10 years of Microsoft Data Center Executives

Microsoft’s latest VP of Data Centers (Global Foundation Services) now called the Cloud Infrastructure and Operations is Suresh Kumar.  There have been a lot of changes in the past 10 years of Microsoft’s data center group. The following is an accumulation of looking at Linkedin Profiles.

Currently Suresh Kumar is VP of Cloud Infrastructure and Operations with Christian Belady General Manager of Data Centers.

Dayne Sampson was VP of Global Foundation Services (GFS) from 2009 - 2014 with Christian Belady and Kevin Timmons as GMs of data centers.

Debra Chrapty was VP of GFS (until 2009) with Arne Josefsberg who brought in Mike Manos from Disney Interactive in 2005 to run data centers and this was the beginning of Microsoft’s transition to building data centers.

Before 2005 data centers also existed part of Microsoft IT and that was run by John Coster.

I have talked to some of the above people, but the only one I worked with is Mike Manos.

Mike and I overlapped by a year at Microsoft, and we didn't worked together when employees.  But, we did work together after I left the company and we had many interesting conversations.  The most memorable one was in Mar 2009 in his office when Mike said he was thinking of leaving Microsoft, and he wanted to know what I thought of leaving.  Mike had been at Microsoft for 4 years.  I had been at the company 14 years.  Mike explained the situation, and I was 100% supportive of Mike’s decision to leave Microsoft, and I knew with almost the same 100% certainty that Mike would eventually be a senior executive at the CIO/CTO level.  What I didn’t expect is how quickly Mike achieved CTO status.  Which reminds me of one of the points I shared with Mike is where would he be after 5 more years at Microsoft?  He would be a senior general manager with a slim chance of being a VP.  It may seem obvious that Mike would be VP of data centers/cloud vs. Dayne Sampson, but Dayne had internal support from other senior executives as Microsoft replaced Debra Chrapty.  One supporter of Mike was Satya Nadella, so it is possible if Mike was still at Microsoft he would be the VP of Cloud Infrastructure and Operations, but not a certainty.

Since I had posted comparing Suresh to Google’s Joe Kava using LinkedIn.  I was curious what happens if you compare Suresh to Mike using LinkedIn.  Here is a picture with Mike and Joe at 7x24 Exchange. Don’t think I have ever seen Suresh at a data center event.  Will to be fair you hardly ever see an Amazon.com employee at a data center event. :-)


What became clear in the LinkedIn data is that Mike has a higher peer review, and is probably one of the best VPs Microsoft could have had to run Cloud Infrastructure and Operations in the opinion of his LinkedIn connections.

Both Mike and Suresh have 500+ connections, and I think Mike’s actual connections may be a bit bigger.  Why?  Because data like Mike’s #1 skill is cloud computing 241, #2 data centers 225, and #3 IT Operations 136.  Suresh’s #1 skill is e-commerce 28 and his Cloud Computing # is 11.   Whoa.  Mike Manos Cloud Computing skill # is 241 and Suresh’s 11.  A 22x difference.  Data Centers for Mike is 225 and Suresh is 0. 

Mike did a short stint at Nokia and if Stephen Elop backed Mike Manos, then Mike could have come back to Microsoft through the Nokia acquisition.  We’ve all witnessed boomerang executives.

Those executives who know how to operate data centers are rare.  Those who know how to run Cloud Infrastructure seem more plentiful.  But, I somehow don’t feel comfortable taking direction from a Cloud Executive who doesn’t understand the way data centers operate.

Here are Mike’s top skills


Suresh’s top skills