It seems axiomatic that technology strategy must include – drumroll please – both technology and strategy. It is all about the right ideas at the right times. We live in a world of exponential technology change, and understanding when quantitative technical change begets qualitative strategic and policy change is the essence of innovation.
Last year, Microsoft formed the eXtreme Computing Group (XCG) with a charter to rethink the nature of computing at extreme scale, from alternative, quantum computing models, through the transformative effects of manycore parallelism on programming systems and architectures, to massive cloud computing designs that each drive consumer, business, research and social applications. Across all of these, security and privacy are central. Our tagline, perhaps a bit ambitiously, is "defining the future."
XCG conducts basic research, builds large-scale hardware and software prototypes, incubates new technologies for product group uptake and shapes technology adoption by Microsoft. It includes a wonderful cadre of senior researchers – individuals such as Burton Smith, Michael Freedman, John Manferdelli, Jim Larus and Dennis Gannon – as well as a host rising stars. We also have wonderful hardware engineers, software designers and system architects. XCG is part of Microsoft Research (MSR), where we report to Rick Rashid. It's a great team, and working with them and MSR may well be the most fun I have ever had in computing. That's the technology part.
Strategy and Policy
As many of you know, I am no stranger to strategy and policy, having served on the U.S. President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) and on the U.S. President's Counsel of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). I also chaired the Computing Research Association (CRA) board, which represents academic and industrial computing research policy interests in North America. I have also been on more ad hoc advisory and review panels, in Europe, Asia and the U.S., than I can count. (Jay Boisseau once claimed it was a million, but I think he was exaggerating just a little bit, Texas style!)
At the beginning of 2010, I will also take on an additional role helping lead technology policy and strategy for Microsoft, shaping the company's long-term vision and strategy for technology innovations and its associated policy engagement with governments and institutions around the world. In this capacity, I will report to and work closely with Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer.
Given the centrality of information technology to communication and social interaction, research and development, education and learning, health and safety, the environment and economic development –among others – such strategic technology identification and policy coordination are critical to Microsoft and our future. I am excited and humbled to be adding this role to my activities. That's the strategy and policy part.