Conference day 4: Regional

This is the last post about the conference itself, future posts will still be about Toronto, purely for leisure.

Regional Keynote BeLux

Philippe Rogge (General Manager BeLux)

The future brings 3 great changes:
– Windows, Windows, Windows: all 4 Windows platforms (Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Azure) are key to our success in FY13
– Microsoft has had some headwind the last few years. This time, the tailwind is setting, so surf on this wave!
– To win in FY13, we have to make a lot of speed though, that is the only way we can win!

At the MSFT offices, there is a Customer Immersion Experience demo floor available for partners to use to showcase MSFT technologies and solutions to customers and prospects. We can use this as well, we should use this to compete!

More marketing material will be shared with partners. There will be a lot of TV commercials next year and we can be part of that with one of our stories, we should check into this.
Two major accounts in BeLux (a major bank and a part of the government) have moved to the public cloud (O365 or Azure, not sure). These reference cases can be used to win new customers and show them the public cloud can be trusted.

Steven Stokmans (SMS&P)

Enterprise priorities in FY13:

  • Cloud / datacenters: SaaS (O365), Iaas, Paas, application development and management
  • Connected business (AX, CRM), BI, big data
  • Mobile / social, new world of work

SMB priorities in FY13:

  • Cloud
  • Windows / Office
  • Leverage ecosystem

Consumer priorities in FY13:

  • Amazing product launches
  • Boost ecosystem
  • Grow personal cloud services

First week of October, a mini-WPC will be held in Belgium, throughout November even with technical sessions.
Idea that could be interesting: some partners work with a “newspaper” format to showcase reference cases for marketing.

Belux Activities

We visited the Jackson Triggs Niagara Estate vineyard and got very close and personal with the Niagara Falls in the “Maid of the Mist” (just a boat).
The photos speak for themselves.

Conference day 3: Compete

In today’s session, focus was mainly on Kevin Turner’s compete talk.

Vision Keynote

Microsoft Partner Network (Jon Roskil)

The MPN team worked on the following three things based on partner feedback during the FY:

  • Great products: the products keep getting better and greater
  • Stronger field connections: PAM’s are being upscaled, PTA’s are being enabled, over 100 Tele Sales specialists are added as well as solution specialists.
  • Path to profit in the cloud: many partners had questions about how to make profit in the cloud. These were answered by Office 365’s Open Program, (as announced on day 1), which offers the most diverse and largest cloud licensing model. Incentive programs have also grown with 40%, as a partner told: “Solution Incentive Program (SIP) is just money sitting on a table” (waiting for you).

Compete (Kevin Turner – COO)

KT identifies the following business trends:

  • Economy: EU, LATAM both positive and negative trends
  • Geography
  • Multi-channel: multiple revenue types and GTM’s
  • Customer feedback & knowledge

and the following technology trends:

  • Cloud
  • Data explosion (big data)
  • Social
  • Natural interfaces
  • Ecosystem of computers
  • Consumerization of IT
  • Connectivity
  • Machine learning (most important one)

This year is release record year (see the slide at the bottom of this post), with more releases in FY13 than ever before.
FY13 business focus:

  • Windows 8, devices and apps (incl. enterprise apps)
  • Win with Office 365
  • Cloud (winning with datacenters)
  • Deployment (AD and System Center to be prepared for the cloud)
  • Consumerization of IT
  • SQL Server 2012
  • Dynamics


  • Google: show your customer the typical hidden costs (advertised $50, actual $700+)
  • VMware: Hyper-V has double growth over VMware and stole quite some market share
  • Oracle/IBM: SQL Server is the worldwide leader in database systems with 46% market share vs 17% for Oracle and 9% for IBM. According to the TPC-E test on cost, performance and energy saving, SQL Server is the absolute leader. For big data, Hadoop can now be introduced in all clouds, be it public/private/on premise and for both structured and unstructured information.
  • Collaboration: Office, SharePoint, Lync, Skype and Yammer enable the enterprise to go social. This is a hot commodity these days…
  • Salesforce/Siebel: Dynamics CRM is less expensive but needs more implementing partners to get there!
  • Security: according to a security study, Microsoft is best in class, as opposed to Oracle, Apple and Google.

FY13 consumer focus:

  • Windows 8
  • Xbox
  • Office
  • Phone: WP beat iPhone as first on Siri “What is the best smartphone?”
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Stores (new ones opening in America)

Deepak Chopra

Honestly, the things he said were way too far fetched from a technology standpoint, he did not apply any humor and in my opinion did not reach the public at all. Only thing I remember is that the best fruits are deeply colored ones.

WPC 2013

Will take place in Houston, Texas.

Business-Critical SharePoint details session (Gideon Bibliowicz)

Eventually what the program is all about is SI’s taking ISV’s to market to bring more value from SharePoint.
Wins for this program will be showcased and the program requires at least 1 solution to be showcaseable. These reference cases should be discussed with the customer UP FRONT, to get the reference case quickly to Gideon and his team.
There is no Microsoft field play involved, so it is up to the partners to get the wins, there is no standard Microsoft sales approach to this program.
There are no fees to be paid for the program.
The benefits are still the same as on the website (training starts on July 19th Jens!):
At the SharePoint conference in LA later this year, the BCSP forum will try to get half a day dedicated to BCSP.
If needed, we could present our reference cases in a kind of webinar and get Gideon to introduce us (15min e.g.).
This is the only Microsoft program that gives you access to 4 hours with a Microsoft Ranger.

Executive Meeting Windows Azure (Eron Kelly – GM Azure Product Group)

The details of this meeting will be disclosed in my internal report.

AvePoint follow-up (Amy Roberts)

The details of this meeting will be disclosed in my internal report.

Belux activity

City tour + PAM dinners.

Conference day 2: Insight

More sessions today and a very fun billiard show! More details below.

Vision keynote

Satya Nadella (Server and Tools)

The details specified here are subject to my bad hearing 🙂
Windows Server 2012 will feature up to 4 TB of memory (RAM) and more than 300 CPU’s.
Jeff Woolsey showed a demo of a Win Server 2012 in Azure with an extreme setup, getting over 1000000 iops, which is 3 times more than what VMware claims is the maximum possible throughput.
System Center gets an update that allows administrators/customers see an overview of all of their clouds, be it on premise, privately hosted in a datacenter or in the public cloud (Azure, Amazon, …).
Windows Server 2012 will hit RTM in August and GA in September.
Microsoft is announcing the “Switch to Hyper-V” program to help customers/partner switch from VMware to Windows Server Hyper-V.

Kirill Tatarinov (Microsoft Dynamics)

Microsoft Dynamics AX will be added to the Enterprise Agreement / Software Assurance program, allowing it to be licensed in that way.

Laura Ipsen (Public sector)

Office 365 seems to be free for teachers / students.
Every region should have a “National Plan”, I’m checking out what Belux’ is, as we’re doing some significant things in the public sector.

Thom Grulner (Windows Phone)

New things in Windows Phone 8 (mostly recap):

  • Shared codebase with Windows 8: makes development easier and more reusable/consistent across devices
  • 7 of 10 highest rated smartphones on are Windows Phones
  • There are more than 100.000 apps in the Marketplace
  • The customizable start screen allows tile sizing in 3 states
  • Windows Phone 8 is secure: it will be encrypted with BitLocker
  • If you decide to create enterprise apps for your company, they no longer need to be added to the Marketplace, instead, they can be configured to be fetched from the local intranet. This is done using the “Company Hub” app that can be deployed using a management service.
  • NFC (Near Field Communication) is the core of interchanging simple information between phones, a phone and a slate, … The idea is simple: many apps have the “Tap + Send” action (e.g. contact sharing) which allows a limited amount of information to be sent by just proximizing both devices.

Jon Roskil & Steve Clayton (Next)

  • Bing social sidebar: you can ask your friend or subject matter experts to take a pick in your search results or suggest what they would like based on their search history (I personally don’t see all the social search buzz)
  • PhotoSynth app for Windows Phone, making stunning panoramas with ease
  • PxielSense: a great tabletop multi-touch interface demo shown of the galaxy with an incredible set of tools built into the software, making it possible to navigate around the galaxy with ease, with a price tag a lot better than the 82” from yesterday: $ 8000, affordable for business I’d say.
  • Kinect: cool demo of 3D scanning combined with a 3D printer to “clone” dead objects, seems ultra cool of course 🙂
  • Ubisoft has created a multi-touch screen with only 1 Kinect sensor and no actual touch screen, just some glass with a projection on it.
  • IllumiShare: another great innovation, having two lamps that scan and project the combination of both lamps to show as if you are collaborating in real life, far fetched, but cool.

See more at

Meeting (Gideon Bibliowicz): Business Critical SharePoint / LoQutus

I cannot disclose this information, it will be in my internal report.

Breakout session (Gideon Bibliowicz): Business-Critical SharePoint: Delivering Value in Heterogeneous Environments

The details of the only SharePoint partner program this fiscal year were layed out, but most of these things were already pointed out in the past (to me). Some key points I noted:
America + Europe have extremely high SharePoint penetration, Denmark having 100% in the upper segment. And of all these seats, more than half are already SharePoint 2010. However, very little is done with the platform.
Let’s recap last year’s session:
There, 3 customer stories were told: Initial Deployment, Broad Adoption and Business Solutions.
This “SharePoint Journey” fits in the BCSP program as follows.
More than 67% have actually broadly adopted SharePoint but there is huge momentum to leverage BCSP towards Business Solutions.
A company has on average 2.7 ERP systems.
Less than 5% connects SP to LOB systems (e.g. Siebel, Dynamics, SAP, JDEdward, …).
Call to action:

  • Inform customers by providing the right information to the right people
  • Enable efficient decision making
  • Improve business process efficiency
  • Drive visibility across teams

Tomorrow, there is a follow-up meeting with the details and benefits of the program, which I will be attending (strongly advised by Gideon).

Breakout session (Rackspace): Demystifying SharePoint in the Cloud

This sounds a lot like what we need (and even more maybe).
There is a huge $36 B opportunity in medium-sized business space for SharePoint deployment to the cloud.
The following barriers typically appear:

  • 78% of customers have security concerns
  • 43% of customers have concerns regarding expertise and experiences which they don’t have
  • 23% need external support
  • 70% need a hybrid infrastructure

So there is a great deal of work to be done!
An interesting definition for cloud: “It’s cloud if it is not in your data center."
There are typically 3 cloud types: IaaS, Paas and SaaS.
These are the key questions that need to be asked when considering SharePoint in the cloud: Security, Flexibility, Cost and Functionality.
Another quote: "SharePoint is the stickiest stuff I know."
Rackspace also has a partner program, but focuses mainly on marketing/sales support.

Belux Activity: CN Tower + Academy of Spherical Arts

Conference day 1: Vision

First follow-up of an actual conference day.

Vision Keynote (Steve Ballmer)

The introduction was done by Circe du soleil and was very impressive, however, anti-climaxed in what was to come.

Actually, there wasn’t much new that directly concerns us. But here goes…

The strong growers this year were Office 365 and the Windows 8 momentum.
Office 365 is getting an “Open Program”, meaning that partners will be able to bill the customer their-selves to make the invoice more transparent and originating from the partner only.
This also allows the partners to realize higher margins.

Top reasons for the Yammer acquisition: the viral way of using it (no nonsense, no manual needed), there’s a very talented team behind it, it is a best of breed platform. Yammer integrates nicely with SharePoint (at least the activity feed), but I’m expecting more from the acquisition than just this simple integration, but only time will tell.

Kurt DelBene: Details about SharePoint 15 will be announced later this summer. There seems to have been a tech preview on January 11th, but I don’t recall that.
The only thing they will let go is that it will have “more partner opportunities”. I’m looking forward to that…
By the way, I ran into Gideon Bibliowicz today and talked about our NDA, in the next few weeks, it should be possible to arrange a meeting to get more details about SharePoint 15 under that NDA.
Update: I forgot the backside of my papers:
Tami Reller: Windows 8/RT will RTM first week of August (incl. enterprise agreements) and GA end of October.
There are over 100 designs of devices for Windows 8 going from laptops with touch screens, to laptops with huge touchpads, tables with detachable keyboards, … We haven’t seen everything there is to do with Windows 8 on a device yet! Both in x86 and ARM (system-on-a-chip). She even showed an impressive Lenovo laptop that allows the keyboard to flip 360 degrees to be flat with the screen.
Nothing new furthermore (strong SkyDrive integration, Windows 8 en RT share a lot of code, Windows To Go: Windows 8 on USB stick + data and security policies that can be managed by your IT department).
Microsoft also announced the acquisition of Perspective Pixel, showcasing a stunning 82” touch screen device, with incredible performance:

Short clip from introduction show:

No sessions today (for me)

I spent most of the time at the Solution Innovation Center, gathering information and checking out the booths.

AgilePoint meeting

Due to NDA restrictions, I cannot elaborate on the meeting, you will find more information in my internal report.

BeLux activity: Toronto Island

We went to the Toronto Islands for a bike ride, with some amazing views and a very interesting networking drink afterwards.

Day 2: Day of Giving

On day two, a nice long (jetlag-divided) sleep got me to the Day of Giving for some charity work.
First some backpack-stuffing and then some creative painting at a local boys and girls’ club (
Then the welcome reception with more than 15000 attendees (no pictures) and at last I strolled around in the Music Garden to relax a bit.

Tomorrow, a lot more in depth details of the keynotes, sessions and 1:1 meetings! Sleep tight!

Day 1: arrival

Hi everyone,

Today many of the BeLux partners arrived. After a good flight and check-in at the hotel, there was nothing on schedule.
So I took a stroll along St. Clair Avenue to enjoy some good Latino festival, from Wikipedia:

St. Clair Avenue holds Toronto’s biggest celebration of salsa Latino culture. The two-day street festival attracts an estimate of 250,000-500,000 people, the majority of them being from Latinos living in Toronto and all over Ontario come together to dance, eat, shop and celebrate the culture of Latin America. The festival is always held in July on the week, which it has been traditionally recognized as Latino Week in Toronto, in honour of the festival.

Some photos and a video here: