soon as possible. However in order to contextualise the announcements that occurred on Day 1 and the announcements through out the conference its important to highlight Microsoft’s strategy on digital transformation. Digital transformation will focus on four pillars being: modern workplace, business applications, applications & infrastructure and lastly Data and AI. All the announcements and all of the products highlighted and partner solutions demoed during the keynotes focus in varying ways on achieving these ends.

The first announcement of the day was Microsoft 365. How Microsoft 365 is going to be executed commercially and when the SKU will be available at this point is a little vague. Those things aside, the potential and value being offered by the ecosystem that Microsoft 365 represents is extremely impressive and in my view, a game changer for ERP/CRM and the traditional Office offering. It is very obvious that the cloud is permeating Microsoft’s entire GTM strategy across their product range.

The second, though strangely muted announcement was the upcoming GA of Azure Stack, Microsoft’s powerful competitive push for the hybrid cloud. Azure Stack allows a company to deploy Azure into their own data center, leveraging the same tools and APIs that are available on the public cloud. Azure Stack does not have all the capabilities of Azure public cloud, which is understandable, given the compute requirement of features like AI and ML. The PaaS and IaaS offerings are largely all available so 85% of cloud workloads can now be deployed locally with the same level of agility as the public cloud. Disappointedly ACS is not packaged in Stack when it goes GA which for me is a missed opportunity as microservices and containerization has become an essential part of digital transformation.

After the keynote addresses we headed off the to conference center. We managed to have a couple of meetings with other partners during the day and one or two impromptu meetings in the MEA lounge. All were positive and we’ll be looking to deepen those new relationships in coming weeks. We managed to make it to a few sessions, with the App Innovation session presented by the Xamarin and DevOps team being the highlight. In the session they demoed a broad range of app modernization technologies ranging from PaaS through to Bot Framework. Very cool stuff.

We also used some time to chat to various people at the Microsoft stands. We’re very excited about the opportunity on Open Source and Azure, tried to do some horse trading with the Partner Incentives team (which didn’t work) and tried to get more clarity on One Commercial Partner and piece a bit more of the puzzle together of the current re-organization within Microsoft.

It was a long day, especially given some lingering jet lag, but we freshened up with a quick shower, put on our big boy pants and headed off to the MEA dinner, hosted at Toro Toro. The dinner was a great success. Again, a big shout out to the Microsoft SA Team for the spirit and energy in the camp this year. The engagement across MEA between partners has also seemed vastly improved. Lets try keep it going into the new financial year and continue to pull together as a partners within the country and the MEA region!

I would like to say I headed home for a good sleep and a book after the dinner, but networking at Inspire is hard work and a 24 hour effort and unfortunately I only crawled into bed at 01:30.

On a side note, posting this during the keynote address on day 2. Felt extremely humbled and proud of South African ISV BroadReach for presenting their solution during the keynote. They are making an amazingly positive impact on the fight against HIV/Aids. This is also a first time for any South Africa Microsoft Partner! Amazing achievement.

Looking forward to Day 2.

Dave Nel,

Managing Partner, Tangent Solutions

Microsoft Regional Director