‘Microsoft IT is Microsoft’s first and best customer



Microsoft dominates the IT apps space with a slew of products
accessed everyday by millions across the world. As an enterprise, how does
Microsoft manage its IT requirements internally? For starters, it’s been done
through an internal organization called Microsoft IT. Microsoft IT works with
Microsoft products from the prerelease version to the release and the
manufacturing (RTM) version. India plays a strategic role for MS-IT, as 50% of
its four thousand strong IT organization workforce is based out of Hyderabad.
The MS-IT India is a 4-year-old organization. It functions as the offshore arm
of strategic Centers of Excellence (CoE).

Microsoft IT-India utilizes a variety of niche technologies that
are deployed for internal Microsoft use. In an exclusive interview to
Shrikanth
G
of Dataquest, Neil Leslie, VP Microsoft IT and Moorthy
Uppaluri, GM Microsoft IT-India, walk through the mission critical nature of the
center and how MS-IT is a springboard in showcasing the benefits of various
Microsoft products.

What is Microsoft ITs strategic importance?
Neil:
It is all about delivering business value and that comes from testing
and deploying our various products for internal consumption. This helps in
leveraging the product functionalities and customers can see the merits of the
products in various enterprise application scenarios. Microsoft IT assumes
strategic importance as enterprises are in the midst of consolidation of the IT
assets from server to applications to networking. So, by creating seamless IT
entities-the Centers of Excellence (CoEs), we are able to leverage all our
products and create a seamless infrastructure that operates on a 24×7 basis and
forms the key to improving organizational efficiencies, and bring in the best
possible customer experience.

Moorthy Uppaluri, GM Microsoft IT India

What are the key deliverables Microsoft IT provides for the
organization?
Neil:
Microsoft IT positively impacts our business partners by enabling
programs, driving up revenue and CPE, and driving down costs. Our ultimate
project deliverables are complete solutions that address people, process and
technology elements to bring about the desired business results. We conduct a
rigorous business case analysis to make project-funding decisions, and we align
to the company through a set of governance bodies with representatives from our
stakeholder groups. These governance bodies ensure tight alignment between
business strategies and IT investments, and we share joint measures of success.

Some of the key projects in the current year include:

  • Improvements to the Global Marketing Platform

  • Infrastructure for our Partner programs (MSPP) and Partner
    Sales Management

  • Improvements licensing, pricing, and agreement processing
    systems

  • Improvements call center incident management

  • Improvements HR performance management

Do you have an enterprise IT paradigm deployed in all locations
of Microsoft?
Neil:
Over the past two years, Microsoft IT centralized many IT functions
and standardized the model for stakeholder engagement, development, and
operations.  Our organization is based around Solution Delivery (SD)
organizations, which engage with the business stakeholders and have end-to-end
accountability for defining and implementing solutions that meet the business
needs. The CoE takes care of the development, testing, and maintenance of tools
and infrastructure. We have also created a field IT organization that
standardizes our approach to implementation and adoption, while also taking
account of regional and local differences around the globe.

By adopting technologies that Microsoft develops, does Microsoft
IT serve new technology proof-points where enterprises can see the benefits of
that technology first-hand?
Moorthy:
One of Microsoft IT’s key roles is to act as Microsoft’s ‘first
and best customer’.  The organization is an early implementer of
Microsoft technologies and engages extensively in beta programs.  Microsoft
IT provides bug reports and design change requests to the product teams based on
our experiences, and in this way, we catch many of the critical bugs before they
reach our customer.

Neil Leslie, VP, Microsoft IT

What about the product feedback that MS IT gives?
Neil:
We provide the product development teams with valuable feedback on
product features and functionalities. This feedback improves Microsoft products
throughout the software development life cycle, and helps Microsoft customers
and partners successfully deploy these products and technologies.

How critical is MS IT India?
Neil:
It is a seamless extension of the global Microsoft IT teams in
Redmond. This is because all our critical applications are based out of here and
the kind of value MS IT India provides for the organization is just phenomenal.

Moorthy: We at Microsoft IT India believe that business
success is driven by an organization’s ability to manage information and
optimize their greatest asset, their people, for results. Software is one of the
most powerful tools an organization can employ to amplify the impact of its
people.

Can you tell us about the Network Operations Center in
Hyderabad?
Moorthy:
It’s a mission critical entity and a nerve center for Microsoft.
The Microsoft Network Operations Center (NOC) in Hyderabad was established in
November 2004.  From the NOC campus in Hyderabad, we manage Microsoft’s
worldwide IT infrastructure 24×7. The team monitors and supports 9,000 servers,
10,000 network devices, over 2,000 internal databases and the telephony services
within the company. This is the primary operations center for Microsoft.

Today, we
have come to a point where without MS IT India, Microsoft, globally, will
not be able to run its IT systems

The NOC is also a big showcase for all customers. Given how we
run the infrastructure-extremely efficiently, with a very high server to
operator ratio-the customers really want to spend time with MS IT to learn how
they can reduce the cost of running their Windows infrastructure. While this is
the primary NOC for Microsoft, some FTE presence is maintained in Redmond during
business hours to ensure business continuity and disaster recovery.

What about Microsoft IT India’s role in Microsoft Office 2007
and Windows Vista?
Moorthy:
The Microsoft IT applications use features of office. When a new
version of software is to be released, MS needs to guarantee that the Line of
Business or LoB, is not affected. This entire procedure is called compatibility
testing. A large percentage of the compatibility testing has been done out of
Microsoft IT India for both Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows Vista.

Besides Compatibility Testing, Microsoft IT India also played a
major role in dogfooding Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007. Dogfooding is
also a method adopted by Microsoft to let its customers know that it is
confident of its product.  It also allows Microsoft to understand the
product’s capabilities and challenges so that any enhancement or modification
can be done on time. Hence, it is first deployed internally within the
organization, before it is shipped for production. Microsoft IT India has
contributed significantly towards ensuring the quality of Windows Vista and
Microsoft Office 2007.

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