by admin on May 02, 2006 12:08pm

Swimming is my cure for jet lag.  I am currently at the MES 2006 (Microsoft Executive Summit) in Mumbai (Bombay), India – an annual event for the top 250 CIO’s in India.  I’ve been here a couple days and have been waking up at 3am, so my cure has been a pre-dawn swim in the hotel pool.  The hotel I’m staying at has a nice pool, right next to Powai lake and it’s protected forest, where I later learn is a natural home to leopards and alligators, which keeps me alert while swimming solo.

MES 2006 is a great opportunity to meet many of the top CIOs, IT decision makers and partners in India and I’ve been enjoying it immensely.  I did a presentation on our platform strategy, people-ready businesses, and in particular how we think about ‘coopetition’ in this strategy.  One of my favorite things about this job is talking to customers about their IT environments, issues and dreams.  What has been fascinating about my conversations here in Mumbai has been the many different ways customers have designed and architected for interoperability.  From banks to manufacturing companies to consulting services, almost every customer or partner I’ve met with has an interesting story about interoperability in their IT environment.  No surprise really, heterogeneity is part of any large IT system, but the recurring theme I’ve noticed here is the pragmatism and clarity of focus on where and when interoperability is needed.  And if you’ve ever spent time on the roads in Mumbai, you’ll realize that interoperability is part of everyday life!

One Microsoft partner I had dinner with explained a very large, multi-tier system they build and sell which uses Windows, Unix systems, and a mainframe – all for one application (it is a large and critical application, so this isn’t really overkill for what they do).  Although they want to eventually migrate from the mainframe for cost reasons, they have chosen technologies to get the job done as best suited their needs and skills.  And – importantly – they factor interoperability into every architectural plan, RFP, or design that they think about – it’s as important to them as feature functionality or testing.  It’s a core part of their maturity model.  So what do they look for to qualify something as ‘interoperable’?  Open and mature standards that have industry wide acceptance.  They also understand the difference between open standards and open source, and gave me a very lucid walkthrough of the differences.  Simply put, they explained that open source is a development and distribution model and open standards are specifications that can be applied to interfaces and technologies to enable data exchange.  It is that clarity that, I believe, has helped them to design for interoperability with their eyes wide open.

One more thing.  I had a customer meeting where I heard a great description of IT value.  We were talking about software utilization, the dreaded ‘application backlog’ that many CIO’s face (CIO magazine has a great column on this here).  When I asked about their deployment experiences with Microsoft software, the customer told me a story about their instant messaging deployment.  Within 48 hours of deploying Microsoft Live Communications Server for instant messaging and collaboration, they had over 16,000 people utilizing the product.  He then said, “Listen Bill, it is actually quite simple, when I can deploy software that immediately 16,000 people start using on their own because it’s important and useful to them, that is value.”  Clear and simple definition of value: people use it on their own volition - something we should all remember.

Although swimming does help jet lag, coffee is equally important, so it’s now time to go find some.   Until next time, may you avoid stray leopards.  -Bill