Software // Information Management
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11/3/2010
08:02 AM
Rajan Chandras
Rajan Chandras
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Ray Ozzie Sees Cloud Computing in Our Future

In an "internal" memo, Ozzie spells out where he thinks the IT industry is today, and where it is headed. Ozzie is a respected figure in the world of technology, and his memo is interesting -- but perhaps not in the way he intended...

In an "internal" memo, Ozzie spells out where he thinks the IT industry is today, and where it is headed. Ozzie is a respected figure in the world of technology, and his memo is interesting -- but perhaps not in the way he intended…

In his 3,000+ word "state of the technology" memo, Ozzie shows his many sides:

  • Self-referencing: "In the opening section of [my previous memo five years ago], I noted that..."
  • Loyal: " ...the last five years has been a time of great transformation for Microsoft."
  • Leader-ly: "I'm incredibly proud of the people and the work that has been done across the company"
  • Cautiously drum-beating: "...We're well on the path to having Windows Live serve as an optional yet natural services complement to the Windows and Office software"
  • Encouraging: "...I couldn't be more proud of what's emerged as Windows Azure & SQL Azure..."
  • Reassuring: "Our products are now more relevant than ever."
  • Honest: "...some of the opportunities I laid out in my memo five years ago remain elusive and are yet to be realized."
  • Pragmatic: "Certain of our competitors' products and their rapid advancement & refinement of new usage scenarios have been quite noteworthy."
  • Delicately admonishing: "Our early and clear vision notwithstanding, [our competitors'] execution has surpassed our own…"
  • Reflective: "...the next five years will bring about yet another inflection point..."

And last (for my list here) but not at all the least:

  • Visionary: "We're moving toward a world of cloud-based continuous services... and... appliance-like connected devices enabling us to interact with those cloud-based services." (emphasis is partly mine)

It is this last point that the memo largely dwells on, the message being: the world is moving toward connected devices that consume cloud-based services, and we'd all better be ready for it. In that sense, the message is fairly disappointing: this "vision" has already been spelled out by a vast number of others, including far humbler folks like myself (and also including my fellow contributors to IntelligentEnterprise.com).

Yet, this is no less interesting in that Ozzie, and by extension Microsoft, now joins the chorus of companies singing odes to cloud computing:

There's cloud computing in our future And infrastructure to be laid So let's not waste any time 'Cause there's money to be made (Sorry, couldn't resist that)

In other words, we can now expect Microsoft to go all out in two areas: cloud computing and household/mobile devices -- collectively, what we might call "ubiquitous connectivity." This is exciting news for everyone, and will provide a significant fillip in these areas. And since Microsoft is both in the software and hardware game, there will be competition -- and progress -- all around. It is reasonable to hope that -- although Microsoft isn't best known for market-shattering creativity -- this renewed focus will spur innovation not just from Microsoft, but also from competitors. And we are all to gain.

By the way, I put "internal" in quotes in the opening paragraph because although this memo (issued with his departure from Microsoft) is addressed to "Executive Staff and direct reports," it's published on Ray Ozzie's public blog... check it out here if you're interested.In an "internal" memo, Ozzie spells out where he thinks the IT industry is today, and where it is headed. Ozzie is a respected figure in the world of technology, and his memo is interesting -- but perhaps not in the way he intended...

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