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Five things to expect from Microsoft Inspire

Microsoft has been catching flak since it quietly revealed last week that it is intending to remove internal usage rights (IUR) for partners from July next year.

While its rationale for the decision – that it could no longer afford to fund partners’ free use of its offerings – will no doubt be the main topic of conversation among partners attending the vendor’s Inspire event next week, Microsoft still has more to say, unveiling a slew of updates to its products in a media pre-briefing ahead of the event

Here is what partners can expect to hear more about at next week’s Microsoft Inspire, held in Las Vegas.

Azure updates galore

Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure will see a number of changes and updates, the most interesting of which is the introduction of the Azure Migration Programme (AMP). This will provide customers with expert guidance for a step-by-step approach to cloud migration “from start to finish”, according to the tech giant.

“Customers can simplify and accelerate their move to the cloud, working hand in hand with Microsoft experts and specialised migration partners,” stated Julia White, corporate VP of Azure in a blog.

The programme is compromised of curated guidance, technical skill building for customers, free Azure migration tools and the opportunity to reduce migration costs.

Elsewhere, the vendor is announcing the launch of Azure Lighthouse which will become available from this month.

It is a control panel that will allow partners to manage and view Azure deployments at scale and across all customers, explained Erin Chapple, corporate VP of Microsoft Azure Compute.

“Azure Lighthouse brings scale and precision together for service providers at no additional cost,” she stated. “And that’s consistent for all licensing constructs customers might choose, including EA, CSP and pay-as-you-go.

“Additionally, service providers can seamlessly onboard new customers via public or private managed services offers on Azure marketplace or ARM templates…Thanks to a built-in activation of Partner Admin Link, managed services partners using Azure Lighthouse can seamlessly participate in partner rewards and incentives.”

Multiple marketplace refreshes

Earlier this year, Microsoft revealed a number of sweeteners for independent software vendors (ISV) using its AppSource and Azure Marketplace.

Inspire will see the announcement of a raft of further Marketplace bonuses for partners, with new pricing models, a new rewards programme and route-to-market being rolled out from this month.

The benefits are aimed at partners who publish SaaS software and services built on one or more of the vendor’s clouds. They will have access to new tools and a single onboarding process to help them publish “transactable” offers into the AppSource and Azure Marketplace platforms.

“We are enabling partners transacting through CSP to pull those marketplace offers right through in their CSP offerings,” explained Gavriella Schuster, Microsoft’s global channel boss.

“Then we are incenting them on behalf of the ISV to actually go sell it. So the same way we incent our sellers to sell those third-party services, we are incenting the CSP partners to do it too.

“Those are big new investments that we are making to really help them reach more customers and we believe that is going to drive the biggest value in growing their business this year.”

The marketplace’s new pricing models include monthly and annual SaaS billing, flexible, custom pricing options, standard contracts, and free SaaS trials that convert to paid engagements.

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