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The Place to Start-up or Start Over! July 24, 2016 + Issue 10-51
Tour de Cloud LAUNCHED!

One grand tour ends (the Tour de France) and another begins, the Tour de Cloud! You can now register for this multi-city roadshow featuring Azure, Office 365 and Windows starting late summer 2016. 

Sign-up at

Independent. The main asset of the Tour de Cloud is our independence. We pride ourselves as outsiders looking in at the Azure, Office 365 and Windows product stacks. Simply stated, no blue badge babble here but real world conversations that are completely transparent. In no small part our independent view point is based on your feedback in past tours and our recent community survey. You have spoken. We have listened.

Storytelling. Our Chief Storytelling Officer (CSO) Grant Thompson is a popular speaker and subject matter expert on our past tours. He lives in the real world, directing a thriving consulting practice and hosting business. More importantly, for the Tour de Cloud, Grant has created completely new Azure, Office 365 and Windows scenarios based on end-to-end storytelling.

Translation, you start the day as a solutions architect inside a small-medium business (SMB) and create a solution set by lunch. In the afternoon, you start inside an enterprise and by end-of-day, you have crafted a complete cloud solution. It is knowledge you can take to the bank and deploy as soon as the next day. 

Stages. There are nine confirmed stages for the Tour de Cloud.



Easiest Way to Start Over!

In a 140-character world, it is all about fast and easy combined with short attention spans. I get that as we explore new editorial genres at SMB Nation in 2016 including how to start over as an MSP in an era transforming technology business models. So I share with you perhaps the fastest and easiest way to pivot your professional practice from yesterday to tomorrow: Workspace as a Service (WaaS). 

I fancy myself as having two feet on the street and not just being a talking head analyst. Ergo I am going to demo and review NetConnect, an emerging WaaS solution, right here right now. 

Logon and GO!

  1. First, you will logon to the demonstration site here
  2. Use the demo account (the user name and password are auto-populated)
  3. Next you will be presented with a "workspace" that is a paradigm shift of sorts for many users. There are common applications presented including the Microsoft Office apps.
  4. Open Excel and create a spreadsheet listing your calorie schedule for a day, as an example. Close Excel.
  5. You will be returned to the WebTop.
  6. Click Desktop. This is the true NetConnect experience. This is shown in Figure 1.
  7. Open Google Chrome and go to for grins. Close Google Chrome.
  8. And that is it.

The NetConnect look and feel
Figure 1: The NetConnect experience.

Basically NetConnect and it is WaaS solution takes the desktop computing approach we tried years ago at Cloud Nation to a new level. It is faster, simpler and cheaper than the remote desktop solution Cloud Nation promoted via the Citrix Receiver approach. When you sign-up as a NetConnect partner here, you can reinvent yourself in under an hour as a WaaS solution provider. It is that easy.

You can learn more about NetConnect by watching two webinars we recently hosted about this WaaS solution:


WPC Shout Outs!

Another year, another WPC. This conference, boasting over 16,000 attendees, recently concluded in Toronto so a few shout outs are in order. Microsoft Professional Degree (MPD). A new twist on an old concept was introduced and I both like it and dislike it. Microsoft has pivoted part of its certification story to now be the attainment of a "Professional Degree" that essentially is aJeff Shuey (center) and friends at WPC Toronto! glorified certification (ala the MCSE/MCSD-era). I like the branding as it aligns with a lot of certificate-based online offerings from accredited colleges (Harvard, et al) and other learning institutions (such as Galvanize and Market Motives). And I like the solutions-oriented business approach balanced with hardcore Geek. The first offering, a data science curriculum, also gets a "like" from me as it is an in-demand topic that is near and dear to my heart and, quite frankly, an area that Microsoft has lagged in as it seeks to get both more recognition and traction for Power BI.

What I dislike concerns the simple reprovisioning of existing content from the online curriculum warehouse This educational entity provides the same content to a number of EDUs including Harvard, MIT and numerous other institutions. I think it is intellectually lazy of Microsoft to simply rebrand existing content with its MSFT brand blessing. And I struggle to see what Microsoft's unique value proposition is with its MPD beyond the name game.

I am also disturbed that Microsoft is competing with some if it is learning partners including New Horizons, SQLSoft3 and even Bigger Brains. You will recall I explored the anti-competitive nature of Microsoft's educational offerings in this recent blog.

Finally, I have a call into a compliance officer at a leading online University seeking to answer my question on how Microsoft can use the term "degree" when its not an accredited educational institution. I'll report back...



Start-up Nuggets

In 2016, the editorial mission of SMB Nation is to help youUnemployed Alaskan either start-over (e.g. pivot to Cloud and IoT) or start-up (become a technology pro and make the big $$$). Our approach as garnered acclaim as fresh, innovative and helpful. So here are a few start-up nuggets for your approval.

Startup Grind
This global community, active in over 200-cities, is financed by Google, and offers a resource network and events for entrepreneurs. For example, here is the scoop on my hometown Seattle where I have the option to join the local chapter, and attend events such as a lecture from Dan Lewis, CEO of Convoy (a start-up that is disrupting the trucking, carrier and shipper segment). He speaks this Tuesday (July 26, 2016) and has street cred having recently closed on a $16M round led by Greylock Partners.

From Concrete to Code
It is Alaska Startup Week back in my home state. And it could not come at a better time.


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