First, let me introduce myself.  I'm Tom Rizzo and I work in the Online Services group here at Microsoft.  You may know the Online Services team as the Business Productivity Online Services (BPOS) team.  Before working in this group, I worked in the SharePoint product management team and before that the SQL and Exchange product management teams.  Finally, I'm an author of a number of books about programming on the Microsoft platform.  Check out my latest book - Professional SharePoint DevelopmentEnough intro, let's talk about the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

WPC - 14,000 Strong!

It was an amazing week last week in Washington, DC.  We held our Worldwide Partner Conference where partners from all over the globe and Microsoft come to learn and discuss the latest trends in the market and technology.  I was fortunate to spend some time at WPC with 14,000 of my closest partner friends.  It was an amazing event and you can see photos people have posted over at Flickr

 

Given the state of the economy, I think it's a testament to the strength of the Microsoft partner ecosystem to have such a great showing of worldwide partners at the event.  The expo hall was packed, the sessions were overflowing and the "cloud" was on everyone's mind!

I thought I would give you a recap of the news from the week.  I won't do justice to all the announcements since there were a lot and my focus will be more on the commercial, productivity side of things rather than consumer.

News You Can Use: WPC Recap

To make the recap easier to digest, I'm giving you my top five things I learned about different topics.  Want to watch the keynote videos yourself, check them out at here.  Want to see all the news from the conference, check out the virtual press site.  Enjoy!

5 Things You May not Know about BPOS

1. $167 - That's how much you can make per seat as a BPOS partner. Stephen Elop showed the below slide in his keynote. We looked at a number of different deals that partners had done with BPOS and broke down how the partner made money. The thing about the cloud is that it's good for both the customer who can outsource some of their IT infrastructure and move their folks to work on other high-value projects and for the partner who can help move the customer to cloud and build an even better relationship with their customer.

2. 5,000 -> 16,000 - What a difference a year makes. Last year, there were only 5,000 cloud partners in the Microsoft Partner Network. This year, there are over 16,000. These partners range from ISVs to large Solution Integrators to small 'mom and pop' solution providers across the globe. It's amazing to see the growth and I believe the opportunities on BPOS and Azure will be more than these 16,000 partners can handle. If I think back to my early days in SharePoint, the product was growing so quickly that we didn't have enough partners to handle all the work. I think our cloud offerings will follow the same trajectory, so if you're a partner, being a BPOS or Azure partner is definitely something you should look at. Want to get started understanding how it will affect your business, check out the Partner Profitability Tools.

3.       Roadmap - BPOS v.Next - We were sneaky and put up an under the radar blog post and did a session at WPC on the future enhancements in BPOS.  Of course coming from the SharePoint team, the part that excites me the most are all the new SharePoint enhancements.  If you want a sneak peek on some cool solutions that you can build, check out Stephen Elop's keynote video and jump to 35:15 to see a very cool solution built on BPOS today and how it will get better in BPOS v.Next.  My favorite list of SharePoint features for BPOS v.Next are all the Social Networking enhancements like activity feeds, enhanced blogs and wikis, tagging, rating and also adding in Extranet and Internet capabilities to the service.  Lots of customers use SharePoint Online today such as Energizer, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Starbucks and with the new Extranet and Internet offers, they can expand to using SharePoint Online for all of their collaboration needs.

 4.       KENTUCKY!!!! - I was fortunate to sit in roundtables with partners and one of the partners I got to see speak was Full Armor.  Full Armor builds Azure based migration tools and were the partner that helped the State of Kentucky migrate to our Live@EDU offering.  They moved over 100k mailboxes over a weekend.  Kentucky is the biggest cloud deployment in the world so it was great to hear from the partner how they did it and have them share their best practices with other partners.

The Full Armor team released their migration tool so other partners could use it to achieve some great migration results.  Not only does it move Exchange on-premises to Exchange Online but for those customers who want to get off Gmail, their tool will gladly take you to Exchange Online.  I was amazed to see how swamped with interest the Full Armor team was by partners wanting to learn more about their migration tools.  Again, it reinforced to me that the move to the cloud was more reality than hype.

5.       Resellers, Distributors, Syndicators, oh My! - There were a ton of partners announcing their intention to resell, distribute or syndicate the Microsoft cloud technologies.  The picture below shows some of these partners and they are all names you will recognize.  Compare that with some of the partner names you'll see from the competition and I think you'll see the mainstream partners you work with all the time are betting their business on the Microsoft cloud.

Azure - The Power of Choice

Bob Muglia made a lot of announcements around Azure, 'Project Dallas' and partnerships.  Below is my top 5 that I took from his announcements.  While I work in Online Services, Azure is an important partner since we believe that developers will build applications in both BPOS and Azure and will want to integrate the two together.  I can't think of a better development platform and also better development tools for building cloud applications than Azure and Visual Studio.  Take a spin for yourself by checking out the Azure Development Center.  Let the list begin!

1.       Azure Appliance "Power of Choice" - ChannelInsider has a good article interviewing Bob Muglia explaining the Azure Appliance.  The way I took the announcement was that similar to the way we talk about The Cloud on Your Terms and the Power of Choice in BPOS where you can run Exchange or SharePoint on-premises or in BPOS or in both, the Azure team is doing the same thing.  Private clouds are all the rage right now and unlike the competition and Microsoft actually gives you a choice on where you want to run the technology since some applications can't move to the cloud for one reason or another.  Try asking the other vendors, like Google,  how to get around their IT Ultimatum - Cloud or Nothing!  I think you'll get blank stares or "why would you want to do that??".

2.       10,000 - That's the number of customers Azure has.  That's fast growth for a service which has only been available since November 2009. 

3.       Project Dallas available in Q4 - I used to work in the SQL Server team and I know how dedicated that team is in trying to make data management and Business Intelligence easy for the end user, IT and developer and also affordable.  For those of you who don't know what Dallas is, think of it as a way to get datasets from the cloud or DaaS (data as a service).  It's not only for developers, end users can bring Dallas datasets into Office so if you want to overlay some data from the cloud in your Excel spreadsheet or chart, you can use Dallas for that.  I think this is the natural evolution of some of the experiments that the SQL Server team has done with things like Terraserver and SkyServer.

4.       Dell, eBay, Fujistu, HP! - These are just some of the partners and customers who made announcements about supporting the Azure platform.  For me, it was great to see some big name partners lining up behind the Azure appliance.

5.       Professional Developer Conference 10 - In my many years at Microsoft, there are only a few conferences I look forward to such as Teched, WPC, SharePoint Conference and of course PDC.  PDC is where Microsoft goes deep on our developer technologies from both a strategy and practical standpoint.  The nice thing about PDC 10 is that it's on the Microsoft Campus October 28th - 29th, 2010.  Sorry for those of you who have to travel to us but it's nice this one time to have it the other way around and stay close to home.  I bet you'll hear a lot about cloud development, especially on the BPOS and Azure platforms.

Kevin Turner - Winning in the Cloud

The last highlight I wanted to give from the news at WPC was Kevin Turner's keynote.  Kevin focused in on competing against such competitors as Google and Apple.  I can't do his keynote justice so you'll want to watch it for yourself.  The one thing that I will highlight is his "Don't let your customers get Googled" section which highlighted Jaguar Land Rover and how their employees commented on their usage of Gmail.  The best quote: "We sell ourselves as 'Best of Breed' but install the IT equivalent of Vinyl Seats."  Ouch to the product managers over to the Google Gmail product managers . . .

 All in all an exciting WPC that highlighted lots of opportunities for partners to help customers save money and be more productive!