What we learned at Microsoft Inspire 2017

Hello all!

It’s been an eventful week! We just got back from being a booth exhibitor at Microsoft Inspire 2017 in Washington D.C., and what a great show it was! Altaro was on the expo floor at booth 816, and we got to spend the week talking with customers, partners, and vendors! As always it’s great to hear feedback about our products to learn how people are using them in their day to day activities in addition to getting some input on how we can make them better for you!

Altaro booth at Microsoft Inspire 2017

There weren’t too many reveals during the week, but there were some that were definitely worth mentioning. We can get started with those!

2 Semi-Big Announcements

Orders for Azure Stack can be placed for delivery in September – Azure Stack has been a long time coming. Microsoft announced the product some time ago and it has been in technical preview ever since. For those that aren’t aware, Microsoft Azure Stack (or MAS) gives you the ability to run Azure type services in your own datacenter, and is targeted at enterprises and hosting partners currently. At its inception, Microsoft stated that Azure Stack would remain somewhat open, but throughout the conference, talking with different vendors that are creating hardware solutions for it, I found that Microsoft has instead decided to go the appliance route with it. The system will be entirely closed off, with no 3rd party software integration at release in September, which is something of a bummer. Additionally, the price tag is fall-out-of-your-seat crazy. I wasn’t actually able to get anyone to commit to an actual number, but I was hearing entry points ranging from $150k to $250k for a 4 node installation. Sadly this will leave it out of reach for many smaller organizations for some time, but as Microsoft is apt to do, they may shrink the entry point in the future.

Introducing Microsoft 365 – This is a new service Microsoft announced during the week, and as you can likely guess Office 365 is a large part of it. The short of it is that it’s a service that includes some version of Office 365, bundled with Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Centralized Management. Needless to say this is more of a complete end-point computing package than we’ve seen previously, and it will be interesting to see how it impacts the SaaS and Service Provider Markets as they start to leverage it. If you’re interested in more information on this new offering, you can read the official blog post HERE

Some Inspiration

Personally, this was the first time I’ve attended Microsoft Inspire. I’m a long time veteran of Microsoft Ignite (and TechEd before it), and while that conference is very much IT Pro focused, Inspire (Formerly Microsoft Partner Conference) is a very different conversation. While Inspire lacked the large scale reveals and geeky tech work of Ignite, I still found myself quite enamored by it. I found this conference to be all about how can we work together as a community to really empower the world, and I even found a quote regarding this on-premise at the conference that I’ve seen before and always loved.

Inspirational message from Microsoft

I think this is a really important message not just for attendees of this show to remember, but for everyone that works in the technology industry. I find that many IT Pros fall into the thought process of saying “I just fix computers for a living”. Maybe at it’s most simplistic level you could describe it that way, but you have to remember that technology is the engine of business today. It’s the engine that allows businesses and organizations to innovate and to do amazing things. When we make technology work, we empower those around us in our organization to do great things for the world, and I find inspiration in that idea.

If you need further evidence of this idea, Microsoft was quick to demonstrate it throughout the conference by showcasing Microsoft Partners doing great things around the world. I’d like to share my favorites with you, as I found them very compelling and powerful, and they serve as a reminder that we do our jobs so others can do amazing things….

 Broadreach and USAID – These organizations have made it their goal to eliminate AIDS in Africa. Currently the infection rate is near the 20% mark, with very few of those affected actually seeking treatment, or even knowing that they have the disease. Obviously AIDS is a huge issue, but it’s especially bad in poor countries with poor access to education and health services. So the goal here is to reach the 90 – 90 – 90 goal. Meaning 90% of affected patients know they have the disease, 90% are actively getting treatment, and that treatment is 90% effective. They are lofty goals to be sure, but the one thing I really was moved by with this is the fact that the actions of these two organizations directly leads to lives saved. I can’t think of any better use for technology than that, and with the help of Microsoft Teams, Azure, and others, they have already saved thousands upon thousands of lives in Africa by using technology to help them move towards their stated goal.

SADA Systems and Dr. Thomas Lee – I was greatly moved by this story, and it again shows how amazing technology can be when applied in innovative ways. In Armenia a child was born with either a disease of the eye, or a abnormality. Whichever it was this particular malady, if left untreated for 48 hours leads to permanent blindness for the child. The surgeons in that area of the country lacked the knowledge on how to resolve this particular issue, so SADA Systems and Dr. Thomas Lee from California teamed up to help train the surgeons in time to prevent this child’s blindness. Using technologies such as Skype for Business, they were able to get experts from around the world virtually present in the surgical room back in Armenia and help guide the Armenian surgeons through the procedure and thus saving the girl’s eyesight. It seems such a simple use of existing technology, but it has far reach ramifications. This child will now grow up with the ability to see, and her whole family and everyone she touches in her life will be impacted. This group of doctors is continuing to do this around the world, and the results will be amazing to see….

Wrap-Up

As you can see, Microsoft Inspire 2017, while a tech conference, was truly about being inspirational. How can we as organizations and individuals use technology to empower everyone on the planet to achieve more? I think by just keeping this idea in mind as you go about your day will be a good start. Remember, you empower others to do amazing things. So in a sense, it starts with you. You’re the catalyst, the starting point, and the innovation. The next time you feel like your just “fixing computers”, remember to look at the big picture.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this write up! As always if you have any questions about the event of comments about the content, feel free to join the discussion below!

Thanks for reading!

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