Who took over some of the responsibilities Suresh Kumar had when he left Microsoft to go to Google? Noelle Walsh-Elwell and Rani Borkar

I was surprised how popular the post was on Suresh leaving Microsoft to go to Google.  Check out this traffic graph.

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So who took over some of Suresh's responsibilities? Two executives are Noelle Walsh-Elwell and Rani Borkar. Here is a Microsoft article that describes their roles.

A love of math and science was the catalyst that pushed MCIO’s newest Corporate Vice Presidents forward on their paths of learning, discovery, and onto careers in technology.

Noelle Walsh-Elwell, Corporate Vice President of Global Data Center Operations

Rani Borkar, Corporate Vice President of Cloud Supply Chain and Provisioning

Robbie Bach, 7x24 Fall 2017 Keynote - The Xbox Story “Shaping the Future”

Robbie Bach gave the opening keynote and he used the Xbox Story to tell the story of “Shaping the Future.”

Robbie covered the 3P as a key theme of his presentation which is detailed in this link.  https://www.robbiebach.com/3p/

“Robbie Bach is convinced that solving difficult problems requires a tremendous ability to simplify – getting caught up in the complexity of a situation reduces our ability to grab the low hanging fruit that can create great momentum. To that end, his book Xbox Revisited: A Game Plan for Corporate and Civic Renewal explores the 3P Strategy Framework which simplifies problems by focusing on the critical items of Purpose, Principles, and Priorities. These 3Ps, when combined with a short list of action items, help teams and individuals tackle almost any type of problem, but especially those that feel the most intractable or complex.” 

Targeting the mission critical audience, Robbie talked about Uptime and users, making the point that mission critical now means business critical. Online services is not a support. Online is the business.

A story Robbie told is the beginning of Xbox. December 1999 is when Xbox was born with no strategy. What they thought was strategy was ship it by this date and make sure things explode really great.

For the 1st 18 months of Xbox development it was  hell. 15 months into the project Robbie wanted to resign. November 2001, Xbox shipped. Success. Well Xbox lost $5-7 billion dollars. Team of 20 grown to 2,000 people. This is not success so the have an offsite.

As part of the offsite the result was the 3P framework.

To change pace Robbie told story of how Apple Music’s $0.99 song was business innovation for transform the music industry.

It is now Weds, two day is after Robbie’s keynote and I have time to reflect on Robbie’s presentation.  His presentation was well received by the attendees, but I  knew there was something missing from Robbie’s story. I was at Micosoft from 1992-2006 and had plenty of friends who worked in Xbox. I have one friend who is still in Xbox, but it is not in the hardware group. He is is the Xbox Live group.

Xbox Live is the business opportunity that changed the business model of console games. Xbox Live is a separate business unit that has a different business model than Azure and given a different business model the data center environment, equipment, and network are designed differently.

It’s too bad Robbie didn’t tell the story of Xbox Live development and its history. The Xbox Live story has not been told and I don’t think it will every come out. 


Microsoft and AWS AI partnering, some one must have driven the idea

Technology wars are dumb like many other wars. Years and years ago I realized the font war between Microsoft and Adobe was dumb and the users were losing out as the Typographers at Adobe and Microsoft would fight the battle between TrueType and Type 1. I was behind the scenes brokering the deal between Microsoft and Adobe independent of the font teams at each company. It is sometimes what you have to do stop war.  

AWS and Microsoft have press releases on its AI partnership. Gluon



“What is Gluon?

Gluon is a concise, dynamic, high-level deep learning library, or interface, for building neural networks. It can be used with either Apache MXNet or Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, and will be supported in all Azure services, tools and infrastructure. Gluon offers an easy-to-use interface for developers, highly-scalable training, and efficient model evaluation–all without sacrificing flexibility for more experienced researchers. For companies, data scientists and developers Gluon offers simplicity without compromise through  high-level APIs and pre-build/modular building blocks, and more accessible deep learning.”

"The potential of machine learning can only be realized if it is accessible to all developers. Today’s reality is that building and training machine learning models requires a great deal of heavy lifting and specialized expertise,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of Amazon AI. “We created the Gluon interface so building neural networks and training models can be as easy as building an app. We look forward to our collaboration with Microsofton continuing to evolve the Gluon interface for developers interested in making machine learning easier to use.” 

Digging around a bit I was trying to find more behind the scenes information.http://www.firstpost.com/tech/news-analysis/amazon-and-microsoft-team-up-to-launch-deep-learning-interface-called-gluon-4138859.html

”According to a report in the New York Times, the two rival tech firms were reportedly coordinating behind the scenes for the past year to make artificial intelligent assistants Alexa and Cortana communicate with each other.” 

There are lots of ex-Microsoft people in AWS. And there are lots of ex-AWS in Microsoft. With all those people moving back and forth and the companies are less than 10 miles apart it is relatively easy to have discussions like Gluon.  

How many more discussion are AWS and Microsoft having that we don’t hear about? 

Microsoft buys LinkedIn, what happens to the DC Infrastructure when integration starts?

There is a lot of news out there about the acquisition and what it means. One question that is interesting to the data center community is what happens to LinkedIn's data center infrastructure when they are part of Microsoft.

Let's start with the press release which is here. http://news.microsoft.com/2016/06/13/microsoft-to-acquire-linkedin/#sm.0001oz1nmex7gedxpaa28q5zji3ou

LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand, culture and independence.
“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” Nadella said. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”
“Just as we have changed the way the world connects to opportunity, this relationship with Microsoft, and the combination of their cloud and LinkedIn’s network, now gives us a chance to also change the way the world works,” Weiner said

So part of making the LinkedIn customers feel good is to let them know the brand and culture will be maintained and LinkedIn will be independent.  Satya then states with Microsoft LinkedIn will grow faster while supporting growth of Office 365 and Dynamics. And, there will be a combination of Microsoft's Cloud and LinkedIn's network.

So the independence is for the brand and some teams in LinkedIn, but not the team that runs the DC infrastructure which includes the data centers, network, and some software services. An example of a software service is the ability to sign-in to LinkedIn with a Microsoft sign-in. Simple. what about the data center infrastructure that will be connected to the Microsoft Cloud? Not so easy.

Where is LinkedIn's DC infrastructure? They celebrated their last move from retail to wholesale space in this blog post. https://engineering.linkedin.com/blog/2015/11/introducing-linkedins-west-coast-data-center. This post announces their green data center efforts in Informart's data center in Hillsboro.

When LinkedIn made decisions on its datacenter locations it focused on how best to service their users.  Now their biggest user and their owner Microsoft needs to be served. And part of that service is lower latency and higher bandwidth connections to Microsoft's Cloud. It's a long ways from Hillsboro to Quincy, WA. Seems things would work so much better if LinkedIn was at the same site as Microsoft's cloud.

In the last twelve months LinkedIn’s storage and processing needs have grown by 34 percent. That’s massive. And that growth is on top of the 29 megawatts of capacity in our current data centers worldwide – 26 megawatts are domestic and the other three international. We are also working to deploy applications on the nearly 6,500 servers in our Singapore data center before it goes live in early 2016.

The Production Engineering Operations (PEO) team has to work to stay ahead of this always growing demand to allow us to continue to provide our members the dependable and reliable services they expect from LinkedIn. But it’s also important that we remain environmentally sound. For these reasons, we’re excited to announce that LinkedIn’s third domestic data center will be located in Hillsboro, Oregon, just outside of Portland.

DatacenterKnowledge reports on the other LinkedIn locations. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2014/02/12/linkedin-will-add-third-data-center-next-year/