Amazon Auctions Cloud Capacity

This is a pretty interesting little model, actually. Amazon's auctioning little unused chunks of its cloud capacity as part of a program called Spot Instances. From Jeff Schwartz's story linked above, here's Amazon's CTO talking about the plan:

"Customers bid any price they like on unused Amazon EC2 capacity and run those instances for as long their bid exceeds the current Spot Price," said Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a blog post. "Spot Instances are ideal for tasks that can be flexible as to when they start and stop. This gives our customers an exciting new approach to IT cost management."

We'll be interested to see whether other cloud vendors pick up on this idea, as well.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 16, 2009 at 11:55 AM1 comments

Questions Remain About Ray Ozzie at Microsoft

There's no way we're getting into this entry without setting the mood with a little classic Janet Jackson asking the question some observers have asked of Ray Ozzie recently: "What have you done for me lately?" (Ooh-ooh-ooh yeah. Oh, yeah. It's in your head now.)

Maybe the better question is, "What has Ray Ozzie done for Microsoft lately?" While we admit that we jumped the gun on what we thought was Ozzie's exit from the critical Microsoft Azure cloud computing project, we're not the only ones wondering about Ozzie's role in Redmond.

In particular, the clever folks at a site called xconomy, who clearly monitor RCPU closely (as everybody should), wrote this week about Ozzie having possibly lost some internal power struggles in Redmond to Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky. We don't know anything about that situation and won't speculate on it. We're just throwing that could-be news nugget out there second-hand. Take it as you wish, or don't take it at all. We don't care.

And we're not here to pick on Ray Ozzie, either. Far from it. Although RCPU hasn't talked to him personally, everybody we know has good things to say about him. And we're not just talking about Microsoft people here, either. Partners, customers, analysts...even journalists and bloggers(!) speak well of him. We've can't remember ever hearing a negative word about Ozzie. So, we trust that he's a good guy and a capable executive.

But xconomy goes ahead and asks the question we kind of danced around in our first entry on Ozzie last week, which is, basically, what is Ray Ozzie doing at Microsoft, exactly? His Live Mesh project is still a bit amorphous and seems to have just folded into Azure somehow. And while Microsoft assures us that Ozzie is as active as he's ever been on Azure and that his role on the project hasn't changed, he's not actually in charge of the project anymore.

Again, the move of Azure from Ozzie's purview to Bob Muglia's control is probably a totally sensible, business-focused, classic Redmond reorg. But even a reasonable explanation of the shift doesn't help answer some of the key questions about the man who was supposed to be, from a technical perspective, the next Bill Gates.

What has Ozzie accomplished at Microsoft since he arrived there in 2005? What will his legacy be -- will it be Azure? Is that still his baby or not? (Yes, we know that his role hasn't changed. But we're not 100 percent sure what that role is -- and it's doubtful that anybody outside of Redmond really knows.) Or was Azure ever "his" project, really? Whatever happened to Live Mesh? And is a great technical mind falling victim -- as leaky, unidentified sources quoted in random blog entries are beginning to suggest -- to political gamesmanship within the walls of Microsoft's campus?

Nobody seems to know the answers to any of those questions. And they're important. We're talking about one of the top figures at the mothership for Microsoft partners here. We're talking about a visionary hand-picked by Gates himself. We're talking about the leadership of Microsoft's super-important cloud and "hybrid" cloud initiatives. We're talking, potentially, about the very future of Microsoft, which, like a lot of technology companies, has mostly been a personality-driven, top-down organization over the years. Is Ozzie the person who will lead Microsoft innovation into the future? Is he doing it now? See, more questions...there are only more questions.

In the summer of 2009, Mary Jo Foley wrote a column for Redmond magazine suggesting that Microsoft was splitting into two camps: Friends of Bill (Gates) and Friends of Steve (Ballmer). She also mentioned that some folks in Redmond are wondering exactly what Ozzie is up to there. To be fair (as Mary Jo would surely note), he has since become a more public figure, particularly around Azure. But, then, even if his role hasn't changed, Azure's not officially "his" anymore. So, where does all of this leave Ray Ozzie? And what has he done for Microsoft lately? Right now, we have more questions than answers. Maybe Janet Jackson can help us. Nobody else seems to be able to.

What's your take on Ray Ozzie's role at Microsoft? Do you have any inside info to pass along? Send your thoughts and tips to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on December 16, 2009 at 11:56 AM1 comments

Redmond Releases Open Source Windows 7 Download Tool

Remember the proprietary download tool Microsoft released that kind of, sort of accidentally ripped off some open source code? Well, the tool is an open source tool now.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM0 comments

Microsoft Buys Health Care Software Maker Sentillion

Redmond beefed up its health care IT portfolio this week with the purchase of RCPU's neighbor (sort of), Andover, Mass.-based Sentillion. Redmond magazine columnist and Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley has some insight on how Microsoft is going to fold its new purchase into the health care family in Redmond.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 11, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Ray Ozzie and Microsoft Azure

Blogging is a funny thing. We at RCPU have always referred to RCPU as a newsletter, in part because it is an actual e-mail newsletter for subscribers (and was before it was ever a blog) and in part because, for us, the word "blog" doesn't carry a lot of credibility. Blogs are like opinions (which are like...something else): Everybody has one, or so it seems. 

This week, though, RCPU was definitely more blog than newsletter. We took a blog entry from Microsoft (via an entry from one of our sister sites) and misinterpreted what it was saying, thereby making more of a story than what was really there. In this case, the story was Ray Ozzie's apparent exit from Azure development at Microsoft. Well, Ozzie's role in Azure hasn't changed. If you want more detail, read on.

We often use the words "apparently" or "as far as we can tell" in this newsletter because, well, honestly, your editor doesn't have time to report first-hand the entries you see here. We focus here on commenting on news stories other people have written or on interesting things we pull off the Web. And most of the time, we understand pretty well what the stories we use are saying. (We almost never actually write news, though, and don't claim to do so. Yes, we do realize that the word "newsletter" can be misleading, but we still like it.)

So, we were surprised to read that Microsoft, in consolidating its Azure operations with Bob Muglia's Server and Tools business, appeared to be taking Ray Ozzie off of Azure, which was a major project for him and of which he has become, to some extent, the public face of late. In our defense, Microsoft's own blog entry on the reorg wasn't crystal clear.

But after our blog entry on Ozzie and Azure ran this week, we got an e-mail from Microsoft's PR firm (hey, somebody's paying attention) clarifying Ozzie's role in Azure development. It reads:

"In short, as chief software architect at Microsoft, Ray is responsible for oversight of the company's technical strategy and product architecture. Ray's role isn't affected by this change. Ray will continue to be very involved with Windows Azure; however, as Microsoft prepares to begin billing customers for the service in February, it makes sense that Windows Azure would move from an advanced development project under Ray's oversight into a mainstream business in a product group at the company (with full marketing, sales, etc., support)."

So, there you go. The key phrase is that second sentence: "Ray's role isn't affected by this change." Instead of being an earthquake, this is just a typical Microsoft reorg, one that moves Azure from a development stage (under Ozzie's oversight) to a business stage (under Muglia's). It makes total sense and really isn't such a big deal at all -- and it doesn't mean that Microsoft has booted Ozzie from the Azure world. We're sorry that we jumped the gun on this one, and we're glad that Microsoft set us straight. We seek above all else to be accurate and fair.

Of course, none of that explains what's happening with Live Mesh, which seems to have just disappeared into Azure, but that's another blog -- sorry, newsletter -- entry for another time.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM1 comments

Tech Data CIO To Retire

Joseph A. Osbourn will step down in June and John Tonnison will ascend to the throne of CIO of one of the world's biggest distributors on Feb. 1. Happy retirement, Mr. Osbourn.      

Posted by Lee Pender on December 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM0 comments

Redmond Talks Tough About Google

A Microsoft sales and marketing executive said something this week about stealing Google's lunch, which made us immediately forget what we were going to say about this story and head to the kitchen for a snack.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 10, 2009 at 11:56 AM0 comments

Will Cloud Computing Fly in 2010?

We told you during most of 2008 and all of 2009 that cloud computing was not just a model for the future but was here now -- and it is, sort of. But a lot of companies still have doubts about security, uptime and data ownership, meaning the cloud model hasn't yet soared quite as much as we thought it would. (Yes, we jumped the gun a little bit on this one.) But one analyst now says that 2010 could be a breakthrough year for cloud computing, and we all know that analysts never get anything wrong...right?

Posted by Lee Pender on December 10, 2009 at 11:56 AM0 comments

Microsoft Tries To Break Up Oracle-Sun Party

It's a done deal in the U.S., but the European Union's regulators still have to approve Oracle's purchase of Sun. And guess who's going to be there to try to put the kibosh on the whole thing? Oh, yes. Microsoft.

What's funny is that, just about the time the Microsoft-in-Brussels news came out on this, the infamous Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's competition commissioner and no friend to Microsoft over the years, started expressing optimism about the Oracle-Sun deal.

Hey, Redmond, maybe you should have left well enough alone on this one. You're not exactly anybody's guest of honor in Brussels these days.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 10, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments

Germany To Bail Out Windows Users

OK, so this isn't the most important story for Microsoft partners, but it's just darn interesting. Get this: The German government is going to fund an effort to help Windows users rid their machines of malware.

No, seriously! According to a blog entry by a guy who can read German better than we can, the German government is going to team with ISPs to find infected machines and help users clean malware off of their computers. The leader of the project is Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, which is part of the country's federal government. It's not clear at this point whether Microsoft will have any involvement in this, but we're getting the feeling that it won't -- which makes the whole thing all the more strange.

This is crazy, right? We're allocating a lot of government money to projects in the U.S. right now, many of which are technology-oriented. But a Windows-specific (which, as far as we can tell, it is) bailout for users whose computers are afflicted by malware? A help desk and Web site set up and funded by the government with the aim of keeping Windows clean? We at RCPU don't remember TARP, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (or whatever it's called) or any other government-run program covering that sort of thing on these shores.

Needless to say, as fans of government playing a limited role in business in general, we're dizzy-headed (even more so than usual) with shock over this. Even France, your editor's country of residence for a few years not so long ago and a nation with a bent for government intervention into everything, hasn't done anything like this (to our memory, anyway). It's interesting, though, that Germany is essentially giving Microsoft a subsidy, given that (dig this) Firefox recently passed Internet Explorer in market share in Germany. Hmm. Oh, and the government isn't telling anyone what it's spending on this little charity mission, either.

Anyway, we can't think of anything more to say about this. We just thought it was funny and bizarre and...well, a little bit nuts. If you have thoughts on Germany's Windows bailout, send them to [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on December 10, 2009 at 11:55 AM2 comments

Microsoft Warns of End of Windows Support

Windows 2000 fans, beware. Microsoft won't be supporting your favorite OS much longer.

More to the point, though, Redmond reminded users this week that extended support for XP Service Pack 2 (and Windows 2000) will end in July. So, it's Windows 7 within the next seven months or so, or you're on your own.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 09, 2009 at 11:55 AM3 comments

Office 2010 Migration Tool Betas Out

We at RCPU still haven't found all the buttons on the Office 2007 ribbon, but for those of you who are just itching to get to 2010, knock yourselves out.

Posted by Lee Pender on December 09, 2009 at 11:55 AM0 comments