5 Major Microsoft Announcements At Inspire 2017

Feeling Inspired?

This year, Microsoft's annual partner conference has been renamed Microsoft Inspire, from the former Worldwide Partner Conference moniker. The focus on partners doesn't appear to have changed, however, judging by the announcements Microsoft is making in connection with the conference, which runs through Thursday and is expected to draw 10,000 partners. Following revelations last week about a major reorganization of the company's sales and marketing teams, Microsoft said it's working to transform from "partner-led" to "partner-first" -- and is unveiling several products and sales initiatives toward that end. In the following slides, we've got the details on Microsoft's announcements at Inspire 2017.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft and its partners will now be able to sell the company's commercial offerings as a "family," which will be known as Microsoft 365. The offering brings together productivity applications (Office 365) along with Windows 10, device management and security into "one comprehensive solution," Microsoft said. There will be two versions. Microsoft 365 Enterprise, for large organizations, will pull together Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, enterprise mobility and security. Microsoft 365 Business, for small and medium-sized businesses, includes Office 365 Business Premium along with a set of security and management features for Office apps and Windows 10 devices. That version will be managed in a central console, Microsoft said.

Partners, according to Microsoft, will be able to increase deal size and grow managed services revenue with Microsoft 365. Deploying Microsoft 365 Enterprise could increase partner revenue by more than 50 percent compared to just deploying Office 365, the company said.

Microsoft 365 will be available this quarter, and more pricing details will be released during Inspire, the company said.

Dynamics 365

One year after launching Dynamics 365 -- a combination cloud CRM and ERP system -- Microsoft is announcing the general availability of Dynamics 365 apps and LinkedIn integrations. This includes a joint solution between LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales, which is aimed at helping salespeople to better leverage the professional networks on LinkedIn in their sales efforts. Other solutions that are now generally available include new applications for enterprise -- Dynamics 365 for Talent (a workforce solution for use with recruiting, on-boarding and employee oversight) and Dynamics 365 for Retail (which provides a view of operations across retail locations). The new offerings come after Microsoft reported that Dynamics 365 revenue surged 81 percent during its fiscal third quarter, ended March 31.

Azure Stack

Microsoft will announce that Azure Stack, the company's hybrid cloud platform, is available for ordering from initial hardware partners HPE, Dell EMC and Lenovo. Azure Stack enables hybrid application development and provides a consistent platform for connecting from Azure data centers to the edge, according to Microsoft. Additional hardware partners that are "coming soon" are Cisco and Huawei, the company said. Pricing will be based on consumption, and will accrue to the customer's Azure subscription, Microsoft said. The Azure cloud platform has been a massive source of growth for Microsoft, which reported that Azure revenue rose 93 percent during its fiscal third quarter, ended March 31.

ISV Cloud Embed

During Inspire, Microsoft will unveil a new offering for ISV partners that aims to make it easier to modernize and develop business applications, called ISV Cloud Embed. The offering provides embeddable building blocks for app development on Microsoft's business application platform -- enabling developers to build their unique IP on top of the building blocks. This allows developers to both lower overhead costs and leverage Microsoft's engineering resources, the company said. ISV Cloud Embed also offers tiered support for go-to-market efforts and will allow partners to showcase their apps on Microsoft AppSource.

Co-Sell Investment

Lastly, Microsoft will announce that it's making a "material investment" into co-sell incentives and support to help boost partner sales, in connection with the new Azure co-sell program. The program provides special incentives to Microsoft salespeople for co-selling the apps of qualified Azure partners, Microsoft said. In addition, part of the investment is going toward hiring for new channel manager positions, which will be entirely focused on supporting the sales efforts of channel partners.