At Microsoft Inspire, There’s A Symphony Of Partner Momentum

At Microsoft Inspire, There’s A Symphony Of Partner Momentum


In Las Vegas, bright sunlight streams down with 110-degree heat on swarms of people as they pass through metal detectors at the T-Mobile Arena. After the bag searches, scans and security checks, they begin to enter a much different environment. Thumping EDM beats flow from speakers inside the cool, dark arena. Microsoft Inspire 2018 is about to begin.


Partner momentum is soaring at Microsoft Inspire this year

House lights dim, massive screens glow, and Kishi Bashi appears on stage to begin his story.   Standing at the center, surrounded by violinists, Kishi recounts a heartbreaking tale of two lovers torn apart by the tragedy of the Second World War. Using song to weave personal experience into a vision of the human condition, his story centers on a soldier who was determined to return to the love he left. It’s a story of motivation and creativity, and everything that inspires us to change our world: compassion, love, tragedy, competition; technology.   As the story came to an end, Gavriella Schuster joined Kishi on stage to bring our attention to the inspiration that is all around us. Gav, as she is affectionately known, is Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Commercial Partner Channels & Programs. She turned the conversation to the reason all 20,000 of us were attending the event: Inspire is where we glimpse what the future holds. As Microsoft partners, we’re here to learn from senior leaders about what’s most important in the coming year.

[Inspire 2018] is a forum to reinforce our commitment to making partner business opportunities the centerpiece of our investments, Charlotte Yarkoni, Corporate VP, Growth + Ecosystems shared in a blog post.


Embracing Successes

Gav began by detailing the many successes Microsoft and its partners have seen over the past year. She pointed to the growth of Office 365, Dynamics, SQL, and the Microsoft CSP ecosystem.   While Microsoft CSP revenue grew 234 percent in the past year overall, Atmosera saw an even more astounding 1,100 percent growth in Azure revenue in the same timeframe. This announcement brought a warm glow to the Atmosera team as we thought about how much we’d contributed to the unparalleled growth of Azure.   Next, Gav shifted the conversation toward the future. The total addressable market for Azure and the ecosystems of products around it once seemed like an impossible number to reach. But as Gav showed us the calculations, it became immediately clear: Microsoft and its CSP partners generated $100 billion, and the addressable market size is now approaching a head-spinning $4.5 trillion.

Looking Forward

Having blown our minds, Gav handed things off to Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Worldwide Commercial Business. According to Judson, Microsoft has changed more in the past year than ever, including sales alignment and go-to-market strategy.   So, what big changes will we see next?   Ubiquitous compute. All the way to the edge.   What does that mean? Industries follow cyclical trends, Judson explained. Computing was consolidated in the early years, with room-sized mainframes at the center. Then, as personal computers became popular, compute was pushed to the edge as devices became more distributed. Then, the cycle repeated with the launch of cloud computing: computing power became centralized again — this time in data centers.   Now, the cycle is shifting again. Consolidation is giving way to distribution, as Azure-connected devices take on more data collection and other work. That means compute is shifting away from data centers, and back to the edge: IoT / connected devices.   The industry is moving so quickly, Judson said, that these cyclical trends are compressing on themselves. The intelligent edge is coming fast.

New Responsibilities

What are the risks and responsibilities of AI, especially in the world of IoT? Brad Smith, Microsoft’s Chief Legal Counsel, took to the stage and dug into compliance and standardization. Most importantly, he told us developers need their own sort of Hippocratic Oath to make sure AI is built with careful consideration of ethics.   Unlike doctors, who go through many years of school and certifications, coders can be anybody with a laptop and inspiration.

Inspiration — there it is. That is the goal of this conference. Microsoft Inspire is the place for us to have conversations, ideas, debates, and epiphanies. This is where partnerships are fostered and nurtured. This is where we’re all inspired. I was joined at Inspire 2018 by Jon Thomsen, our CEO at Atmosera. He was glad to share his thoughts on the event.  “This year I’m seeing more enthusiasm for the partner community than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “When we’re shown such a deep level of support for the partner community, it builds tremendous confidence that Microsoft will continue to invest in the success of Azure Service Providers like Atmosera.” 

Mark Rice, General Manager, Managed Service Partners at Microsoft, and Atmosera CEO Jon Thomsen at Microsoft Inspire 2018

“We’ve seen a dramatic level of Azure cloud growth in the past year, and it’s only getting better. In 2019, when we look back at this moment, I think we’ll be amazed that we thought this was impressive compared to what happens next.”

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