Dog Food Is Important, But Don't Forget The Dog - InformationWeek

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1/31/2008
09:09 AM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
Commentary
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Dog Food Is Important, But Don't Forget The Dog

Long ago, Microsoft verbified the term "dog food" to describe the act of using its own products within Microsoft, as they are being developed. Dogfooding helps developers make sure the product really works the way it's supposed to work, on real computers with real users trying to get real work done. Yet all that focus on the dog food ignores the importance of the dogs.

Long ago, Microsoft verbified the term "dog food" to describe the act of using its own products within Microsoft, as they are being developed. Dogfooding helps developers make sure the product really works the way it's supposed to work, on real computers with real users trying to get real work done. Yet all that focus on the dog food ignores the importance of the dogs.One of Microsoft's top dogs is Bob Muglia, who has been at Microsoft for two decades now. I met him at the beginning of his Microsoft career; he was with the SQL Server team, leading a road show demonstrating its fledgling product by installing it on a bare machine. (The wonder at the time wasn't that a PC-based database server was fast, but that it could run at all.) For the last few years he's been senior VP of the Server and Tools division, the group that delivers products like Windows Server 2008.

What really impresses me about Bob is this video where he describes his home server setup about eight minutes into the video. Nine servers? (I sure hope he has a low-power blade setup, or maybe he uses the top part of his server rack as a pizza oven.) Here is a company VP who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty with the products his group makes, a real technical alpha dog. That might be one reason why the Server group seems to put out good products; it's led by someone who understands the issues of installing, configuring, and running the software.

Now to be sure, I think server products benefit from the bike shed phenomenon. Everybody has an opinion on Windows Vista because it's all about the look and feel. Fewer people feel compelled to chime in about Windows Server 2008 because it's "just" infrastructure, out of sight and out of mind until something goes wrong. Both the dog food and the dog make a difference when it comes to building a product where few things go wrong.

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