New Windows Virtual Desktop advanced specialization differentiates partners’ remote work expertise

Earlier this year, Microsoft transitioned over 90% of its predominantly on-premise workforce to remote work—all within two weeks. An essential element of this process involved standing up the capacity for 32,000 Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktops to accommodate 10 times our usual remote workforce, enabling employees to access all of their work files from home computers and eliminating the need to return to the office.

As organizations across the globe continue to rely on remote work, demand for Windows Virtual Desktops has grown exponentially across industries. And further growth is expected, with IDC predicting the total market opportunity for desktop-as-a-service will reach USD2.99 billion by 2021 as customers increasingly seek scalable remote working solutions.

Windows Virtual Desktop presents a unique opportunity for your organization to support customers as they transition to desktop-as-a-service. It serves as a gateway for new customers who have not yet moved to the cloud, and it simplifies the licensing needs for your current customers. This can lead to cost savings that can either be passed on to your customers or funneled to your margins, resulting in growth and upsell opportunities.

Your profitability and growth fuel the success of the entire Microsoft Partner Network, and we’re committed to ensuring you have the guidance and resources you need to thrive. With this in mind, I’m excited to highlight our new Windows Virtual Desktop advanced specialization that partners with an active gold Cloud Platform competency can now achieve.

Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop

Microsoft newest advanced specialization will showcase your experience with implementing Windows Virtual Desktop, including deploying, optimizing, and securing virtual desktop infrastructure on Azure. This will ensure you’re prepared to meet the needs of your customers as they continue to evolve their remote work approach.

To earn an advanced specialization in this area, partners with an active gold Cloud Platform competency must meet specific requirements related to performance and knowledge and pass a third-party audit.

As the desktop-as-a-service market continues to grow, it will attract more competitors over time. Achieving a Windows Virtual Desktop advanced specialization can help you build momentum and credibility, and it’s an effective way to help you to stand out in a crowded and competitive market. While it requires an investment of time and resources, an advanced specialization helps customers to easily identify the partners that are best qualified to meet the needs of their organization. You’ll also benefit from increased visibility in the Microsoft commercial marketplace and have the opportunity to gain access to specific Microsoft go-to-market, customer and financial incentives programs.

Remote work has never been more relevant—on a global scale—than it is now. Developing specialized expertise in this area has the potential to pay dividends both now and in the long run, and I encourage partners to work towards achieving a Windows Virtual Desktop advanced specialization where it makes sense for your business, to take advantage of this unique opportunity. As always, we’re committed to providing you with the guidance and resources you need to be successful and will be here for you every step of the way.

You can review a list of certifications offered by Microsoft through DynamicsEdge here.

Enabling your customers to secure their hybrid workplace

The widespread shift to remote work early last year catalyzed what our CEO Satya Nadella described as “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”   Now, a new wave of change is expected as organizations globally shift to a hybrid workplace.  While this blistering pace of tech-fueled evolution generates exciting new opportunities for the entire Microsoft partner ecosystem, it also uncovers new challenges for our customers to navigate, and one of the primary concerns for any organization is cybersecurity. The massive shifts in how and where we work have bred new types of threats from cyber bad actors, and the broader adoption of the hybrid workplace is expected to result in additional vulnerabilities. 
Microsoft processes more than 8 trillion signals every 24 hours, and repelled a record-breaking 30 billion email threats last year. Despite these efforts, the world has entered what Microsoft CVP Vasu Jakkal referred to as “a realm of next-level attacks.” All of us must perpetually evolve our security processes to keep up with the sophisticated attacks of cyber criminals and nation state hackers, and our customers are relying on partners more than ever to help them make the right moves to keep their organizations’ data safe.  We’re committed to ensuring partners have the resources, tools, and guidance needed to help customers evolve their security practices. Here are specific areas of focus that help partners tackle security, compliance, and identity issues for customers.   Adopting multifactor authentication  Passwords are ineffective and expensive to manage, while other forms of authentication offer a safer and more user-friendly experience. Requiring more than one form of authentication, or multifactor authentication (MFA), is also more effective at verifying identity and boosting security as a result. According to Microsoft CISO Bret Arsenault, “Using MFA is the single most effective security practice that companies are not employing.” He has spearheaded a campaign to eliminate passwords entirely at Microsoft, and over 90 percent of our workforce currently uses alternate authentication methods.  By helping customers adopt multifactor authentication, partners can help them dramatically reduce their organizations’ risk. Surprisingly, only 18% of our customers have MFA turned on. Considering any customer with a commercial service subscription (such as Azure or Microsoft 365) can turn on MFA at no additional cost, it is a no-brainer to utilize this powerful defense tool. As Microsoft CVP Ann Johnson recently shared, “Using MFA blocks 99.9 percent of the account hacks your organization and customers face, on average.” And in a world where entire networks of vendors and other third-party companies share information, closing one organization’s vulnerabilities can help increase security.  Migrating to the cloud  Organizations should continue to evaluate migrating to the cloud to boost security. Maintaining and defending on-premises data centers can be costly and time consuming. Turning to the cloud outsources much of that work, allowing your IT staff to prioritize their time to focus on high-value issues. According to Ann Johnson, “With more enterprises relying on cloud technology, developing a comprehensive cyber resilience strategy as part of a holistic approach to operational resilience makes preparing for a wide range of contingencies less complicated.”  We bake security into all of our products and solutions. Migrating to Microsoft Azure allows companies to benefit from the protections offered by Microsoft Azure Sentinel, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, Microsoft Azure Purview, and more. To review the latest Azure-related security updates, you can read my blog about the security announcements we made during Microsoft Ignite 2021 in March.  Upskilling your workforce  The cybersecurity industry is facing a shortage of workers, which further complicates keeping up with the constant onslaught of cyberattacks. By building the security skillsets within your organization, you can better position your company to both protect itself and offer valuable services and guidance to customers. We strive to ensure that partners have the skilling and training resources needed to keep your team prepared to handle increasingly complex cyber threats. Use Microsoft enablement guide to find online courses and resources. We are excited to announce that Microsoft have released four new certifications for security, compliance, and identity, including:  In the coming weeks, we are releasing a new Hybrid Cloud Security advanced specialization. This will help bring a unique level of differentiation for partner organizations, in addition to the current security-related advanced specializations for Identity and Access Management, Information Protection and Governance, and Threat Protection.  Digital transformation will continue to reshape entire industries, and as it does, new vulnerabilities will be exposed. While no organization is exempt from cyber risk, by using the right mix of resources, insights, and tools partners can help our customers forge defenses that can reduce the likelihood and impact of a breach. As we continue to work together, I am confident that we can rise to the challenge of protecting our collective data, both now and in the future. 

Empowering partners to accelerate customer growth, resilience and build analytics capabilities for the future

In an evolving digital economy, analytics is emerging as a critical capability to create strategic business value, growth and resilience for organizations of all shapes and sizes. At Microsoft, our priority is to empower organizations with limitless data and analytics capabilities that enable organizations to build the predictive and analytical path required to digitally transform. We have a unique, symbiotic relationship with our partners that has been built and continually refined over decades. Together, we can shape the future and accelerate organizations’ journey to be analytic businesses and achieve resilience and growth. We see strong overall growth and accelerated uptake in our analytics business and partners are key to our growth momentum. Today, over 800 partners with over 1,400 solutions co-sell with Microsoft to help customers achieve superior business value and better performance through joint analytics solutions. Some examples of solution scenarios include:
  • Driving limitless scale by migrating legacy analytics systems and data marts.
  • Reducing project development time with a unified experience for all data professionals.
  • Delivering powerful insights across all types of data with code-free AI and machine learning.
  • Providing advanced security and privacy to protect sensitive data in real-time.
With this opportunity in mind, we are excited to share new Customer Growth Incentive and Analytics on Microsoft Azure partner campaign resources to help you create opportunities, accelerate engagement, and grow value across the customer journey. Journey: create, accelerate, and grow By driving these three simple steps of the customer journey, partners can accelerate customer growth, resilience and build analytics capabilities for the future.
Create opportunity: with Microsoft Azure Immersion workshops for Analytics, it will help customers develop their skills and uncover business growth opportunities by hosting one-day workshops on Analytics on Microsoft Azure. Using our ready-made collection of discipline-specific resources and tools, you can expand your value and drive demand for your analytics solutions. You can quickly and easily start hosting your own day-long analytics customer working sessions, perform hands-on labs, and have customers submit for select free proof of value (POV) offerings such as Migration POV and Industry-specific POV (supply chain intelligence, finance analytics). For example, if you are helping customers migrate to Azure Synapse, you can offer customers incredible savings through a limited-time migration offer. With the general availability (GA) announcement of Azure Synapse, workshop content is updated and current. You can walk customers through a range of cloud analytics capabilities, including how to create an analytics pipeline, empower self-service, and build a data-driven culture. If you are new to Analytics, you can find analytics training with DynamicsEdge-Azure & Apps. In financial year 2021 (FY21), Analytics in a Day has already reached over 1,800 organizations and 6,000 attendees. Together, let’s continue this upward trend in FY22. Some campaign testimonials include:
  • “I think all the relevant areas have been covered in depth. It’s a great start!” – Customer
  • “One of the best ones yet! Everything went smoothly.” -Partner
Accelerate engagement with the Azure Analytics and AI Accelerate Program (AAAP) and benefit from investments and resources to accelerate demand, revenue, and customer success for qualified customer opportunities. We’ve also recently put together easy-to-deploy Solution Accelerators for repeatable scenarios across industries that will be available for use in your Analytics and AI engagements. These Solution Accelerators solve customer problems quickly, as it is packaged code that is ready to be personalized for the customer and deployed. Partners worldwide have leveraged AAAP to help customers decrease the time to solution by as much as 50 percent and increase their ability to win Analytics and AI deals. Grow the value of your cloud business by differentiating your technical capability to deliver tailored Microsoft analytics solutions, expand your customer reach, and distinguish your skillset from competitors with the Analytics on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization. To help our shared customers successfully adopt and implement analytics offerings into their businesses we recently launched the Analytics on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization. It’s a powerful way for you to show your capability to deliver tailored Microsoft analytics solutions using Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Lake, Azure Data Factory, and Azure Databricks. By earning an advanced specialization, partners gain access to associated benefits that help expand their customer reach and drive customer confidence in their validated capabilities. For partners who earn or meet the competency, performance, and skilling requirements for the Analytics on Microsoft Azure advanced specialization, there is a new pilot on Customer growth Incentive for Azure Synapse which rewards partners who help customers with Azure Synapse deployments. Partners play a critical role in all stages of the customer lifecycle. We encourage you to take advantage of the comprehensive three-step approach with Microsoft investments, resources, and assets to fuel greater customer success by bringing incremental value to them throughout their analytics journey and empowering them to achieve more.

Security, compliance and identity updates -Microsoft 2021

Cybersecurity was a hot topic today. We continue to see cybersecurity threats evolve and the widespread shift to remote work over the past year has stretched teams and opened new vectors, amplifying the need for airtight cyber defenses.  As Microsoft CVP Vasu Jakkal said the potential toll of a data breach “is not just in the financial cost to governments, organizations, and individuals, but it’s that very human cost in time, in peace of mind, and a loss of the sense of control over one’s environment.” As our customers become increasingly aware of this ever-mounting risk, they’re turning to our partner network for the solutions and guidance they need to stay protected. This opens a major opportunity to help them adopt a Zero Trust framework, build cyber resilience, and manage their organizational risk.  To help you meet the ever-evolving needs of your customers, constantly investing to improve the security tools and guidance is needed. Below, are notable security, compliance and identity-related announcements from Microsoft this year.
Within Security, we highlighted new integrated and modernized capabilities across Microsoft Defender and Microsoft Azure Sentinel, including: 
  • Azure Sentinel and Microsoft 365 Defender now share incidents, schema, and user experiences to simplify investigations end-to-end.  
  • Customers of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Microsoft Defender for Office 365 can now investigate and remediate threats directly inside the Microsoft 365 Defender portal.  
  • There are new Threat Analytics experience previews available inside Microsoft 365 Defender, which deliver expert guidance from Microsoft security researchers to help security teams understand, prevent, and mitigate active threats.  
  • Bringing Secured-core to Windows Server and Edge devices to help minimize risk from firmware vulnerabilities and advanced malware in IoT and hybrid cloud environments.  
For Compliance, we unveiled new capabilities in Microsoft Information Protection, including:  
  • Co-authoring protected documents. 
  • Microsoft 365 Insider Risk Management Analytics, which offers greater insight into insider risks.
  • New data loss prevention (DLP) support for Chrome browsers and on-premises file repositories.  
  • Increased visibility in Azure Purview so organizations can scan and classify sensitive data in AWS Simple Storage Services (S3), SAP ECC, SAP S4/HANA, and Oracle Database.  
In Identity, we announced:  
  • The general availability of password less authentication with Microsoft Azure Active Directory, which provides new ways to help customers strengthen their Zero Trust defenses in the era of hybrid work. 
  • Public preview of Conditional Access authentication context. 
  • The upcoming public preview of Azure Active Directory verifiable credentials.  
The cyber landscape will continue to evolve, and it’s never been more important for organizations—of all shapes, sizes, and industries—to be ready to fight off attackers. We’re committed to working with you to help protect our customers and the full Microsoft ecosystem. Kindly visit DynamicsEdge website and check our Security Training offerings.