Monday, March 17, 2008

Ray Ozzie

Ray Ozzie doesn't do many interviews, so lots of people are finding interesting snippets from his interview with Om Malik last week [GigaOM Interview, March 10, 2008].

Jesper Joergensen (BEA) notes that Ray Ozzie plugs Amazon Web Services. Phil Wainewright interprets the entire interview as a signal of Microsoft's surrender to the cloud.

Recently Ray has been a strong advocate of Microsoft's Software+Services strategy, which Phil has criticized as bunkum. But Ray has been a strong advocate of collaborative computing, dating back long before he joined Microsoft. In April 2003, when Ray was the Chief Executive of Groove Networks, he wrote this article: Perspective: A mosaic of new opportunities, which I have quoted before on this blog. (In my post Internet Service Disruption (November 2005), I called out a key difference between Ray's thinking and Bill's - a very early signal that Ray might lead Microsoft into new areas.) So I thought it would be interesting to see whether Ray's thinking has changed in five years.

Loose Coupling

"The next 10 years will find us moving decidedly from an era of personal productivity to one of joint productivity and social software. That will involve a move from tightly coupled systems to more loosely coupled interconnections." (2003)

"If you look at the innards of a Yahoo or a Microsoft, an MSN, or a Google, you will see the people who have designed the systems and have taken a number of the things we’ve learned in the enterprise space. We have to throw them them away, because the way that we did it in the enterprise space was more tightly coupled. We need to be more loosely coupled." (2008)

A consistent appeal to loose coupling, but a somewhat different emphasis. The 2008 quote was prompted by a question about reliability, and he is invoking loose coupling from the supply side perspective - presumably motivated by his current supply-side responsibilities. In 2003, he was talking about loose coupling in relation to the end-user experience - in other words, the demand side.


"These changes will transform the personal computer into an interpersonal computer. This will be a rich, self-synchronized and readily interchangeable device focused specifically on people and what they do with one another online." (2003)

"The Internet is this resource in the back end that you can design things to take advantage of. You can use it to synchronize stuff, and communicate stuff amongst these devices at the edge." (2008)
In his post Ray Ozzie bringing ’syncromesh’ to the Web, Larry Dignam points out that this has always been a consistent theme of Ozzie's work going back to Lotus Notes.

Power to the Edge

"What programming models can I give these folks that they can extend that functionality out to the edge? In the cases where they want mobility, where they want a rich dynamic experience as a piece of their solution." (2008)
Ray didn't actually talk about the Edge in his April 2003 article, but by September 2003 he was writing an enthusiastic review (new link) of a book called Power to the Edge. I'd really like to find out what he thinks about this now.

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