WPC14 Keynote – A Partners View

First thoughts on the WPC14 Keynote speech and possible implications for partners and resellers across the globe focussed on Microsoft technologies.

Microsoft has undergone a resurgence of late, including a 20% increase in share price since February 2014 as it he become boosted by Satya Nadella and his ‘Mobile and Cloud first’ vision. Not so well promoted, is the fact that much of the ground work in ‘Devices and Services’ efforts under Steve Ballmer are now maturing into world class service offerings. For example, Azure, Office for IPAD and an array of Microsoft offerings were not built in a few short months, but under the stewardship of Satya Nadella he has really been able to take that momentum and accelerate and innovate, with the scale and pace of development for the cloud offerings truly impressive. Just look at some of the numbers below.


For this reason, this years Worldwide Partner Conference is possible one of the most eagerly anticipated Microsoft events and Partners have plenty to be excited about.


Phil Sorgen

The keynote started with key messages from Phil Sorgen, firstly bigging up and congratulating the Microsoft Partner Community who could have been forgiven for thinking a few years back that Microsoft was slowly making them irrelevant with its Cloud strategy when there were no real Office 365 and cloud partner models, and also having famously (and mistakenly) hinted that SharePoint development was becoming irrelevant with its new app model for example.

The next messages set the tone for the Keynote and most probably for the rest of the WPC14 conference. It is all about the key selling points with the Cloud platform and the vast opportunities opening up by “Riding the wave of cloud disruption” .
Power BI – Insights, Office 365, CRM Online, Enterprise Social and Big Bata were the power phrases used here, and you got the feeling Dynamics CRM was being emphasized in particular, with growth gathering momentum it could be another next big hitter from Microsoft..

Curiously SharePoint was not mentioned, and it is clear, even from the SPC14 SharePoint conference, that SharePoint as a brand, is slowly being consumed by the Office 365 and Yammer umbrellas. Many even joked, such was the prevalence of Office 365 sessions at SPC14, that next year should be called the Office 365 conference. That is not a bad thing, it is just moving the same way as SQL Server has done, an essential technology but in essence becomes another key building block enabler platform for delivering the true value, real productivity solutions to Enterprises.


Next up, Scott Gutherie (@scottgu)

Scott re-iterated what we know is Microsoft’s “Mobile First, Cloud First” strategy. It has been truly amazing how far Azure has come in a relatively short period of time to catch-up and arguably overtake Amazon Web Services in many areas.
Microsoft are the ONLY vendor listed as a leader in ALL 4 quadrants
– Cloud Infrastructure as A Service
– Enterprise Application Platform as a Service
– Public Cloud Storage Services
– X86 Server Virtualisation

Microsoft Azure covers so many components it probalby is the closest thing Enterprises have to an all in one solution, sure there are many point solutions but it really is now looking to be a very good one-stop shop for customers, and that can only be a good thing for Partners with the new Open licensing also announced startingin August 2014.

Lets not forget other services such as Backup, Storage (including StorSimple), directory services syncronisation, SAAS identity federation and the fact that Microsoft is investing to make sure that it runs over private network fibre if required.

Add to that The Microsoft acquisition of InMage – providing Disaster Recovery for On premise, the
StorSimple Series 8000 – which can reduce storage spend by 40 – 60% and the Hybrid consistency of administration portals and tools, Enterprises are certainly being offered several humongous carrots to move to the cloud.


And step up SharePOint ….. Once the darling of Microsoft in terms of its fastest growing product, what was demonstrated was not any new features, or any new version announcement, but a subtle dig at the length of time and complexity to setup SharePoint on-premise deployments with “How long to setup on-premise SharePOint?” ” A Couple of days for SharePOint Farm? … A few months?” was the comment.
What was demonstrated is how to setup a SharePOint farm in minutes- automatially wired up, including AD from within the Azure Gallery, even giving you the option for
single instance or high availability. If you ever needed a clearer sign of SharePoint becoming a commodity, this is it right there.


This was rounded of by the already announced fact that is Azure being added to the Open Program from August 2014. Partners and customers have the option for ‘Open licensing’ credits which can be applied to anything within the Azure portal, with full transparency on billing coupled with alerts to customers and partners for low credits helping with the push to the ‘Managed service’ route for partners.


BI for the masses

Next up, Power BI to provide a “Single pain of glass for business users to surface the data they care about”.
PowerBI shows some great potential and a demo of a Real time operational dashboard bringing data from salesforce or other sources may have sparked many ISV and solution providers interest. Ultimately this is not new however, and was more a call to action for Partners to develop and really add some value to productivity solutions using the BI stack and framework. The fact that you can use natural language search though Power Q&A, and can build interactive reports and tree maps in our opinion is what Microsoft is good at. Providing a development set of tools, capabilities that can streamline development and allow development to focus on developing solutions adding real business value. The message should be quite obvious, you cannot just be a SharePoint solutions vendor to compete and add value. The real productivity solutions of tomorrow will span SharePoint, Provider hosted apps, Azure, Office 365 APIs, PowerBI and possibly harness machine learning and big data.



information worker productivity

Brad Anderson and Julia White then proceeded to talk information worker productivity with Office 365 and Dynamic CRM.



Oslo, which allows Information being surfaced to users in a natural way across the Office Graph, was rebranded as Delve. Not quite the catchiest name, but what is important is what it promises to do.
Apparently, the average Information Worker spends 20% time searching for info, they want to use their own devices and work anywhere and security is more important than ever before. Delve surfaces that info from multiple structured and unstructured sources including Yammer, Office 365, OneDrive so users can find the information they need to do there jobs. If Delve pulls this off, it will truly revolutionise productivity. If it does work as envisioned, it also hints at reducing ‘some’ of the relevance and complexities of structuring data in Enterprise Content management systems such as SharePoint as users will not have to worry about metadata, content types as much as they should. After all, if you have eDiscovery, Machine Learning, Enterprise FAST search, and Delve, the future of productivity we would hope reduces the 20% spend searching for information by quite some margin.


Mobile device management

To show off he Information Worker productivity, Office for IPAD was again showcased, but more interestingly shown in conjunction with the Intune Mobile device management Enterprise Mobility Suite. This now allows you to manage policies to prevent copy paste, emailing certain data, or even accessing Enterprise systems until the device conforms to IT security requirements. For example you can use KNOX policies, manage whether or not an iDevice can backup to the iCloud, whether it has been jailbroken or if it has a password on power-on and it will stop the email flow to the user device until back in compliance
. There are many point solutions doing this but Microsoft really are trying to make a complete Enterprise solution stack here and partners have a fantastic opportunity to provide multiple value add services based on the Microsoft cloud stack.

SAAS integration

Next up, is Microsofts push to be more interoperable. Not only did they promote the Azure certification program but also proudly stated 2090 SAAS apps have been integrated to ‘bring them under management’, by that Microsoft means
– enabling Single sign on
– User provisioning
– Auto deprovisiong when users leave
– Machine learning / patterns to detect suspicious sign on / security (with enterprise mobility suite)

Microsoft are even helping reign in and discover what SAAS apps are being used in the Enterprise asking ‘just How many SAAS apps are your employees using?’ The Cloud application discovery tool now lets organisations discover which SAAS apps are being used by employees.



Cloud momentum

The closing elements of the keynote talk about the Cloud momentum, new partner competiencies, the huge opportunities and a call to action for partners.


Ignore the cloud at your peril

The message to Partners should be loud and clear. Move your business model to the cloud NOW.
The great thing about this keynote however, is for once this is not a big Microsoft stick telling you to move but $billions of $billions of carrots incentivising partners. The opportunities are bigger than anything up to and including this point, so adapt and chance now.

– 3 out of 4 Office 365 deployments are done by partners
– 27 million download of Office 365 on IOS
– Ms making progress – really good progress
– World class enterprise cloud
– 2016 1.4bn smartphones
– 212 billion connected devices

Partner competencies
– 3 new competencies – performance based
– Reducing price of on-premise competency fees
– Building a cloud practice – drive sales with customers
– Take advantage of pinpoint and consierge services
– Office 365 – Azure and CRM Online

Partner opportunities and call to action
– CRM Online will come into Open licensing in 2014
– Cloud solution reseller program
– Hybrid – big opportunity
– SharePoint Apps are a big opportunity
– Sales opportunities – cloud opportunity slide
– Not enough partner capacity on Azure
– Infrastructure as a service
– Not enough partner on CRM
– Build solutions Enterprise social with SharePoint


Apart from the SQL Server 2014 improvements mentioned, on-premise products barely got a look in. Microsoft are clearly doing what they say in going ‘All In’ with cloud and mobile first but for Partners, this probably represent the single biggest shift in their business models ever. The opportunities are great, and this represents a truly exciting time for Microsoft, customers and Partners.