ActiveWin: Interview with Microsoft CIO, Tony Scott

Tony Scott joined Microsoft in February 2008 as corporate vice president and chief information officer (CIO). Under Scott's leadership, Microsoft IT is responsible for security, infrastructure, messaging and business applications for all of Microsoft, including support of the product groups, the corporate business groups, and the global sales and marketing organization. Scott champions IT as a value-added business for Microsoft and works with all the company's groups to identify opportunities, structure IT solutions and deliver measurable returns to the business. Prior to joining Microsoft, Tony was Senior Vice President and CIO of The Walt Disney Co., and Chief Technology Officer at General Motors Corp.

Tony was in Pittsburgh, PA last week and sat down with to discuss his role as CIO at Microsoft, as well as to discuss some recent internal IT success, among other things.

(Bob Stein): Being a software company, Microsoft is always in the spotlight for its products. As CIO, how do you leverage Microsoft's own products for the company's internal IT? Do you have access to all the latest and greatest?

Tony Scott: We eat our own “dogfood” long before our enterprise customers taste it. Internally, the program is called “Microsoft’s First & Best Customer” because Microsoft IT is the first customer of Microsoft’s enterprise products. We run alpha and beta versions of products and services in production environments to help improve product quality and test enterprise scenarios for the product teams. Then we later publish our experiences with the products and services in the form of white papers and videos as part of Microsoft IT Showcase. Your readers can BING it – Microsoft IT Showcase.

As an example, we run a very large SAP ERP system, a single instance that has been running on Beta software of SQL Server 2012 since November 2011. To give another example, we have over 23,000 systems and 19,000 employees using Windows 8, testing new features and new hardware. We recently completed a couple of Big Data demonstrations, using Hadoop running on Windows Server. This demonstration was the proving ground for investment in this area, to start generating business insight from user behavior data on a much larger scale than we have been able to do before.

(Bob Stein): Do you think in some ways, Microsoft's internal IT is their own biggest/best customer?

Tony Scott: We’re big and the first customer, but we may not be the biggest. For example, we have about 130,000 seats using Microsoft Dynamics for CRM, and we manage more than 140,000 virtual machines using System Center. That’s big, but there are bigger customers out there.

Read: Q&A with Tony Scott, Microsoft CIO

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