Image Gallery: Microsoft Inspire 2018 Featuring Datto, ConnectWise, SolarWinds

Miss Microsoft Inspire 2018 or want to relive it? We've got you covered.

July 24, 2018

10 Slides

By Howard M. Cohen

Microsoft Inspire, formerly known as the Microsoft WorldWide Partner Conference (WPC), still brings together more than 20,000 members of the company’s global partner ecosystem every year. This year’s event was held last week at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

The theme for this year’s Inspire was “Collaborate – Innovate – Accelerate,” incredibly appropriate for the challenges Microsoft partners face.

Raising the Bar Through Focus

Nine years ago at this event, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), which compelled solution providers to raise the bar and declare their core competencies. One new wrinkle back then was the “exclusivity rule,” which required four unique specialists to pass tests for each gold competency. Capturing all 30 competencies would require 120 specialists. No more being “all things to all people.”

At that time, the No. 1 partner out of more than 120,000 U.S. partners in the Microsoft PartnerFinder held 29 of the 30 existing competencies. Making the reason behind the rule obvious was the fact that they only had 17 employees. Great test-takers, but hardly conceivable that they could deliver on all those competencies with so few people. This was what Microsoft designed MPN to resolve.

Specializing and focusing in this way also meant partners would have to team with other partners to address larger projects requiring multiple competencies.

The strategy worked. Today, partners collaborate with their peers more enthusiastically and successfully than ever before.

With the accelerating global movement to the cloud, partners have had to reimagine their practices and innovate new ways to go to market with new services that resonate well with customers.

Managing Azure

One of the more exciting announcements at Inspire 2018 was the introduction of the Azure Expert Managed Service Provider program, designed to enable partners to manage cloud-based Azure environments, and on-prem/Azure hybrids as easily and completely as they now manage on-prem.

Software Vendors Become MSP-Enablers

Touring “The Commons” at Inspire, you could find many vendor partners who also enable MSPs to extend their capabilities into cloud and hybrid networks. Some were designed to enable partners from the start, some have shifted their business model from selling through partners to selling to partners, and others are transitioning.

Perhaps most impressive at Inspire (pictured above) were the large crowds attending many of the presentations that took place on the floor of The Commons instead of in breakout rooms. Each of these talks further enabled partners by providing them with greater insights into Microsoft and related technologies and where they’re going in the future.

Click through the gallery below for pictures and more recap from Microsoft Inspire 2018.

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