Facebook Hits Like Button on Office 365, and Other Microsoft Cloud News from WPC 2016

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TORONTO — Microsoft is cool again.

This is according to Facebook CIO Tim Campos, who made a guest appearance at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2016 (WPC) keynote on Tuesday to talk about how Facebook’s 13,000 employees around the world are now using Office 365 to communicate and collaborate.

In the second keynote of the conference held this week in Toronto, Microsoft flexed its enterprise muscles, highlighting the security and compliance of its cloud services including Azure and Office 365.

“For us enterprises are not an afterthought,” Microsoft Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group Scott Guthrie said. “It’s not just the technology; we have decades of experience; we really understand the enterprise cloud.”

Guthrie said that Azure’s 34 unique regions give it a bigger footprint than AWS and Google combined; “no other cloud out there offers the breadth and depth of what Microsoft cloud delivers,” he said.

According to Guthrie, 85 percent of the Fortune 500 companies run their business with Microsoft cloud services, including Walmart, Samsung, BMW, and GE, which announced a partnership with Microsoft on Monday.

To support these customers and their growth, Guthrie said Microsoft continues to invest billions of dollars each year in infrastructure.

Despite the focus on enterprise adoption, Guthrie emphasizes how critical its partners are to its growth. According to Guthrie, $45 billion of partner services revenue attached to Microsoft cloud.

“Partners have always been the backbone of our success,” Guthrie said.

The changing face of productivity

While Microsoft is relying on its enterprise experience to lead it to cloud dominance, it acknowledges how quickly demands of productivity solutions are changing, pointing to a number of factors, including remote workers and millennials in the workforce demanding solutions that work anywhere and are device agnostic.

“One key trend we’re seeing is teams who want to work together more effectively,” Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate Vice President, Office Marketing said. “We see Office 365 as core to reinventing productivity for the digital transformation.”

Koenigsbauer pointed to four areas of focus for Microsoft in this area: collaboration, mobility, intelligence (which will help employees “get insights out of a sea of data” with bots and other intelligent improvements), and trust.

In addition to showcasing how Facebook uses Office 365, Koenigsbauer said that in the five years since its launch Office 365 now has 70 million monthly active users. Year-over-year paid seats of Office 365 have grown 57 percent.

Recent research out of Gartner that finds Microsoft has an 80 percent share of companies using cloud email bodes well for its continued growth. In December Microsoft released its Office 365 E5 Suite to deliver new enterprise value around voice and analytics and Koenigsbauer said that partners offering this suite have already made up to 1.8x service revenue.

Koenigsbauer said Microsoft is making “a number of different investments” in its “intelligent, built-in security and protection” including advanced ediscovery that uses machine learning, advanced security management, and Customer Lockbox which offers audit control and approval.

“Every customer meeting we go to we see security at the top of the agenda. Partners can help coach customers through the security journey,” he said.

Windows 10 comes to the cloud

In one of the biggest announcements on Tuesday, Microsoft said that it would offer Windows 10 cloud subscriptions starting in the fall through its Cloud Solution Providers Partner program. The offering starts at $7 a seat per month.

Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Windows and Devices Group, said that 96 percent of its enterprise customers are piloting Windows 10. Ahead of the new release, which is expected to happen at its upcoming Ignite conference, Mehdi said to expect a “huge amount of technical change to Windows 10.”

The anniversary update brings new security features, as well as enhancements to Cortana and Surface Pen.

On the security side of things, Windows Hello will allow users to log in to websites with their fingerprints – or even their faces. In an example of the technology and a colorful demo that involved sawing and drilling into a brand new tire, Microsoft Executive Demo Lead Bryan Roper showed how the latter would work for a Bridgestone mechanic who may have their hands full and need to log in to their workstation using only their face.

Partner opportunities

During the two-hour keynote, Microsoft executives including Guthrie outlined a number of opportunities – both new and existing – for partners to take advantage of in the cloud. These include:

  • AppSource: Guthrie said AppSource helps deliver users to Microsoft partners, and offers the ability for partners to show off their solutions. Customers can use the AppSource marketplace to find business applications that meet their business needs. According to Guthrie, partners can easily list an app from the AppSource website.
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security: Companies can use Microsoft Cloud App Security to discover the number of SaaS apps being used and apply appropriate policies.
  • Microsoft Operation Management + Security: “Customers are going to grapple with how to manage their cloud,” especially if they’re using multiple clouds, or hybrid clouds, Guthrie said. Microsoft OMS helps these customers manage VMs and servers in a multi-cloud world.
  • Windows 10 in the Cloud: Available through Cloud Solution Provider Partners, will offer Windows 10 cloud subscriptions starting in the fall, starting at $7 a seat per month.
  • Surface as a Service: Not to be confused with Software as a Service, Surface as a Service is a managed service offering available Cloud Solution Providers.

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