I had the opportunity to visit the Microsoft Global Foundations DB3 data center in Dublin a few weeks ago. My expectations for the visit were very high, but the visit managed to exceed them in every way. The scale of the cloud center and the professionalism in every detail was simply astonishing. The visit made me think about the Microsoft cloud strategy in general.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have been a Microsoft partner for more than 15 years and attended every WPC since Minneapolis in 2005. In WPC 2006 Microsoft barely mentioned the cloud, in 2007 the cloud was discussed a bit more and in 2008 and 2009 we got some real details. But we hit the jackpot in WPC 2010 when Steve Ballmer simply announced Microsoft was going “all-in” on the cloud.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I had been following the cloud story closely, but still I was not so sure about the all-in approach. But one of the key parts of the WPC experience is being able to discuss with various partners and Microsofties. As WPC 2010 progressed, I heard so many opinions and business plans on the cloud that I quickly began to understand the meaning of “all in.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For me things progressed quite rapidly after WPC 2010. Back in July 2010 I was a founding partner and full-time chairman in one the most well-known Finnish SharePoint vendors. In September 2010 I decided to quit after nine years there to start a new company focused on the Microsoft cloud. We founded Sulava in December 2010 and now our company is one of the most experienced and respected Microsoft cloud partners here in Finland. If I had not attended WPC in 2010 things would be pretty different.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
At WPC 2011, Steve B. told us that he was actually a bit scared the previous year, because he did not really know how partners would react to the “all-in cloud strategy.” But the partners adopted the new ideology and WPC 2011 saw a record attendance of 15,000 people. And I noticed the clear shift in the mindsets when during discussions with the other partners, the question was no longer “if we go with the cloud” but was now “when we go to the cloud, how we will adapt our strategy and offering?”.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have very high expectations for this year’s WPC. The cloud is of course ever present, with more products moving to the cloud, new Windows Azure features, and—of course—Office 365. But there are also massive product launches coming soon. Trends such as social technology, big data, open data, and consumerization of IT are reshaping the whole ICT industry. These new product launches and concepts, like marketplaces, are creating all kinds of new possibilities for us partners. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In my opinion the Microsoft Partner Network is stronger than ever before and the Microsoft ecosystem offers the best possibility for us partners to succeed and prosper in our businesses. WPC 2012 is all about winning together as the best ecosystem in the world. See you in Toronto!
 
 
Looking forward to meeting you at the WPC 12,
 
 
Aki​