Microsoft reorg creates the Server & Cloud Division

Stranger things have happened than this. I think. Microsoft has formed a new group within the Server & Tools Business: The Server & Cloud Division, or SCD. Is it me, or is there some redundancy in the name, seeing as how cloud services run on servers?

"This change reflects the alignment of our resources with our strategy, and represents a natural evolution for Microsoft as the Windows Azure business moves from an advanced development project to a mainstream business," according to an uncredited post on Microsoft's Windows Server Division blog. The new group "combines the Windows Server & Solutions group and the Windows Azure group."

S-C-D is too awkward for my tastes, so I'm going to pronounce it scud. Say, any readers out there remember Scud missiles? Surely there's a twisted marketing angle there, as SCuD missiles fall from the cloud and nuke Microsoft's cloud competitors. Boom goes Amazon. Boom goes Google.

As with any Microsoft reorganization, there is a shuffling of executives. Some of these changes are surprising. The Windows development team will move to the Server & Tools Business, which means they will no longer report to Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie. Ah, isn't he supposed to be chief architect of Azure? Amitabh Srivastava, senior vice president, will be in charge of SCD, reporting to Bob Muglia, STB president.

Bill Laing, corporate vice president, will lead the Windows Sever & Solutions group, reporting to Srivastava. "Laing will partner with [Srivastava] to continue the bilateral sharing of technology between Windows Server and Windows Azure, which has been a key design goal of Microsoft's software + services strategy," according to the blog post.

Doug Hauger will continue to lead the "Windows Azure business and marketing team," but "join the Server and Tools Marketing Group, led by Corporate Vice President Robert Wahbe," who will report to Bob Kelly, corporate vice president. He "is also responsible for Windows Server, System Center and Forefront."

Many Betanews readers probably don't care about the personnel shift, but it will impact Microsoft development partners. Microsoft org charts read like overlapping strings of overlapping Christmas tree lights anyway. Few people can follow them, and paths become hopeless when a light burns out (e.g., someone leaves or is laid off).

What has me puzzled here is Ozzie's role. Exactly what is it? If there's a cloud in this reorganization it's not in the new division's name but the one in my mind about what's next for Ozzie. Microsoft's chief software architect has been the driving force behind Microsoft's cloud computing strategy. Does he just assume a new role with the official Azure launch coming on January 1? Is Ozzie being pushed aside? Perhaps the reorganization signals his coming exit from Microsoft?

After posting, I got response from Microsoft to my questions about whether Ozzie's role would be changing. I asked: "Does Ray Ozzie assume a new role with the official Azure launch coming on January 1 and today's reorganization? Is he perhaps moving on from Microsoft?" The e-mail response, attributed to a Microsoft spokesperson: "As Chief Software Architect...[Ozzie] is responsible for oversight of the company's technical strategy and product architecture. [Ozzie's] role isn't affected by this change."

That's kind of an answer and non-answer. If people who were reporting to Ozzie on the Azure team aren't doing so any more than absolutely his role has in some way changed.

Here's something to consider: The cloud vision Ozzie outlined at Microsoft's 2009 developer conference didn't ring like the one he presented at the same event a year ago. At PDC 2008, Ozzie presented an exciting vision of a cloud operating system, where developers write to the datacenter instead of the PC. By comparison, the Azure launching next month sounds more like Amazon Web Services. That difference could foreshadow Ozzie's future at Microsoft.

[Editor's Note: This post was updated about two hours after time stamp with Microsoft comment and author's reaction to it.]

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