Revisiting Microsoft Inspire 2021: the latest investments in the partner network

Partner in a meeting

Each year at Microsoft Inspire, we share the most exciting news and product updates through the lens of the partner experience. The conversations that happen at this conference are central to our learning and evolving to better meet customers’ needs. This year, Microsoft Inspire took place virtually in July, offering accessible video sessions with Microsoft experts (now available on-demand) and celebrating partner accomplishments.  

Our teams shared key announcements, focusing on five key themes, all of which provide opportunities for the Microsoft Partner ecosystem: 

 Digital transformation across industries 

In the past year, Microsoft launched industry-specific cloud offerings for retail, healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, and nonprofit to bring together specialized capabilities for partners. We’re building on this foundation with Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability, a SaaS offering announced at Microsoft Inspire to help organizations record, report, and reduce their emissions toward net zero. Sustainability is a leading priority for many customers, and this tool will enable them to track water and waste resources more effectively. 

The future of work 

Partners are being called on to create new visions for hybrid and remote workplaces, and Microsoft spotlighted three products that open even more possibilities:  

  • Collaborative Apps with Microsoft Teams + Dynamics 365 Microsoft Teams has become the front end of the workplace, and in response we have released Collaborative Apps to enable customers to get everything done directly in the Teams platform. This now includes the ability to view and collaborate on Microsoft Dynamics 365 records right in Teams, without the need to pay for multiple licenses. 
  • Employee Experience: Another example of the Collaborative Apps that can be built in Teams is Microsoft Viva, which connects employees to company information, workplace insights, knowledge, and learning. At Inspire, we unveiled 21 new Viva partnerships, following the launch of several Viva partner integrations earlier this year.  
  • Windows 365: Microsoft is bringing Windows to the cloud with Windows 365, a new way to deliver Windows 10 or Windows 11 that streams your personalized apps, settings, and content from the Microsoft Cloud to any device. Learn more about partner opportunities and options with Windows 365 here.  

Innovate from cloud to edge 

We are continuing to leverage and expand the abilities of Microsoft Azure to help every organization be future ready, build on their own terms, and operate hybrid seamlessly. The latest updates from Inspire include: 

  • Free extended security updates: Exclusively on Azure, we are offering free Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, and SQL Server 2012. Customers who need more time to upgrade and modernize Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/R2 can also access one additional year of free extended security updates on Azure. 
  • Help customers modernize datacenters: Azure Stack HCI simplifies guest licensing activation with Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) and provides advanced protection across hardware, firmware, and OS with Secured-core server. We’ve also put together new partner resources and programs for Azure Stack HCI and Azure Arc, including advanced specializations. 
  • Workload Acquisition & Nurture: We are rewarding partners that have earned an advanced specialization or Azure Expert Managed Service Provider (MSP) through the Azure Workload Acquisition & Nurture incentive for helping customers acquire new Azure workloads. 

Build a foundation of trust and security 

Microsoft remains committed to providing best-in-class security solutions and empowering partners to build trust with customers. Our growing support system now includes:  

  • Microsoft 365 Lighthouse: Microsoft 365 Lighthouse—now in public preview—equips managed service providers with one central location and standard security configuration templates to secure devices, data, and users for small and medium business customers that are using Microsoft 365 Business Premium. 
  • Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection with Azure AD B2C: We’re extending Azure AD B2C’s scope of protection to include fraudulent activities by integrating Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection. By combining the power of Azure AD Identity Protection and Dynamics Fraud Protection partners can protect end customers from account abuse. 
  • Applications and data: The app governance add-on feature to Microsoft Cloud App Security and an extension to the priority user group capability in Insider Risk Management to include fine-grained role-based access control (RBAC) are both now in public preview. 

Drive business growth with the most partner-focused business platform 

As always, our goal is to help partners get to market faster, build apps for every customer need, and scale through its channels to help them reach new business heights. Our latest investments in the partner ecosystem, as announced at Microsoft Inspire, include:  

Microsoft Inspire continues to be an invaluable opportunity for us to hear from partners and connect you with cutting-edge solutions so you’re armed with resources you need to meet the ever-changing needs of your customers. These resources will continue to be available online for you to explore and integrate into your business over the coming months.