Microsoft’s turnaround over the two years since Satya Nadella became CEO has been nothing short of phenomenal. During the Ballmer years, Microsoft had become increasingly sidelined and irrelevant, focused on aggressive and negative marketing techniques. Anybody remember the painful Microsoft Mythbusters video featuring then–Microsoft executive David Greschler and Hyper-V product manager Edwin Yuen? Not that you can find it anymore; all references I have located now link to the Microsoft store (even Microsoft is too embarrassed).
This is a continuation of my Security in Our Modern Times series, which can be found here and here. The story of the San Bernardino iPhone has gotten to the point where you just cannot make this stuff up. Let me give you a Reader’s Digest–type review of the story and then offer my opinion on the latest twist.
I, like most in the modern IT industry, have spent most of my working life installing, configuring, and maintaining Microsoft products, ranging from Active Directory and Exchange through Terminal Services and MSSQL Server. Most of these products have had extra layers of third-party software on top (Citrix MetaFrame, anyone?) or blended in to make them work better. In many cases, they were not a best-in-class product, although this has improved over time. Apache far outstrips IIS, and vSphere is still a good way ahead of Hyper-V, feature-wise. The gaps are closing, though, and Microsoft’s product set is maturing. Microsoft’s products often have been the more expensive option. There are numerous UNIX mail servers that outperform Exchange for raw message transport functions. However, there has always been one killer feature, one tie that has bound all of the systems together, making the Microsoft option the only option.
I hear that vendors are bundling cloud services with their other software licensing deals, and I have some thoughts about why. Azure credits are being bundled into Microsoft software license deals. Oracle customers can buy cloud credits as a way of avoiding problems that stem from database software licensing true-ups. There are a couple of ways of looking at such practices. One is that these credits are a great way of getting customers hooked on your cloud. Oops, I meant to say a great way of helping customers learn the value of your cloud. The less positive perspective is that the largely unused credits inflate the cloud services’ revenue without customers actually using the cloud. Naturally, the reality is more complex. I suspect that these are the primary reasons for bundling cloud services into license deals.
With the myriad cases of cyber-theft and security breaches that headline the news every day, it’s no wonder that system improvements are taking a back seat to security items within most IT organizations. While many vendors highlight new products or features as being better, cheaper, and/or faster, those items are having limited success compared to those that address being secure.
Welcome to the second part of my conversation on security in our modern times. In my last article, I concluded with a mention of the US government’s court order compelling Apple to develop a solution bypassing the security on the San Bernardino terrorists’ phone.