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Azure for Partners

Welcome!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Azure Partner Newsletter, a round-up of exciting product announcements, feature updates, and new assets available for our partner community, sent to subscribers every other month.

To stay up to date between publications, head to Azure Partner Zone and the Partner Tech Community for the most recent events, resources, news, customer stories, learning material, and more!

To subscribe to the newsletter, head here.

This month’s edition is packed with tons of exciting launches and updates from Microsoft Ignite, including:

  • The preview of Microsoft Mesh, designed to connect people across a range of devices and platforms as they engage with mixed reality, enabling them to participate and create as one through immersive experiences
  • The preview of Azure Arc enabled Machine Learning and the general availability of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes to evolve our hybrid and multicloud approach
  • The preview of Azure Percept to help customers build, apply, and operate artificial intelligence (AI) models in lower-power edge cameras and audio devices
  • Multiple updates across Azure Cosmos DB and Azure Synapse

April Spotlight: Azure Migration Program

 
 
The Azure Migration Program (AMP) offers proactive guidance and tools customers need to set up their cloud environment, migrate infrastructure, databases and application workloads, and move forward with confidence. Wherever your customer is in their cloud journey, the Azure Migration Program can help accelerate progress.

New offer

On April 1, we launched a new App and Data modernization offer in AMP that supports customer choice on how they want to modernize. AMP supports moving apps to PaaS using Azure App Service or to containers using Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), or to IaaS using Azure VMs. The offer also includes support for the data component running in fully managed Azure databases for SQL DB, SQL MI, MySQL, PostgreSQL and Azure Cache for Redis. This offer significantly expands the potential scope and value of Azure Migration Program to our customers and partners.

Participating in this offer requires our partners to have attained the Advanced Specialization for modernization of web apps or Advanced Specialization for Kubernetes, depending on the workload. Please talk to your PDM about nominating your customers to AMP in this scenario if you qualify.

If you are an Azure Expert MSP or an Advanced Specialized Partner and you have a customer ready to migrate to Azure, submit your nominations here.

Helpful resources

On April 8th, we completed a digital event with IT Pros and developers on “Cloud Migration and Modernization”. Through technical workshops with step-by-step guidance on specific workloads, demos on how to make apps run better in the cloud, and practical, real-world perspectives from successful customers, we were able to showcase products, programs, and guidance to engage the audience across a variety of activities. Watch the event on-demand and share it with your teams and customers.

Upcoming Events

Azure Storage Day | April 29

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Discover how to map storage services to diverse enterprise workloads, eliminate data silos, and help ensure scalability, security, and compliance using Azure Storage. Register now for Azure Storage Day—a free digital event on April 29.

April 29, 2021, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time

Register today

Innovate Today with Azure SQL | May 4

Innovate today w Azure SQL

See the future of cloud-based database possibilities and be ready to have a smooth migration for your current applications. Attend the Azure SQL digital event and learn how to build an effective cloud database management strategy to respond to today’s changing business needs and tomorrow's opportunities.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 10:00 AM–11:00 AM Pacific Time

Register now

Microsoft Build | May 25-27

microsoft-build-2020

Learn the tools and technologies that help you create solutions you can build today. Explore new developer technologies and techniques that will drive your vision and expand your toolkit. Bring your technical questions—and imagination—and leave with new knowledge and skills.

Tuesday, May 25 - Thursday, May 27, 2021

Learn more

Azure Advanced Specializations

Earning an Azure advanced specialization helps strengthen and differentiate your practice in specific technical areas with high customer demand and helps customers identify your organization’s ability to meet their specific needs. If you earn an advanced specialization and have an aligned offer in the Microsoft commercial marketplace, your offer will also be proactively promoted for customer engagements with Microsoft sellers.

Limited time offers*
For a limited time only, Microsoft will cover the cost to take the audit(s) and any certification exams needed to help you earn an Azure advanced specialization.

  • Cost of audit: if you schedule your audit by May 31, 2021, Microsoft will cover the cost of the audit (USD2,000). The audit must be completed within 30 calendar days of your scheduled audit and must be against the then-current program requirements.
  • Certification exam vouchers: Microsoft will provide certification exam vouchers to cover the cost of the exam fee to fulfill the skilling requirements for the Azure advanced specializations listed above. This must be redeemed by June 30, 2021, limit 10 vouchers per partner organization.

Helpful resources

  • Watch this series of videos to help you prepare for the audit – Microsoft and Information Security Systems International (ISSI) walk you through the audit check lists and share best practices.
  • Learn more about advanced specializations on the partner website and sign in to Partner Center to review requirements and check your progress.

Azure Immersion Workshops

Azure Immersion Workshops (AIWs) is a motion that allows partners to help customers develop their skills and uncover business growth opportunities by joining Microsoft to lead a one-day workshops on specific Azure products and workflows. Provide the Azure expertise and hands-on experience customers are looking for with our Azure Immersion workshop (AIW) series. With focused targeting and programmatic lead sharing partners have the opportunity to expand their value and drive demand for their offerings.
 
 
 

Azure for Industry

After a tremendous amount of research and engagement with multiple teams, we’re proud to present our refreshed industry pages on Azure.com: Financial Services, Government, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Retail; and industry blades on a select group of product and solution pages.

We’ve also had exciting developments in industry clouds, including the private preview of Microsoft Cloud for Retail and Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services.

For the latest assets for partners, please visit our Partner Zone page.  
 
 
 

Azure Management

Azure Arc

Customers need the ability to run applications across on-premises datacenters, multiple clouds, and on edge devices. To evolve our hybrid and multicloud approach, we announced the preview of Azure Arc enabled Machine Learning and the general availability of Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes. Review the Azure hybrid blog to learn more about our hybrid and multicloud capabilities.
 
Azure Lighthouse

This month, the L100 Use Azure Lighthouse with Your Managed Service Business Learn module was updated to match recent product enhancements and to include two new hands-on labs:

The 13-unit Learn experience provides a guided walk-through of setting up Azure Lighthouse, using Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, publishing offers to Azure Marketplace, and managing customers.

The addition of the labs provides partners a hands-on environment to test the managed services experience, allowing partners to create, backup, monitor, and govern resources in a templatized way, including the new elevated access features provided with the recent PIM/JIT updates.

SAP on Azure

This year at Ignite, SAP on Azure was a part of Erin Chapple’s presentation What’s new with Microsoft Infrastructure in which she covered the SAP-Microsoft partnership announcement along with the public preview of the latest M-series VMs for medium memory workloads.

In addition to Erin’s session, there were two customer-focused sessions, one on how CONA brought agility to its business by running their SAP solutions on Azure with ANF and one on how ServiceNow migrated SAP to the cloud 3X faster, and two partner-led sessions, one on Faster Management Performance – Inventory and Financial Management learnings in Azure using SAP Data by Qlik and another one on building a reliable, high-performance landscape for your SAP on Azure migration by NetApp.

In February, we also published a new case study on SAP IT moving its business critical landscapes to Azure for scalable flexibility. Through this case study, it is evident that when it comes to running core business applications (28+), SAP chose Azure.

We also just launched a case study on how ServiceNow gained business scalability and faster time to market by running its SAP solutions on Microsoft Azure. Also check out a montage of customer stories, featuring how SAP itself and CONA are powering SAP environments with Azure NetApp Files.

Windows Server Migration

At Ignite, we introduced more unique capabilities that continue to make Azure the best place to run Windows and SQL Server.

We announced the preview of Windows Server 2022, the next release in the Long Term Servicing channel. The new release introduces advanced multi-layer security such as secured-core server, hybrid capabilities with Azure, and a flexible application platform. Software Assurance customers can take advantage of new version rights and will be able to upgrade to this latest release.

We also announced new capabilities for Azure Automanage that further simplify operations for Windows Server virtual machines (VMs). Azure Automanage, which is now in preview, helps customers reduce day-to-day management tasks with automated operations across the entire lifecycle of VMs in Azure. The new capabilities in Azure Automanage for Windows Server help customers enable rebootless security patching for new Windows Server VMs. These new enhancements allow for the deployment of security patches in seconds, helping protect servers against critical threats.

Finally, Windows Admin Center in Azure is now in public preview. Customers can use the same interface they know and love to perform seamless and granular management of Windows Server Virtual Machines right from the Azure portal.

Windows Virtual Desktop

Save 30% of the Windows Virtual Desktop computing costs in D-series and Bs-series virtual machines for up to 90 days, for new customers, when using Microsoft’s native solution and activated before June 30, 2021. Activate the promotion directly in the Azure Portal in just a few clicks.

All channels and partner types are eligible to activate this offer provided they are administering on behalf of a customer. The Offer is available only to new customers to Windows Virtual Desktop that begin using the Windows Virtual Desktop native solution for the first time during the Promo Offer Period with an Azure subscription.

The Windows Virtual Desktop Master Class on-demand links and Forrester Total Economic Impact study are available.

Check out Azure Partner Zone for the new partner onboarding process and updated WVD content

Customer stories:

Open Source Migration

At Ignite we made several announcements that enhance Azure OSS destinations and make it easier for customers to migrate and modernize their data including a new preview, Azure Managed Instance for Apache Cassandra.

We also announced that beginning in April, customers can use the Azure Migration Program to modernize apps running on all popular source application frameworks and managed databases including .NET, Java and LAMP stack as well as Azure Database for MySQL, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, and Azure Cache for Redis.

Read the latest case studies for Azure Database for MySQL at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and Azure Cosmos DB at Zeiss.

Linux Migration

At Ignite, we announced the preview of Azure Automanage with Linux, Native Linux Solution Integration- Elastic on Azure, and Azure Hybrid Benefit: Linux to help customers onboard their Linux workload to Azure.

Check out the 90sec How to save costs for Linux and Open Source Solutions on Azure video with real examples on how customers are optimizing their costs by running Linux workloads on Azure.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Ignite event showed a ton of new announcements for our hybrid portfolio. New Azure Arc capabilities were announced – with Azure Arc enabled Kubernetes now in General Availability, and Azure Arc enabled Machine Learning in private preview.

Azure Stack HCI was also a key focus area with deeper explanation for running containerized apps on-premises by natively integrating AKS on Azure Stack HCI with Azure Arc.

Lastly, the overall hybrid and multicloud story was integrated into the Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) showcasing the various considerations required to prepare for a hybrid and multicloud adoption scenario.

SQL Server Migration

At Ignite, we announced a preview of new Azure Migrate discovery and assessment of SQL Server. You can now assess workload readiness for Azure SQL destinations, recommend target SKUs, and get a cost to run at scale across their data estate.

Check out the new Schneider Electric case study to find out how the customer consolidated 1,500 VMs, databases and reporting apps into Azure App Service and just one Azure SQL Database

App Innovation

At Ignite we announced new Developer Velocity content to support organizations to tap into the full power and creativity of developers and accelerate the journey to software excellence and digital transformation. Based on new industry-focused research conducted in partnership with McKinsey & Co., we released a new Developer Velocity report that provides in-depth industry findings to help organizations accelerate software transformations. The report uncovers eight valuable key lessons, deep dive learnings in banking and retail, and four case studies (two in each respective industry).

We also released an update to the Developer Velocity Assessment tool to lead to a precise understanding of what it takes for a company to accelerate innovation. In addition, we launched a new site on azure.com where customers can learn more about Developer Velocity, its drivers, tools, research, and get a quick look at their organization's Developer Velocity status with the Developer Velocity Quick Check.

Action for partners:

Share the new report on Developer Velocity: Lessons from digital leaders accelerating business performance through software excellence, and discover eight key learnings that can help your customers achieve higher Developer Velocity.

Visit our new site at azure.com/developervelocity and initiate a Developer Velocity Quick Check with your customers. Then, get a comprehensive review of your customer's maturity state using the updated Developer Velocity Assessment Tool, and identify new initiatives mapped to our FY21 Sales Priorities for App Innovation.

Watch this Ignite session on Empowering every developer to innovate with Microsoft Azure. This session covers modern app development best practices for Code-to-Cloud with Visual Studio, GitHub, and Azure, including Azure Communication Services, Azure Kubernetes Service and more.

Watch Cephas Lin’s session on build your first web app and Elliott Perry’s step-by-step walkthrough for developers on Build an Intelligent Bot.

Analytics

Read about the latest Apache Spark performance enhancements made in Azure Synapse.

Help customers take advantage of the new free quantities promotion for Azure Synapse. Customers with qualifying subscription typescan now try the new serverless SQL pool (10TB of free queries per month) and Apache Spark pool (120 free vCore-hours per month) resources in Azure Synapse using free quantities until July 31, 2021.

Grow your Analytics opportunity pipeline by leveraging Analytics in a Day workshops, which have now been augmented with industry-specific content and labs addressing Manufacturing, Retail, and Financial Services. Learn more.

Partners can attend the Azure Synapse Analytics hands-on training series (6 x 60 min). Please register / share this link with your customers: https://aka.ms/synapse-build

AI

At Ignite 2021, we had a number of key announcements that enable our customers to apply AI to their most critical business needs.

  • Now train Machine Learning (ML) models on-premises and in multi-cloud environments with Azure Arc support for Azure Machine Learning.
  • Deliver industry leading search experience in your applications with semantic search capability in Azure Cognitive Search.
  • Extract information from invoices and identification documents with new capabilities and expanded language support in Form Recognizer.
Modernize .NET Apps

At Ignite, we announced that the Azure Migration Program will expand support for App Modernization beyond .NET, to cover all major source frameworks (e.g. Java, Node, Python, PHP) and support more destinations including Azure Kubernetes Service, Azure Database for PostgreSQL, Azure Database for MySQL and Azure Cache for Redis, starting April 1.

Cloud Native Apps

Watch Brendan’s Burn’s Ignite session on Kubernetes for hybrid enterprise and visit Azure Cosmos DB blog to learn about new enterprise-grade security features from NoSQL data.

Watch and share Charle’s Lamanna’s Power Apps Ignite session on What’s next for Power Platform and learn about the new low-code programming language Power Fx.

Cloud Adoption Framework

To accelerate customer cloud adoption, we are investing in adoption scenarios which are sales play aligned, consolidated guidance across Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF), Well Architected Framework, Microsoft Learn, reference architectures and product documentation to guide customers right from strategy definition to environment and skills readiness to governance and management.

At Microsoft Ignite 2021, we have launched two adoption scenarios of ‘Hybrid and multicloud’ and ‘Modern containers’ and we have more planned in Q4 including SAP, Window Virtual Desktop, Data Management, Industry – Retail, and Industry – Government. Review the new ‘Implement hybrid and multicloud with CAF’ overview deck.

We added new content around antipatterns that customers experience in their cloud journey. These are common missteps that occur in design, planning, or implementation when migrating to the cloud. By reviewing these antipatterns and their examples, customers can be more aware and equipped to avoid them.

We also had an interactive Ask-the-Expert session at Microsoft Ignite 2021. Questions from these sessions will help shape our cloud economics and CAF strategy going forward.

Well-Architected

The Azure Well-Architected Framework documentation went through some important updates in the Security pillar, specifically related to networking design. Review new content available for this pillar in the Well-Architected page on Partner Zone.

Consider investing around 30 minutes, with your customer to examine a specific Azure workload through any or all five Well-Architected Framework pillars using the Azure Well-Architected Review. Each section covers targets/metrics, technical considerations, architecture decision, as well as operational areas like ongoing testing and monitoring processes. By making sure your customer signs in with their credentials for the respective Azure Subscription, their current Azure Advisor recommendations will be integrated into the detailed report. This report includes customized architecture recommendations that you could use to build an implementation plan for your customer and potentially creating a new engagement opportunity.

Skills Building

Microsoft Certification Renewals
We announced a new approach to renewing certification and keep skills current with 19 Microsoft certifications now available for free renewal on Microsoft Learn. Eight of the certifications are part of the Azure certification portfolio: Azure Administrator Associate, Azure Developer Associate, Azure Solutions Architect Expert, DevOps Engineer Expert, Azure AI Engineer Associate, Azure Data Engineer Associate, Azure Data Scientist Associate, and Azure Security Engineer Associate.

Find the right Azure certification for your team members
Azure certifications allow system administrators (IT pros), developers, and data and AI professionals to validate that they have the skills necessary to cover all aspects of digital transformation. These skills range from managing on-premises, hybrid, or cloud infrastructure, to innovating with the best-in-class applications, to supporting those apps and infrastructure with data and analytics—all with the proper security considerations. For a high-level look at all of our certifications, organized by professional roles, check out the blog post Finding the right Microsoft Azure certification.

How Accenture set a new world record in partner skilling
In June 2020, Accenture achieved something that no Microsoft partner has ever done; the company trained so many employees that it submitted it as a Guinness World Record. The massive global systems integrator certified a record number of global Azure certifications from a single organization with 20,000 employees across all Microsoft solutions in a fiscal year. Accenture also achieved a record with 17,000 certified employees on Azure. Learn more.

Specialized Areas
IoT

In March, Azure IoT announced three milestones: the announcement of a new product, Azure Percept in public preview and Device Update for IoT Hub in public preview. The last announcement was focused on the availability of NXP’s i:MX application processors for Azure Sphere.

To help reduce technical complexity for device lifecycle management the Device Update for IoT Hub includes Edge Secured Core, an incremental certification in the Azure Certified Device program for IoT devices running a full operating system, such as Linux or Windows 10 IoT.

HPC

Azure HPC was featured at the AMD Launch event where the latest HPC Virtual Machine (HBv3) was announced as generally available. Check out the launch blog for more information as well as multiple supporting links and Mark Russinovich’s video here.

We announced the launch of the Azure HPC Collaboration Center program with 5 charter partners along with the support of Intel, AMD and NVIDIA. The blog highlights the goals and objectives of the program as well as an introductory video from each collaboration center highlighting their perspectives about the program.

Check out how Azure HPC, powered by Azure NetApp Files is helping Repsol, a global energy major to achieve its sustainability goals : video story.

Mixed Reality

At Microsoft Ignite, we announced a number of advancements in Mixed Reality. Microsoft Mesh, the industry's first mixed reality platform that powers collaborative experiences with a feeling of presence—users feel like they are physically present with each other even when they are not. People can interact with content or engage with each other through Mesh-enabled apps across any platform or device – including Microsoft HoloLens, VR headsets, smartphones, tablets, or PCs. Customers will be able to use Microsoft Mesh to collaborate better virtually, design together, get remote expertise, and train from anywhere. Developers will be able to use Microsoft Mesh SDK to build collaborative, cross-platform mixed reality applications using AI-powered tools for avatars, holoportation, spatial rendering, and more.

Additionally, Azure Remote Rendering is now General Available. Render high-quality, interactive 3D content, and stream it to your devices in real time. Azure Object Anchors is also now in public preview. Automatically align and anchor 3D content to objects in the physical world.

Azure VMWare Solutions

Azure VMware Solution was featured prominently at Spring Ignite including: Whats new with Azure Infrastructure (AVS featured demo), Azure VMware Solution on-demand session, and VMware partnership sessions. We are also excited to launch the Azure VMware Solution digital event, featuring pre-recorded sessions with live Q&A, Instructor-led labs, and community roundtables hosted by product Subject matter experts.

The AVS team has also had a number of releases this month including Now available in Southeast Asia Singapore, New simplified NSX experience for Azure VMware Solution, and Azure VMware Solution now supported in Azure Migrate.

Additionally, through collaboration with the VMware team we have expanded the Hands-on Labs with additional scenarios. There is now also a dedicated landing page for the Azure VMware Solution labs. For admins and IT pros looking for technical product experiences please take a test drive of the latest Lightning Lab here.

Advanced Networking

At the recent Ignite event, we announced a bunch of new services, partnerships, and capabilities for Azure Networking services:

  • Azure load balancing services – A new selection tool, available in preview, to help customers choose the right load balancing options to meet their architectural and application requirements.
  • Azure Load Balancer now supports load balancing across IP addresses.
  • Azure Routing preference is now General Availability with availability in various regions.

Several new Azure services to enable customer hybrid networking scenarios are now available or coming soon:

  • Azure Route Server, available in public preview, simplifies operational management of third party NVAs on Azure. ExpressRoute IPv6 Support, in preview later this month, will support both IPv4- and IPv6-based private peering in AZ regions.
  • Scalable Bastion Gateway, in preview later this month, will allow users to scale to support as many as 500 concurrent sessions.
Azure Sentinel

Azure Sentinel launched several new announcements for Ignite 2021 to help customers leverage the combined benefits of integrated SIEM & XDR, collect data across their entire organization, and respond faster with automation. These new announcements include:

  • 30+ new third party connectors, including highly requested connectors like Cisco Umbrella, Cisco Meraki, Microsoft Dynamics, and Salesforce service cloud. We have also launched new connectors for Azure resources, such as Azure Storage, Azure SQL, Azure Kubernetes Service, and Azure Key Vault.
  • Deeper integration between Azure Sentinel and Microsoft 365 Defender. Incidents are now integrated between Azure Sentinel and Microsoft 365 Defender with bi-directional sync.
  • Incident response and automation improvements, including the introduction of automation rules, which provide a new, simple framework for automating common tasks – for example, automatically changing the status, severity, or owner of an incident, or triggering playbooks.

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