In all the news about Microsoft's latest reorganization I haven't seen any reference to Bill Gates. Being a relatively old Microsoftee (1992 - 2006), I could see Bill's imprint on things and guess what he is thinking of. I had a few small meetings with Bill, worked on some of his keynotes, and had plenty of friends who had way more interaction with Bill.
What got my attention today to write is on Bill Gates personal web page on his reading list the following three books are listed as the top on his list.
I have had Jared Diamond's book on my list. How Children Succeed is one I have made part way through. The Box is about the history of the shipping container and how it changed distribution logistics. Most of you are familiar with The Box if you were thinking of containers in the data center. Mike Manos posted on the Container Concept.
In some ways Modularization of the data center industry is/can/will have the same effect as the shipping container did in manufacturing. All puns intended. If you are unaware of how the shipping container revolutionized the world, I would highly recommend the book “The Box” by Marc Levinson, it’s a quick read and very interesting if you read it through the lens of IT infrastructure and the parallels of modularization in the Data Center Industry at large.
So is Bill paying more attention to the data center world? By looking at what he is reading you can't tell. But here is something that makes sense. Bill is Chairman of the Microsoft Board of Directors. He spends one day a week working on Microsoft business. And I have heard of people going to Bill's Kirkland office to discuss Microsoft business.
So, Bill is reviewing the new One Microsoft strategy which I mentioned says datacenter 4 times.
Given Bill is paying more attention to logistics and operations and is focused on technology he is being exposed to the world of data centers. He is spending a lot time creating stochastic models and has a Windows Cluster to run models to evaluate ways to improve health and education.
Bill is looking at History for ways to tell stories that get people to understand a better way to do things. Here is how Bill opened his 2013 annual letter with telling story of the steam engine and its incremental improvements. This is the same method used by Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft to improve data centers. It makes sense that in the past the changes that the steam engine enabled is what data centers do now. Being a technology guy Bill must be seeing the connection of data centers, not desktop computers are enabling the big change.
We can learn a lot about improving the world
in the 21st century from an icon of the industrial
era: the steam engine.
Over the holidays I read The Most Powerful Idea
in the World, a brilliant chronicle by William
Rosen of the many innovations it took to harness
steam power. Among the most important were a
new way to measure the energy output of engines
and a micrometer dubbed the “Lord Chancellor,”
able to gauge tiny distances.
Such measuring tools, Rosen writes, allowed
inventors to see if their incremental design changes
led to the improvements—higher-quality parts,
better performance, and less coal consumption—
needed to build better engines. Innovations in
steam power demonstrate a larger lesson: Without
feedback from precise measurement, Rosen writes,
invention is “doomed to be rare and erratic.” With
it, invention becomes “commonplace.”
Bill is studying those things that revolutionized an industry. There are no books to read about data centers that way though. Although I would imagine someone has pitched the idea of writing a data center book. So much is changing though, that the book would be outdate by the time it is published.