Microsoft WPC: Mobile First, Cloud First

There’s a definite buzz in Washington DC at the moment, the city of choice for this year’s Microsoft World Partner Conference.

There’s always a certain degree of excitement to be fair. The event is held on an absolutely massive scale with over 16,000 global partners in attendance. And this is the start of Microsoft’s new financial year; so typically a time when they make many announcements about new products and services.

However, this year has been full of big Microsoft announcements already. My fellow TSG bloggers and I have tried to write about as many of them as we could (Office finally being made available on iPad, the Surface Pro 3, purportedly the tablet that can replace the laptop, new data gathering services…..) but I’ll be honest, we struggled to keep up at times.

It seems the Nadella effect has a lot to do with it. Phil Sorgen, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of the Worldwide Partner Group, hit the nail on the head in his opening keynote today when he said that people are taking a fresh look at Microsoft now. They’re being confident, yet realistic. And clearly willing to challenge history.

This is the first Microsoft World Partner conference without Steve Ballmer bounding onto stage in various levels of enthusiastic giddiness, and there has already been a lot of history being challenged in the short time that Satya Nadella has taken over as Chief Executive.

I’ll try to expand on this theme more as the conference goes on, but for this blog, I’ll talk about the highlights from the first two keynotes: the aforementioned Phil Sorgen, and Scott Guthrie, Microsoft Vice President for Cloud and Enterprise.


You may have heard the term, ‘Mobile First, Cloud First’ being used a lot around Microsoft recently. And this is definitely the focus for this year’s conference.

Sorgen said that it Microsoft’s core aim to enable ‘People to be connected to multiple devices of their choice which allow them to do more, and be entertained.’

And it’s ‘of their choice’ which are the key words there. It’s not, ‘You have a choice, as long as it’s on Windows’. Microsoft are becoming very partner happy, and this is another thing that will get more evident as the conference goes on.

Another key line from Sorgen about Microsoft’s relatively newfound willingness to work more with other partners was this one:

“If customers are using other vendors’ technologies, they can do that in our Cloud as well. It’s a complete solution, delivered to where they want to be.” Long story short? You can’t hide from the Microsoft Cloud. It’s now everywhere, within other vendors’ technologies – and I’ll come onto the scale of that a little later on in this blog.

After Phil Sorgen, Microsoft weren’t exactly being shy in their next presentation on how they intended to be the biggest Cloud provider, and differentiate from the nearest rivals, Amazon and Google. Cue a keynote from Scott Guthrie.

Scott talked a lot about the improvements coming to Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform. The first thing in his presentation? Some impressive stats:

  • Microsoft shipped 300 significant new features in Azure over the past year
  • There are more than 1 billion SQL databases in Azure.
  • Azure gets 3 million requests every single second.

Now, if you’re struggling to get your head around those numbers, maybe try this:

Having just announced two new regions, Microsoft Azure now has 17 worldwide regions of datacentres. That’s twice as many as AWS (Amazon Web Services), and five times as many as Google.

There are up to 16 datacentre buildings in each region. And each datacentre building is the size of an American football field. And also has the capacity to house two jumbo jets. That’s up to 600,000 servers in each region.

What can we take from that? Well, Microsoft have their serious face on when it comes to being the biggest Cloud provider. Their economies of scale are immense, which Scott says they want to use to bring prices down, get closer to their customers, and allow them to easily scale up, or scale down if necessary.

Microsoft’s plan to differentiate from Amazon and Google is by the level of enterprise grade support they provide, and their unique hybrid capabilities, across their global reach.

Phil Sorgen ended his keynote by saying that the world we live in could be broken down to four key areas: People, Devices, Applications and Data. Having a strategy based around making the most of each of these things will allow your business to make better decisions, which can then be accelerated by the Cloud.

This is what is driving Microsoft forward right now, and it will be interesting to see what further announcements will be made in the ‘mobile first, cloud first’ mantra this week.

Stay tuned…