Pancakes and maple syrup at Microsoft's partner event, Toronto

Pancakes and maple syrup at Microsoft's partner event, Toronto

For three satisfying years now, I’ve worked as Cloud Direct’s product manager. And in that time, I’ve developed quite a serious hunger for the latest technology. Particularly for how we can use it to help our customers.

This month, I had the incredible opportunity to attend Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto, Canada. And I have to say it was one of the best weeks of my life. Microsoft certainly knows how to throw an event.

Excellent keynotes make you thirsty for more, informative sessions fill you to bursting. You can have bite-sized meetings in their breakout spaces and then, in the evening, the social events (I’m now a big fan of Icona Pop and Gwen Stefani!) leave you feeling well and truly full to bursting.

Some of that roundup may sound like it was a business-paid holiday. I assure you it wasn’t. The sheer amount of information shared at WPC was overwhelming. But my personal highlight, was confirmation on how well we at Cloud Direct know our products, and how to be a Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) partner. For us, it’s instinctive. Like putting on a pair of shoes for the first time that don’t rub.

In summary, WPC was the most satisfying meal I’ve had in ages.

So, get comfy, grab a napkin and join me for a WPC dinner.

The wine list

When sitting down to eat, the biggest decision you make is at the start; matching your menu choice to a great tipple.


It’s no different in the IT industry. Microsoft have an incredible partner network with thousands of companies that all specialise in different products or services. The key messaging was – “don’t try to do everything by yourself. Partner with an expert to enable your business to do more for your customers.”

Choose a bad partner and the whole delivery will leave a bad taste in your mouth.


There’s a lot of pressure on a starter. It’s your first experience of the food, so has the huge job of meeting your expectations, or even exceeding them.

What could ‘Microsoft the restaurant’ do to wow a set of IT professionals? They could show us the innovations they are working on; two in particular really got my taste buds going.


Not something new but an amazing dish, it’s the first fully self-contained, holographic computer (in a lovely set of glasses) that enables interaction with HD holograms in your world. The demo shown in one of the keynote speeches was from Japan Airlines and how they use HoloLens for training their mechanics - in this case on a new jet engine. All the parts were accessible to the mechanic, could be shown in scale, internal parts highlighted and brought out for further analysis, and fuel routes shown.

Rather than having to offline one of their aircraft, costing them time and money, Japan Airlines are able to provide cost effective training that gives a far more enriched and educational experience.

‘Seeing AI’

Saqib, a Microsoft developer based in London sadly lost his sight at the age of 7. But he found inspiration in computing and is helping build ‘Seeing AI’, a research project that helps people who are visually impaired or blind to better understand who and what is around them.

For instance, in the video shown Saqib hears a girl laugh, he touches his glasses and is told that there is a young girl playing with an orange frisbee. The project is built using intelligence APIs from Microsoft Cognitive Services ( and is a truly humbling example of what we can achieve with technology.

Main courses

Microsoft services are the main course of the IT menu – everyone is ordering from them. Both General Electric and Facebook spoke in the keynote speeches about using cloud services to drive forward their businesses. And the best part about Microsoft services? They aren’t just affordable and practical for huge corporations with thousands to feed, but also very small companies who only want a nibble.

To quote Timothy Campos, CIO of Facebook – “Microsoft got cool again”.


Nothing beats a good dessert, whether you’re a sticky toffee pudding or a savoury cheeseboard. In the IT world, we are all talking about digital transformation with the cloud being the last stage in your IT meal. More and more people are moving from on-premises IT to the cloud and Microsoft are no different. They have completely revamped their product portfolio to focus on cloud subscription services and they are growing their cloud portfolio to great levels. It was refreshing to see the company taking note of their partner and end-customers’ feedback. A lot of the roadmap, licencing and feature changes are coming from the users’ of their products. The cloud is here to stay and with Microsoft’s plans and ethics, they will continue to dominate this market.

Care for a coffee?

Being one of 20,000 partner employees at WPC was an incredible experience. By chatting over a coffee or two, I discovered so much about working with Microsoft and their products, not to mention how you can successfully build your business around this. As I drained my cup each evening, I left feeling I’d created more personal relationships with vendors and other partners, ensuring I’d get the best out of those contacts, for Cloud Direct customers.

And there you have it - my top WPC dining moments.

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