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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Based on the device and based on its capabilities, we have a series of gates that you go through that then determine what you're going to be able to do on that phone. It's actually something we've had to do for a long time.

One of the things that people don't appreciate is that unlike a lot of corporations where the CIO says, "You can buy this PC or that PC or you can have one of these two phones," Microsoft is in the business of supporting a pretty broad ecosystem of devices. For years we've had PCs from every OEM on the planet, and some of them I would say even came from other planets when I look at them. But they're the full range of both corporate devices and consumer devices, so we've had to develop the infrastructure to manage and support those and develop security policies commensurate with the capability of the hardware.

Knorr: So you're supporting iPhone and Android and Windows Phone 7 and everything under the sun, but you're not letting them all connect to email though, are you?

Scott: Again, it depends on the capabilities of the device.

Knorr: If it connects the Exchange server, does it have to have encryption?

Scott: It depends. You can connect through Outlook Anywhere and read email and depending on the device and what its capabilities are, sometimes you can read rights-managed mail and sometimes you can't. It's all dependent on the device and its capabilities. But certainly for storage, we want to see encrypted storage before we want people storing sensitive company information on that device.

Knorr: Right. Are you supporting Windows Phone 7 now?

Scott: Oh yeah. Yeah. We gave Windows Phone 7 to every employee. Actually, no -- I'm sorry: We pay for it, but they procure their own phone. There's a high take-up rate on that.

Knorr: They have their choice of phone?

Scott: Oh yeah.

Knorr: OK. Lastly, since we are wrapping up here, what's your one biggest challenge of all the stuff we've talked about?

Scott: Well, I think the big challenge that every CIO is facing today, at least all the ones I talk to, is that businesses are digitizing at a very rapid rate, and this digitization means things are getting much faster, much closer to real time.

We're all in the business of moving information in bits, not in the business of moving atoms, to a greater and greater extent. This is putting new pressure on companies to be faster, more flexible, and more responsive in the marketplace, and to accelerate the pace of development -- to accelerate the pace of virtually everything we do.

There's just a ton of work in every company that I know of to get to these digitization platforms, so it's a pretty exciting time and I think there's a lot Microsoft and IT can do to further that along. That's probably the big ongoing challenge that I see.

Knorr: Great. Well thank you very much, Tony, for your time. I really do appreciate it.

This article, "Microsoft CIO: We're dog-fooding the cloud," originally appeared at Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter and on your mobile device at

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