Attending Microsoft Inspire July 9th through July 13th was an experience that myself and our XtremeLabs team won’t forget. Our team included Miranda, Ernst, Michael, Chet and Myself. Miranda and Ernst are from the Netherlands. Michael, Chet and myself came from Redmond, WA.

Microsoft didn’t hold back on some incredible events for all the Partners. We had the opportunity to meet with many of our existing XtremeLabs Training Partners and meet with new individuals to partner with. As a team, we got to enjoy Washington D.C. and experience the incredible history there.

About Inspire and Keynote

Inspire is geared towards Microsoft partners, a place where we can learn the exciting things happening now and what Microsoft has in store for the partners in the future. Over 17,000 partner representatives flocked to Washington DC to attend Microsoft’s largest partner conference yet.

On Monday morning, we attended the main keynote. The venue was packed at the Verizon Center, the home of NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals. The Keynote started with Melissa Arnot, an American Mountain climber who has climbed to the summit of Mount Everest 6 times. Her inspirational talk quickly led into how she uses Microsoft’s cloud products and services with her organization.20170710_125038530_iOS.jpg

Microsoft’s Corporate VP Ron Huddleston came on stage later and introduced Microsoft’s commitment to being partner-first. Microsoft is investing $250 million dollars to help connect partners with customers. This was all exciting news, topped off with Microsoft incentivizing their internal Azure reps to partner with the Partner community.

The main keynote speaker was Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella. Before his big announcements he mentioned some impressive numbers, Microsoft Partners employ over 17 million people worldwide. Satya Nadella was excited to say people from just about 140 countries were in attendance. The big news was the announcement of Microsoft 365. Microsoft 365 is a new solution that combines Office 365, Windows 10, Security and Enterprise Mobility. Microsoft is pushing the cloud, the future has AI built into every app and we won’t be tied down to single devices, everything is going to be multi-device.

My takeaway from the Keynote was optimistic for technology to come. Microsoft has many technologies that are all merging to the cloud, making working on your Windows 10 machine easy but being able to simply pick up on your Surface when you need to and while on the go pull out your iPhone and still be in the whole ecosystem. Multi-device, AI incorporated into apps, easy communication, it’s all coming together. Microsoft’s 365 is excellent for Microsoft Partners across the board, from all lines of business and Microsoft is pushing Partners First.


Microsoft Events and Team Building

With such a large event turnout, you would think it would be difficult to entertain everyone after event hours. The Event planning team at Microsoft did an excellent job, they had large mixers throughout the week and we were all treated like VIP’s. Local groups also had arranged events as well, some of which our team was invited to.

Our first experience with the after-hour events was the Holland House on Monday evening. Over 500 individuals from Holland showed up to attend Inspire, and every night from 5 – 7 they had a huge get together at the City Tap House. Miranda worked her magic with the Holland House to get our US side of the team into the daily event. Outside of the City Tap House a full-size statue of a cow greeted us. This wasn’t an ordinary statue, it was flown in for the event and painted bright Orange. Like clockwork, everyone showed up at 5. We got to experience true meatballs from the Netherlands, the best I’ve had by a large margin. A DJ from Holland mixed music while we all socialized. Even though Michael, Chet and myself don’t speak Dutch we felt sincerely welcomed.

After the Holland House we attended an event from Microsoft. This was our first experience with an exclusive VIP event. The event was at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. They had music playing, lights dimmed and colored, drinks and food. Here we got to look at the Museum while meeting new people, creating business contacts in a very low-pressure setting. Getting to experience a Smithsonian like this after hours, a priceless moment shared with old and new business colleagues.

Tuesday evening Microsoft had another event scheduled for US Partners. This time the event was at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. This is the newest of the Smithsonian museums and there is still a 3-month waiting list to get in. Many of us attending took advantage of the opportunity to tour the whole museum, a very somber moment that allowed reflection. I spent most of the time going through the bottom three basement floors of the museum, chronicling history from the 1400’s to the 2000’s. For me I had an urge to learn about this rough history of the US. Upstairs the party continued and once I had a moment to reflect I joined the rest of the party. The event had excellent food and beverages which helped create many easy introductions. Several business cards exchanged hands, but business wasn’t the focus, it was interacting with everyone.


On Wednesday, Microsoft had yet another surprise for us. The entire Nationals Baseball Stadium was a big VIP party for the Partners. All the food vendors were open for us: hot dogs, hamburgers, steak, fries, soda, beer. It was hot, even at 9PM. 90 degrees with high humidity hot so Ice Cream was a must. Walking around the stadium was like attending a baseball game but instead we were there for a concert. Microsoft arranged for Carrie Underwood to perform. She started performing as the sun set around 9:15PM. Many partners from outside of the US didn’t know who she was so it was fun explaining her to everyone even though I don’t know much of her music.


Being on the other side of the country for Chet, Michael and myself we don’t get to go to D.C. often. Miranda and Ernst hadn’t either. On some of the down moments and before we flew out we toured. The National Archives, where the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are located, was a must. Seeing the actual documents that started the USA is something I believe everyone should do in their life.

So much history to see and so little time to see it. We picked some key spots; The White House, The Capital, The Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial to name a few. We did take a tour on a double-decker bus to get a good rundown of DC. Excellent recommendation to do early on a trip to DC so you can figure out where to go. At the end of each evening we always got together for a little and chatted about the day, the contacts we made and upcoming plans.


My last night

I was the last one to depart DC. I ended up walking from my hotel to the White House, The Washington Monument and then took some time at the end of the reflecting pool before heading to the Lincoln Memorial. Even at 11PM it was very warm and still lots of people out. At the Lincoln Memorial I had some time to soak in the trip, process the Inspire event and reflect everything I experienced the last week.  It was a peaceful way to end a successful conference.

Activity #’s for the Week from Apple Watch



































Wrap Up

Due to my type of work I’ve attended many conferences in my life. Sometimes I attend alone, other times I attend with some colleagues but typically not who I work with daily. I was lucky to attend this conference with some excellent company. Colleagues I am proud to call friends.

Some conferences I’ve attended are impersonal, some are boring, others lonely. This Microsoft Inspire Conference was different. It brought together Partners. Either by strengthening current relationships with partners or creating new ones Inspire brought us all together.

Only complaint I had was the incredible heat, even late at night it was hot and humid. Much different than the weather I’m used to in the other Washington but I’d do it all over again if I had a chance.

Topics: Technology

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ABOUT James Schweickert

James lives and breathes XtremeLabs, XtremeTest and Training in our Enterprise Technology Center. If there is a conference or event there is a good chance you will see James there with an Xtreme Flag. James has over 18 years in the IT industry, on both sides of the spectrum, IT Sales and IT Management.
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