Friday, October 29, 2010

"Dawn of a New Day"- Microsoft's Chief Software Architect support for the Cloud

Just a couple weeks back, Steve Ballmer announced Ray Ozzie's departure from Microsoft. Ray was the creator of Lotus Notes and assumed the post of Chief Software Architect back in 2006 where he drove Microsof't's overall technical strategy. Back then, Ray was already a clear proponent of the cloud and published a now well-known memo"The Internet Services Disruption". In it, he identified a number of changing trends in the industry and heralded the age of the online services and the challenge to Microsoft's grip on the market. In response, Ray initiated and led Microsoft's programme to develop the Windows Azure platform.

Today, Ray published a blog post entitled
"Dawn of a New Day". It's a long post but if you have time, it's worth a read. He discusses the coming of the post-pc era where computing will be delivered through continuous services (scaleable and always available) to connected devices (which are simple appliances to use that just work).

Here are three quotes from the post with points of view that I strongly believe in. I will be sure to share these in the future with any colleagues / clients who insist that the Cloud is just hype...

"Many years ago when the PC first emerged as an alternative to the mini and mainframe, the key facets of simplicity and broad approachability were key to its amazing success.  If there’s to be a next wave of industry reconfiguration – toward a world of internet-connected continuous services and appliance-likeconnected devices – it would likely arise again from those very same facets."
Simplification is a key principle for business improvement and reducing costs. Lean Six Sigma, infrastructure consolidation, partner and supplier rationalisation are all focused on simplifying processes / touchpoints to obtain efficiencies. The same goes for products that users want to use - the iPhone, the Mac, they just work. Even Windows itself was user-friendly and simple relative to what it replaced - MS DOS.
"the PC-centric / server-centric model has accreted simply immense complexity.  This is a direct by-product of the PC’s success: how broad and diverse the PC’s ecosystem has become; how complex it’s become to manage the acquisition & lifecycle of our hardware, software, and data artifacts... 
Complexity kills. Complexity sucks the life out of users, developers and IT.  Complexity makes products difficult to plan, build, test and use.  Complexity introduces security challenges.  Complexity causes administrator frustration."
The other side of the same coin...  the challenge of today's IT projects is complexity. I'm presently running major aspects of an EMEA-wide services transformation and have spent countless evenings in the last two months working into the early hours of the morning because of yet another technical issue or infrastructure delay. Its horrendous to think about the amount of time we will have spent in the programme (and it's going to run another 2-3 years) on the installation, development, build, test of all the technology components. None of these activities will have any direct business benefit but are all means to the end goal of business re-organisation and dramatic process simplification.
"Today, in my own dreams, I see a great, expansive future for our industry and for our company – a future of amazing, pervasive cloud-centric experiences delivered through a world of innovative devices that surround us... 
 As such, cloud computing will become pervasive for developers and IT – a shift that’ll catalyze the transformation of infrastructure, systems & business processes across all major organizations worldwide.  "
The important point for me in Ray's quote here is the impact "across all major organizations worldwide". It's just a matter of when.


  1. Complexity is an absolute killer. Cloud abstracts away from the nuts and bolts, no flaky infrastructure, no less low level programming, and allows more focus on delivering business value. Certainly, a future without the hassle of the nuts and bolts is where we are going, and companies that persist pouring resource into layers that have been now commoditised via cloud platforms are wasting money and increasing risk unnecessarily.

  2. Thanks for the post Neil. I finished at the office at 11pm last night in order to help my client put together yet another emergency plan. This time for the infrastructure stream to rebuild the database which had been installed incorrectly (also requiring re-install of a dependent server environment which has been built on top). Now where's the business value in all that?