Microsoft CIO: We're dog-fooding the cloud

Tony Scott talks frankly about Redmond's practice of making employees beta testers -- for Microsoft cloud services and conventional software

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But because the auction ended at a specific time at the end of October, people did the normal thing and they waited until the last minute. Then all of a sudden, there's this bidding frenzy that goes on, so the individuals could win the thing that they were interested in in the auction -- same thing eBay sees when auction items expire. But we had no way, really, of gauging how much activity there was going to be or how intense it was going to be, and pretty much for several years we stretched the limits of capacity in terms of this particular tool. The experience at the end of the auction became rather unsatisfying, let's just say.

So two years ago, when Azure was very young and SQL Azure was very young, we said: Let's put this on the cloud. Then we did it again this last year and both years in a row for the whole month of October. On an average hour, on an average day, let's say we needed x capacity, and that's what we provisioned for. But we knew from historical patterns that at the end of the month we were going to need a lot more.

Two days before the month end, we said -- all right, let's goose this baby up and let's give it 5x. And then in the last couple of hours, we said -- all right, now we want it 10x. And we'd do that with a click of a mouse essentially. And sure enough, the auction tool ran like nobody's business. Nobody knew how easy it was for us to just increase capacity on the fly like that.

Knorr: So internally, have you implemented chargeback?

Scott: Yeah. I get billed for this just like any other customer would.

Knorr: And also self-service? I mean developers can go and provision their own...

Scott: Yeah. We have internal capability for that and we've got hundreds of projects going on on that internal capability.

Knorr: We're coming to the end of our interview, and I don't want to let you go before I ask you about supporting mobile users, since that's a big challenge right now for CIOs. Keeping track of these devices, and particularly the endpoint security for these devices, is a big concern. How are you dealing with that?

Scott: Well, I think it is a big concern for CIOs. It's a part of a bigger fabric of the consumerization of IT, where you're getting more and more devices that want to connect and consume information and be used by people in a whole bunch of different ways. Here at Microsoft, we use our own tools, our own infrastructure to manage that. Probably the best way you could think of it is -- we have devices that have the full capabilities for encryption and to manage certificates, and we can make sure that the storage is encrypted, and we can enforce strong passwords and those kinds of things.

If you're using one of those devices, you can have the full complement of capabilities that one would expect to have. You can read rights-managed email, you can see content that we restrict permissions on and restrict access to and all those kinds of things. On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a strictly consumer device that has none of those capabilities, you're going to be a lot more restricted in terms of the kinds of things that you can do, but you're still going to have browser access and Internet access and those kinds of things.

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