Soft strategy: a Microsoft perspective

Eric Rudder, Microsoft's senior vice president for technical strategy, recently visited the region to launch Windows Server 2008. ACN caught up with him to talk long-term strategy, and what Microsoft needs to do about security.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  August 23, 2008

Eric Rudder, Microsoft's senior vice president for technical strategy, recently visited the region to launch Windows Server 2008. ACN caught up with him to talk long-term strategy, and what Microsoft needs to do about security.

What are some of the key trends you see in IT for the next few years?

Firstly, trustworthy computing and security, they are not going away. More and more information is becoming digitised and being shared - there's service in the cloud. If anything, helping to accelerate the movement towards e-business is reliant on securing customer trust - and business trust - and mitigating risk.

The responsibility for security is there – we gladly accept it; being as popular a platform as we are, we have to accept it.

In all the work we do, not just securing the platform itself, but having customers operate the platform in a secure way - being secure out of the box, having good auditability and accountability for changes you're about to make - I think those are good long-term trends that will keep people busy for a long time.

In terms of thinking about taking security from a cost basis to an enablement basis - if you think about rights managements technology, can you create new businesses around selling IP, rather than just worrying about people stealing bits of stuff? If you think about music sales, they're generally involved around the successes or failures of various security technologies.

People want their information to be secure, people won't be willing to put up with certain hassles or lack of interoperability across devices, so I think that's a good multi-year trend.

Virtualisation is something that's clearly a many-year trend - less than 5% of server infrastructure is virtualised today. Some people think that 100% of infrastructure will be virtualised in the future - and even if you don't believe 100%, you have to believe a doubling, tripling, quadrupling of that, especially in markets here where energy efficiency is top-of-the-line and server utilisation and capacity is way below where it should be to be cost effective. I think we're going to see a lot more energy and excitement - and investment.

I think we also take a broader view of virtualisation, in terms of presentation of virtualisation, application virtualisation - if you look at the growth of businesses like terminal servers or our partners such as Citrix, there's a real healthy growth there.

If you look at the amount of glass [screens] that will be around our homes, businesses or lobbies, if you look at our surface computing efforts - I certainly think we're going to be honing our presentation technologies.

That also has room for pretty explosive growth - you can even think of more exotic technologies;  what happens when I take my little mobile device and put it next to a screen - can I take advantage of the bigger screen?

That's coming - I can't say it's going to be two years, four years or six years, but those types of capacities are coming, and the way devices are working with consumer electronics, that's going to happen.

Certainly the web development area is one that will continue to gain attention over the next couple of years. Our challenge is to bring the best of Windows development and the best of web development together into a common platform - that's partly what Silverlight is about, bringing the richness of Windows together with the great features around the web, in terms of cross-platform, cross-targeting, friction-free deployment through the browser.

That's an area where you'll see us continue to invest and you'll see competitors continue to invest - in terms of an IT trend, clearly we're going to see much more rapid application development cycles, we'll see better-looking applications because of these great design tools being brought to bear, and being compatible with development tools.

Business intelligence - the amount of data we're collecting now as we're writing all these applications and building all this infrastructure - those are scary trend lines to look at.

There's no reason that businesses should pay to collect all this data if they're not going to mine it. I think the investment will continue to grow there. I think IT has a role making sure they get at the right data, and that data is secured.

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