Microsoft Inspire 2021 Round Up

Key Announcements include:

  • Windows 365
  • Collaborative Apps
  • Marketplace fees reduction 

Clare Barclay, UK Microsoft CEO, shared key focus areas for the upcoming year:  

“The greatest opportunities for partners this year are: 

  • Azure – Data and AI/ Digital App Innovation 
  • Dynamics – Collaborative apps 
  • Modern Workplace – Future of work/ hybrid work – Viva and Security” 

Azure Updates

New Advanced Specialisations

New Azure advanced specialisations, Hybrid Operations and Management with Microsoft Azure Arc and Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure with Microsoft Azure Stack HCI, offering new opportunities for Azure partners to differentiate themselves, gain increased visibility with Microsoft sellers and customers, as well as access to Azure business programs and additional financial incentives. Find out more about Advanced Specialisations here

Azure Virtual Desktop

A new monthly per-user access pricing option for Azure Virtual Desktop will help independent software vendors (ISVs) unlock new business opportunities as they deliver apps from the cloud to external users. The per-user access pricing option will be effective January 1, 2022, with free promotional access available now through December 31, 2021, for streaming first-party or third-party apps to external users. Organizations will continue to pay for the underlying Azure infrastructure. Many organizations currently use Azure Virtual Desktop to stream apps to employees. This new pricing option will expand the ability of ISVs to deliver apps to customers and business partners and expand their software as a service (SaaS) businesses.

Free 3 Year Additional Extended Security Updates with Windows Server and SQL Server Migrations

On-premises Windows Server and SQL Server customers looking to migrate and modernize can take advantage of the extension of free Extended Security Updates (ESUs) for Windows Server 2012/R2 and SQL Server 2012, as follows: Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 Extended Support (ESU) ends on October 10, 2023. Extended Support for SQL Server 2012 ends July 12, 2022. Customers that cannot meet this deadline can protect their apps and data running on these releases for 3 additional years when they migrate to Windows Server and SQL Server on Azure and take advantage of free ESUs on Azure. Customers running Windows Server and SQL Server on these releases and on-premises will have the option to purchase ESUs. Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 three-year ESUs are coming to an end on January 10, 2023, and July 12, 2022, respectively. Customers who need more time to migrate and modernize will be able to take advantage of a Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 on Azure, we will now provide one additional year of extended security updates only on Azure.

New Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP)

Microsoft is expanding programs and extending security updates to streamline and simplify cloud migration and modernization. Program expansions include: The Azure Migration and Modernization Program (AMMP), previously called Azure Migration Program, now covers a wider breadth of migration and modernization offerings across apps, infrastructure and data, including support for Azure Arc. Azure Migrate App Containerization now supports deploying containerized apps to the Azure App Service — Web App for Containers tool. The App Containerization tool helps modernize existing ASP.NET and Java web apps by packaging them as containers and deploying the containerized app to Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) or Azure App Service Containers. Partners will be required to have attained advanced specialisations in app modernisation to qualify for this benefit.

Dynamics & Power Platform

Collaborative Apps

The introduction of ‘Collaborative Apps’ offers integrations between Dynamics and Teams at no additional license cost allowing everyone across an organization to seamlessly exchange and capture ideas right in the flow of work. This integration offers incredible potential for customers: A service engineer can enable an agent to fix a customer’s issue by adding notes with troubleshooting steps to the customer service case record. Finance teams can streamline order fulfilment, sharing purchase orders and payment details with their counterparts in sales. A field technician can notify sales teams about products nearing end-of-life, so the sales team can proactively reach out with replacement options. And a sales team can close deals faster, by understanding signals from the marketing department around demand generation. Read the announcement for additional details.

Modern Workplace and Security

Windows 365

Windows 365 gives users agency to connect to their apps, data, and settings from any device and any endpoint. It creates a new 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, anywhere. Launching 2nd August 2021. This provides more opportunities for all types of partners who deploy Windows-based solutions: Systems integrators (SIs) and managed service providers (MSPs) can help organisations get the most out of their entire Windows estate. Independent software vendors (ISVs) can continue to build Windows applications and deliver them in the cloud to support their customers’ ongoing digital transformation journeys. Device and silicon partners gain an opportunity to integrate Windows 365 into their broad portfolio of services alongside their devices’ robust features and secure hardware. Read the official announcement blog here.

Zero Trust

Microsoft continued to stress the importance of their ‘Zero Trust Framework’ as the only acceptable security paradigm for the hybrid workforce. Zero Trust is built into all Microsoft 365 and Azure products and is based on the following principles: Verify explicitly for identity: Use all available data points to authenticate and authorise. Use least privilege access: Provide “just enough” access to users for their job requirements. Assume breach with every authorisation and identification: Every request must be verified no matter where it originates. Find out more about the critical role of Zero Trust and how you can implement a Zero Trust strategy here

Cloud App Security

Microsoft introduced App governance which is a new paid add-in capability for Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) which can be used to monitor, protect and govern Microsoft 365 apps and quickly identify, alert and prevent risky behaviours directly from the Compliance Center. Apps are often unintentionally overprovisioned, which can lead to unexpected risk exposure. App governance will provide organisations the ability to define and enforce appropriate app behaviour policies. App governance add-in provides: Deep visibility and insights: Get deeper visibility into apps that access Microsoft 365 data and actionable insights on how the app is configured and behaving in the environment. Policy-driven governance: Proactively define and enforce appropriate app behaviour with data, users and other apps in accordance with your organisation’s security and compliance posture for data access. Comprehensive detections and remediation: Detect anomalous app behaviour with machine learning models and address issues with automated and manual remediation actions. App governance is now in preview. Learn more about this update.

Microsoft Viva

Microsoft Viva is a customisable employee experience platform designed to work with your existing solutions to drive cultural transformation. Microsoft announced 21 new partner integrations to make it easier for employers to connect Viva with the solutions they work with every day. Viva goes GA in the Autumn and APIs to the platform will be available later this year. Microsoft also introduced 2 new Viva workshops: Employee Experience with Microsoft Viva Provides a broader overview of all modules in Viva suite Employee Experience with Microsoft Viva Insights Focused on insights module You can start nominating customers today, Microsoft will fund up to $5000 upon execution of these workshops (subject to eligibility)

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse

Microsoft 365 Lighthouse entered preview. It provides MSPs with one central location and standard security configuration templates to secure devices, data, and users for small and medium business customers that are using Microsoft 365 Business Premium. You can learn more about Microsoft 365 Lighthouse in this Tech Community blog post.

Other News

Marketplace Fees

Fees for transactable offers have been reduced to 3% for every transactable application published in the Microsoft commercial marketplace across the Microsoft AppSource and Azure Marketplace digital storefronts. This reflects a significant reduction from the standard 20% industry fee, simplifies the fee structure and acknowledges Microsoft’s commitment to its partner network. 

Project Orland

Project Orland is a brand-new experience in Partner Center that will better enable partners to engage and nurture their customers. The insights provided by the dashboard will utilise data from the customer’s tenant to identify those at risk of churn, prioritise opportunities by value and degree of difficulty, as well as provide go-to-market recommendations. Utilising this guidance should help partners better acquire, retain, and grow their Microsoft 365 customers.  

Project “Orland” is currently in private preview stage of development. To express your interest in joining the private preview visit (form available until August 15, 2021). 

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