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Microsoft Inspire 2021: key takeaways

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July 14 – 15 – 16

As the tradition goes, Microsoft Inspire took place in July. It is a virtual event, spread over three time zones (America, EMEA and APAC). Most of the sessions were pre-recorded with moderators available to answer questions live. A couple of sessions were live with instant interaction. Cloud Strategist Michel Declercq attended the event and gives you an overview of the highlights.

Opening by Satya Nadella

Mr. Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, started his keynote by emphasizing the strength of Microsoft Cloud (Azure), M365 and Dynamics.

He highlighted new and improved Azure functionalities, including Azure Arc (focus on Hybrid), the Enterprise metaverse, Azure Synapse and Synapse link, and Azure Purview. Next, he focused on the Power Platform: business process automation and productivity suite that is being used by nearly 16 million monthly active users. M365 and D365 users will see a tighter integration between Teams and Dynamics’ customer data, improving the collaboration possibilities.

It goes without saying that Teams is more and more playing a prominent role as the key collaboration and communication tool, adding 300 new features in 18 months, and doubling the number of users over the past year. Teams is also increasing the focus on the individual contributor in the new hybrid work environment, adding Viva. By this, they bring communication, learning, well-being, and knowledge together.

Client computing is still a big topic for Microsoft with a short intro on the release of Windows 11 and the availability of the Windows 365 SaaS offering, turning any device into a Cloud PC.

Finally, expanding the availability of the vertical cloud offerings (finance, manufacturing, healthcare and public) with a new ‘horizontal’ cloud offering that concentrates on sustainability.

Detailed releases and updates


Azure API Management integration with Azure Event Grid is now in preview. Learn more about this update. 

A preview of Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) as an event source for Azure Event Grid is now available. Learn more about this update. 

Smart defaults are now in preview for Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Smart defaults are a set of scenario-specific cluster configurations that can be applied in a single click to help customers avoid common pitfalls in setup and operations and get going quickly. Learn more about this update.

Microsoft Azure Stack HCI partners are being offered new programs and marketing assets to showcase technical capabilities and highlight the value of Azure Stack HCI. In addition, Azure Stack HCI product enhancements include simplified guest licensing activation and enhanced infrastructure security with support for Hyper-V’s popular Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA) feature for Windows Server and Secured-core server.

Dynamics 365

Microsoft Teams customers will now receive access to view and edit Microsoft Dynamics 365 data in Teams at no extra cost. The ISV Connect program for partners offers platforms, resources and support to help ISVs develop, publish and market their apps. The program will introduce simplified, go-to-market benefits and new technical benefits.

Microsoft 365

Windows 365 is a new way to experience Windows Client as a cloud service, streaming the full Windows experience — including apps, data and settings — to any device from Microsoft Cloud. Windows 365 also creates a new hybrid personal computing category called Cloud PC. It uses both the power of the cloud as the capabilities of the device to provide a full, personalized Windows experience. Learn more about this update on Innovation Stories and the Microsoft 365 Blog.

New and enhanced collaborative apps are coming to Microsoft Teams in partnership with ISVs. These include Atlassian Confluence, Salesforce, SAP C4C, ServiceNow and Workday. All these integrations bring structured business processes and data together into the context of collaborative work. Learn more about this update.

Microsoft Viva is an employee experience platform that brings together tools for employee engagement, learning, well-being and knowledge. It will add integrations with more than twenty partners – including ServiceNow, Qualtrics, Headspace, SuccessFactors and Workday – when it becomes generally available in the fall. Learn more about this update.

Two partner tools, Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland” are now in preview. These tools are intended to drive partner growth and profitability by making it easier to deliver managed security services and identify new growth opportunities. Learn more about Microsoft 365 Lighthouse and Project “Orland.”

Dedicated cloud offerings

Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability (available later this year) will help Microsoft and its customers, across all industries, meet their carbon reduction and sustainability goals. ‘Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability’ will allow organizations to record, report and reduce their emissions on their path to net zero. Learn more about this update.

Selected breakouts (requires registration)

KEY01-R2 – Inspire Opening

BRK109-R1 – Accelerating application and data modernization with Azure and Power Apps

BRK105-R1 – Grow your Business with Microsoft Industry Cloud Solutions

BRK106-R1 – Create hybrid and multi-cloud strategies with Microsoft Azure

BRK116-R1 – Accelerate your customers’ success with the latest Azure migration and modernization investments