Tag Archives: excited

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Microsoft Inspire – Microsoft Partner Network

Connect with Julie@juliegolding

Julie Golding

Microsoft Inspire is less than a week away. I hope you are as excited as we all are. It promises to be an incredible week of learning, networking, and celebrating partnership.

In the remaining days before you leave for Las Vegas, Nevada we suggest you double check your travel arrangements. It’s also a good time to review your personal conference agenda in MyInspire and confirm that you’ve added the sessions you want to attend by using the session scheduler. We also recommend using the MyInspire meeting scheduler to send meeting requests to other partners or Microsoft employees with whom you most want to connect. There will be over 16,000 attendees at Microsoft Inspire, all with busy schedules, so advance planning is the best way to ensure you don’t miss anyone.

Here are some additional tips and reminders to help you have a productive and enjoyable Microsoft Inspire experience.

Download the MyInspire mobile app

MyInspire is available in a convenient full-featured mobile app. Download the app for either Android or Apple IoS and manage your personal agenda while on the go at the conference. You will also receive updates from the Microsoft Inspire planning team and be able to access helpful maps and floor plans of conference venues. Be sure to add your LinkedIn account information to your profile in the mobile app so you can see which attendees you’re connected with on LinkedIn. To do so, go to the Attendee Directory in the app and select Connections.

Review the Know Before You Go guide

We strongly recommend that you download and save a copy of our “Know Before You Go” guide, the single most comprehensive source of information about everything related to Microsoft Inspire. It covers a wide range of topics, including arrival and check-in, conference badges, transportation, session and event schedules, venue logistics, Wi-Fi connectivity, safety and security, and much more. The guide also includes descriptions of the different session types and information on the that will be a big part this year’s conference, made possible by the first-ever co-location of Microsoft Inspire and Microsoft Ready, the annual Microsoft sales, technical, and marketing fiscal year kick-off. These experiences include the Wednesday Corenote at T-Mobile Arena, where Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will address a joint audience of partners and Microsoft employees, and our eagerly anticipated One Celebration at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where attendees from both events will come together for an evening of food, fun, and entertainment by an internationally renowned eleven-time Grammy Award winner.

Ready, Set, Be Inspired

After months of planning, preparation, and anticipation, we can’t wait to see you in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Microsoft Inspire, where the world will meet to transform business. We’re very excited about the huge range of sessions built around this year’s key themes of Innovation, Partnership, and Leadership, and our amazing line-up of industry-leading speakers. Microsoft Inspire is also the best place to make connections and establish profitable relationships with fellow partners, Microsoft employees, and conference vendors and sponsors. The co-location of Microsoft inspire with Microsoft Ready will create more opportunities than ever before to make meaningful connections with the global Microsoft community to accelerate the digital transformation and success of our shared customers.

See you soon at Microsoft Inspire!

 

A new partnership to support computer science teachers

Today we are excited to announce a new partnership with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Microsoft will provide $2 million, over three years, to help CSTA launch new chapters and strengthen existing ones. It will help them attract new members and partners to build a stronger community to serve computer science teachers.

 We’re thrilled that students of all ages are discovering the exciting – and critical – field of computer science. From the Hour of Code, to Minecraft Education, and even Advanced Placement Computer Sciences courses, participation rates are expanding. This surge of student interest, combined with the premium our economy places on technology skill of all kinds, requires us to do all we can to ensure every student has access to computer science courses. And it all starts with our teachers.  

 Nearly every teacher belongs to a professional membership organization, from social studies, to reading, to math and science. These organizations provide teachers with subject-specific professional development, up-to-date curriculum, and networking opportunities with peers and other professionals. CSTA was started in 2004 to fill this need for computer science teachers. But to meet today’s needs in this quickly changing and growing field of study, CSTA is expanding as well. We are proud to support them!

 Our investment in CSTA continues Microsoft Philanthropies’ long-standing commitment to computer science education through our Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS) program, which pairs technology industry volunteers with classroom teachers to team-teach computer science in 350 U.S. high schools. It builds on our investments in nonprofits such as Code.org, Girls Who Code, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, with whom we partnered to create a computer science learning pathway. And it builds on our work advocating at a state and federal level for policy change and investments in computer science education across the United States.  

While technology can be a powerful learning tool, nothing can replace the expertise, guidance, and encouragement that teachers provide to students each day of the school year. I remember my own favorite teachers who helped me see a world beyond the rural town in which I grew up. I would guess that nearly everyone has a similar story. We thank our teachers and we hope that this investment in computer science teachers, through CSTA, empowers more educators to do what they do best: make a positive difference in the lives of students. To learn how you can help CSTA serve teachers, please visit https://www.csteachers.org/page/GetInvolved.

State of Decay 2 Exceeds 2 Million Players in Less Than Two Weeks – Xbox Wire

It has been incredible to see fans around the world supporting State of Decay 2 and we are excited to share that we have reached more than 2 million players in less than two weeks since our global launch on May 22.  On behalf of the team here and our incredibly talented partners at Undead Labs, we want to thank the millions of fans old and new who have helped build such a strong community of players united in the fight for survival.

With so many players enjoying the game, we’ve seen some interesting trends and data since our previous milestone of 1 million players. So far, survivors have eliminated close to 2 billion zombies! We’re also seeing lots of successful survivor stories. Last week, players tended to survive about three days on average, and as of note, we’ve seen players complete over 121,000 community stories and start brand new communities with a new map that includes extra bonuses to help kickstart their new survival challenge. This shows an incredible commitment to the game and we’re excited so many of you are enjoying the rich survival experience that State of Decay 2 offers.

The entire team has been working hard to bring all 2 million players lots of key fixes, gameplay tune-ups, and quality of life improvements with our latest game patch released last Friday. We are always listening to our fans to improve the game experience, and we will continue to bring updates and additional content as you explore all that State of Decay 2 has to offer. For further details on what’s changed see the full patch notes here.

The sequel to the original smash hit, State of Decay 2 puts players in small-town America, one year from the end of everything. The dead have risen and civilization has fallen. Not even the military could stop the zombies, and now it’s up to you to gather survivors and build a community in a post-apocalyptic world – a world where every decision matters, and where you define what it means to survive. The game builds upon the unique blend of open-world exploration, third-person action, and survival-fantasy role-playing pioneered in the original game. There is an overarching story told in the form of structured mainline and optional sidequests, but the world itself is shaped by your actions with dynamically generated content based on your choices and the ever-increasing zombie threat.

If you haven’t joined the community just yet, now’s a great time to get in on all the action! In addition to playing it with an Xbox Game Pass membership, you can purchase the Standard Edition for $29.99 and the Ultimate Edition for $49.99. As an Xbox Play Anywhere game, one digital purchase gets you both the Xbox One and the Windows 10 version of the game.

We look forward to welcoming even more players into the world of State of Decay 2 and continuing to support our growing community with further content updates and downloadable content in the future.

Again, on behalf of Microsoft Studios and Undead Labs, we’re excited and humbled to see more survival stories in State of Decay 2. How will you survive?

The December release of SQL Operations Studio is now available

This post is authored by Alan Yu, Program Manager, SQL Server.

We are excited to announce the December release of SQL Operations Studio is now available.

Download SQL Operations Studio and review the Release Notes to get started.

SQL Operations Studio is a data management tool that enables you to work with SQL Server, Azure SQL DB and SQL DW from Windows, macOS and Linux. To learn more, visit our GitHub.

SQL Operations Studio was announced for Public Preview on November 15th at Connect(), and this December release is the first major update since the announcement.

The December release includes several major repo updates and feature releases, including:

  • Migrating SQL Ops Studio Engineering to public GitHub repo
  • Azure Integration with Create Firewall Rule
  • Windows Setup and Linux DEB/RPM installation packages
  • Manage Dashboard visual layout editor
  • “Run Current Query with Actual Plan” command

For complete updates, refer to the Release Notes.

Migrating SQL Ops Studio Engineering to public GitHub repo

To provide better transparency with the SQL Operations Studio community, we have decided to migrate the Github internal branch to the public repo. This means any bug fixes, feature developments, or even test builds can be publicly viewed before an update is officially announced.

We made this move because we want to collaborate with the community to continually deliver features that our users want. This gives you the opportunity to see our changes in action to address your top voted issues. Visit our GitHub page and give us your feedback.

Azure Integration with Create Firewall Rule

Now let’s get into new features. A common issue when connecting to Azure SQL DB instances is that the connection can fail due to server firewall rules. This would require loading Azure Portal to configure firewall rules so that you can connect to your database, which can be inconvenient.

To speed up this process, we have enabled Azure Integration with Create Firewall Rule dialog. When your connection to an Azure SQL DB instance fails because of firewall settings, this dialog will appear, allowing the user to use their Azure subscription account to automatically configure the client IP address with the server. This retains the same experience as configuration on Azure Portal, except you can do it all through SQL Operations Studio.

Windows Setup installation and Linux DEB/RPM installation packages

We are always looking for new ways to improve the installation experience. With the December release, we have added Windows Setup installation to simplify installation on Windows. This wizard will allow the user to:

  • Select installation location
  • Select start menu folder
  • Option to add to path

In addition to Windows Setup, we have also added Linux DEB/RPM installation packages. These will add new ways for Linux users to download SQL Operations Studio for their choice of installation.

Feel free to try out these new installation experiences on our download page.

Manage Dashboard visual layout editor

In the initial release, there were not many options to customize the visual layout of the dashboards. With the December release, you can now resize and move your widgets by enabling the visual layout editor mode by clicking the pencil on the top right of the Manage Dashboard screen. This gives users greater control of their dashboard in addition to building their own custom insight widgets.

Run Current Query with Actual Plan command

Another new feature we have enabled is Run Current Query with Actual Plan, which is a command that will execute the current query and return the actual execution plan with the query results. This feature area is still in-progress as we work through the best UX for integrating this command directly into the query editor. While that design work is in-progress the functionality is still available via the Command Palette and you can define a keyboard shortcut if using this feature frequently.

Contact us

If you have any feature requests or issues, please submit to our GitHub issues page. For any questions, feel free to comment below or tweet us @sqlopsstudio.

Announcing the Reddit Solution Template | Microsoft Power BI Blog | Microsoft Power BI

Today, we are excited to announce a new suite of Power BI solution templates for brand management and targeting on Reddit through a thrid-party API relationship with SocialGist. These templates complement existing brand-oriented solution templates available for Twitter, Facebook, and Bing News.

The Reddit solution template suite combines AI with interactive visual analytics to reveal how different brands are performing across the Reddit platform, from companies and CEOs down to individual products. Behind the scenes, it uses Azure services and technologies from Microsoft AI and Research to support rich exploration by sentiment levels, key words, and author communities. All you need to get started are the list of brands you want to track and an Azure subscription – the solution template will automate and take care of everything else.

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Actionable Insights

With Reddit solution templates, you can easily track mentions of your brand, identify communities that talk about your products, and discover key influencers within those communities. You can also do the same for your competitors and their products!

The templates provide direct answers to the questions about who is talking about which brands, what are they saying in terms of text, sentiment, and keywords, and where on Reddit are they saying it. The templates also reveal new opportunities to drive customer engagement, whether through the identification of new community segments, top posts worthy of promotion, or trends in post volume or sentiment that require a timely response.

“With more than 330 million monthly users posting, commenting and voting across 138,000 active communities each day, Reddit is home to the most diverse and authentic conversations on the internet; and as such, an increasingly valuable source of brand and consumer insights,” says Alex Riccomini, director of business development and media partnerships at Reddit. “We’re excited to partner with Microsoft to bring Reddit’s vast data to Power BI, making it easier and more flexible than ever to customize, collect, and consume business-impacting insights from the Reddit community.

Together, the Power BI solution templates for Reddit offer unique brand insight and customer targeting opportunities powered by the highly-engaged and rapidly-growing Reddit community.

Multiple Workbook Experiences

1. Overview – This workbook shows the big picture for selected brands and the key influencers and communities talking about them.

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Analyzing sentiment over time

2. Targeting and Activation – This workbook reveals how communities relate to brands across the Reddit platform and highlights key influencers.

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Lookalike community analysis

3. Advanced Analytics – This workbook enables deep analytic exploration of Reddit posts, comments, and user activity relating to selected brands.

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Deep dive analysis with free-text search

Try it out & let us know

Go ahead and check out the Reddit solution template. You can try out an interactive sample report, watch a demo video or just go ahead and set things up! The team is always interested in any thoughts or feedback – you can reach us through our alias (pbisolntemplates@microsoft.com) or by leaving a comment on the Power BI Solution Template Community page.

Microsoft showcases latest industrial IoT innovations at SPS 2017

We are excited to extend our lead in standards-based Industrie 4.0 cloud solutions using the industrial interoperability standard OPC UA, with several new product announcements at SPS IPC Drives 2017 in Nuernberg, Europe’s leading industrial automation exhibition, which takes place next week.

We continue to be the only cloud provider that offers both OPC UA client/server as well as the upcoming (in OPC UA version 1.04) Publish/Subscribe communication pattern to the cloud and back with open-source modules for easy connection to existing machines, without requiring changes to these machines and without requiring opening the on-premises firewall. We achieve this though the two Azure IoT Edge modules OPC Proxy and OPC Publisher, which are available open-source on GitHub and as Docker containers on DockerHub.

As previously announced, we have now contributed an open-source OPC UA Global Discovery Server (GDS) and Client to the OPC Foundation GitHub. This contribution now brings us close to the 4.5 million source lines of contributed code landmark, keeping us in the lead as largest contributor of open-source software to the OPC Foundation. This server can be run in a container and used for self-hosting in the OT network.

Additionally at SPS, Microsoft will demo its commercial, fully Azure IoT integrated version of the GDS and accompanying client at the OPC Foundation booth. This version runs as part of the Azure IoT Edge offering made available to the public last week.

We have continued to release monthly updates to our popular open-source Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory preconfigured solution which we launched at Hannover Messe this year. Most recently, we have updated the look and feel to be in line with the new set of preconfigured solutions currently being released. We will continue to release new versions of the Connected Factory on a monthly basis with improvements and new features, so check them out on a regular basis.

Our OPC UA Gateway program also keeps growing rapidly. Since we launched the program just six months ago at Hannover Messe, we now have 13 partners signed up including Softing, Unified Automation, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Kepware, Cisco, Beckhoff, Moxa, Advantech, Nexcom, Prosys OPC, MatrikonOPC, Kontron, and Hilscher.

Furthermore, we are excited to announce that the Industrial IoT Starter Kit, previously announced at OPC Day Europe, is now available to order online from our partner Softing. The kit empowers companies to securely link their production line from the physical factory floor to the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory in less than one day. This enables the management, collection, and analysis of OPC UA telemetry data in a centralized way to gain valuable business insights immediately and improve operational efficiency. As with all our Industrial IoT products, this kit uses OPC UA, but also comes with a rich PLC protocol translation software from Softing called dataFEED OPC Suite. It comes with industry-grade hardware from Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the form of the HPE GL20 IoT Gateway. Swing by the Microsoft booth to check it out and get the chance to try it out for 6 months in your own industrial installation.

Stop by our booth in Hall 6, as well as the OPC Foundation booth in Hall 7 to see all of this for yourself!

SwiftKey announces Photo Themes & partnership with a National Geographic contributing photographer – SwiftKey Blog

Hi everyone, 

We’re excited to announce Photo Themes, a new feature that lets you personalize your SwiftKey Keyboard even more and, even better, is available on both Android and iOS immediately! With Photo Themes, you can upload your own images to create a personalized theme on SwiftKey Keyboard. Even better, we’ve partnered with a National Geographic contributing photographer to inspire you with a gallery of 12 curated images exclusive to SwiftKey!  

To ignite your creativity and demonstrate the possibilities of this new feature, we’ve worked with Keith Ladzinski, a professional adventure photographer who’s worked with clients such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel and ABC. Keith has an eye for capturing beautiful pictures and has curated a gallery of his eye-catching nature images just for SwiftKey users. Download your favorites from his image gallery and make your own Photo Theme! 

The possibilities for Photo Themes are limited only by your creativity. Keith’s nature photos are stunning, but you may prefer more personal photos of your family, pet or hobby.  For those with an artistic side, let it show – illustrations or abstract photos make for great photo themes too.     

Android users will also find that they can customize whether or not their keyboard has borders on the keys, as well as whether or not symbols and secondary characters. Go for a more minimal, streamlined look or keep all the borders for a look that’s uniquely yours. To get started with Photo Themes, open ‘SwiftKey Settings’ and click on the ‘Themes’ tab on SwiftKey for Android. Read the Help Center article here for a step-by-step guide.  

iOS users can also customize the color of their keys, which will show when pressed. To start customizing your keyboard with these new features, open the SwiftKey app and select ‘Design’. For a step-by-step guide on how to get up and running with Photo Themes, check out our Help Center for a step-by-step guide.

To accompany the release of Photo Themes, we’re running a contest to award the most creative users of this new feature during the month of November. Submissions will be collected on Twitter with the #photothemes hashtag and we’ll be awarding winners each week. Enter for the chance to win an Amazon gift card worth $150, a limited edition SwiftKey hoodie sweatshirt and more prizes.

Follow our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts for more details and don’t forget to share your new Photo Theme with #photothemes! Any questions, let us know!  

Cheers,
The SwiftKey Team 

Inclusion in action: Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%

Today, we’re excited to introduce you to Veronica, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically. Veronica is the third of six individuals featured in our Inclusion in Action series announced last month, highlighting how accessible technologies enable transformative change.

Here’s her story.

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When you meet Veronica Lewis, it does not take long to figure out that this 21-year-old junior at George Mason University is going places. She plays clarinet in the school band, maintains high grades as an IT major and runs a blog called Veroniiiica – Veronica With Four Eyes that has captured the attention of some of our nation’s most powerful leaders.

When she was younger, Veronica’s mother often said she was “blazing a trail for other students in the future.” Little did Veronica know how true that would be.

Veronica has low vision, which she describes in simple terms: “I can’t see things smaller than size 22-point font, more than 15 feet away or more than about six inches on either side of me.”

When Veronica was younger, her school district did not have many resources for providing accessible materials.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m the dumbest kid in the room because I will look down at a paper and not be able to figure out what is on there at all.”

She and her family soon learned to advocate for her best interests, and during her junior year of high school, they transferred to a district with more resources. Her new school had a program allowing students to earn Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications, which Veronica eagerly embraced.

“I was able to receive my Word, Word Expert, Excel, Excel Expert, and PowerPoint certifications to become a Microsoft Office Master Specialist.”

Veronica mastered the use of Microsoft’s built-in accessibility tools and her grades skyrocketed. In 2015, she graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade point average.  She’s continued this academic excellence in college and technology continues to play an important role in her life.

Veronica notes, “Technology just doesn’t make things easier for people with disabilities. It makes things possible.”

The ‘things’ she mentions include everything from homework to band practice to her blog. She makes her classwork accessible using Word. During class, she takes notes in OneNote. If she needs to read a blackboard or whiteboard, she can take a photograph of it. Together, Optical Character Recognition in Office Lens and OneNote enables her to search for text within the picture. To learn and practice her latest music assignments for band, she uses technology to enlarge her sheet music view to 225 percent.

One of her favorite features is Word’s built-in accessibility checker, which allows users to determine if a document is accessible and offers tips on how to improve accessibility.

“I’ve introduced that function to a lot of my professors when creating accessible materials, and showing them that it takes less than a minute to make a document accessible. Why wouldn’t you do it?”

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Veronica Lewis is a college student who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 to excel academically.

Another tool that Veronica found especially empowering is Sway. It has an accessibility view, which is compatible with screen readers, and easily lets you add alt-text for people with low vision.

“Every presentation that I’ve created with Sway has gotten 100 percent. A lot of my professors are just amazed because they didn’t know this existed, and it’s so easy to use.”

Veronica also uses Sway for her blog. She says she created the blog as a resource for students, parents, teachers and professionals to show how easy it is to accommodate for low vision.

“I’ve been able to contribute to websites like Perkins School for the Blind’s Paths to Technology, and The Mighty, and it’s been amazing just to see how many people are relating to what I write about.”

As her audience has grown, so has the focus of her blog. She now addresses disability and accessibility issues, and uses the blog as a platform to advocate for disability rights.

“I was able to start my blog and really reach out to people all around the world and teach them all about low vision. I’ve also been able to talk to many U.S. Senators and members of Congress about issues related to healthcare and disability.”

Veronica plans to continue to leverage her studies in IT and Assistive Technology to spread her message.

“To any other students who are in the same position as me, just remember you’re not the only one who went through these experiences. You belong.”

Visit aka.ms/InclusionInAction to discover more stories of people pushing the boundaries of productivity and inclusion with Microsoft technologies.

Managed Applications are now Generally Available in the Azure Marketplace

I am excited to announce the general availability of Managed Applications in the Azure Marketplace. Managed Applications, an Azure unique offering, enables you to deploy entire applications and empower your partner to fully manage and maintain the application in your environment. This means, a partner like Xcalar, can deliver more than just deployment on a set of VMs. Xcalar can now deliver both the application and a fully operated solution, offering “Ap/Ops.” Partners like Xcalar will also maintain and service the application solution directly in your Azure environment.

This new distribution channel for our partners will change customer expectations in the public cloud. Unlike our competitors, in Azure, a marketplace application can now be much more than just deployment and set-up. Now it can be a fully supported and managed solution. This is a first in the public cloud!

You and your partners have been the inspiration for Azure Managed Applications. We hear from many of our customers looking to transform IT operations, that they need the simplicity of fully managed applications without all the infrastructure hubbub. Furthermore, our partners are seeking opportunities to offer their customers more value by adding service operations to their portfolio. With Managed Applications, you and your partners can achieve these goals. Here are a few of the details of the offering:

  • Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and System Integrators (SIs) can build turnkey cloud solutions using Azure Resource Manager templates. Both the application IP and the underlying pre-configured Azure infrastructure can easily be packaged into a sealed and serviceable solution. This enables “Ap/Ops,” offering both the application and operations together in one package.
  • Customers can deploy these turnkey solutions in their own Azure subscription as a sealed service, which is fully operated and maintained by the partner across the solution lifecycle. In addition, only the minimal level of access is granted, specifically for the sealed solution and its lifecycle operations.
  • The result is a higher quality of service for our customers, fully managed by our partners. Thanks to the sealed and immutable nature of Managed Applications, nothing changes in the application or the infrastructure configuration, unless it is an explicit lifecycle operation by the trusted partner.

Whether these solutions are complex applications that are custom-built and maintained by MSPs or packaged applications delivered and serviced by ISVs, you can focus on what you need to do to accelerate your business transformation without having to worry so much about running someone else’s software. Managed Applications accelerate innovation, even in the most advanced application scenarios, bringing the best of software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service together.

At Ignite we enabled our partners to deploy and service Managed Applications inside customer owned enterprise service catalogs. With today’s addition of Azure Marketplace as a distribution channel, partners can add value to their marketplace offering by adding lifecycle and support services with an incremental flat monthly fee. Our launch partners are excited and ready to go…

“Azure Managed Applications enables OpsLogix customers to easily deploy and use our solutions without having to undertake on-going maintenance and servicing complexities.”
Vincent de Vries, CEO, OpsLogix

“Azure Managed Applications allows Xcalar Data Platform to provide a higher quality of service and help forge stronger partnerships with our customers. Enterprise applications, Azure cloud infrastructure, and production operations can now be packaged into a single solution.”
Vikram Joshi Co-founder and CEO, Xcalar

“We’re delighted to be bringing the power and simplicity of Cisco Meraki cloud networking to customers using Microsoft Azure. Our two companies both share a passion for better IT, and by leveraging our powerful Auto VPN and SD-WAN features we can seamlessly connect users to the resources they depend on every day.”
Raviv Levi, Senior Product Line Manager, Cisco Meraki

Go ahead, give it a try. We would love to hear from you about your experience with Azure Managed Applications and our partner solutions. Leave us feedback at the user voice channel or the comments section below.

More innovation for our partners is on the horizon, so stay tuned! And, do not forget to check Gaurav’s blog for a closer look under the hood on how this works.

See ya around,

Corey Sanders