Angus Fox again —Microsoft Strategist for Microsoft Partners Applicable and Multizone in the U.K.—with a community point of view on the Day 2 keynotes at WPC 2011. These were keynotes with a high information density, so let’s look at the details. I’ve tried to provide actions you could take TODAY at WPC to get clarity on what has been said.

Public and Partner Cloud Servers
The Server and Tools division mission is to lead the transition to the cloud for every business, starting with the most widely deployed server OS. In 2011, Microsoft believe that virtual servers will overtake physical for new server shipments—10.9 million virtuals. I believe that. We know this from our work consolidating physical data center platforms for telecoms at Applicable. The message here seemed to me that infrastructure partners must be virtual. There’s no place now for physical single server hardware in data centers in enterprises or in the cloud. System Center App Controller—a new tool for management of the new workload of virtualized hybrid clouds—plays to that vision by providing tools to easily manage apps wherever they may be. I would head to the demo booths and find out more about this toolset.
Office and the SharePoint juggernaut continue, with 1 billion users, worldwide, 73% US Office market share, and 65% worldwide. There is clearly still a huge migration business for infrastructure partners. Last year 22 million Notes seats were migrated to Exchange, and this is complex, worthwhile, and profitable work for the partners that have the expertise. Think about how you would partner with partners that do these migrations, and extend the sale into other areas beyond a simple migration. Deliver insight right inside SharePoint and Office far beyond the legacy system capability that is being migrated. Find out by attending specific sessions on Office 365 and SharePoint. Look for partner opportunities with other partners from your region. Bigger deals can be won in partnership than alone with a narrow skillset.
The future is about the best productivity experience across PC, phone, and browser. Lync, said Kurt DelBene, is a fantastic product at a fantastic time. Forty percent of customers do not have a UC product at all. Ten million Cisco users are losing support in the next year. Lync connects people in new ways, reducing costs through converged communications, driving quick adoption through ease of use, and ease of deployment through interoperability. The Lync demo was very cool, with pin-sharp HD video with Polycom. Several hardware vendors integrate with Lync. Deciding which hardware vendor to partner with for your geography and business area with Lync is a key action for today, I believe.
If Microsoft says they can prove you can save $350k in a 1000-person organization by moving to the cloud, then it should be a no brainer. Microsoft is investing in transformations in development where services now run inside the development team in order to become even more reliable, with SLAs backed by revenue commitment. Look for the details of the Investment Case for saving $350k per 1000-user deployment. Show it to your customers.
Lots of feedback about last year’s ‘all-in’, including, ‘I was shocked, I really was shocked’, and ‘the first customers on BPOS were learning curves for us; it was tough making money’.
But a key learning point was that partners really had to step back and spend more time on education. Everybody in the company has to be behind the movement towards the cloud. We saw video of how partners found that a couple of case studies can trigger a wave of interest. Projects become more effective, and profitability higher; 30% cloud-impacted at first, and 80% cloud impacted next. There are huge opportunities for Office 365 in transitioning to the cloud: the value added services, customizations, and on-premises integrations, along with integration with existing systems and cloud based applications. Federation across organizational boundaries in Office 365 was shown in Dynamics. Jon Roskill said in his introduction that Microsoft and partners are being massively underestimated right now on Office 365. One part of the opportunity is that Office 2003 does not work with the Office 365. Partners can use Office 365 for free, so there’s no excuse not to come to grips with it. Go to the Office 365 launch session at the conference later today. Go early. I predict it will be sold out.
Kirill Tatarinov coined the phrase ‘Siebel free’— now that Microsoft themselves no longer use that product. There are 2 million users on Dynamics CRM today in 30,000 customers, and the growth continues. Every new release of Microsoft Dynamics will be available in the cloud. There’s the cloud again. It’s in everything Microsoft are doing. Dynamics CRM will become an optional add-on to Office 365, so all customers who sign up to use it will have that choice. Microsoft also announced that the Dynamics ERP RapidStart Services tool for putting Dynamics ERP on Azure is due for release later in the year.
Did you see the Microsoft Dynamics CRM app demonstrated on Windows Phone 7? This can be downloaded in the Marketplace. It showcased a nice user experience with people, and records feeds and social integration.I would think it would be an easy win to download this, and use it to demo to customers. It showcases Dynamics, thought leadership, and the cloud in one. Kurt urged partners to switch to Dynamics CRM as a partner. Hard to argue with that, especially as, for many partners it is free. Are you running Dynamics CRM? If not—why not?
Windows Phone – Mango
Andy Lees noted that he often does things the long way just to make sure it can’t be captured in 140 characters. He was making a point about the proliferation of devices into our whole life. There are key trends here which will have a huge impact start right at the core of the devices themselves. With motherboards smaller than a phone, he said, we have reached an inflection point in Moore’s Law. What he meant was that prices would fall sharply and the size, of course, can be smaller. Smartphones are down to $200 today, and dramatic price reductions are expected next year.
These Internet-connected phones, along with the cloud again, are blurring consumer technologies and business technologies – consumers now bring their technology to work. Gartner (in June 2011, The Not so Future Web) found that "Consumerization is a real force in many enterprises. Enterprises that ignore this trend may be setting themselves up to be marginalized, or worse, users may actively circumvent IT controls if IT is perceived to be out-of-touch or draconian."
Consequently Microsoft believes there should be only one phone for each purpose–Business and Consumer. That requires a different proposition: make the smartphone smarter and easier. Mango will be delivered this year. There are over 500 new capabilities in a free update. The winner in phones will be the best provider of communications, applications, and the Internet. Everyone is trying to build the killer device right now.
The Mango demo showed a people centric approach. People hub connected all the places you know people from Exchange, Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Social networking information was visible from all these sources. It was positioned as a strength that these were not proprietary, like iMessage or BBM. Mango also has a consumer and business focus in email with tiles for Personal Mail, and Work Inbox. Outlook Mobile looked nice with a conversation view and calendar that supports work and life views. The Office Hub syncs notes and documents, from Office 365, SharePoint, or Skydrive. The British Airways Mango app was a nice showcase demo too, with an immersive 3D seat check in experience. Naturally the Mango with 50 frames per second trounced the competitor devices— even the iPhone on iOS 5 beta. Make a point of finding out more about Mango, and what it might mean for your partner solutions, because Andy Lees plans for it to be the #2 phone by 2014, with the largest geographic footprint possible while lowering the price of the phones by half.
Sneak peak – New Technologies
Steve Guggenheim demonstrated convergence, form factors, capabilities, and choice. Software and service partners often forget the parallel ecosystem working on hardware. Let’s dive in.
There was a plethora of new devices–can someone get a full list from the booth? Here’s a brief rundown of a few that stood out to me:
  • Commercial PCs – There was choice and value across the range–Toughbook was a specific solution, for example.
  • Lenovo focuses on cold boot-to-completely on in less than 20 seconds.
  • Split screen laptop; cool, but looked a little flimsy.
  • Lots of interesting server developments: Home Server, Small Business Server, Multi Point Server (25 monitors) SBS connected to Office365, and Western Digital’s first ever OEM server.Tablets which rotate, run existing apps, and are corporate good citizens, and Slates with no keyboards.
  • Consumers have more choice in color and price point; thin and light.
  • New Vaio- really thin.
  • All-in-ones, touch screens, gaming machines, and more…
All of this hardware was a pointer to the shared opportunity to take advantage of over 300 million PCs sold next year.
Seventy percent of these are going via resellers. Visit the Solutions Innovation Center at the conference.
That was a lot of information, but there are two key themes running through it. Firstly, that consumer technology and business technology are blurring. This is evidenced in Mango, where phones have Business and Personal Email, and in research by Gartner showing that people take their home technology to work. This blur is enabled by the second theme: the Internet, and with it, the cloud. It is no coincidence that everything Microsoft showed today had a cloud, Internet, and mobile element to it. And that is because, as Jon Roskill explained right back at the start of the morning, Microsoft is going to the next level, dealing with the proliferation of devices, the consumption of content, connected socialization, and business applications.
Can’t wait for tomorrow. Sir Richard is a personal hero of mine. ​