Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) took place in Toronto, Canada last week and a steady buzz continues to emerge out of the announcements that the company made at the event. At the beginning of each fiscal year, Microsoft delivers a number of announcements about new products along with enhancements to existing products and programs for the benefit of its partners around the world.
Several impressive points stood out in this year’s announcements. Each of these helped tell the tale of an ongoing transformation that the company is delivering, along with an ecosystem of programs and products that benefit the array of clients in a number of ways that are unique to each.
- Microsoft partner profitability – The company boasts a channel profitability margin of close to 20 percent when compared to competitor programs. Cloud products are leading the way.
- Dynamics 365 and Microsoft AppSource – Announced just before the conference, these forthcoming products are coalescing into a cloud force that is completely business-centric. When Dynamics 365 becomes available in the fall, it will provide a unified CRM and ERP solution that is based in the cloud. The product has been anticipated for some time and is expected to see wide adoption. AppSource will be an online portal of sorts where Microsoft and Microsoft partner SaaS applications can be tested by business users.
- Surface as a Service – Through its partner channel network, the company will be presenting a new way for businesses to get their hands on the popular work device, the Surface Pro. These devices can be picked up on a budget-friendly lease basis, making the entry to getting employees running an easy task. A fringe benefit of this program will be the subtle replacement of iPads in corporate environments, which weren’t really suited for the enterprise in the first place. The lease will incorporate Windows licensing and Office 365 licensing on a subscription basis as well.
- Windows 10 Enterprise – A subscription-based Windows licensing model will be available soon. Available through partners only, the service will deliver two subscription levels in this new model. The first is known as E3 and its costs $7 per month per seat. It includes a number of business-friendly features. E5 options will add security and privacy services, for what is likely to be a bump in subscription price.
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse – Yes, Azure EVERYTHING. If you had any doubts, well, drop them, Microsoft is doing it all in the cloud now. That includes data warehousing, which now has a home in the Azure ecosystem.
Those are some of the highlights that stand out the most for practitioners, managed service providers, but there is much more to check out.
Microsoft primed to dominate
Looking back, there was a time that Microsoft sat in the captain’s chair with little reason to share with or play nice with anyone else. The company enjoyed a thoroughly dominant enterprise position, which was gained through delivering business-friendly and consumable products. However, not everyone appreciated the company’s presence because of the dynamics of the market and the breadth of Microsoft's offerings. In time, that position became vulnerable as new players stepped up with solutions that were nimble and affordable. The cloud appeared, mobility appeared, and Microsoft seemed to whiff on pitch after pitch. Since the era of Satya Nadella, things have changed drastically, and while the man has Google roots, the plays he has delivered are starting to seem quite familiar. Value is one thing that Microsoft knows well, building an ecosystem is another. At this point, it appears that Microsoft is up to the same old business with new technology and easy to consume models that should prove to deliver sustained growth. In my humble opinion, Microsoft is back in a big way with its eyes on the very same market that made it what it was at its enterprise peak.
Photo credit: Pixabay, Ben Franske