This year Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference was held in Orlando, Florida and I had the pleasure to represent the F12-Insite Toronto Branch at this event.
Before I go ahead and share my thoughts and takeaways from WPC 2015 let’s take the definition out of the way. Here is an extract from Wikipedia below:
“The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, commonly abbreviated WPC, is a conference held annually by Microsoft Corporation for its partner community. At WPC, partners learn about Microsoft’s roadmap for the upcoming year, network and build connections, share best practices, experience the latest product innovations, and learn new skills and techniques. There are also keynote addresses from Microsoft executives, featured speakers, business-track specific offerings, and hundreds of sessions.”
After going over my notes, and resources a hundred times, I have narrowed down this year’s WPC takeaways to four and one really cool product with a video link below.
1. Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program Improvements.
The CSP Program was introduced in 2014 and only a select number of partners were invited to join. Microsoft is now expanding the program to additional markets, as well as adding CRM Online and Azure as offerings included in CSP. Our company joined the CSP program a few weeks ago.
What this means is that CSP partners own and control the billing. They combine their product and service offering with Microsoft Office 365, Azure, Intune, CRM Online and Enterprise Mobility Suite services into an integrated offer. CSP Partners also own the end-to-end customer lifecycle with direct management, and support.
2. Office 365’s new top-of-the-line E5 plan.
Office 365 is one of Microsoft’s fastest evolving offerings, rapidly integrating its cloud productivity suite with new capabilities and features. The new premium Office 365 Enterprise Suite E5 plan that Microsoft announced at WPC includes every piece of functionality available in the service today plus some features that are not yet available. Therefore, pricing is not known at this point. It is anticipated E5 will include: Skype for Business (Lync) with support for features including Cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast; new analytics features, like Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics; and new advanced security features, such as eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox, Data Loss Protection and Safe Attachments
Microsoft estimates the market opportunity for its new E5 plan to be around $56 billion.
3. Windows 10 Adds Deep Security Features.
Microsoft has integrated security into the very core of Windows, and introduced a number of new security technologies to help protect systems, users, and endpoints.
By leveraging the Enterprise Data Mode feature in Windows 10, companies can easily separate user and company data on a machine, and encrypt any corporate data using BitLocker with encryption keys owned by the company.
I was very impressed by the demo that Microsoft performed on stage highlighting the robust security introduced in Windows 10, showing how the new operating system hopes to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive data generated by Point of Sales terminals, ATM’s, Airline kiosks, etc.
And, for the first time ever, upgrading from Win7 or Win8 is Free.
4. Training for Partners.
All partner training is being consolidated into the Microsoft Virtual Academy in an effort to improve training and certification.
Microsoft is also expanding availability of Online Proctored Exams so you no longer have to travel to a testing center. This is very good news for our Networkers in the West who will be able to avoid the 4-month waiting period and 3-hour drive to the closest Pearson VUE Exam Center and write that exam in the comfort of their homes.
From the Department of Really Cool Stuff, if you haven’t been introduced to the Microsoft’s HoloLens yet, you must check out this video https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us
That’s all I have as far as takeaways go, there are definitely more great things that Microsoft delivered to their worldwide partners at the WPC 2015, and I encourage you to check out the WPC videos available on Microsoft Partner portal (http://mspartner.microsoft.com).
I am also glad that I got to meet Networker Krzysztof Dudzic from Edmonton and enjoyed a few sessions with him, we discussed the F12-Insite merger and of course had a great time in Orlando.
To conclude, WPC was an amazing experience, there were partners that have attended for the 21st time! The wave of positivity and optimism that Microsoft generates at WPC is enormous and it makes me very proud to be part of their partner eco-system.