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At Microsoft Build 2018, we announced a host of new tools, services, and capabilities designed to help partners. Here are some of the highlights.

Azure RI: Better costs, better margins

Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instances (RI)—as well as the upcoming availability of Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions—through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program will help partners to help customers significantly reduce cloud computing costs.

Customers using these services can expect to save up to 80 percent of their cloud computing costs (versus pay-as-you-go) without increasing risk or sacrificing the flexibility needed for successful deployment.

By making it easier to predict cloud costs, partners can streamline the sales process, as well as using Azure Cloud Services to develop and deliver higher-margin IT services, drive sales of additional software and services, and generate ongoing management fees.

Azure RI and server subscriptions will be available to partners who participate in the CSP program. Sign in to Partner Center and visit the announcements tab to learn more.

Developer revenue share soars to 95 percent

Microsoft is changing its Microsoft Store policies to give developers 95 percent of the revenue from their apps, significantly more than Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. The increase will not apply to games, but will apply to all apps currently available on the store, as well as new apps for Windows 10, Windows Mixed Reality, Windows Phone, and Surface Hub.

Azure Marketplace: New listings, new leads

Whether you offer a SaaS solution or a consulting service, you can reach a wide variety of new customers through the Azure Marketplace. With new ways to stand out from the competition and new ways for customers to discover your product, the Azure Marketplace has become the best place for developers and partners to surface their offers.

Building on the success of the consulting services offered in AppSource, consulting services are now available through the Azure Marketplace. Customers can find a wide range of consulting services, from assessments and onsite workshops, all the way to proofs-of-concept and implementations.

Simpler software licensing

Customers can now subscribe to SaaS services offered by Microsoft partners and manage their subscriptions within the Azure Portal. These services offer simple, flat-rate, month-to-month billing, with the opportunity to scale up or opt out at any time. By simplifying customer billing relationships, and consolidating software licensing and infrastructure fees, the Azure Marketplace offers partners new ways to expand their sales channels.

Serve customers better with Azure Service Fabric

With Azure Service Fabric, partners can help customers modernize legacy apps, and provide always-on, business-critical applications that scale to meet customer needs. Managed service providers can use it to create multi-tenant environments that serve multiple customers more efficiently.

  • Deploy applications in the cloud. Azure Service Fabric also provides a partner an easy way to build multi-tenant environments to effectively manage applications, operations, and resources.
  • Accelerate time to market by up to 50 percent. Quickly build and deliver production-tested applications in response to customer needs.
  • Reduce operational overhead as Azure manages VMs, OS patching, and upgrades—with zero downtime and self-healing so you can easily build multi-tenant offerings.
  • Protect IP on an integrated platform with ISO 27001 and 27018 certification. Azure maintains broadest compliance amongst enterprise cloud providers with 61 audited customer-facing services, including Azure Service Fabric.
  • Optimize three times better cloud resource utilization by elastically scaling production workloads.

Making artificial intelligence for all

Microsoft is excited to unveil new and updated tools to help customers and developers harness the power of AI, regardless of their level of AI training.

Project Brainwave is a promising new hardware architecture designed to make faster real-time AI calculations. It’s now integrated with Azure Machine Learning.

We also launched the new Azure Machine Learning Packages. These algorithm sets allow data scientists to easily build, train, fine tune, and deploy highly accurate and efficient models for computer vision, text analytics, and financial forecasting.

Partners interested in exploring how they can add AI to their practice should review the AI Practice Development playbook and our data and AI resources on partner.microsoft.com.

Get the next generation of AI tools

The new Cognitive Services that were announced at Build give developers tools to improve speech recognition capabilities in their apps. Developers can create customized speech recognition apps that understand and speak using a specific industry’s vernacular. For example, they can now build an interactive bot on a customer’s e-commerce website that reflects a unique brand voice.

Additionally, the Custom Vision service gives developers new capabilities for identifying objects and making sense of them. For example, a new feature in preview allows users to train models to identify objects within images—to pick out the trained object and show its location within the image.

Read the full announcement here.

Negotiate services with privacy

With private offers, publishers can extend their customers special discounts and off-list pricing, privately. Partners now have the ability to tailor their terms and conditions to each customer, as well as configuring VM images to match customer needs. Learn more here.

We’re excited about the opportunities for partners in these announcements from Microsoft Build. Whether you’re building apps or services, we have resources and tools that can help. Learn more about your business opportunities on partner.microsoft.com.

Share your favorite highlights with your partner community here.