Satya Nadella on a Mobile-First, Cloud-First World


You hear Mobile-First, Cloud-First all the time.

But do you ever hear it really explained?

I was listening to Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and I like how he walked through how he thinks about a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.

Here’s what Satya had to say:

“There are a couple of attributes.

When we talk about Mobile-First, we are talking about the mobility of the experience.

What do we mean by that?

As we look out, the computing that we are going to interface with, in our lives, at home and at work, is going to be ubiquitous.

We are going to have sensors that recognize us.

We are going to have computers that we are going to wear on us.

We are going to have computers that we touch, computers that we talk to, the computers that we interact with as holograms.

There is going to be computing everywhere.

But what we need across all of this computing, is our experiences, our applications, our data.

And what enables that is in fact the cloud acting as a control plane that allows us to have that capability to move from device to device, on any given day, at any given meeting.

So that core attribute of thinking of mobility, not by being bound to a particular device, but it’s about human mobility, is very core to our vision.

Second, when we think about our cloud, we think distributed computing will remain distributed.

In fact, we think of our servers as the edge of our cloud.

And this is important, because there are going to be many legitimate reasons where people will want digital sovereignty, people will want data residency, there is going to be regulation that we can’t anticipate today.

And so we have to think about a distributed cloud infrastructure.

We are definitely going to be one of the key hyper-scale providers.

But we are also going to think about how do we get computing infrastructure, the core compute, storage, network, to be distributed throughout the world.

These may seem like technical attributes, but they are key to how we drive business success for our customers, business transformation for our customers, because all of what we do, collectively, is centered on this core goal of ours, which is to help our customers transform.”

That’s a lot of insight, and very well framed for creating our future and empowering the world.

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Comments (7)

  1. When Microsoft first assigned Satya to the top job I thought to myself "God, what have they done here"

    Now I think to myself "God, why didn't they do this earlier"

    He is an amazing driver of technology.

  2. JD Meier says:

    @ Dragan — Satya drives from the right things: empowerment, meaningful work. and create a better world with technology.

    He's a breath of fresh air.

  3. Niclas Lindgren says:

    For a mobile-first world, don't you need a mobile? The mobile is the what decides which cloud services people use, and in the end decides whether it will be Microsoft's services or not, on the consumer side of things at least.

    The next month's will seal his destiny I think, how he handles the mobile branch of Microsoft, either he will be the one that killed Windows Phone or resurrected it. Hopefully there is a disruptive story coming.

    Not a brilliant move on Skype for modern windows either, perhaps outside his rader coverage, but in a world of customer focus it can have long term effect's on his wish for people to trust Microsoft services.

    In the end you need to deliver more than a vision, and the wheel's turn quickly nowadays, but at least he is doing something to shake the status qou.

  4. JD Meier says:

    @ Niclas — I read Satya's vision again.

    I like that he says it's "the mobility of the experience."

    It really comes down to the mobility of the experiences and capabilities in a seamless, integrated, and yet, contextual way (how to best use the computing that's all around you, in a less silo, more holistic way.)

    I like that it's less about one paricular device, and more about "across all of this computing, is our experiences, our applications, our data."  (Where computing is more than a phone, it's sensors, wearables, computers we touch, computers we talk to, and holograms we interact with.)

    That said, I'm curious about the story for the phone and what the future holds.

  5. Niclas Lindgren says:

    @JD Meier

    Yes, he does emphasize that, the problem is, the services start on the phone these days, this is where your end users (if they are in the consumer space) make their choice of services, Google, Apple or Microsoft, or a agnostic like dropbox and the like

    If they have a Windows Phone in their hand, there is a really high chance they will start using Microsoft's services, and the same for iPhone and Android. With no phones, you will drive less users to your services, thus consequently less people to your store, which is where the future money income likely is.

    I doubt it helps that Microsoft's services work seamlessly on iPhone, iPad and Android, what it does is promote more users into your competitors services. I know countless people that will not chose a Windows Phone just because Google services do not work on them.

    Of course, in the end, you do want to win the battle on having the best services and thus people want to use them, but that is a really tough battle and it is also in the eye of the beholder. The window to disrupt is very short for software, as competitors can quickly copy your good stuff, on the other hand, the window for disruptive changes when it comes to hardware is huge in comparison, much harder for competitors to replicate as the release window is much longer.

    If however, you can win on better services, so much, that people chose to use Microsoft services on Android for instance, the battle is turned around, as the playing field just moved.

    Given the recent, quite odd manhandling of the Phone sections bought from Nokia, it seems, sadly, a bit like that part of the story is losing out.

    — had to cut post into 2 I learned when pushing post

  6. Niclas Lindgren says:

    — part 2

    But perhaps a great story is about to unfold their, because what Microsoft needs is not to build a better catchup phones(and surpass in some areas), they need to build a different phone at the same time. Like they did with the surface, it needs to solve all the problems current phones solve, and a new interesting problem that none is solving today, and it has to be bound to the hardware to give Microsoft a larger window to capitalize on to turn users over. Perhaps continuum can be such a feature, if you make it solve an interesting problem, not just an interesting technical problem.

    If that can happen, the seamless services across all devices, including competitors, can work for Microsoft instead, because people can happily choose to use Office 365 because they know, if they have to go back to Android or iPhone they can, thus, they can take the leap.

    On the other hand, the absolute biggest problem for wPhone is the app gap, and the absolute easiest way to solve that(technically/practically), in a mobile-first vision, is to allow Android apps to run on wPhone seamlessly. That approach would also make sense with the current vision, where the battle isn't to be one of a device lock-in, however, the apps, have to be sold through the windows store, because the current story is very much tied to Windows store, which at the moment, is a failure.

    So perhaps we will see a new hardware bound feature in the next phone (with a great camera to boot), and a Windows store that accepts Android APKs for deployment seamlessly on those phones.

    There is already some signs of that with Visual Studio making progress to be the tool to build for all platforms with.

    But as I said, things are really in the balance for Microsoft, but bet high to win big I guess. But I don't think Microsoft can afford to lose the mobile war (that doesn't necessarily mean the mobile phone war though, if you reshape what a phone is and move the playing field instead).

    Not easy, but hard things are usually worth doing.

  7. JD Meier says:

    @ Niclas Lindgren — I like your point about "moving the playing field", and how the surface changed the game for the tablet/laptop space.

    I am curious what the mobile plays will be.

    And I love the dynamics around when should it be a Microsoft play vs. a partner and ecosystem play.   There's always a balance around owning things end-to-end vs.  creating open systems that let others play and innovate, too.

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