The pandemic continues to test business principles, models, and strategies organizations once thought to be bedrock truths of business. The COVID-19 crisis has challenged everything, from leadership principles, financial models, operations, and sales process, to technology decisions and platform strategies. Organizations have been forced to quickly adapt to maintain efficient operations in these difficult times. Technology has remained the common driver throughout this period of worldwide adaptation to change.

The cloud has surged to the center of the recent digital transformation efforts, by quickly creating new solutions securely and reliably, meeting new business challenges, and driving transformation with continuous technological innovation. In meeting the challenges posed by the global pandemic, the cloud is driving digital transformation faster than ever with more organizations adopting cloud technologies.

Microsoft stands with our partners, and we’re committed to your efforts, enabling customers for successful cloud use, and harnessing the wave of innovation for organizations across the globe during this challenging time.

At Microsoft Inspire, we continue to invest in our customer’s success on Azure focusing on these four priorities:

  • Generating confidence in their cloud journey, providing technical guidance and skills development resources.
  • Focusing on processes and operations on their terms, at their pace through DevOps with GitHub.
  • Supporting every customer’s cloud adoption journey, delivering on business goals and deploying compliant, secure, and well-managed environments.
  • Enabling customers with architecture design principles that support efficient, optimized workloads.

Here is how we are approaching each priority and how you can use them to strengthen your market position and grow your business.

Technical guidance and skills development

Skilling and technical knowledge are critical success factors for cloud adoption. With the global pandemic and continued rise of remote work and remote learning practices, Microsoft continues to invest in its learning platforms—meeting the demand for digital literacies and the fast pace of digital technology platforms. Studies demonstrate that “the average life of a skill today is less than 5 years”1 and “more than half (54 percent) of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022.”2 Now is the time for you, our partners to continue to skill up while continuing to support your customers.

Both Microsoft and Microsoft Learning Partners are moving in-person, instructor-led training to virtual instructor-led training. With free, on-demand, self-paced courses on Microsoft Learn to skill-up and certify your skills, Microsoft offers certified, role-based learning resources, enabling organizations to confidently and successfully adopt Azure. Soon, we will release Azure Database Administrator and Data Analyst certifications at the Associate level into our comprehensive portfolio of technical certifications for Azure.

Microsoft is responding to COVID-19, together with our partner ecosystem, ensuring that people across the globe can reach their learning goals and become certified in Microsoft technologies while staying safe at home. Learn more about our updated guidelines for Microsoft Training and Certification.

DevOps with GitHub to support cloud adoption processes and operations

Remote work is forcing organizations to change how they enable software developers to continue to be productive in such an environment. Effective organizations need to find ways to help their developers to continue to code and keep systems running. Software development is a team sport. Most organizations needed to ensure their developers continued collaborating efficiently, and developers needed to continue delivering value to their customers.

Microsoft recently launched Visual Studio Codespaces—powerful development environments hosted in the cloud, allowing developers working remotely to stay productive. Now, with Visual Studio Live Share, developers can continue to collaborate, co-authoring and editing on the same codebase.

50 million developers live on GitHub working on personal and professional projects. GitHub is the world’s largest repository for open source code collaboration and includes many businesses codebases. Built directly into GitHub, GitHub Actions supports automating tasks in the GitHub experience, shipping code direct to Azure in a repeatable and automated process. Across Visual Studio, GitHub, and Azure, Microsoft is powering the DevOps processes and code behind development teams as they collaborate and ship software from any point on the globe.

Seamlessly supporting the cloud adoption journey

While cloud technologies are now mainstream, organizations continue to face obstacles and uncertainty with their adoption efforts. Implementing cloud best practices burdens leaders and lack of sound cloud planning, and strategy alignment not only impacts innovation and growth, but it also generates unexpected costs. A recent Gartner study confirms, “through 2024, companies that are unaware of the mistakes made in their cloud adoption will overspend by 20 to 50 percent.”3 

On the other hand, organizations strategically planning for discrepancies between cloud and on-premises operating models remain ready to learn—willing to iterate as their Azure portfolio grows. By creating Azure Landing Zones (with the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure), organizations become more agile, gaining efficiencies and increased confidence throughout cloud adoption. Azure landing zones help customers set up their Azure environment for scale, security, governance, networking, and identity.  Draw on Microsoft’s proven technical guidance, resources, and templates, to guide your customers through iteration and learning as they gain confidence and successfully adopt Azure.

Learn more about Azure Landing Zones in this session and get guidance on how to get started.

Deploying and optimizing high-quality cloud workloads

Without focusing on well-architected workloads, even well-designed cloud environments will not succeed. Organizations are looking at how to optimize costs, increase efficiencies, improve security and reliability, while maintaining performance levels, and deliver on strategic business goals.

Following industry standards and terms already commonly used by partners and customers, the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework offers a set of technical best practices to improve workload quality. It includes five pillars of architectural excellence: cost optimization, operational excellence, performance efficiency, reliability, and security.

Mor Cohen-Tal, Cloud CTO at Turbonomic, one of our partners focused on Performance and Cost Optimization, reflects on how they have been helping organizations over the last year: “You can’t solve for cost without understanding performance, closing the gap between “pay for what you need” and “I have no idea what I need.” Turbonomic customers are able to correlate their application performance requirements with the availability of Azure cloud benefits, such as resilience and reliability, ultimately continuously automating those required well-architected actions, ensuring every app has the right resources, within business compliance, to perform optimally in the cloud.”

Becoming well-architected is an ongoing challenge. Market demands, business strategy adjustments, changing technology availability, and other factors require constant monitoring to ensure workloads are at operating as expected. Azure Advisor provides real-time recommendations on deployed workloads and assets, monitoring and improving workload quality aligned with the Azure Well-Architected Framework. With the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Review, assess the quality of your customer workloads at any time, and make it a healthy practice for your organization and cloud portfolio.

Learn more about the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework watching this session, reading this blog post, or taking the Learning Path Build great solutions with the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework in Microsoft Learn.

Enabling partners to drive customer success

Azure Lighthouse is a native Azure management solution purpose-built for service providers to build and deliver secure managed services at scale, across multiple customer tenants profitably and efficiently.

With Azure Lighthouse, service providers can structure well-architected managed services offers with Azure native and comprehensive security and management tooling. They can securely and quickly onboard customers, leverage a single-pane of glass for cross-tenant management, monitor and manage cloud costs across all their customers, and optimize cloud infrastructure and operations. All with greater automation, security, and governance from a unified control plane.

Service Providers also have opportunities to expand their revenue with Azure Arc by extending their managed services to on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments. “The best part is the customer control. Not only do we access exactly what we need, but the customer maintains complete transparency into what we are accessing, where, and when. It’s significantly faster, more secure and effective, and much more convenient to service our customers now.” – Peter Chiang, Senior Project Manager, CloudRiches

Azure Lighthouse is delivering multiple enhancements today based on partner and customer feedback, including a preview for Azure Multi-Factor Authentication and Azure Privileged Identity Management support for just-in-time access. “We already had granular and secure access, but now we’re able to add security best practices of least-privileged principles, providing even more comfort and confidence for our clients.” – James Brookbanks, Azure Service Manager, Parallo

Partners can now easily activate PIM and MFA by adding type options to Role Based Access Control roles (permanent or elevation eligible) in the arm templates they use for customer onboarding. Partners can elevate access to a privileged role type for a shorter period of time, without needing a permanent level of higher access.

Find more information and comprehensive resources that support all these initiatives on Azure Partner Zone. We have a great opportunity ahead of us. Let’s continue to partner, continuing our common endeavor, helping our customers successfully use Azure to achieve their business goals.

1 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report.

2 World Economic Forum: The Future of Jobs Report, 2018.

3 Gartner, 4 Lessons Learned From Cloud Infrastructure Adopters, June 30, 2020.