Microsoft is changing again. Microsoft is reorganizing and the head of Windows, Terry Myerson, is leaving. The reorganization isn’t that surprising, as like most large companies, Microsoft usually does something each year. What is interesting is that they are moving away from their major divisions focusing on products. We’ve had divisions for Windows, Servers, Devices, etc. Now we move to Experiences and Devices as one major group. The other will be Cloud + AI Platform, which seems more product oriented, but still is rather amorphous. Gaming is still separate and there’s still a large Research engineering group.
Why are they doing this? There’s some thoughts at ZDNet and Geekwire. It seems that the cloud is becoming the most profitable part of Microsoft, and I’d expect that we will continue to see more push for cloud and subscription type software. Along with the advances in AI, Microsoft seems to be hoping that more of us will start to do work using their infrastructure. That makes sense for some, but not for others.
For those of us using the data platform, I do think that we ought to be thinking cloud first unless we already have substantial infrastructure and automation capabilities to quickly stand up new instances. As development and other departments look to get work done, especially around data analysis, we need to meet their needs or many people will start to use the easy to provision and use cloud services, especially those for machine learning and AI. Companies are entranced by new technology, even if we aren’t, and the media hype around ML and AI will put pressure on us to do better. We don’t need to learn R or Python, but we should be able to run those scripts against data if our business demands the capability.
The GDPR and other security initiatives might seem to slow cloud deployment, but in many cases the cloud isn’t more or less secure than our own systems. Certainly we may have issues with privacy with the new US CLOUD Act, but for most of our businesses, that won’t really matter. The conflicts there are more around illegal activities, and if you are in that space, US based companies might not be your choice for hosting data.
For many of us, we do need to understand how to build and enforce more secure applications, and I’d argue that Azure makes this as easy any any other system. Our recent move at SQLServerCentral to AWS was essentially the same as if we’d have moved to a VM at Azure, Google, or even back to the Redgate office. The systems look the same, it’s the cost, the firewall and networking, and things beyond the data platform that are just different. And that’s the key, they’re not necessarily better or worse, but different.
As Microsoft changes, I think their code quality improves, though certainly their rapid pace means that people getting updates too quickly are on the bleeding edge. Their DevOps deployment, however, means that the bleeding edge usually doesn’t last tool long if the issues are severe.