Liveblogging the day-two keynotes from Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto
TORONTO – After focusing largely on Windows and Office on the first day, Microsoft turns the spotlight on some of its other major businesses for day two of its Worldwide Partner Conference here Tuesday.
On the agenda:
- Satya Nadella, head of Microsoft’s server and tools business;
- Kirill Tatarinov, president of Microsoft Business Solutions;
- Brad Smith and Laura Ipsen on the company’s public sector business; and
- Charles Thomas Gruhler on Windows Phone.
And just like yesterday, I’ll be on hand at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto along with some 16,000 Microsoft partners from around the world, recording the events as they happen.
Please join me after the jump for the liveblog.
Expect the liveblog to start rolling in shortly after 9:00 am Eastern, when the morning’s festivities are set to begin.
Microsoft kicking off day two of WPC with the walk-through of the company’s Partner of the Year Awards. The main stage at the centre of the ACC is rather quickly filling with partners from around the world – a sea of flags at centre ice.
Out comes Satya Nadella, president of Microsoft’s servers and tools business, for the morning’s first keynote. As is customary, he starts off with “a big, big thank you” to partners for “another great year” in his division.
Nadella detailing “the new world” of the cloud and how it’s going to impact the company’s servers side.
“As the markers between categories, as business models change, we will always be partner-led, we will always have a broad OS that enables partners to express their services, their value and their abilities,” Nadella says.
Nadella is talking about “the cloud OS,” which means thinking “at the data centre or multiple data centre” level – “a true distributed operating system that spans multiple data centres,” but is abstracted for application developers in the way they want it abstracted.
“We have one of the most diverse set of workloads operating at Internet scale,” Nadella syas, referring to Windows Live, Bing, MSN, Office 365, Xbox Live, Dynamics CRM Online, and other large Internet services.
“The opportunity of the cloud operating system is right there,” he says, referring to numbers that suggest 73 per cent of businesses are using or planning private cloud, refer to the explosion of devices and data. “The need for infrastructure, private or public, is going to be explosive,” he posits, and anyone in the infrastructure or application development business are going to see benefits.
With the upcoming Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure “elasticity is at the core,” Nadella says, resilient to hardware breaking and built for multi-tenancy from the ground up.
“Automating and self-service is also very important — automate everything to reduce the total cost,” Nadella says.
And now it’s demo time, with Jeff Goldman, who says partners have told Microsoft they want to “virtualize everything, even things that are un-virtualizable.”
Goldman showing off performance of more than 1 million IOPS from a single virtual machine. “And folks, I’m just getting started,” he says. Next example: much faster storage management — moving a 10 gig file in about 10 seconds.
Nadella announces that Windows Server 2012 is slated for release to manufacturing in August and general availability in September, meaning it will hit about a month before Windows 8.
He also announces customer previews of unified management, high-density Web hosting and virtual machine hosting, capabilities being brought from Windows Azure into Windows Server 2012 for the company’s hosting partners.
And finally, Nadella announces a “Switch to Hyper-V” promotion, a program that offers “tools, resources and guidance” to help partners take out VMware.
Those announcements out of the way, Nadella switches gears to talking about the applications and devices side of thing – showing off System Centre, device management, and other capabilities.
Nadella sharing some stories of partners who are “betting on the platform,” including Canada’s own Infusion and its online interview engine.
“Our goal .. is to build a broad, comprehensive, software-dirven platform” that lets partners bring their own value and solutions, Nadella says wrapping up his presentation.
And out comes Kirill Tatarinov, head of the company’s Business Solutions division, to “get your excited” about “the youngest part” of the company’s business portfolio.
He also starts with a big “thank you” to the 3,000 or so Dynamics partners in the room. “Amazing job guys, great year.” The business is “well over billion” with double-digit growth, Tatarinov says.
Tatarinov sharing the tale of a longtime Microsoft partner, Slalom Consulting, which has added Business Solutions to its practices, illustrating the crossover potential for “traditional” Microsoft partners to pick up Dynamics products.
“We are focused on making every business a Dynamic Business,” Tatarinov says, and that focus is a key differentiator for the company.
More than 60 per cent of Dynamics CRM customers today are using Dynamics CRM Online, Tatarinov says.
“No other company” can bring the variety of business solutions and infrastructure solutions that Microsoft is able to bring to market, Tatarinov says, and then it’s demo time.
“We entered the world of business applications about 12 years ago, as a midmarket provider, and that’s where we established our foothold,” Tatarinov says, but in the last three years, the company has moved up the stack, while still focusing on “simplicity, agility and unprecedented value” as they move into the enterprise business.
“We are absolutely ready to meet the needs of the enterprises of any size,” he says. “And we have some amazing partners working with us to meet the needs of those enterprises.”
“We’re really excited about where we are, and we look at the year ahead with a huge amount of excitement and confidence,” he says.
The Business Solution roadmap will see “everything” update this year, and the group will continue on building out its Business Solutions focus on other Microsoft platforms — most notably Windows Phone and Windows Azure.
He promises that in the coming months “you’ll see Microsoft Business Solutions everywhere” with a huge awareness campaign, as well as increased investment in partner training and resources.
Tatarinov ends his presentation with another thank you to partners. And up next, Laura Ipsen, to talk about “the local impact Microsoft has with communities around the world.”
Ipsen relating the tale of a recent meeting with public sector leaders around the world – it’s not as much about “doing more with less” even in these times of austerity measures, it’s more about “doing new with less,” Ipsen says.
“There’s a great opportunity for us to get involved in those conversations,” she says. “Because what governments are doing today is going to have a real impact on our businesses tomorrow.”
She says there’s a move at Microsoft to have National Plans in every country around the world that aligns with the IT and business priorities of governments in their market.
These plans, she says “go well beyond corporate social responsibilitiy,” and are about “securing the future for Microsoft partners.”
Around the world, the company is doing Microsoft Innovation Centres to focus innovation, and its BizSpark initiative, which supports innovative startups. “It really means helping entrepreneurs get off the ground,” she says.
Education is also a focus, particularly “creating ubiquitous digital literacy.”
Ipsen detailing the recent move of Office 365 into the Live@EDU program, making it free to students, teachers and administrators — that means moving 120 million seats of Live@EDU to Office 365.
“I know we can win big in education,” Ipsen says, before moving onto challenges with healthcare, which she calls both a challenge and an opportunity.
Windows Phone 8 will be “truly the most modern smartphone platform,” and will be built on the same code as Windows 8. Gruhler walking through various proof points that suggest that CIOs and end users love Windows Phone.
There are now more than 100,000 Windows Phone apps on its app marketplace, Grulher announces.
Gruhler says Windows Phone 8 will “return us to our heritage” as an early leader in the enterprise mobility space.
“I’m pleased to announce to you that Windows Phone 8 is business-ready,” he says, including expanded connections to Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync, and now including a full BitLocker encryption experience. This, he says, will open up mobile apps and devices to more heavily regulated industries.
Businesses will be able to bypass the Windows marketplace, now a way to “side load” Windows Phones for enterprises that don’t want their LOB apps on the public marketplace.
And now, a quick demo of Windows Phone 8.
New in Windows Phone 8: the concept of a Company Hub, which will be a repository of enterprise applications, information, links and services specific to an enterprise. These will be custom to each business, and an opportunity for partners to build out these Company Hubs for their customers.
Windows Phone will be in 50 languages, and apps available in 180 or more countries at launch time, Gruhler says.
Gruhler wraps up his presentation, and out comes Jon Roskill to put a bow on this morning’s proceedings. They’re doing a segment they’re calling “Next,” taking a look at some of the things Microsoft is working on in its R&D labs.
Up first, social integration in Bing, which aims to “make people as important as pages” in search, since people tend to ask other people questions — basically, integrating Facebook with Bing queries.