In the Cloud With Kurt DelBene

REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 19, 2010Office 365 brings familiar applications, including Office desktop software and Office Web Apps, together with SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync as a service for organizations of all sizes, for the first time. Below Microsoft Office Division President Kurt DelBene discusses the strategy for Office 365.

Kurt DelBene, President, Microsoft Office Division.

Microsoft News Center: What will Office 365 mean for customers?

DelBene: Office 365 enables customers to use technology the way it was designed. For the past decade, we’ve designed and built our technology to work together. But the reality is that few customers have the resources to deploy Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync together. With the cloud, we can bring technology together for customers, in a way they have never experienced.

Technology built for the largest businesses becomes accessible to the smallest businesses, because the cloud takes advantage of the scales of economy and the skills of economy. We have thousands of experienced engineers working on cloud services. In a few clicks, a small business can have 20 football fields of datacenter capacity and a highly experienced IT team at its fingertips. It’s not feasible for any single company to acquire these resources on its own.

Because of these two factors, organizations of all sizes will discover new ways that technology can advance their business.

Microsoft News Center: Today, you announced that all the flagship products in the Microsoft Office Division will be available through a cloud-based service. How significant is this announcement?

DelBene: Office 365 is one of the most transformative moves we’ve made with Office. We’ve taken the best of everything we know about productivity, and we’re delivering it all in one cloud service. This resets the bar for what people will expect of productivity applications in the cloud.

When we speak to people about the cloud, the general assumption is that somehow the cloud is just a business model shift. They assume we are simply moving technology from a customer’s datacenter to our datacenter and moving from a license to a subscription. The reality, however, is that the cloud is a technology transformation.

No longer is Office only a rich client that connects to servers — it is part of the services offering that we manage for customers. This will change our ongoing relationship with customers across all points of engagement, including product testing, the sales cycle, product deployment and customer support.

Office 365 is an opportunity for us to explore new possibilities. We can reach customers who don’t have the IT resources to manage enterprise-class software. And, we can help customers stay up to date with the latest versions of our products. The impact of Office 365 will be far-reaching, because we can bring enterprise-class applications to everyone.

Microsoft News Center: Why did you select Office 365 as the new brand name when this service includes more than the Office applications?

DelBene: More than 750 million people use Office on the desktop, making it a brand that people worldwide know and trust. Familiarity and trust are key elements we wanted to capture with this new cloud service.

In addition, our customers enjoy the Business Online Productivity Suite (BPOS), but they especially appreciate that BPOS works together with Office. When customers run Office with Exchange, SharePoint and Lync, new capabilities light up everywhere. For example, customers can see a colleague’s availability at a glance, click to make a phone call or start a videoconference, co-author documents in real time without conflicts, and add social networking to everyday work tasks. We realized this brand needed to represent productivity and collaboration — in short, it needed to be about Office.

With the “365” extension, we’re talking about dependability every day of the year and our breadth of services. Office 365 is undoubtedly the most comprehensive service of its kind, and we know that’s critical to customers who want the cloud to simplify their technology. Office 365 just makes sense — on one hand it’s familiar, dependable and trusted, and on the other hand it represents the next generation of productivity.

Microsoft News Center: Does Office 365 change how your team will engineer and develop products for customers?

DelBene: Office 365 significantly advances technology and engineering. Because of the cloud, we can develop, test and deliver technology with more accuracy and precision. As soon as we build a release, we can deploy it and customers can consume the technology immediately. That’s good for customers, but it’s instrumental for our engineering.

Longer term the cloud will enable us to bring the best-of-breed consumer technologies together with business technologies. As the lines between work and home continue to blur, people want their work and home technology to come together. With the cloud, we have the opportunity to bring productivity technologies together with consumer services across Windows Live, inTune, Bing, Xbox and Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft News Center: Now that you’ve taken the reins of the Microsoft Office Division, how much emphasis will you place on cloud-based services?

DelBene: Two years ago, we knew the cloud would change how we built, sold and supported our products, and that it would change the technology landscape. However, we did not know how profoundly it would positively change the business landscape for small companies, large companies, governments and educational institutions.

As a result of the cloud, companies like Starbucks, Godiva Chocolates, Starwood Hotels, the Gap and so many more are improving operations, changing how employees communicate, refining training processes, advancing R&D systems and saving money.

From my perspective, the cloud is one of the most transformative developments I’ve witnessed in my career. As a result, we optimized our engineering for cloud computing, and now, every engineer in the Microsoft Office Division is thinking about services. Moving forward, we will continue to deliver customers the best productivity experience in the cloud, on-premises or through any combination in between.

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