I associate July with several things, the beginning of the Microsoft Fiscal year, summer heat in Texas and the annual Microsoft’s Partner Conference, now known as “Microsoft Inspire.” At the close of last week’s Washington, D.C. conference, I realized it marked for me the fifth rendition of the event as both a full-time employee and a now a vendor partner.

Without question, I have enjoyed the past two years of steadily building the Armor Guardian Partner Program. This year, Armor sent eight team members, as well as our esteemed, CSO, Jeff Schilling. We sponsored the Speakeasy Party with the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) and a series of roundtables with key Microsoft leadership around focusing on cyber security. The team met with more than 50 partners and endless Microsoft employees.

What a great week for Armor Partners! To recap, there were several unique aspects of Inspire:

  1. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to incentivize and grow the Azure Partner ecosystem including making it easier to work with the field. By rolling out the Azure co-sell program, Microsoft is creating an entirely new sales incentive to co-sell with Azure ISVs—paying its sales reps 10 percent of the value of the partner solution when the deal is closed.We can all agree that money motivates a sales organization. The results have been off the charts since the program was launched, closing $1B in annual contract revenue while establishing $6B in pipeline opportunities.
  2. Cyber security is top of mind. Brad Smith Microsoft president and chief legal officer discussed, at length, the “shared responsibility” model. (https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/mpn_uk/2017/07/12/microsoft-inspire-day-3-the-challenges-of-our-time/) and the great opportunity it creates for partners.Fortunately for partners, Armor has a clear value proposition on this front by offering a fully managed security as a service for Azure virtual machines. We offer protection, detection, and 24/7/365 response for cloud platforms, backed by a seasoned Security Operations Center providing advanced threat intelligence capabilities.
  3. I had the opportunity to meet with 20 of the top partner leaders across the Microsoft ecosystem and learned something in every meeting. Each partner is at a different phase of helping to guide their clients’ journey to the cloud and Azure security was top of mind with every partner.

It was great to see that Armor can complement and expand partners’ existing portfolio with offerings that drive cloud security, or we can integrate into and with the partners managed services business.

Microsoft Inspire is an appropriate name for this event. It captured the excitement and promise that the cloud creates – flexibility, scalability, reliability, low operating costs and ease of use – and created a palpable level of anticipation for what the future holds. But to fully realize the overall benefits of the cloud, a primary takeaway was the importance of data protection and the role of the user with the shared security responsibility model.

This creates a tremendous opportunity for solution providers and their partner networks that doesn’t come along very often. The entire Armor team looks forward to working with each and every one our program members to provide the expertise and security solutions they need to meet this surging market demand while reaching new heights of profitability and success.