Microsoft Inspire 2021: Key Takeaways from the event

By Scott Hodges & Heston Paules

Inspire is Microsoft’s flagship partner event of the year which explores new advancements of the Microsoft Cloud and the opportunities it provides to Microsoft partners to add value to their customers. This is the second consecutive digital running of the event, rather than in person. 2021’s Microsoft Inspire hosted a range of technology and business focused sessions across two days covering a variety of technical and partner-focused topics.

With a wide range of content available across a variety of sessions. We’re sharing our key takeaways from the event, that align to the demand we’re seeing within our customer engagement. These are our top highlights from Inspire 2021, Hybrid and multicloud, security and collaboration.

Hybrid and Multicloud

Whilst some customers are still cautious of a full migration to cloud, finding the right balance that works and still provides enough agility for future changes and elasticity (growth and shrinkage) is key. As customers’ requirements for cloud adoption become larger and more sophisticated, their cloud journey becomes more complex. Common customer challenges include the need to monitor assets across an existing hybrid and multi-cloud portfolio, centralised operations, challenges around security and threat visibility and response.

Microsoft technologies for hybrid and multi-cloud, enables companies to manage all resources as if they're running in Azure, giving central visibility, and meeting governance and compliance standards required. The recent developments announced highlighted this as a growing area of capability, maturity, and investment from Microsoft. New enhancements around Azure Stack HCI & Arc, including simplified guest licensing activation and enhanced infrastructure security.

               - Azure Stack HCI now supports Hyper-Vs popular Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) feature for Windows Server. Customers with existing Windows Server 2019 Datacentre edition activation keys can enter them directly into the Azure Stack HCI host using the Windows Admin Centre or PowerShell. Virtual machines running Windows Server will automatically inherit activation from the host, so product keys for each virtual machine do not need to be managed separately.

               - Secured-core server, which is available for Azure Stack HCI, is becoming a required component for HCI integrated systems. Secured-core server simplifies security enablement at the server level by resecuring hardware, firmware, and OS capabilities to help protect against threats. Secured-core server disrupts practical attack vectors proactively.

As part of a hybrid approach with Azure Stack HCI, Azure Arc enables customers to easily organise, govern, and secure workloads across data centres, the edge, and multi-cloud environments all directly from Azure. With this end-to-end hybrid infrastructure, Azure Stack HCI allows you to modernise on-premises while Azure Arc extends your management across your different environments within a single pane in Azure.

Security

In an increasingly digital world, security is top of mind for organisations. Now more than ever, we’re seeing increasing awareness and investment in digital security, awareness, and visibility. Azure Sentinel is a cloud-native security information event management (SIEM) and security orchestration automated response (SOAR) service. Azure Sentinel provides the holistic view across the hybrid enterprise providing a clear, centralised view helping identify threats bet also prevent threats and protect the business.

The feature and technology advancement of Azure Sentinel, reinforces how heavily Microsoft is investing in its security offering. Maturing a cloud-based service offering into a hybrid security suite that fully protects on-premises infrastructure as well as cloud services.

As and Expert MSP Microsoft Partner, Logicalis is supporting our customers’ security needs through our fully managed SOC service with Azure Sentinel as the foundation of our SIEM.

Collaboration

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation as never before. Globally for the first-time organisations had to respond to an almost instantaneous demand. This included a meteoric rise in demand and adoption of Microsoft Teams in 2020, which saw a new daily record of 2.7 billion meeting minutes in a single day.

A welcome announcement at Inspire was that Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams. This will enable increased efficiency, more collaboration and ultimately improved productivity. This is a great step forward in enabling more organisations to optimise collaboration across Teams and Dynamics 365.

Conclusion

At Inspire, Microsoft highlighted their continuous evolution of services and technology, that supports a fully Hybrid Cloud IT platform. Augmenting a fully integrated and scalable on-premises to cloud datacentre model with Stack HCI. Seamless operations for hybrid IT platforms with Arc. Continued investment and improvement for collaboration and modern desktop. Enterprise-grade security, protection and visibility of on-premises and cloud with Sentinel.

At Logicalis we’re helping our customers modernise and deliver on their IT transformation initiatives, which support and help deliver their digital transformation strategies. Our agile approach helps build a scalable, automated cloud foundation for Cloud Native, Hybrid, and Multicloud. We follow a three-step methodology to help customers rapidly get to their desired results, Align Transform and Scale:

Align - Working collaboratively to understand business challenges and priorities, as well as potential future need. We align the technology roadmap to the business strategies, ensuring investment is made in tangible, measurable and objective outcomes.  

Transform - Implementation of technology and target operating models to ensure smooth transition. We ensure that the governance and guardrails are defined prior to the deployment of technology, so that there is a seamless extension of technology into Azure, with the security and confidence that risks are mitigated.

Scale – Enable our customers to focus on continual optimisation and value creation, that the access to new technologies Azure brings. We offer our Managed Service to help support operations and future growth, while our customers’ teams are free to focus on value creation and innovation.

As Architects of Change, Logicalis has the skills and knowledge to deliver outcomes from a full range of technology options, across multiple vendors. If you would like to speak to one of our experts to discuss your technology estate and how we can help address your business goals, please get in touch today. Email info@uk.logicalis.com and we can set up a call to understand your business needs.