Billionaire’s Agita Cloud Computing

Suffering from an acute case of Billionaire’s Agita, Steve Ballmer saw that he needed to do something radical. He turned to a veteran Microsoftie, Eric Rudder, senior vice president for technical strategy, who worked closely with Bill Gates, and headed the Servers and Tools group until 2005. Rudder’s initial mission was to “incubate” a project called Singularity that came out of Microsoft Research and to turn it into a project code named Midori (the Japanese word for green, and a common Japanese name for females).Midori was named after Midori Sugiura, a character in the anime and manga series My-HiME and My-Otome .It’s also a character who appears in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock , a video game in which the player uses a guitar-shaped controller to simulate the playing of lead, bass, and rhythm guitar parts in rock songs by playing in time to scrolling notes on the screen The name is an encoded hat-tip to Jim Allchin, who is an accomplished musician.

As it turns out, Midori has emerged from its shroud of mystery and has become a new, scalable, saleable product for cloud computing called Windows Azure, a platform that is unburdened with the accumulated baggage of Microsoft Windows.

In choosing Rudder, Ballmer chose well. Rudder is an out-of-the-box thinker. I first met Eric shortly after he joined Microsoft in 1988. He is not only a clear-thinking, very smart and hard-working fellow; he is one of a handful of really nice people within the senior ranks of Microsoft. He is rumored to be Ballmer’s ultimate successor, when the time comes (really, he would be Bill’s successor). In turn, Rudder convinced Ray Ozzie, famed developer of Lotus Notes and now Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect (a Microsoft title previously held only by Bill Gates) to spearhead Windows Azure.

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