Today marks the start of Microsoft Inspire, a two-day annual conference dedicated to the company's global partner community. This year, the event happens to be virtual - and there are a ton of sessions focused on the disruption the unified communications and collaboration market experienced over the past year or so.  

On day two of Inspire - do not miss out on Microsoft's Global Partner Solutions Leadership Team. The team will host "Into Focus," a talk-show format session that will include a lineup of executive interviews, one-on-one conversations, partner discussions, etc.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, is set to kick off the event with the keynote. He and his team will make several key announcements, and we have a preview here on GetVoIP News. 


Microsoft Cloud

"It all starts with Microsoft cloud, the differentiated value it provides to customers and partners to support every organization’s multi-cloud, multi-edge needs," said Nick Parker, Corporate Vice President, Global Partner Solutions, Microsoft. He continued; saying - that more and more industry clouds are progressing toward sustainability goals. Some of the developers of said technology are even leaning toward building a decarbonized grid.

Microsoft announced that it is now doing its part with the launch of its "Cloud for Sustainability." The fresh cloud offering will assist Microsoft customers across various industries in meeting their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. 

"Available in preview later this year, it enables organizations to record, report, and reduce their emissions on a path to net-zero."

Parker charged Microsoft's partner ecosystem with building specialized industry-specific applications, data sources, and emissions data connectors so customers can more easily invest in and achieve their sustainability goals. Companies will be able to leverage the technology on a practical level in a few ways: 

  • CIOs can easily report on IT carbon emissions via the cloud, devices, and applications.
  • Companies can also soon offer customers a sustainability scorecard to track progress against their carbon emission reduction goals.
  • Customers can also soon pinpoint specific emission areas and track if they meet their emission reduction goals.

"Microsoft is also announcing its own 100/100/0 commitment — one that acknowledges the limits on our ability to control global grid infrastructure but maximizes our ability to influence it," according to Parker. 

He added that, by 2030, Microsoft should have 100 percent of its electricity consumption and 100 percent of the time, matched by zero-carbon energy purchases. "This complements our existing commitments to execute power purchase agreements equivalent to 100 percent of our energy needs by 2025," Parker elaborated. 

With newly-signed purchase agreements for approximately 5.8 gigawatts of renewable energy across ten countries - Microsoft's total operating and contracted renewable energy projects, today sits at 7.8 gigawatts globally.


Taking Windows to the Cloud and Beyond

Microsoft's Windows 365 is a popular cloud service, which today introduces a new way to experience Windows 10 or Windows 11 when it becomes available later this year. "Windows 365 takes the operating system to the Microsoft cloud, streaming the full Windows experience — apps, data, and settings — to any device," Parker wrote. 

He further stated that since Windows 365 is secure by design and built with the principles of Zero Trust, Windows 365 secures and stores information in the cloud, not on the device, providing a secure and productive experience for workers, interns, and even contractors to software developers along with industrial designers. 

"Windows 365 also creates a new hybrid personal computing category called Cloud PC, which uses both the power of the cloud and the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalized Windows experience." 

From an end-user standpoint - it allows users to stream their applications, tools, data, and settings from the cloud to any device, with the ability to log in and pick up where they left off even when switching devices. Examining things from a management point of view, these individuals can now simplify elements like deployment, updates, and the management process - without virtualizing the experience.


Secure Access to Dynamics 365 Data within Teams

Here's the one you've all been waiting for - Microsoft Teams - an offering that's gained a lot of traction in recent months. It has even further demonstrated how valuable it is for organizations. 

"After scaling to meet unprecedented demand, Teams has launched a steady stream of new features to bring people together virtually and empower collaboration from anywhere."

Now, all Microsoft Teams customers will receive access to Dynamics 365 data in Teams - at no extra cost. The integration could lead to greater customer productivity along with remove the silos that exist between collaboration and business tools. With an emphasis on trust and security, all permissions and access rules are configurable to give access to those you see fit, Microsoft noted. 


Enhanced Scale and Go-To-Market Opportunities 

Microsoft has seen a 70% year-over-year increase in transactable applications in the Microsoft commercial marketplace. "It’s the most comprehensive commercial marketplace in the industry, with over 30,000 applications and services and 4 million shoppers engaging every month," Parker wrote.

More companies are using software to connect, creating a need for partners to seek ways to simplify the deployment process- Microsoft partners do this via the commercial marketplace. 

"We’ve chosen to reduce fees for transactable offers to 3% — down significantly from an industry standard of 20% — for every transactable application published in the commercial marketplace, including our digital storefronts, Azure Marketplace and Microsoft AppSource." 

Parker noted that this reduction equates to higher margins for partners who publish transactable offerings in the marketplaces. It also simplifies the fee structure. "Both of these benefits reflect our commitment to do everything we can to make our platform partner-focused," parker summarized. 


New Microsoft Viva Integrations

Partners can now leverage a new integration with Microsoft Viva. The service brings together an integrated employee experience that combines communications, learning, well-being, and knowledge - directly into one's workflow. 

Microsoft has added integrations with more than 20 partners — including Workday, Qualtrics, and ServiceNow, building on the integrations the company announced in February with SuccessFactors, Cornerstone OnDemand, Headspace, etc. 


Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project Orland for 365

Now available in public preview, Microsoft 365 Lighthouse, and with Project “Orland” for Microsoft 365, entering limited preview - partners can leverage the new tools to boost growth and profitability.

"They make it easier to deliver managed security services and identify new avenues for growth."

According to Microsoft, 365 Lighthouse helps managed service providers secure devices, data, and users for small- and medium-sized businesses that use Microsoft 365 Business Premium. 

Project “Orland” is an all-new experience located in Partner Center that assists cloud solution provider (CSP) partners in growing their cloud businesses by sharing Microsoft-powered insights about their customers to improve account management. These partners will, as a result, receive recommendations from their existing customer base. 


New Benefits for Going-to-Market with Microsoft 365

Microsoft also says that it has introduced new benefits for ISVs who want to build and market Modern Work apps for Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Viva.

"ISVs will receive access to Microsoft technology, curated training, one-on-one consultations, and marketing resources to help them reach the 145 million people collaborating on Microsoft Teams daily," according to Parker. 


Simplifying its ISV Connect Program

Microsoft Inspire 2021 marks the second year of the Business Applications ISV Connect program. The program offers platforms, resources, and support that help ISVs develop, publish and market their apps.

"We are pleased to announce simplification and enhancements to the program that bring new value to partners building applications."

According to Microsoft, the program should help partners reduce the time it takes to develop an app, go to market faster, differentiate their solutions - and more efficiently grow their business in new markets.

The ISV Connect program; set to incentivize partners with even more benefits, including new technical advantages like ISV App License Management, Discounted Dev/Test/Demo Environments, and substantially reduced revenue sharing.

Do not miss out on day two of Microsoft Inspire - it is a free virtual event, and you can even catch the rest of the event today.