Former Microsoft Online Leader Ron Markezich Moves Into New Role Heading up U.S. Enterprise Sales

REDMOND, Wash. – May 5, 2011 – After several years as Microsoft’s chief information officer and corporate vice president of Microsoft Online, Ron Markezich was recently appointed corporate vice president of Microsoft’s U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group, where he will bring his expertise to the company’s enterprise sales and marketing efforts. The Microsoft News Center caught up with Markezich in late April to get the scoop on his vision for Microsoft’s strategy for courting CIOs and pitching the company’s cloud computing strategy. Here’s what we learned:



Ron Markezich, corporate vice president, U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group at Microsoft.

On what his priorities will be in the first weeks and months of his new role as head of the U.S. Enterprise and Partner Group: “The first priority will always be to continue to grow the Microsoft business. Today, there are so many ways customers can take advantage of Microsoft technology, and we want to grow our customers’ success. Second, we have a set of great partners and independent software vendors (ISVs) making the cloud transition with us. There will be a need for a large amount of coordination. The key factor with partners and ISVs is to make sure we have a strong rhythm in terms of sharing information to make sure we’re in alignment.”

On how selling cloud computing applications and services is different from selling on-premises enterprise software installations: “One, you have to have a deeper relationship with enterprise customers. Two, we’re not just selling a product. We own that process from the implementation all the way through the run. Our support never ends, post-sale. Also, there are regulatory aspects to selling cloud services such as security and privacy that are not typically covered when selling enterprise software.”

On whether Microsoft’s sales force is ready to sell the cloud: “Absolutely, we’re ready to sell the cloud. We’ve been selling our services to the largest customers in the world – McDonalds, Coca Cola – for many years. Many have already moved to Office 365. I’m coming into an organization that’s extremely healthy. Employee satisfaction is increasing and one of the highest I’ve seen at this company. We continue to beat our numbers. Customer satisfaction results are great. When you have great employee and customer satisfaction while bringing in record revenue – I feel great about what I’m taking over.”

On who he considers Microsoft’s biggest competitors in cloud computing: “We have no lack of competitors in this space – from traditional infrastructure and application players to startups looking to come out. IBM, Oracle, Apple, Google, Salesforce.com, VMware – they are all competitors. We also have competitors that are also partners, like SAP. The thing that I love that we have that I don’t see anywhere else is a broader portfolio and a level of investment in the cloud and on-premises software and servers unmatched by anyone. Most competitors are in the server or the cloud camp, but not in both. As a former CIO, I look at that and think, ‘I’d bet on Microsoft because they’ll answer more of my needs and help me make the transition to the cloud.’”

On comparing Office 365 to Google Apps: “I don’t know if I’d compare Office 365 to Google Apps. They aren’t really comparable. Computer Reseller News recently said, ‘Google Apps is to “Pong” as Office 365 is to Xbox 360.’ Office 365 really allows customers to leap into the new world of the cloud while utilizing the same platform that serves millions of business users around the world. You’re not abandoning the decade-plus of R&D investment we’ve made to meet all these diverse needs across enterprise and public sector customers.”

On how his former role as Microsoft CIO helps him in his new role: “My experiences as a CIO and as someone building the cloud business at Microsoft are beneficial. As the former, I can empathize with and relate to customers. When you’re a CIO, demand comes at you from all directions. The job has never been harder than it is today, and execs are much more tech savvy. I’ve been down both roads, and I can leverage both.”

On what surprised him the most about Microsoft’s IT organization as a CIO: “The thing that surprised me the most was how quickly our engineers could take feedback and solve problems. It wasn’t always pretty when we rolled out SQL Server 6.5 or Exchange 2000, but our engineers were – and remain – dedicated to making sure customers have a great experience.”

On how the CIO role has changed over the years: “Typically a CIO’s No. 1 job is protecting the security of the data in an organization, but there are things happening in the marketplace today that fly in the face of that mandate. For example, many users bring their own devices into the corporate network or have confidential data on unsecured devices. Microsoft can help with that though. We recently made some announcements about technologies that allow us to manage all these different devices with the same infrastructure. At the same time, we’ve built connectors into our products so you can connect to popular sites or social networking sites not connected to Microsoft.”

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