Visiting Las Vegas in the middle of July seems like a questionable idea, but thousands of Microsoft partners will descend upon the desert next week to hear about a few new features in Azure and Power BI that could encourage them to recommend Microsoft tech to their own customers.
Microsoft Inspire kicks off next Monday at the Mandalay Bay in Vegas, and the company’s Azure division plans to announce a few new features for businesses that are spread across the globe, presumably in cooler locations. It plans to make Azure Data Box available in additional regions in Europe, and will introduce new Azure services that will help protect workers logging into corporate networks from remote locations.
Azure Data Box is an actual box that companies can hook up to their on-premises infrastructure and offload data that’s destined for Azure. It will now be available in preview for customers in the U.K. and parts of Europe, Microsoft plans to announce later on Thursday.
Next week at the event, the company will also introduce two new Azure features for networking, Azure Virtual WAN (wide-area network) and Azure Firewall. Azure Virtual WAN allows companies to take advantage of Azure’s private network to connect their own far-flung local networks, and Azure Firewall will help protect those networking connections with logging metrics and other security features.
Microsoft is also expanding the self-service capabilities of its Power BI data analysis tool, giving customers the ability to use the Power Query tool inside Power BI and adding support for the common data model.
Inspire is expected to attract thousands of people who resell Microsoft technology to their own customers, and coincides with the beginning of the company’s fiscal year. The big announcement of the week will be the introduction of a free tier for Microsoft Teams, the company’s Slack competitor, which my colleague Nat Levy covered here.