Over 15,000 people normally attend Microsoft’s Inspire partner conference, but this year the coronavirus forced the vendor to hold an all-digital event. Hundreds of online sessions were prepared in just three days to share the latest updates and information about Microsoft. Bart Scheffer, EMEA Marketing Manager Networking & Collaboration, reveals his highlights.

Microsoft’s cloud business has grown tremendously in the last fiscal year. Azure business grew 47%, while MS Teams has seen usage increase from 20 million users in November 2019 to 75 million in April 2020.

In his keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted projects around the globe that use these Microsoft technologies. From the deployment of MS Teams to make remote teaching possible, to the rapid deployment of virtual desktops through Azure to enable employees to work remotely. All examples that highlight Microsoft’s mission: to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. So what were the key highlights at the conference?

Grow your business with Cloud Solution Provider

Microsoft invests a lot in its partner relationships, with various tools, incentives and programmes in place to start transacting easily. Adding Microsoft to your portfolio makes sense according to IDC, who reveal that every dollar of Microsoft revenue generates $9.82 for the partner ecosystem.

This year will see the expansion of the CSP program to include perpetual software (such as SharePoint and SQL Server) for qualified partners in CSP in July 2020 and all partners in CSP in 2021.

Westcon-Comstor is an indirect CSP, and partners can quickly and easily deploy Microsoft solutions through our BlueSky cloud management platform.

Azure Stack HCI

Microsoft’s own cloud platform has seen a big increase in revenue over the last year. One of the latest additions is Azure Stack Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI). This brings hybrid capabilities to customer data centres while enabling them to leverage existing skills and investments. This is the latest in Microsoft’s hybrid portfolio and now in public preview. Hyperconverged infrastructure is a software-defined, unified system that combines all the elements of a traditional data centre such as storage, compute power, network and management.

Microsoft 365 and MS Teams

I could write a whole blog about these, and it wouldn’t be enough to cover all the updates. Microsoft 365 includes Windows 10, Office 365, device management and security solutions. One new feature is Microsoft Lists, which allows users to track issues, assets, routines, contacts and inventory using customisable views, rules and comments to keep everyone in sync. It also announced Endpoint Data Loss Prevention, which helps customers identify and protect information on endpoints.

Regarding MS Teams, some new features are already announced, such as the ‘together’ mode where meeting attendees are presented in one ‘virtual classroom’, or the 7×7 gallery view for meetings.

Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 is a set of intelligent business applications that help you run your business and deliver greater results through predictive, AI-driven insights. New innovations include Customer Voice, Connected Store and Fraud Protection, especially relevant for retail organisations to shift to digital operations, understand and respond to customers’ needs, and help them to succeed in spite of the crisis.

Return to workplace

Built on the Power Platform, this solution helps bring employees back to the workplace safely by enabling customers with location readiness, employee health and safety management, workplace care management and location management tools. It continually monitors conditions and responds where needed. Pulling data from multiple sources to track local COVID-19 infection situations, it monitors if locations can be opened again for staff.

Teams Rooms Standard and Premium

The new Microsoft Teams Rooms license enables collaborative meeting room experiences across Microsoft Teams Rooms, collaboration bars and Surface Hub devices. As organisations move to the ‘new normal’, the need to collaborate and communicate at home and in the office is increasing. Westcon offers a number of collaboration solutions for Microsoft Teams Rooms, such as the Poly Studio X Series. Customers access a rich management experience through the Teams admin centre, which makes it easier to deploy and manage Teams Rooms devices, with improvements across device set-up, bulk management tasks and health monitoring.

The SMB UCaaS opportunity

According to Microsoft research, 49% of SMBs are planning to invest in UC in the next 12 months. The worldwide cloud-telephony growth forecast for 2021 is even predicted to be 18% according to Gartner. One of the ways to take advantage of this opportunity is to move towards UCaaS with Microsoft’s 365 Business Voice all-in-one solution. Employees can call from anywhere, on any device with a reliable and secure calling experience. You can choose a Microsoft calling plan or go for a provider of Direct Routing and Session Border Controller (SBC) such as Ribbon Communications.

Read all product updates and announcements at Inspire in the Microsoft Inspire 2020 Book of News.

Do you want to find out more about our Microsoft offering and how we can help you take advantage of the Microsoft opportunity? Contact us for more information.