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The Empire Reboots — Can C.E.O. Satya Nadella Save Microsoft? | Vanity Fair, Oct 27, 2014

First it is EXTREMELY important to understand Microsoft [new] CEO’s Global Strategy
[CNBC YouTube channel, Oct 20, 2014]: CNBC’s Jon Fortt speaks to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella about where he sees strength in the global economy and how it impacts their international strategy.

Nadella was born in Hyderabad, India. His childhood was an exercise in managing dissonance. “My mom was a professor of Sanskrit, and my dad was a Marxist economist. They were two very contrasting personalities,” he says. “They had their ideological wars, and I got to ignore both of them. It was a fun upbringing, I would say.” (Both his parents still live in India.)

Note that with such an upbringing is more than funny that he got a one-time retention stock award of $79.8M recently.

In addition to this here are a very few other excerpts from the VERY long Vanity Fair article with links to in-depth and other posts of mine (from last week) explaining additional things:

Over the last decade, as the biggest force in tech history hurtled toward irrelevance (albeit lucratively), a few blamed Microsoft’ s woes on founder Bill Gates, while most pointed to his successor as C.E.O., Steve Ballmer. Bethany McLean charts the breakdown of their relationship, the growing dissatisfaction with Ballmer, and the challenges and opportunities facing its third C.E.O., Satya Nadella, as Gates returns to the fold.

When I ask them what excites them most, Nadella looks at Gates. “You want me to start?” “Sure,” Gates replies. This is, says Nadella, “a great world. It’s not lost on a few other people who are capable of exploiting that world. But the thing . . . what is scarce in all of this abundance is human attention. And whoever does the best job of building the right software experiences to give both organizations and individuals time back so that they can get more out of their time, that’s the core of this company—that’s the soul. That’s what Bill started this company with. That’s the Office franchise. That’s the Windows franchise. We have to re-invent them. . . . That’s where this notion of re-inventing productivity comes from.”

“Is software the most exciting industry in the world?,” Gates says, taking up the thread. “Absolutely. You know, when it comes to vision, speech, handwriting, screens that are going to be pervasive, that are going to let you navigate information in rich new ways, in ways that you understand your customer, what’s going on with your products. . . . We’re not even a third of the way towards empowering workers even to the dream that goes back to the start of the company.” He adds, “The opportunity is pretty incredible. And the original idea of having great software people and broad software products and Office being the primary tool that people look to across all these devices, that’ s as true today and as strong as ever.”

“The way I think about success is our relevance,” says Nadella.

[The Past]

Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” [this same blog, Oct 25, 2014]

Steve [Ballmer] will never get the credit he’s due,” a former executive says. “He was brilliant—brilliant—in finding ways to harvest more money from Windows and Office.”

“He [Bill Gates] didn’t know how to let me be C.E.O., and I didn’t know how to do it,” says Ballmer. At the urging of both their wives and Microsoft’s board of directors, the two men patched things up at what Ballmer calls a “really awkward, terrible dinner” at the Bellevue Club in early 2001. It was like My Dinner with Andre, Ballmer says, referring to the 1981 film in which two old friends slowly realize they have radically different worldviews. They officially made up, and Gates turned the company over to Ballmer. “I’m not going to need him for anything,” Ballmer told The Wall Street Journal when Gates finally left completely. “Use him, yes, need him, no.”

Many people liken the relationship between Ballmer and Gates to a marriage. “It is like couples that get divorced and hook up again,” says someone who knows both men. “Trying to explain the relationship from the outside is a waste of chronology.”

Ballmer often said that he wanted to stay as C.E.O. until his youngest son graduated from high school, in 2017. But he says today that that changed. “I always think more like a shareholder than a paid C.E.O.,” he says, pulling out his performance review from 2010, in which he told the board that his target departure date was “no less than three years, but no more than five”—in other words, between 2013 and 2015.

The discord between Gates and Ballmer, both of whom were still on the board, did not make for a pleasant search for a new C.E.O., although, in truth, it might have been difficult anyway. Just consider the other ingredients: Disagreement over whether the new C.E.O. needed to be an engineer. Disagreement over whether or not an outsider was needed. A board that felt it had been in thrall to the former C.E.O.’s for far too long now wanting to exert its own control. A former C.E.O. who could not brook not being in control of what he still considers his company. And the incredible difficulty of finding a person who both could and would want to run Microsoft.

The funny thing is that Gates, who has been passionately committed to his foundation, didn’t step away from his former company. Instead he decided to step back in. Not for roughly one-third of his time, Gates says. “We say 30 percent,” he corrects. “He deeply believes he can bring something to Microsoft that no one else can,” says someone who knows him well.

Will Steve Ballmer go quietly? He did go, but it remains to be seen how quiet he’ll be. He says he has seven big things he’s doing, including learning Hebrew, getting in shape, figuring out his civic duties, running the Clippers—and managing his stake in Microsoft, which he says is 65 to 70 percent of his net worth. He has no intention of selling, partly out of loyalty and partly because he thinks that Microsoft is a good investment.

The Nadella Era

For the current in-depth assesmentMicrosoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders [this same blog, Oct 24, 2014]

Nadella, despite his long career at Microsoft—and his similarities to Gates—is in fundamental ways a break from the past. He has had his executive team read Nonviolent Communication.(The title speaks for itself.) He’s a genuinely nice person, with a wide smile that cannot be faked. He is liked by people who have worked for him, by his peers, and by those who were above him. “Everyone likes Satya,” says one former Microsoft executive. “You cannot dislike Satya. Bill loves him. Steve loves him. Satya is clearly a morally good person.” “You want to get behind him,” says Greg Sullivan, who is the director of the Windows Phone division.

He quotes Nietzsche and other philosophers, but his real love is poetry, because “poets can take perhaps any philosophical point or any point of life and can compress it into a few lines,” he says. T. S. Eliot and Keats are among his favorite poets, and he also enjoys Urdu poetry. “Growing up in India, once you started engineering school you really don’t have any liberal-arts education,” he says. “Somehow I got hooked onto saying, Look, the one good way to renew yourself is to read good literature and good poetry . . . and I think my mom’s been a great influence on it.”

Part of why Microsoft failed with devices is that competitors upended its business model. Google doesn’t charge for the operating system. That’s because Google makes its money on search. Apple can charge high prices because of the beauty and elegance of its devices, where the software and hardware are integrated in one gorgeous package. Meanwhile, Microsoft continued to force outside manufacturers, whose products simply weren’t as compelling as Apple’s, to pay for a license for Windows. And it didn’t allow Office to be used on non-Windows phones and tablets. “The whole philosophy of the company was Windows first,” says Heather Bellini, an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Of course it was: that’s how Microsoft had always made its money.

De-Windowsifying movement started in China [this same blog, Oct 28, 2014]

“Holding our breath until we turn blue is not going to change the world” is how a former Microsoft executive sums up Nadella’s moves. “It’s not the world we wished it were, or the world we thought it was. It is an example of Satya embracing the world as it is.”

Embracing reality is also a huge change at Microsoft, where some joke about the “reality-distortion field.” As one explains it to me, life under Ballmer, and to some extent even Gates, was “‘Let’s get on I-90 and drive to Hawaii! We’ve got beer, we’ve got snacks, it’ll be great!’But then you say, ‘Oh, wait, you can’t get to Hawaii on I-90.’They say, ‘Yes, you can! It’ll be great! Let’s go!’” As this person says, “It can be really good but also really freakin’draining.”

“I’m pretty excited about what’s going on in Office,” says Gates, who describes his new role at Microsoft as “way more intense” than his old role as board chairman. “The open-mindedness to some new things is there. And you can say I should have pushed harder for that in the years before—anyway, now Satya’s putting resources on that.”

But as well respected and well liked as Nadella is—and as different as his style is from Ballmer’s or Gates’s—there are still questions about how radically different his Microsoft will be. Within the company, it has almost become a cliché that he was the “safe pick”: that he will stick with the status quo, whether in keeping the consumer businesses or in reshaping Microsoft’s executive ranks, which, as several people point out to me, are filled with employees who thrived under Ballmer. “He’s not Genghis Khan when you might need Genghis Khan,” says another former Microsoft executive about Nadella. There’s a Game of Thrones- like feeling inside Microsoft right now as people wait to see who will stay and who will go. But most of Ballmer’s senior executives still have their jobs.

“The thing you’ve got to remember is I grew up in a Microsoft where Bill and Steve were there,” says Nadella. “If there’s anything that I know it’s how to get stuff done with Bill around.”


De-Windowsifying movement started in China

By Zhang Yu on Global Times | October 22, 2014 19:58: Windows of opportunity

People’s Daily* Online | October 23, 2014, :
Homegrown developers look to unseat Microsoft’s dominant OS
*Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper under the People’s Daily

An alliance of homegrown Linux-based operating system developers hopes to replace Microsoft Windows within the next two years as China looks to tighten control over sensitive cyber security technology, and change a status quo that has seen it reliant on foreign companies for computer operating systems.

After tinkering with the term “de-Microsofting,” Ni Guangnan decided instead to go with “de-Windowsify.” “We call this a de-Windowsifying movement,” he said.

Speaking last Saturday at a temporary office in a residential neighborhood in Zhongguancun, Beijing’s answer to Silicon Valley,  the 75-year-old computer science professor and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering talked about his ambitious project to bring together all of China’s homegrown operating system (OS) developers in an alliance to replace Microsoft Windows in one to two years.

Earlier this year, Ni established the China Information Terminal Operating System Alliance, a non-profit umbrella organization for OS and software companies. The alliance’s goal is to boost China’s Internet security and change a status quo that has seen China reliant on foreign companies for computer operating systems.

A total 15 domestic OS developers have joined the alliance, including Standard Software, headquartered in Shanghai, Beijing’s Linx-Tech, Dalian’s Wujia Wanjing Information Industry Group, Guangxi’s Imind Software and Wuhan’s Deepin Technology. “Pretty much all of China’s OS developers have joined,” Ni said.

Ni said none of these OS developers have the capability to rival Windows alone. This is why an alliance is necessary to pool resources and consolidate research and development capabilities.

Striking while the iron is hot

Now is the most vulnerable time for Microsoft in China, and the best time for homegrown software companies to beat it,” Ni said.

Microsoft has suffered multiple setbacks in China this year. Pressure on foreign tech companies in China intensified following former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations of a US global surveillance program and China’s tightening of compliance requirements for anti-monopoly laws.

In May, China’s government procurement department banned the installation of Windows 8 software on government PCs for security reasons. Two months later, the US company was targeted in an anti-trust probe launched by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

When Microsoft Corp’s chief executive Satya Nadella visited China in September, no high officials from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology received him,” Ni said.

Meanwhile, the central government has expressed its support for homegrown software.

This February, it established a panel overseeing the Internet and information security headed by President Xi Jinping, and with Li Keqiang as its vice director. The move was seen by many as a sign of the central government’s intent to tighten its grip on cyber security and strengthen the information sector.

Sources told the Global Times that as early as last December, Xi had signed documents calling for the development of China’s own operating system.

President Xi Jinping’s emphasis on cyber security is our main support,” Ni said.

Li Zhensheng, director of Standard Software’s marketing center, agreed, saying, “We’ve received an increasing number of inquiries and orders this year following the ban on Windows 8.”

China is not the only country that is trying to migrate from Windows to Linux. The government of Munich, Germany, switched to LiMux, a Linux-based operating system in 2005, after Microsoft stopped supporting Windows NT 4, which the government had used previously. “It was from this experience of being totally at the mercy of an external party that we wanted to take the road to more independence,” said Florian Schiessl, head of the project, according to a report by European Commission.

Standard Software, jointly owned by the China Electronics Corporation and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, is widely regarded as China’s most successful operating system developer. The company’s NeoKylin OS is used in government, national defense, public security, finance, education, taxation, auditing and transportation, Li told the Global Times.

This August, US-based PC manufacturer Dell announced it has signed deals with Standard Software to preinstall NeoKylin in its business computers, including Latitude business notebooks and OptiPlex business desktops, in an effort to “meet the diversified demand of Chinese customers,” according to a press release by Dell.

At the time, commentators said one of Dell’s goals was to please Chinese authorities. In the most recent revision of China’s procurement regulations, bidders who offer laptops preinstalled with Chinese Linux-based operating systems can get two extra points in their bid scores, according to China Government Procurement News.

Building an ecosystem

Despite Microsoft’s setbacks in China, Windows still dominates China’s OS market, a situation that is not likely to change soon.

According to independent website analytics company StatCounter, over 97 percent of computer users in China accessed the Internet from a computer with Windows installed this September. Windows 7 is the most popular OS in China, powering 55.07 percent of China’s PCs. Windows XP, which no longer receives technical support from Microsoft, is still installed on 35-44 percent of computers.

In contrast, Linux, the operating system upon which most homegrown OSs are based, is nowhere to be seen in the statistics, with a market share of less than 1 percent.

“One of the major reasons why homegrown OSs have such a small market share is that there are too few third-party applications that can be run on them. [Building a homegrown app store would aim] to solve this problem,” Cao Dong, secretary-general of Ni’s new alliance, told the Global Times.

Standard Software’s Li Zhensheng echoes Cao: “There are millions of applications out there for Windows, each fulfilling different needs, while there only a few thousand for Linux systems. This is our main disadvantage.”

This is why the first brainchild of the alliance is an app store that will serve all of China’s homegrown Linux-based OSs, as long as they all adhere to the same technical standards.

Ni said the app store, whose registration pending government approval, will also help standardize China’s OS market and help build a healthy business ecosystem, which he believes is vital for the industry’s growth.

Ni said he is counting on the central government to promote homegrown OSs for government use. “We hope to be included in China’s government procurement catalogue, which will boost government use of our system. Commercialization is the second step,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I expect the 15 operating systems to merge into one or two operating systems, while the rest of the developers can shift into providing other relevant services,” Ni said.

Ni’s project was met with scorn online. Yuan Meng, a professor at Peking University, said on his personal blog that Ni’s plan to replace Windows with a homegrown OS is “a daydream.” “Microsoft doesn’t call itself an ‘American Operating System,'” he said, implying that patriotism has nothing to do with making a good product.

Meanwhile, some Net users complained about their unhappy experiences with homegrown OSs. Mr Di, a high-school teacher in Xiamen, Fujian province, said he has used both Red Flag, a classic Chinese OS, and NeoKylin OS. “Both of them resemble Windows too much and lack originality,” he told the Global Times.

Others, however, are more optimistic about China’s developers. Sha Song, a playwright working in television drama in Beijing, uses NeoKylin OS in his writing and likes the “loneliness” of using a Linux system. “It’s [good] enough if you only use the office suite, browse the Web and check e-mails. But other than these, there are barely any other applications available,” he said. He said the system could attract more users if more applications were developed.

Reasons for caution

Han Weili, a data security expert and vice dean at Fudan University’s Software School, urged caution, saying that China’s homegrown operating systems are not necessarily more secure than their foreign alternatives, due to their developers’ relatively weak research and development capabilities and the lack of a strong business ecosystem supporting them. “For example, many of China’s operating systems lack a bug detecting mechanism,” Han said.

“We know that a foreign operating system may offer back-door access to its government for surveillance or spying purposes. The situation with a Chinese operating system can be even worse if it is badly designed, because the flaws will enable not just one foreign government to access it, but many governments,” Han said.

While the current government emphasis on data security is an opportunity for China’s homegrown operating system developers, Han said security should not be their only focus. “What’s most important is if the market welcomes it. For individual users, security is not their biggest concern. User experience, UI, hardware compatibility and the industry as a whole are more important in determining whether an operating system can succeed,” he said.

Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.”

OR what is the ex-CEO thinking as under the new one Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders [this same blog, Oct 24, 2014]

Oct 21, 2014:
Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates | CBS This Morning

The former Microsoft CEO shares why he left the company and what he thinks is his biggest achievement and disappointment during his tenure at the tech giant.

Notable excerpts (as reported by Business Insider):

“No one wanted me to leave as CEO. We had a lot of ‘tough’ discussions about whether to buy Nokia. It’s a big decision for a software company … I think it’s been well chronicled [in his exit interview to The Wall Street Journal]. We had some ‘dust-up’ type discussions.”

“We’ve dusted-up many times [with Bill Gates] in our lives. That kind of stuff happens. We’ve done that before,”

Steve Ballmer on His Biggest Regret (Oct. 21, 2014) | Charlie Rose

I would have started doing hardware earlier, so we could have been more effective in phone business.

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, talks to Charlie Rose about the one thing he wished he’d done differently at Microsoft — and how Apple and Samsung beat him to it.

Somebody summarized in comments what Ballmer said as follows:

Rose: “Why did you not move on phones faster
Ballmer [not the real answer just a PERCEIVED summary of all answers]: “Because we were a lazy big company that thought we were invincible and I am a sorry un-visionary CEO who rode Bill Gates train to richville my entire life. I am a lucky lucky man to be so wealthy now”

Note that back in February he formulated his biggest regret as (source Forbes):

“If I look back with 20-20 hindsight, the thing I regret is that we didn’t put the hardware and software together soon enough,” he said. “It was almost magical the way the PC came about with an operating system from us and hardware from IBM. There was a little bit of magic too for Android and Samsung coming together. But if you really want to bring a vision to market, it’s helpful to be able to conceive and deliver the hardware and software.”

Even earlier, in November 2013, he had yet another answer when he was asked about his biggest regret during his CEO tenure (source: Mary Jo Foley | ZDNet)

“When I look at it and I say, okay, what’s the thing that I did that I feel — that I regret the most, not just in my CEOship but my whole time here, it’s absolutely ‘Longhorn becomes Vista.’ That was the single biggest mistake I made.”

“Why?” he continued. “Not only because the product wasn’t a great product, but remember it took us five or six years to ship it. Then we had to sort of fix it. That was what I might call Windows 7.

“And what we wound up with (was) a period of let’s say seven or eight years where we had the A-team — not all of the A-team but a bunch of our best people — tied up not driving. We did not make years progress in eight years, and there were other things those people could have been working on, (like) phones,” he conceded.

“The mistake wasn’t just an executional mistake. It was a technical strategy mistake. We tried to fight it off,” he said.

“The big things are the important things to get right in this industry, but then you’ve got to execute with cadence,” he continued. “People think it’s about changing strategy every three seconds, because that’s what people say. ‘Oh, the industry changes so fast.'”

But in reality, Ballmer said, “a few big bets really pay off.” He noted that Apple’s “bet on touch and low power” ended up working out well for the company. Google made a big bet on search. Microsoft made a bet on PCs and software, and more recently, the data center with Windows Azure.

With Longhorn, Microsoft started out with the wrong technology approach, the wrong focus by the company’s tech leadership and the wrong cadence.

Longhorn kind of fell through the cracks. “It wasn’t Bill (Gates’) thing and it wasn’t (former Windows Chief) Jim (Allchin)’s thing and I didn’t get it,” Ballmer admitted.

“When I look back and I say it was sort of a focus issue, because we weren’t focusing on what we needed for engineering cadence, bite-size approach, what was the big bet that that represented,” he said.

“I’m willing to admit when I first started as CEO is probably when I made my biggest mistake. And a lot of what we’ve been doing is just the last five or six years is really catching back up from the mistake that really you could say I made with Bill and Jim Allchin earlier in my CEO days,” Ballmer said.

Another regret Ballmer did have, however, was how long it took the company to make money with Xbox, he acknowledged. Microsoft launched the first Xbox in 2001 and the second, the Xbox 360, in 2005. Up until 2010 or so, Microsoft lost money on every console sold, according to estimates.

Ballmer said he still believes Microsoft made the right move in getting into the living room with Xbox. He isn’t sorry he gave the team a lot of freedom in creating and building the product.

“But what you’re trying to do is make money for the long run, not the short run,” Ballmer said. “So I feel bad about how we got here on Xbox, but we’ve built a heck of an asset. And could we have built it a little cheaper, yes. But we built it. We weren’t swayed from building an important asset.”

Steve Ballmer on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” (Oct. 21, 2014) | Charlie Rose

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks to Charlie Rose about its competitor Amazon, and why he worries about the company’s prospects: “In my world you’re not a real business until you make some money.” Amazon stock plunged more than 10% as investors worried about the company’s razor-thin margins. For the full interview, visit http://www.charlierose.com.

BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT Amazon Sees Business In Terms of Decades:

About Charlie Rose:
Emmy award winning journalist Charlie Rose has been praised as “one of America’s premier interviewers.” He is the host of Charlie Rose, the nightly PBS program that engages America’s best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers. USA Today calls Charlie Rose, “TV’s most addictive talk show.” New York Newsday says, “Charlie’s show is the place to get engaging, literate conversation… Bluntly, he is the best interviewer around today.”

Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders

Oct 23, 2014: Microsoft’s (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella on Q1 2015 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

Three month ago I outlined how Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first cloud-first world.

[⇒ Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft [this same blog, July 23, 2014] ]

This was the essence of Microsoft Fiscal Year 2014 Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call for me, as the new, extremely encouraging, overall setup of Microsoft in strategic terms (the above table is mine, repeated here as based on what Satya Nadella told on the previous Q4FY14 conference call). ⇒ Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft [this same blog, July 23, 2014]

[⇒ Satya Nadella’s (?the next Microsoft CEO?) next ten years’ vision of “digitizing everything”, Microsoft opportunities and challenges seen by him with that, and the case of Big Data  [this same blog, Dec 13, 2013] ]

As I reflect on this past quarter, there are four important indicators of progress that I want to highlight: cloud, Windows, hardware and finally I’ll talk about our ecosystem momentum.

1. Our cloud offerings continue to grow at a rapid rate. More people in organizations are signing up and we are generating more revenue across both commercial and consumer customers. Our commercial cloud revenue grew a 128% year-over-year, the fifth consecutive quarter of triple-digit growth. In fact we’re the only company with cloud revenue at our scale that is growing at triple-digit rates. And 80% of the Fortune 500 are now on the Microsoft Cloud. Office 365 commercial seats nearly doubled, two out of every three new customers see our premium versions.

from Earnings Release FY15 Q1: Commercial cloud revenue grew 128% driven by Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM.
from Q1’FY15 Segment Results: Commercial Cloud revenue grew $662 million or 128%, due mainly to subscriber growth and a higher premium mix of Office 365 Commercial. Microsoft Azure revenue also grew 121%, reflecting a growing customer base, higher commitment levels, and increased usage. ]

Consumer Office 365 now exceeds 7 million subscribers, up more than 25% for the last quarter alone.

from Q1’FY15 Segment Results: Office 365 Consumer revenue increased $87 million, reflecting subscriber growth, and we ended the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 with 7.1 million subscribers. ]

We continue to invest in growing our leadership position in areas with great opportunity. To that end, we’re expanding our data center capacity to meet demand, provide the best customer experience, enable data solvency and deliver continuous innovation.

As you are seeing robust growth because of our unique approach as the only hyper scale public cloud provider with enterprise great capabilities and true private cloud and hybrid cloud offerings.

⇒ The cloud experience vision of .NET by Microsoft 12 years ago and its delivery now with Windows Azure, Windows 8/RT, Windows Phone, iOS and Android among others [this same blog, Sept 16, 2012
⇒ “Cloud first” from Microsoft is ready to change enterprise computing in all of its facets [this same blog, June 4, 2013]


[ ⇒ Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [this same blog, April 19, 2014]
  ⇒ Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services [this same blog, April 27, 2014]
  ⇒ Scott Guthrie about changes under Nadella, the competition with Amazon, and what differentiates Microsoft’s cloud products [this same blog, Oct 2, 2014]
etc. see more below, in the next insert

[so it is NOT HALF-BAKED anymore:]

Microsoft’s half-baked cloud computing strategy (H1’FY14)

Microsoft’s half-baked cloud computing strategy (H1’FY14) [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 17, 2014] ⇒ 4. Microsoft products for the Cloud OS [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] ⇒ 4.5. Microsoft talking about Cloud OS and private clouds: starting with Ray Ozzie in November, 2009 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, as of Dec 18, 2013, but published only on Feb 14, 2014] (was separated because of its length)

We continue to add new features and capabilities faster than ever based on user feedback cycles. One major Azure service or feature is released every three days on average, opening up many more new user scenarios for our customers.

[ I would put here the following achievement as IMHO the most remarkable one in terms of product/technology complexity moved to an agile lifecycle ⇒ Sam Guckenheimer on Microsoft Developer Division’s Journey to Cloud Cadence [this same blog, Oct 19, 2014] ]

Our premium services on Azure create new monetization opportunities in media, data, machine learning and fast analytics and enterprise mobility. More than 60% of the Azure customers are now using at least each one of these premium services such as Enterprise Mobility Suite, which is off to a very fast start.

[ ⇒ The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud [this same blog, Feb 10, 2014]
   ⇒ An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) [this same blog, April 2, 2014]
   ⇒ Enhanced cloud-based content delivery services to anyone, on any device – from Microsoft (Microsoft Azure Media Services) and its solution partners [this same blog, April 8, 2014]
   ⇒ Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [this same blog, April 19, 2014]
   ⇒ Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service  [this same blog, Oct 22, 2014]
and about  here on this blog ]

Top 10 ISVs love our open and flexible approach and are building on Azure at a rapid pace. In fact 40% of Azure revenue now comes from startups and ISVs.

Even with our tremendous growth in public cloud, we are still seeing strength in our on-premise businesses with double-digit growth across Windows Servers, SQL Server, System Center and Dynamics. This is because of the unique hybrid and private cloud capabilities that are built into our service.

2. The second indicator of progress is the improvement in the overall health of the Windows ecosystem in the first quarter.

We introduced an expanded set of Windows offerings which helped drive consumer unit growth in quarter one and will provide incremental opportunities for use of Microsoft services such as Bing. With these new offerings, OEMs are delivering exciting new devices at extremely attractive price points, including Windows PCs at 199 and below.

[ ⇒ ASUS EeePC revival with the $199/€199 EeeBook X205 at IFA 2014: the Chromebooks alternative based on Windows 8.1 with Bing  [this same blog, Sept 6, 2014] ]

In September, we took the first steps in publicly sharing more about the next generation of Windows. Windows 10 will unlock new experiences for customers to work, play and connect across an incredibly broad set of devices with screens from 4 inches to 80 inches and even IOT devices.

[ ⇒ Windows 10 Technical Preview: Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore on the future of Windows [this same blog, Oct 1-3, 2014] ]

Windows 10 will deliver a single unified application development platform, one way to write a universal app across the entire family of Windows devices and one store with the unified way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all these devices.

[ ⇒ The promise of Universal Apps came first with Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 1: consistency and superiority accross the whole Windows family extended now to TVs and IoT devices as well—$0 royalty licensing program for OEM and ODM partners in sub 9” phone and tablet space[this same blog, April 2, 2014] plus Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 1: new and exciting stuff for MS developers [this same blog, April 5, 2014], then it was strengthened on the level of stock market in Q3’FY14 earnings call with Microsoft is transitioning to a world with more usage and more software driven value add (rather than the old device driven world) in mobility and the cloud, the latter also helping to grow the server business well above its peers [this same blog, April 25, 2014], and then was continued in the already mentioned ⇒ Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and…  as well as ⇒ Windows 10 Technical Preview:…  ]

Think about it … with Windows 10 developers can build one app and thus expand billions of devices.

When I talk about putting customers at the center of everything we do, it’s especially true with Windows. We are incorporating customer feedback earlier than ever in the development cycle — especially from our enterprise customers. This will be the best Windows release ever for businesses. And with hundreds of thousands of pieces of feedback flowing into the team already, Windows 10 will be the most collaborative version of Windows we have ever shipped.

3. I want to highlight some specific markers of advancements in hardware and gaming. Across the entire hardware portfolio, I’m encouraged by the reception from customers and our continuously improving execution.

[ ⇒ Mobile devices from ex-Nokia joined with Microsoft’s own: Stephen Elop on approach and strategy under Microsoft Devices Group [this same blog, Oct 1, 2014] ]

Surface had strong results this quarter driven by positive customer response to Surface Pro 3. The product line up is the right one and customers are responding favorably. Surface Pro 3 is now in 28 markets and importantly we have improved the business economics of this product line.

[ ⇒ Microsoft Surface Pro 3 is the ultimate tablet product from Microsoft. What the market response will be? [this same blog, May 21, 2014]
from Earnings Release FY15 Q1
: Surface Pro 3 momentum drove Surface revenue of $908 million.
from Q1’FY15 Segment Results
: Surface revenue increased $508 million or 127%, due mainly to an increased mix of Surface Pro units sold and their related accessories. The release of Surface Pro 3 in June 2014 contributed to a 126% increase, reflecting higher premium mix of devices sold. ]

With phone, we have move quickly to integrate the business. We are executing on all of the restructuring changes we talked about in the last quarter while driving Lumia share growth. We saw modest growth over the prior year driven by sales in Europe where we gained share with lower price devices.

from Earnings Release FY15 Q1: Phone hardware revenue exceeded $2.6 billion with ongoing focus on execution discipline.
from Q1’FY15 KPILumia smartphone unit sales   5.8 million in Q4’FY14   9.3 million in Q1’FY15
from Q1’FY15 Segment Results: … and 42.9 million non-Lumia phones … Phone Hardware gross margin was $478 million.
⇒ What Microsoft will do with the Nokia Devices and Services now taken over, but currently producing a yearly loss rate of as much as $1.5 billion? [this same blog, April 29, 2014] ]

Now let’s talk gaming. As I previously said, gaming is an important category that will drive additive business value for Microsoft. It is a single biggest digital live category measured in both time and money spent across devices of all type.

We launched Xbox One in 28 markets, increased console unit sales from a year ago, and grew users of Xbox LIVE apps by more than 20%.

from Earnings Release FY15 Q1: Total Xbox console sales were 2.4 million, growing 102%.
from Q1’FY15 Segment Results: Xbox Platform revenue increased $538 million or 58%, due mainly to 102% higher volume and a 93% increase attributable to higher premium mix of consoles sold, offset in part by a decrease in revenue from third-party video games. Xbox One was released in November 2013, introduced into new markets in September 2014, and sells for a higher price than Xbox 360. We sold 2.4 million Xbox consoles during the first quarter of fiscal year 2015 compared with 1.2 million consoles during the first quarter of fiscal year 2014.
⇒ Microsoft’s integrated solution for streaming video and Live TV providers on all devices, plus the upcoming live-action and “shared experience” TV of its own on Xbox [this same blog, Feb 3, 2014] ]

The acquisition of Mojang, which we expect to close in November, extends our ecosystem and community across multiple platforms. Minecraft adds to our already strong portfolio of first party games and contents such as Halo, and will strengthen our gaming experiences on PCs and consoles as well as cross-platform monetization.

4. [Ecosystem:] The fourth and final area I want to focus on today is the renewed energy and momentum in our partnerships.

As a productivity and platforms company, we create vast opportunity for our partners through moving fast to extend our platforms and tools to reach more customers through partnerships — from SAP and Oracle to Salesforce, Adobe and IBM, to the latest partnerships we announced this past week with Docker, Cloudera and CoreOS. Great partnerships emerge from great products, strong momentum and the shared enthusiasm about a long-term vision.

[ ⇒ Proper Oracle Java, Database and WebLogic support in Windows Azure including pay-per-use licensing via Microsoft + the same Oracle software supported on Microsoft Hyper-V as well [this same blog, June 25, 2013] ]

Technology leaders across the board recognize the customer value inherent in products like Office 365, Azure and Windows.

[ ⇒ The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud [this same blog, Feb 10, 2014]
   ⇒ An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) [this same blog, April 2, 2014]
⇒ Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [this same blog, April 19, 2014]
etc. as follows from all that above

And they want to align their businesses with our healthy and growing ecosystem. You’ll see more partnerships in the months ahead. It’s the best way to deliver the best possible experience for our customers in today’s heterogeneous mobile-first cloud-first world.

In summary, I am pleased with the progress we’re making. Teams all across the company are rallying around our core focus to reinvent productivity and create platform for a mobile-first, cloud-first world. We will continue to drive the changes that will position us for the future. We will be accountable to our customers, partners and shareholders, and we will be relentless in looking for areas to invest for long-term growth.

Microsoft Azure: Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”, and real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight service

Marketable machine learning components capability for “a new data science economy”Predictive analytics components on the Azure Marketplace (“APIs”) consisting of predictive models that can plug into Azure Machine Learning as a web service

Introduced this summer and available now in preview, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning helps customers and partners rapidly design, test, automate and manage predictive analytics solutions in the cloud. For example, search engines, online product recommendations, credit card fraud prevention systems, GPS traffic directions and mobile phone personal assistants all use the power of machine learning to provide people with valuable insight.

On October 15th, Microsoft introduced new machine learning capabilities in the Azure Marketplace enabling customers and partners to access machine learning capabilities as Web services. These include a recommendation engine for adding product recommendations to a website, an anomaly detection service for predictive maintenance or fraud detection and a set of R packages, a popular programming language used by data scientists. These new capabilities will be available as finished examples for anyone to try.

Oct 17, 2014:
Joseph Sirosh keynote: “A New Data Science Economy” — Strata + Hadoop 2014

Software and the rise of cloud services have given rise to revolutionary new economies – creating new markets for everything from self-published books, music and videos to mobile apps. Only a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine developers authoring a million apps for smartphones. But that’s history. Cloud-centric economies are permanently changing the way people author and create in the knowledge economy – whether it be authors or developers – and soon, even data scientists. Joseph Sirosh will share his conviction that the next big software economy will be the Data Science Economy – one where data scientists build predictive models and intelligent services that can be published and monetized as easily as apps for the mobile phone.

About Joseph Sirosh:
I am a Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, and head of the Information Management and Machine Learning group. Our talented team of scientists and engineers are developing Cloud ML services and tools to transform data at scale into intelligence. We are taking the wealth of ML capabilities in Microsoft Research and Product Groups and making it available commercially on Azure. Our first-class ML algorithms, services and tooling will help developers build amazing next-generation ML apps in the cloud and help ML become pervasive across a wide range of future scenarios. Prior to Microsoft I worked at Amazon as VP for Global Inventory Platform and CTO of the core retail business and I was VP of R&D at Fair Isaac Corporation before that. I am very passionate about ML and its applications and have been active in the field since 1990.

Real-time analytics for Azure HDInsight serviceEnabling the real-time predictive analytics in HDInsight with support for Apache Storm clusters

Azure HDInsight cloud analytics service combines the best of Hadoop open source technology with the elasticity and manageability enterprises require. On October 15th, Microsoft announced Azure HDInsight will support Apache Storm clusters in public preview. Storm is an open source project in the Hadoop ecosystem which gives users access to an event-processing analytics platform that can reliably process millions of events. Now, users of Hadoop can gain insights as events happen, in addition to insights from past events. By bringing real-time analytics capabilities to HDInsight, Microsoft is opening up new customer scenarios such as the ability to analyze operational data in real time for predictive maintenance. Storm can also be used with machine learning solution that has previously been trained by batch processing, such as a solution based on Mahout. However its generic, distributed computation model also opens the door for stream-based machine learning solutions. For information on real world scenarios, read how companies are using Storm.

Introducing Apache Storm by Microsoft -- 15-Oct-2014

Apache Storm is a distributed, fault-tolerant, open source computation system that allows you to process data in realtime. Storm solutions can also provide guaranteed processing of data, with the ability to replay data that was not successfully processed the first time. HDInsight Storm is offered as a managed cluster integrated into the Azure environment, where it may be used as part of a larger Azure solution. For example, Storm might consume data from services such as ServiceBus Queues or Event Hub, and use Websites or Cloud Services to provide data visualization. HDInsight Storm clusters may also be configured on an Azure Virtual Network, which reduces latency communicating with other resources on the same Virtual Network and can also allow secure communication with resources within a private datacenter.

Additionally, they’ve also teamed up with Hortonworks to deliver hybrid data connectors between on-premises and cloud deployments. On-premises Hadoop customers using Hortonworks Data Platform 2.2 can move data from on-premises Hadoop into Azure HDInsight. This gives every on-premises Hadoop customer elastic cloud access for back up, burst capacity, and test/dev.

All that is follow-up to:
– Satya Nadella on “Digital Work and Life Experiences” supported by “Cloud OS” and “Device OS and Hardware” platforms–all from Microsoft [this same blog, July 23, 2014] for  Azure Machine Learning, Big Data, Cortana, in-memory BI, in-memory data warehousing, Power BI and Power Q&A
– Microsoft BUILD 2014 Day 2: “rebranding” to Microsoft Azure and moving toward a comprehensive set of fully-integrated backend services [this same blog, April 27, 2014] for Azure,  Hadoop 2.2, Hadoop infrastructure on Azure, HDinsight,  Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Windows Azure
– An upcoming new era: personalised, pro-active search and discovery experiences for Office 365 (Oslo) [this same blog, April 2, 2014] for  machine learning
– The first “post-Ballmer” offering launched: with Power BI for Office 365 everyone can analyze, visualize and share data in the cloud [this same blog, Feb 10, 2014] for  Big Data, Business Intelligence, business intelligence models,  data insights,  insights from data, Power BI as the lead business solution, Power BI for Office 365, Power BI Jumpstart, Power BI Mobile App, Power BI Sites,  Q&A, Q&A of Power BI, self-service analytics, self-service BI, self-service business intelligence solution and visualization
– Satya Nadella’s (?the next Microsoft CEO?) next ten years’ vision of “digitizing everything”, Microsoft opportunities and challenges seen by him with that, and the case of Big Data [this same blog, Dec 13, 2013for analysis of relational and non-relational data, Apache Hadoop, Big Data, Business Intelligence,  Data Explorer, data warehousing,  digitizing everything, Hadoop, Hadoop integration, HDinsight, join relational and Hadoop cluster tables, Massively Parallel Processing, Microsoft Parallel Data Warehouse, Microsoft PolyBase,  Parallel Data Warehouse, PDW, PolyBase, Power BI for Office 365, Power Map, Power Pivot, Power Query, Power View, Q&A,  self-service analytics, self-service BI,  the next Big Data revolution, tipping point for Big Data and Windows Azure 
– Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [this same blog, July 10, 2013for Azure Data Marketplace, Big Data, Hadoop infrastructure on Azure,  Office 365, Power BI for Office 365 Preview and Windows Azure
– BUILD 2012: Notes on Day 1 and 2 Keynotes [this same blog, Oct 31, 2012for Hadoop

June 30, 2012: Career of the Future: Data Scientist Study Results Infographic by EMC. The explosion in digital data, bandwidth, and processing power – combined with new tools for analyzing the data – has sparked massive interest in the field of data science. Organizations of all sizes are turning to people who are capable of translating this trove of data – created by mobile sensors, social media, surveillance, medical imaging, smart grids, and the like – into predictive insights that lead to business value. Despite the growing opportunity, demand for data scientists is outpacing the supply of talent and will do so for the next five years. Who are data science practitioners, what skills do they need, and why are they so different?

July 8, 2013: Becoming a Data Scientist – Curriculum via Metromap by Swami Chandrasekaran. Data Science, Machine Learning, Big Data Analytics, Cognitive Computing …. well all of us have been avalanched with articles, skills demand info graph’s and point of views on these topics (yawn!). One thing is for sure; you cannot become a data scientist overnight. Its a journey, for sure a challenging one. But how do you go about becoming one? Where to start? When do you start seeing light at the end of the tunnel? What is the learning roadmap? What tools and techniques do I need to know? How will you know when you have achieved your goal? Given how critical visualization is for data science, ironically I was not able to find (except for a few), pragmatic and yet visual representation of what it takes to become a data scientist. So here is my modest attempt at creating a curriculum, a learning plan that one can use in this becoming a data scientist journey. I took inspiration from the metro maps and used it to depict the learning path. I organized the overall plan progressively into the following areas / domains, Fundamentals Statistics Programming Machine Learning Text Mining / Natural Language Processing Data Visualization Big Data Data Ingestion Data Munging Toolbox Each area / domain is represented as a “metro line”, with the stations depicting the topics you must learn / master / understand in a progressive fashion. The idea is you pick a line, catch a train and go thru all the stations (topics) till you reach the final destination (or) switch to the next line. I have progressively marked each station (line) 1 thru 10 to indicate the order in which you travel. You can use this as an individual learning plan to identify the areas you most want to develop and the acquire skills. By no means this is the end; but a solid start. Feel free to leave your comments and constructive feedback. PS: I did not want to impose the use of any commercial tools in this plan. I have based this plan on tools/libraries available as open source for the most part. If you have access to a commercial software such as IBM SPSS or SAS Enterprise Miner, by all means go for it. The plan still holds good. PS: I originally wanted to create an interactive visualization using D3.js or InfoVis. But wanted to get this out quickly. Maybe I will do an interactive map in the next iteration.

Web Services and Marketplaces Create a New Data Science Economy [Machine Learning Blog from Microsoft, Oct 16, 2014]
This blog post is authored by Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of Machine Learning at Microsoft.
Yesterday, at Strata + Hadoop World, we announced the expansion of our data services with support of real-time analytics for Apache Hadoop in Azure HDInsight and new machine learning (ML) capabilities in the Azure Marketplace. Today, I would like to expand on the new ML capabilities that we announced and share how this is an important step in our journey to jump-start the new data science economy. I’ll also be speaking more about this in my keynote presentation tomorrow at Strata.
Data scientists and their management are often frustrated by just how little of their work makes it into production deployments. Consider this hypothetical, although not uncommon scenario. A data scientist and his team are asked to create a new sales prediction model that can be run whenever needed. The data scientists perfect the sales model using popular statistical modeling language, “R”. The new model is presented to management who want to get the model up and running right away as a web app and as a mobile client. Unfortunately, engineering is unable to deploy the model as they don’t have R and the only option is to convert it all to Java – something that will take months to get up and running. So the data scientists end up preparing a batch job to run R code and mail reports on a daily basis, leaving everyone unsatisfied.
Well, now there’s a better way, thanks to Azure Machine Learning.
We built Azure ML to empower data science with all the benefits of the cloud. Data scientists can bring R code and use Microsoft’s world class ML algorithms in our web-based ML Studio. No software installs required for analysis or production – our browser UI works on any machine and operating system. Teams can collaborate in the cloud, share projects, experiment with world-class algorithms and include data from databases or blob storage. They can use enormous storage and compute resources in the cloud to develop the best models from their data, unrestrained by server or storage capacity.
Perhaps best of all, with just one-click, users can publish a web service with their data science code embedded in it. Data transformations and models can now run in a web service in the cloud – fully managed, secure, reliable, available, and callable from anywhere in the world.
These web service APIs can be invoked from Excel, as shown in this video, by using this simple plug-in. Now, instead of emailing reports, users can surprise management with cloud-hosted apps that are built in hours. Engineering can hook up APIs to any application easily and even create custom mobile apps. Users can publish as many web services as they like, test multiple models in production and update models with new data. The data science team just became several times more productive and engineering is happy because integration is so easy.
But wait, there’s still more.
Imagine a data scientist hits upon that perfect idea for an intelligent web service that everyone else in the world should be building into their apps. Maybe it is a great forecasting method, or a new churn prediction technique, or a novel approach to pattern recognition. Data scientists can now build that web service in Azure ML, publish the ML web service on the Azure Marketplace and start charging for it in over one hundred currencies. Published APIs can be found via search engines. Anyone in the world can pay and subscribe to them and use them in their apps.
For the first time, data scientists can monetize their know-how and creativity just as app developers do. When this happens, we start changing the dynamics of the industry – essentially, data scientists are able to “self-publish” their domain expertise as cloud services which can then be made accessible to billions of users via smartphone apps that tap into those services.
The Azure Marketplace already has an emerging selection of such services. In just a couple of weeks, four of our data scientists published over 15 analytics APIs into the marketplace by wrapping functions from CRAN. Among others, these include APIs for forecasting, survival analysis and sentiment analysis.
Our marketplace has much more than basic analytics APIs. For example, we went and built a set of finished end-to-end ML applications, all using Azure ML, to solve specific business needs. These ML apps do not require a data scientist or ML expertise to use – the science is already baked into our solution. Users can just bring their own data and start using them. These include APIs for recommendations, items that are frequently bought together as well as anomaly detection to spot anomalous events in time-series data such as server telemetry.
A similar anomaly detection API is used by Sumo Logic, a cloud-based machine data analytics company. They have collaborated with Microsoft to bring metric-based anomaly detection capability to their customers. Our metric-based anomaly detection perfectly complements Sumo Logic’s structure-based anomaly detection capabilities. Any Sumo Logic query which results in a numerical time-series now has a special “metric anomaly detection” button which sends the pre-aggregated time series data to Azure ML for analysis. The data is then annotated with labels provided by the Azure ML service indicating unusual spikes or level shifts. Sumo Logic is now offering this optional integration in a limited beta release.
Third parties too are starting to publish APIs into our marketplace. For instance, Versium, a predictive analytics startup, has published these three sophisticated customer scores, all based on public marketing data – Giving Score (which predicts customer propensity to donate), Green Score (predicts customer propensity to make environmentally conscious purchase decisions) and Wealth Score (helps companies estimate the net worth of customers and prospects). Versium offers these scores by analyzing and associating billions of LifeData® attributes and building predictive models using Azure ML.
Our marketplace also hosts a number of other exciting APIs that use ML, including the Bing Speech Recognition Control, Microsoft Translator, Bing Synonyms API and Bing Search API.
By bringing ML capabilities to the Azure Marketplace and making it easy for anyone to access, we are liberating data science from its confines. This two-minute video recaps how:
 This video illustrates how the power of the cloud removes many of the barriers to advanced analytics today. Learn how Microsoft Azure Machine Learning enables deployment of R [the code for a popular programming language used by data scientists] as a web service in minutes and global scale with the Machine Learning Marketplace. Learn more: http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/machine-learning/
Get going today – sign up for Azure ML and try out some of our easy to use samples.
A new future for machine learning is being born in the cloud.
Follow me on Twitter.

Oct 20, 2014: Joseph Sirosh – BigDataNYC 2014 – theCUBE

Microsoft Targets IBM Watson with Azure Machine Learning in Big Data Race [Redmond Magazine, Oct 17, 2014]

Nearly a year after launching its Hadoop-based Azure HDInsight cloud analytics service, Microsoft believes it’s a better and broader solution for real-time analytics and predictive analysis than IBM’s widely touted Watson. Big Blue this year has begun commercializing its Watson technology, made famous in 2011 when it came out of the research labs to appear and win on the television game show Jeopardy.

Both companies had a large presence at this year’s Strata + Hadoop World Conference in New York, attended by 5,000 Big Data geeks. At the Microsoft booth, Eron Kelly, general manager for SQL Server product marketing, highlighted some key improvements to Microsoft’s overall Big Data portfolio since last year’s release of Azure HDInsight including SQL Server 2014 with support for in-memory processing, PowerBI and the launch in June of Azure Machine Learning.

In addition to bolstering the offering, Microsoft showcased Azure ML’s ability to perform real-time predictive analytics for the retail chain Pier One.

“I think it’s very similar,” in terms of the machine learning capabilities of Watson and Azure ML, Kelly said. “We look at our offering as a self-service on the Web solution where you grab a couple of predictive model clips and you’re in production. With Watson, you call in the consultants. It’s just a difference fundamentally [that] goes to market versus IBM. I think we have a good advantage of getting scale and broad reach.”

Not surprisingly, Anjul Bhambhri, vice president of Big Data for IBM’s software group disagreed. “There are certain applications which could be very complicated which require consulting to get it right,” she said. “There’s also a lot of innovation that IBM has brought to market around exploration, visualization and discovery of Big Data which doesn’t require any consulting.” In addition to Watson, IBM offers its InfoSphere BigInsights for Hadoop and Big SQL offerings.

As it broadens its approach with a new “data culture,” Microsoft has come on strong with Azure ML, noting it shares many of the real-time predictive analytics of the new personal assistant in Windows Phone called Cortana. Now Microsoft is looking to further broaden the reach of Azure ML with the launch of a new app store-type marketplace where Microsoft and its partners will offer APIs consisting of predictive models that can plug into Azure Machine Learning.

Kicking off the new marketplace, Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft’s corporate VP for information management and machine learning, gave a talk at the Strata + Hadoop conference this morning. “Now’s the time for us to try to build the new data science economy,” he said in his presentation. “Let’s see how we might be able to build that. What do data science and machine learning people do typically? They build analytical models. But can you buy them?”

Sirosh said with Microsoft’s new data section of the Azure Marketplace, marketplace developers and IT pros can search for predictive analytics components. It consists of APIs developed both by Microsoft and partners. Among those APIs from Microsoft are Frequently Bought Together, Anomaly Detection, Cluster Manager and Lexicon Sentiment Analysis. Third parties selling their APIs and models include Datafinder, MapMechanics and Versium Analytics.

Microsoft’s goal is to build up the marketplace for these data models. “As more of you data scientists publish APIs into that marketplace, that marketplace will become just like other online app stores — an enormous of selection of intelligent APIs. And we all know as data scientists that selection is important,” Sirosh said. “Imagine a million APIs appearing in a marketplace and a virtual cycle like this that us data scientists can tap into.”

Also enabling the real-time predictive analytics support is support for Apache Storm clusters, announced today. Though it’s in preview, Kelly said Microsoft is adhering to its SLAs with use of the Apache Storm capability, which enables complex event processing and stream analytics, providing much faster responses to queries.

Microsoft also said it would support the forthcoming Hortonworks Data Platform, which has automatic backup to Azure BLOB storage, Kelly said. “Any Hortonworks customer can back up all their data to an Azure Blob in a real low cost way of storing their data, and similarly once that data is in Azure, it makes it real easy for them to apply some of these machine learning models to it for analysis with Power BI [or other tools].”

Hortonworks is also bringing HDP to Azure Virtual Machines as an Azure certified partner. This will bring Azure HDInsight to customers who want more control over it in an infrastructure-as-a-service model, Kelly said. Azure HDInsight is currently a platform as a service that is managed by Microsoft.

Sept 18, 2014: Insider’s Introduction to Microsoft Azure Machine Learning (AzureML)

Microsoft has introduced a new technology for developing analytics applications in the cloud. The presenter has an insider’s perspective, having actively provided feedback to the Microsoft team which has been developing this technology over the past 2 years. This session will 1) provide an introduction to the Azure technology including licensing, 2) provide demos of using R version 3 with AzureML, and 3) provide best practices for developing applications with Azure Machine Learning.

Mark Tabladillo is a Microsoft MVP and SAS expert. He helps teams become more confident in making actionable business decisions through the use of data mining and analytics. Mark provides training and consulting for companies in the US and around the world. He also teaches part-time with the University of Phoenix. He tweets @marktabnet and blogs at http://marktab.net.


Sam Guckenheimer on Microsoft Developer Division’s Journey to Cloud Cadence

Why Cloud Cadence?

  • Customers value regular improvements
  • Maximize investments in what customers want
  • React to changes quickly: market/competitive/regulatory
  • Change engineering dynamic from “validation” to “flow”

OPENING KEYNOTE: Journey to Cloud Cadence by Sam Guckenheimer, July 28, 2014  [Agile2014 by Agile Alliance, July 28 – Aug 1, 2014] ⇒Browse 184 photos, videos and tweets about @samguckenheimer, microsoft, adopting cloud cadence at Agile 2014 (#agile2014), on Seen

ABSTRACT:  Sam describes a ten-year transformation at Microsoft Developer Division from a waterfallian box product delivery cycle of four years to Agile practices enabling a hybrid SaaS and on-prem business, with a single code base, triweekly delivery of new features in the service, and quarterly delivery for on-premise customers. He presents three waves of improvement and learning: first, the reduction of technical debt and other waste to gain trustworthy transparency, second, the increase in the flow of customer value, and third the shortening of cycle time to allow continuous feedback and continuous business improvement.

The current scale of the business is that there are millions of customer accounts each on–premise and in the cloud. This hybrid situation will exist for many years, and is a necessary part of the business.

Sam will discuss both the organizational issues of transformation and give examples from monthly service reviews of key practices and metrics, such as hypothesis-driven development, funnel analysis, performance monitoring, MTTD and MTTR improvement, log analysis, root cause remediation, scale unit replication and canarying, common code base, testing cycles, georeplication, feature flags, compatibility and compliance testing. He will share his thoughts on the lessons learned in moving from a traditional software delivery team to a modern DevOps team.



A few excerpts from a recent  [Oct 17, 2014] InfoQ interview:

… the big news is that – the new realization is that the old view that there were two life cycles, one for development, one for operations has been replaced by the realization that there is one life cycle for both and that has been forced to some extent by the improvement in development which leads to faster delivery of working software to deploy, in part by the public cloud that removes the impediments to deployment, in part by the visibility of the consumer facing web, in part by mobile, in part by the “build – measure – learn” affinity practices which connect business learning to tactical learning and in part by the broader shift to the realization that we can now have hypothesis-driven development instead of a notion of requirements or user-story (or whatever you like) product owner driven development. The idea that you can actually use data to drive what to do next.

… as the hyper-scale cloud vendors like us do go literally worldwide on datacenter location, we become worldwide utilities. I mean, I remember for example – was it 4 years ago that tsunami in Japan? In 2009? – I remember the tsunami hit Japan on a Friday, I think. There were three fiber links to Hong Shu at that time and because of the aftershocks they kept going up and down and no one could get reliable information about Fukushima. The center of the tsunami was in Sendai and our data center was between Tokyo and Sendai, as was Fukushima. So we made the decision on the weekend to evacuate our data center and run it “lights out” because Fukushima was too dangerous. So, by Monday we were holding hourly Scrums between Redmond and Hyderabad, which were the two NOCs (network operations centers), basically 12 hours apart in time zone. We were moving all of the network services off of the Japanese data center remotely, including Hotmail which was considered quite critical by the Japanese government because they were telling everyone to stay indoors and use email and we have 10 million Japanese subscribers. That was the first point for me where I really truly understood that this need to run like a utility, or better than a utility given the way Fukushima was unfolding.

I think in five years’ time the default question for any new project of scale will be “Why not public Cloud?” I think the “buy” versus “build” question will be different. So you will buy anything that is context as SAAS or rented and you will be very conscious of where your differentiators are that you want to build, what Forrester calls “systems of engagement” or Gartner calls “systems of innovation”. I think that there will be more reliance on those things being distinct.

Additional information from the earlier Transforming Software Development in a World of Services — Keynote by Sam Guckenheimer, April 3, 2014 [ALM Forum 2014, Seattle WA, April 1-3]: The new world of services enables a much tighter “build-measure-learn” loop so that you can deliver value in small increments and adjust rapidly to feedback. In order to do this, you need to make significant changes to your customer data collection and engineering processes to avoid any debt accumulation and to streamline delivery into production. This talk will look at lessons learned from the transformation of a traditional development organization to a cloud cadence and the practices for continual delivery of customer value.

… Presenters and Biographies — Sam Guckenheimer Product Owner Microsoft Visual Studio Microsoft

Sam Guckenheimer is the Product Owner for Microsoft Visual Studio. Sam is also the author of Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System [there is a newer edition of this: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2012: Adopting Agile Software Practices: From Backlog to Continuous Feedback (3rd Edition) (Microsoft Windows Development Series)]. He has 25 years experience as architect, developer, tester, product manager, project manager and general manager in the software industry in the US and Europe. Currently, Sam is the Group Product Planner for Microsoft Visual Studio Team System. In this capacity, he acts as chief customer advocate, responsible for the end-to-end external design of the next releases of these products. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2003, Sam was Director of Product Line Strategy at Rational Software Corporation, now the Rational Division of IBM. He holds five patents on software lifecycle tools. A frequent speaker at industry conferences, Sam is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Harvard University.

Now in China and coming to India: 4G LTE True Octa-core™ premium superphones based on 32-bit MediaTek MT6595 SoC with upto 20% more performance, and upto 20% less power consumption via its CorePilot™ technology

As the follow-up to: MediaTek is repositioning itself with the new MT6732 and MT6752 SoCs for the “super-mid market” just being born, plus new wearable technologies for wPANs and IoT are added for the new premium MT6595 SoC [this same blog, March 4-13, 2014] and ARM Cortex-A17, MediaTek MT6595 (devices: H2’CY14), 50 billion ARM powered chips [this same blog, Feb 19 – March 13, 2014]. Also the high-end strategic response to 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 Processor (ARM TechCon 2014, Oct 1-3): “our latest and greatest”  [this same blog, Oct 11, 2014].

I. In China:

  • On sale since Sept 22 (on the Beijing market): Lenovo VIBE X2 [datasheet on Lenovo’s local site, Sept 24] is the world’s first layered smartphone. Uniquely crafted into three distinct layers, the VIBE X2 delivers MediaTek’s cutting-edge 4G LTE True Octa-core technology with its MT6595M* SoC, 5″ Retina IPS screen with 1920*1080 Full HD, brilliant dual cameras with 5MP front and 13MP rear cameras, and innovative click-on accessories. Weighting just 120g (without accessories). The first two layers are made up of its colorful cases and click-on accessories respectively, and the layer at the heart of the phone refers to the MT6595 encased within. Generally ¥ 1995 -¥ 2499  [$326-$408] while the cheapest offer is at ¥ 1795 [$293]. It was announced on Sept 4 at the IFA 2014 show (see also the MTK press release) with suggested retail price of $399, first to be available in China, and then in Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe and the Middle East (in countries where Lenovo smartphones are currently sold). It got “Best of IFA 2014” award from Android Authority in “Best Flagship” category, along with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phablet (with a 5.7″ screen and to be available first from Oct 17 in the U.S.).

MediaTek MT6595 and MT6595M* The capability differences between MT6595M and MT6595 [i.e. Standard]:
T[i.e. Turbo] version will also be available later with the big core upto 2.5GHz. There is no information yet on the speed increase of the LITTLE core, of the GPU and of the ISP.
Note that instead of the earlier Cortex-A15 the more efficient by 25-30% Cortex-A17 was used in the MT6595 versions, as it has not less than 50-60% performance uplift over the Cortex-A9 (cycle for cycle):
– Cortex-A15: 15 stage integer/17–25 stage floating point pipeline, with out-of-order speculative issue 3-way superscalar execution pipeline[11]
– Cortex-A9: Designed around the high efficiency, dual-issue superscalar, out-of-order, speculating dynamic length pipeline (8 – 11 stages)
– Cortex-A17: … fully out-of-order [speculative issue superscalar] 11+ stage pipeline …

  • Oct 14–orders made before October on www.meizu.com/en start shipping this week: The Meizu MX4 is a flagship, featuring a metal body, packed with some of the latest hardware available on the market, including a large, 5.4-inch display, a speedy processor (MT6595 [i.e. Standard]), and 20-megapixel camera for $449 (starting at ¥ 1799 [$298] suggested retail price in China). See also the Oct 2 Meizu MX4 Review on PhoneArena.

  • Much more to come as e.g. the Nov 19 arrival of ZOPO ZP999 Lion Heart (model name is 小黑3X i.e. Black 3X in China expected to come at suggested retail price of ¥ 1999 [$326]) with MT6595M*

ZOPO ZP999 with MT6595

As with all other MediaTek True Octa-core SoCs, the MT6595 is capable of running on all eight cores concurrently and comes with MediaTek’s proprietary CorePilot™ technology, which delivers exceptional performance as well as battery and thermal efficiency. Its multimedia capabilities include H.265 Ultra HD (4K2K) video recording and playback, 480fps Super Slow Motion, ClearMotion™ and industry-leading face beautification technology.

MediaTek CorePilot™ Technology: MediaTek CorePilot™ technology is designed to deliver the maximum computing performance from big.LITTLE mobile SoC platforms with low power consumption, offering the ultimate combination of performance and power-efficiency.

MediaTek big.LITTLE approach (i.e. CorePilot) involves the GPU compute as well:MediaTek big.LITTLE core approach which includes the GPU as well

The MT6595 is an easy to do stepping stone to the 64-bit MT6795 premium SoC on the MediaTek 4G smartphone product roadmap of July 7 (source: MediaTek MT6795 eight-core 64 LTE chip exposure):

MediaTek 4G smartphone product roadmap -- 7-July-2014

MediaTek 4G smartphone product roadmap of July 7. An August 19 update to that extends the Entry4G category.

II. In India:

What has just been added to Micromax is in a strategic alliance with operator Aircel and SoC vendor MediaTek for delivery of bundled complete solution offers almost equivalent to cost of the device and providing innovative user experience  [this same blog, March 21, 2014] as this strategic alliance is also aimed at the development of a local version of MediaTek’s new “super-mid market” approach:

MediaTek’s True Octa-core™ 4G LTE SoC MT6595 Now Commercialized in India [company press release, Oct 14, 2014]: Delivering a premium user experience for consumers in the Indian market by end of the year

MediaTek Inc., one of the largest fabless semiconductor companies in the world, today announced that its MT6595, the world’s first True Octa-core™ 4G LTE System on Chip (SoC), has reached commercialization in India.  Devices embedded with MT6595 are expected to arrive in the Indian market by the end of the year.

First announced in February 2014, the introduction of this premium chipset in the Indian market will accelerate the transition to 4G LTE in the country and create limitless opportunities for Indian device makers to manufacture high-performance handsets. in the segment. MediaTek’s 4G LTE products allow consumers to embrace the improved speed from 4G LTE and parallel computing capability. MediaTek is looking forward to associating with Indian Smartphone makers and leading the industry in delivering premium mobile user experiences.

“MediaTek is focused on delivering a full range of 4G LTE platforms, and the MT6595 is the first of many to arrive in India. Our 4G LTE solutions support all modes including TDD LTE, which is important for India because infrastructure providers in the country are currently focusing on the TDD LTE network,” said Dr. Finbarr Moynihan, General Manager – Corporate Sales International, of MediaTek.

“With a deep understanding of the Indian smartphone market, we continue to bring a premium mobile experience to consumers, and thus enable them to become, what we like to call, an Everyday Genius,” said Finbarr.

The MT6595 SoC promises a premium user experience with 4G connectivity, superior multi-tasking performance and excellent sustained performance-per-watt.

Underscoring its commitment to India, MediaTek recently announced its robust expansion plans for the Indian market with an investment of US$200 million. To boost its R&D capabilities in India, MediaTek has also launched a new facility in Bengaluru, which focuses on developing innovative solutions for wireless communications. The new Bengaluru facility, together with MediaTek’s Noida facilities, are instrumental to bolstering MediaTek’s R&D capabilities, allowing the company to establish presence in other core segments beyond mobile.

MediaTek says India its largest market on mobile after China [The Economic Times [of Times Group of India], Oct 14, 2014]:

NEW DELHI: MediaTek, the Taiwanese chipset maker, expects to ship about 350 million smartphone chipsets to vendors worldwide in 2014, with India one of the top five markets, a top executive said, adding that the company expects affordable 4G smartphones to be launched in the South Asian nation later next year.

“Very clearly, India is the largest market for MediaTek on mobile, outside of China,” said Finbarr Moynihan, general manager for international corporate sales at the chipset maker, which has a 30% share globally and shipped 220 million smartphones chipsets till December 2013.

MediaTek ranks India as its largest market for 3G growth in smartphones and 2G feature phones. As the 4G ecosystem develops in India, the company expects affordable, dual-band LTE smartphones in the second half next year, by when Reliance Jio Infocomm is expected to have launched its high-speed wireless Internet services.

“We will certainly see entry-level LTE smartphones at affordable price points with reduced feature sets, display, camera quality, less memory, the usual by the second half of next year,” Moynihan said.

LTE, or long-term evolution, is a technology that allows telecom companies to provide higher Internet speeds to consumers on their mobile phones. MediaTek, which competes with Qualcomm globally, on Monday launched its 4G LTE chipset compatible with both TDD and FDD modes, using 2300 MHz and 1800 MHz, respectively.

The company expects some manufacturers to launch devices using its new 4G LTE octa-core, multi-mode chipset by December, though on the premium end.

Moynihan added that India will benefit a lot from China, where the band and frequency structures are almost similar and sales of 4G LTE phones are only rising. This can drive economies of scale for India as carriers and handset makers move towards offering 4G smartphones in the mid- and low-price brackets, making the two countries the biggest markets for LTE growth for chipset makers, including Qualcomm and Intel.

“In terms of criticality, India will be the largest 3G market for us over the next two years as China progresses towards LTE,” Moynihan said.

At present, Bharti Airtel and Aircel offer 4G services in select areas. Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has 4G airwaves countrywide, is widely speculated to launch low-priced yet high-speed data services on mobile phones that support LTE.

“We are in discussions with them. They will likely be the major drivers for LTE in India,” Moynihan said when asked about partnering with Reliance Jio. “When they become mainstream, we hope to be a big part of their portfolio going forward,” he added.

MediaTek will work with Reliance Jio to pre-certify its chipsets and modem solutions to meet network or frequency requirements, a practice the company follows with global carriers, more so in markets driven by them. This allows handset makers to create smartphones that will work on the service providers’ frequencies and bands, including compatibility on both TDD and FDD LTE.

“We hope we can accomplish the appropriate testing, validation and certifications with Reliance and other carriers in India over the next couple of months or quarters. They (RJio) have some special requirements,” he added, without elaborating.