Nadella the agent for change

The Microsoft CEO is already changing the company and Nick Booth thinks even more is on the way

Here’s a tip for you. Never watch an industry web cast in a wifi café – ordinary people are less impressed than we are by the CEO of Microsoft.

“Is that really his name, Sucha Nerdella?” said a Skinny Latte, who was sharing the table at Café Nero, “That’s a really good example of nominative determinism.”

Somewhere between explaining that his name was actually Satya Nardella - and Googling ‘nominative determinism’ - I lost the will to stay with the new announcement on Microsoft’s holistic security. Mr Nardella is too fond…. of…… pregnant….. pauses for my liking. He lost this part of the audience when he used the phrase IT agnostic. I’m sorry, but if you aren’t sure you believe in the existence of computers, I really think you’re in the wrong job. If you can’t convince yourself, how are you going to convince me? Lord knows how this bloke got to be the CEO of Microsoft. It’s probably nominative determinism. (Ha! Don’t you even know what that means?) 

If Mr Nardella pulls it off, Windows 10, Office 365, Microsoft Azure and the Enterprise Mobility Suite will become as one cohesive unit. Mobile Azure Win Off, as my table mate would call it. That would be a massive achievement, but I wouldn’t put it past him as the Microsoft CEO has already pulled off two magical transformations.

Firstly, he’s tuned Microsoft into a company we can trust – although Google, Facebook and the NSA have played a big part there. If we’re going to have our personal lives turned over, Microsoft seems much nicer in comparison to those other three detectives, who seem to be all over my personal data like a rash. If this is a psychological ploy (a Good Tech-Bad Tech version of that Good Cop-Bad Cop trick that the police play on suspects) it works.  

Microsoft was recently put in an even better light by the news that Microsoft it’s spending $2bn on European cloud infrastructure so cloud services can run from UK data centres and we can enjoy a bit of data sovereignty.

Microsoft has announced plans run Microsoft Azure and Office 365 from local UK-based data centres in 2016. Services delivered from these UK data centres will slash response times, protect sovereignty and create new work for its 25,000 channel partners. But it gets better.

The other journey Nardella seems to have taken Microsoft on was some sort day trip to Damascus, because overnight the company seems to have undergone a damascene conversion.

In November it announced a new Red Hat partnership to make hybrid cloud computing a lot easier and less proprietary. Yes, Microsoft being open systems and playing fair. Good grief.

But it was the availability of Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux-based systems on Microsoft Azure that was the real surprise. This effectively makes Microsoft become a channel partner for an open source company. What’s the word for a maker of products that likes to dress up as a reseller? A transvendor, I suppose. Who’d have thought it? Especially when it was such an aggressive company when it was young. Maybe it was trying to hide something. That was then, but now Mr Nardella seems to have made Microsoft a much gentler, nicer company.

Still, I wish he believed in it a bit more.

This was last published in November 2015

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