Cloud Insights: From Microsoft’s Jennifer Marsman

Recently I drove to Detroit to attend TechTown’s Clearing the Air: Cloud Platforms for All Seasons where cloud representatives from Microsoft, Google, IBM and Oracle (unfortunately Amazon wasn’t able to make it) gathered together for a fireside chat. Representing Microsoft was Jennifer Marsman, a Principal Developer Evangelist in Microsoft’s Developer and Platform Evangelist Group. If you don’t know Jennifer, she is quite well known in the machine learning circles and holds several patents. I especially enjoyed hearing her thoughts on the cloud and wanted to share a few soundbites with you.

Jennifer on what is the cloud and how it differs from the Internet…

“With cloud specifically, I can scale out. I can create multiple instances very easily to be able to get scale, and it’s dynamic – so you can scale up and scale down as needed – and it’s also pay as you go,” she said.

Jennifer used Major League Baseball’s website as an example. “If their website gets a ton of hits when everyone’s putting together their fantasy baseball teams, and then it gets less traffic in winter, they can scale up when needed to handle that load, then at the end of the season they can turn it down and they’re paying less,” she said.

Jennifer on infrastructure teams being afraid to move to the cloud…

“With cloud, IT doesn’t have to be just a cost center for your business any more. Now you are freed up from some of the more mundane tasks like figuring out load balancing and things like that, and you can focus on things that will drive business value.”

Jennifer on IT organizations taking an incremental approach to the cloud…

“I would compare the whole transition to the cloud to the idea of self-driving cars. As humans, it’s really scary for us to give up power,” she said. “If I had a self-driving car here right now and said, ‘Ok, get in and go,’ that’s a little scary because you’re totally giving up control. And the move to cloud is kind of like that where it’s a little bit scary. I don’t understand where my data is going, and that sort of thing. So, sometimes, I think an incremental approach can be good just for our own peace of mind.”

Jennifer added: “If you look at what companies like Lexus are doing in terms of self-driving cars, the car will just do parallel parking, so you think, ‘I’m ok with giving up that because parallel parking is horrible anyway and I hate it, so go ahead and parallel park for me.’ And then it will be another little thing and another little thing and another little thing. And then we’ll have self-driving cars so I think that’s how self-driving cars will happen: it will be little by little incremental steps. I think it’s the same thing with cloud. If that gradual progression helps people be more comfortable with the process, great.”

Jennifer on cloud providers’ terms of service and availability…

“I think Microsoft wins the enterprise SLA game. We financially back our enterprise SLAs. So if we go down, we will pay you money back. So we provide financially backed, enterprise-grade SLAs,” she said.

“The other thing we have is compliance across the board. We are crazy in terms of security, transparency and privacy. If you look at the Microsoft Azure Trust Center, it is amazing,” Jennifer said. “You completely own your data. The only way we would ever give it to anyone is if the government orders us to, so we do obey the law. If we get a subpoena, that’s the only situation. Other than that your data is yours. We can’t access it. We can’t touch it. We don’t even go near it. And you have the ability to delete your data at any time.”

A huge thank you to hosts TechTown Detroit for a wonderful and informative event. I continue to look forward to the innovations that are coming out of this community.