Since I was able to attend Inspire this year, which was my first time, I figured I’d share a bit about the experience for all who couldn’t make it.
It was very exciting to see some 10,000 partners from around the world all converge in Las Vegas. For the Insentra team, this is a fantastic opportunity to connect with the partner community. It is also a frantic few days of running from partner meeting to partner meeting, social events, taking partners to drinks and dinner, etc. All nights were late and mornings early so quite a few hangovers. 😊
Throughout the week, we all wore our bright orange Insentron T-shirts (made specifically for this event). One thing we all consistently heard from partners was that we were very identifiable and were often seen travelling in packs, so we were a force! Whoever came up with that shirt idea is a genius! It also made it very easy for us to find each other within crowded areas and from a distance. So, kudos to Insentra marketing!
The convention center consisted of two main parts- the ballrooms, where large sessions were held and the Hub area, where everything else was happening (there were also sessions taking place in ‘theaters’ within the Hub area). The only other location for the event was T-Mobile arena where the ‘corenotes’ were held – about a mile down on the strip.
Within the Hub area, there were lounges for each country which partners from those regions could use for meeting spaces and socializing. I know we conducted much business in our respective lounges: AU, UK and US.
Also, inside the Hub area was a massive vendor section where there were hundreds of booths with vendors eager to chat about their products all of which, in some way, shape or form, work within the Microsoft ecosystem. Every vendor you can think of was there, and all were giving away trinkets, portable phone chargers (which many attendees ended up using as they ran about the convention), shirts, candy, raffles for prizes etc. I even saw a vendor giving away socks and then learnt Insentra had done so in the past too! I did a few walkthroughs and had a few chats with vendors, it was very exciting to see the sheer number of vendors who are innovating solutions in and around Microsoft 365 and Azure many of which I’ve worked with over the years.
The corenotes were exciting, and if you haven’t already, you can watch them online. If you only have time to watch one, I would choose Satya’s as there was some pretty cool innovation on display around AI, analytics, machine learning, mixed reality and more. Some real science fiction stuff coming to life!
Overall, I didn’t make it to too many sessions as I was running around quite a bit participating in partner meetings and other activities, but I did make it to a few. I especially wanted to see the Azure Lighthouse session, but it was packed, and they weren’t letting anyone else enter! There were also a couple of others I wanted to attend but couldn’t get there before the house was packed ☹ The good news is all of the sessions are available to view here for free so definitely have a look at some of them when you can. I did attend an interesting Azure Sphere session where they were discussing the challenge of bringing IOT to life and the security challenges associated with it like terrorists being able to explode your oven or ransomware folks hacking your fridge and holding your food hostage. Azure Sphere looking to create a methodology around securing that space.
My take on the major messaging from Microsoft for FY2020:
- Teams, Teams and more Teams – which shows true dedication to the platform by Microsoft since, if you think about it, pushing Teams adoption won’t necessarily generate more revenue for MS given every O365 subscription comes with it already.
- Modern Workplace / M365 security is front and center. Initiatives align with our existing Insentra offerings including AaaS (Architect as a Service) around adoption and security. Expect a lot more of these engagements. Several partners we spoke to were very interested in partnering with us for this service.
- Azure. Aside from the usual encouragement to innovate using new cutting-edge intelligent cloud features (ML, AI, IOT, etc.) there was messaging around 2020 being the year of the SMB cloud migration (yep they are pushing IaaS migrations). Microsoft going strong to the point that many servers in production are still running Windows/SQL 2008 and since they are now (or soon to be) end of life, customers are vulnerable. Partners should be encouraging customers to migrate them to the cloud to keep them secure with extended support. I tend to agree, and I even wrote a blog on this recently 😊 Obviously this creates massive opportunity around those migrations.
- Power Platform which includes PowerApps, PowerBI and Flow- Microsoft is heavily investing in customers adopting these platforms to automate business processes, analyze data and empower non-programmers to be able to innovate with these GUI tools.
What inspired me the most was the dedicated Insentra crew! These guys were laser-focused, confident, enthusiastic and totally on point with messaging and partner relations. In the case for a few partners, the initial meeting went so well it was followed up by a second meeting. Our 100% channel only, Partner Obsessed business model resonated with partners and there was much excitement around how we can partner to find synergy in their markets. This year is looking to be an explosive one, particularly in the USA so… #BraceYourself
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Cloud Architect at Insentra
A Consultant within our Cloud and Collaboration practice, Neil is responsible for working with customers to implement Microsoft Cloud solutions in Azure and Office 365 on both presales as well as delivery functions.
Neil enjoys over 20 years of diversified industry experience across a variety of technology solutions which aids him in being able to visualize all of the components comprising a finished solution including infrastructure services, networking, security, identity, application, n-tier architecture, availability, business continuity, disaster recovery, data governance, compliance and combining IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services.
Prior to joining Insentra in 2018, Neil worked with a New York City based Microsoft Partner implementing Azure and Office 365 solutions in both cloud native as well as hybrid environments. In addition to performing presales and project execution, Neil excelled at working directly with customers on behalf of Microsoft as a Partner Seller (P-Seller) and Partner Cloud Solutions Architect (P-CSA) delivering envisioning and whiteboarding sessions as well as conducting technical webinars. Before becoming a consultant in 2014, Neil was on the customer side working as Systems Administrator, Network Engineer and IT Director.
Neil has recently relocated to Houston, TX after living his entire life in the New York City metropolitan area and enjoys a great family life, with a loving wife and two beautiful young daughters who are his pride and joy!
A SUMMARY OF KEY SKILLS:
• Migrating VM’s, applications and entire datacenters to Microsoft Azure
• Hybrid networking between premises, colocations and the cloud using VPN, ExpressRoute and SDWAN
• Leveraging the cloud for business continuity and disaster recovery
• Azure IaaS, networking, security and resiliency limitations and best practices
• Azure Active Directory (AAD) hybrid identity deployment and management
• Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) including Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Conditional Access (CA), Self Service Password Reset (SSPR) Intune device management and Identity Protection services
• Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS)
• Identity federation and Single Sign-on (SSO)
• Azure enterprise subscription governance
• PowerShell scripting and Azure Automation
• Office 365 management
• Active Directory Domain Services (ADDS) maintenance, troubleshooting and best practices
• Microsoft infrastructure technologies including Group Policy, Failover Clustering, Hyper V, SQL, RDS etc.
• General datacenter components e.g. servers, hypervisors, storage, switching, routing, firewalls, LB’s etc.
• Authoring architectural documentation and Visio diagrams