Every year Microsoft invites some key customers down to Redmond to see the latest and greatest technology.  The Summit is geared towards IT Leadership so unfortunately this time around  I will not get to hear Clemens Vasters speak about Service Bus during this trip to Redmond.

In the welcome session, they discussed the following

  • This event continues to grow has 50% more attendees than last year
  • Themes
    • Saving Money and Gaining efficiencies
    • Drive innovation
    • Grow our Business
    • Support changing User expectations
  • Samsung has the exclusive rights to Surface
  • New President of Microsoft Canada: Max Long



Business of the Future (Dynamics AX and CRM)

Dynamics AX 2012 – Business Workloads and Suites

In this session we got the “state of the nation” when it comes to Microsoft’s Dynamics unit.  More specifically it related to Microsoft Dynamics 2012 and Dynamics CRM 2011.

A very common theme was around Workloads.  Workloads meaning processes and where those processes take place.  In some cases those Workloads may take place on-premise where as others may take place in the Cloud.  Also some Workloads may be supported natively by Dynamics AX 2012 and some may be supported by an ISV product.

Microsoft has been investing heavily in Workloads.  Below is a list of various Workloads that they support.  Some may be industry specific and others may be common within organizations (Expenses)

    • Business Workloads
      • Industry Operational Workloads
        • Retail
        • Manufacturing
        • Distribution
      • Horizontal Operational Workloads
        • HCM
        • Project
        • Budget Formulation
        • Expenses
        • SRM
        • Sales Force Automation
        • Customer Car
        • Marketing Automation
      • Administrative “System of Record”
        • HR
        • Finance

Dynamics AX Adoption

  • Great momentum in Retail sector for Dynamics
  • Microsoft had a clear industry focus for this release
    • Manufacturing
      • Food and Beverage
      • Chemical
    • Public Sector capabilities were introduced
    • Professional Services capabilities were introduced
  • Acquiring or Building Intellectual Property to support more industry specific solutions
  • Are now able to bring processes into a unified solution

Eating their own Dog Food

Microsoft runs on Dynamics AX

  • Got rid of Seibel
  • XBOX manufacturing is using Dynamics AX
  • Expenses

Major Customers in Canada

    • Royal Canadian Mint
    • Pretro Canada
    • Teck
    • Subaru
    • Techo-Bloc
    • Wakefield
    • Cordy
    • Grics
    • David’s Tea

Adding more core, industry specific capabilities is a good idea in my opinion.  Having spent a fair amount of time with SAP solutions, it is quite evident that SAP puts an emphasis on industry specific solutions like the Utilities module: ISU.  I always felt that Microsoft relied too much on 3rd party applications to fulfill these verticals.  I am happy to see them put more emphasis on industry.



The next portion of the session focused on CRM 2011.  They showed an amazing demo where they built a Metro user interface on top of CRM 2011.  The idea behind this was that this company (a beer company) has a mobile workforce that includes “Beer Rangers” (how cool of a job title is that).  These Beer Rangers are much like account managers.  They need to access CRM to manage their client engagements.  Previously, this Brewery had issues with CRM adoption.  They found that the Beer Rangers were not using CRM as much as they should have.

The user interface was extremely fluid.  You would not even know that this was a CRM system unless someone told you it was.  Since the target audience was a mobile workforce, this demonstration was done on a Windows 8 tablet. 

I am responsible for managing our CRM implementation at my organization.  My initial thoughts were that “I want that solution”.  It was amazing.


Neat Statistics

  • In the last 6 months Microsoft has added 250k users
  • 2.25 million users total
  • 33k customers world wide
  • 31 double digit growth quarters
  • 60% of new customers use CRM Online

Major Customers in Canada

  • Hydro One
  • Globe and Mail
  • Children’s Wish
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Paladin
  • Starshot
  • Legal Aid Alberta
  • Tourism Whistler


A Perspective on Cloud Computing & Adoption – Steve Martin

Steve delivered a very practical presentation on Windows Azure.  I have been to many Azure sessions that talked about how everyone needs to be in the cloud and made it seem like you were on the outside if you weren’t.  From the beginning, Steve mentioned that we would not see one Windows Azure logo in his presentation and he was right.  He gave a very forthcoming, honest talk on when and why you should use cloud.  He also provided a lot of candid information in areas when you should not use the cloud as it just does not make sense.

When should I embrace the cloud?


In the majority of cases you will not save money by moving a workload to the cloud. (Yes someone from Microsoft actually said this)  From Microsoft’s perspective they have seen customers save money when using Azure for:

  • Dev/Test scenarios
  • Temporary workloads
  • Bursts
  • Proof of Concepts – You can perform many tasks over the course of an afternoon for less than a cup of coffee.

He then offered that you will not save money in situations where:

  • You have sustained (long term) utilization.  The cost of compute is still too high for financial benefits.


People will move to the cloud to take advantage of Architecture building blocks that either do not exist on -premise or is outside that organization’s core competency.  From a personal perspective, this has always resonated with me. The pure elasticity of Azure is just not something that can be easily emulated within your own datacenter.  Also,  when I look at some of the opportunities that technologies like the Service Bus provide, it just makes sense to move some of these workloads into the cloud.


Who is adopting?

  • Startups
    • Are deferring capital expenses until they have reached the scale where spending the capital makes sense
  • 32 of Global 100 are using some form of Azure
    • Mixture of  DEV/TEST
    • Pilots
    • Some production

Cloud Adoption Patterns

  • Publicly facing applications
  • Applications that move between Public and Private
  • Unpredictable & Variable Workloads
  • Application Development (DEV/TEST)
  • Temporary initiatives
  • Sizing & Tuning for investment

Neat Statistics

  • In the past 5 hours(from the time I arrived at the conference center to the time of writing):
    • 6.49 million cloud compute hours were consumed
    • 12 158 new virtual machines have been spun up
    • Azure has the same amount of compute power as the entire universe had in 1999


Cloud is a double edge sword

You know the term “it takes money to make money”?  For many years companies that could afford to spend a lot of money on R&D and infrastructure had more opportunities to create the next big thing.  With Azure, and cloud computing in general, the playing field has now been leveled. Your competitors now have access to the same toolset that you have access to.  These toolsets will now allow businesses to scale at levels that previously just weren’t possible.  In fact, Professor Richard Foster of Yale University is predicting by by 2020 more than 3/4 of the S&P 500 will be companies that we have not heard of yet.  Considering where Facebook came from less than 10 years ago to approaching a 100 Billion dollar IPO, I agree with Professor Foster.


So that is some of the highlights from Day 1.  I will also publish my thoughts from Day 2 on Thursday.