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What Was Microsoft’s View of Data and Cloud?

On June 18th, Infostrux CEO, Goran Kimovski (Kima) sat down with S. Somasegar (Soma) to discuss Soma’s experience and lessons as a board member and early investor in Snowflake. Kima and Soma discuss the concept and value of the data cloud and why data exchange will be as important as data warehousing. As an active angel investor and seed investor, Soma describes what makes a great investment and what he looks for while investing in both enterprise and consumer segments.

Kima bubble_Icon (1)Kima: As you were working at Microsoft, I know you were working on developer tools and operating systems, but do you have insight into how Microsoft viewed data and the cloud?


Soma bubble_IconSoma: Though we were working on developer tools and developer run times, we were working closely with the SQL Server team. We were thinking about how we can enable people to write store procedures in .NET. In fact, one of the tools people can use against SQL Server came from our team.

Similarly for Azure, we ended up building all the developer tools and some of the run times for Azure as well. One of the advantages of being a developer at Microsoft is that you get to work with pretty much every platform team inside the company because you are sort of the glue that brings developers together on top of the platform.

Going back to your question, Kima, as early as the late eighties, Microsoft was thinking data was important and meaningful, and wondering what they should do with it. 

In 1990 or so, we started our efforts on what ended up becoming SQL Server. We knew data is only going to be increasing in importance and increasing in priority. You can talk about structured data, SQL, unstructured data, and semi-structured data. The world was going to see an explosion of data and Microsoft was starting to think about how they can help the world both in terms of organizing and being able to make sense of the data.

That has been a core part of Microsoft’s strategy or vision right from the early days. SQL Server ended up being one of the fastest growing and largest businesses for Microsoft.

In the mid to late 2000s, we started paying more attention to the cloud and thinking about cloud being here to stay and cloud being the future. We had, what I would call, a substantive on-premises business, particularly with Windows Server and SQL Server, our management tools, and our developer tools. We had a whole suite of offerings for the on-premises world, but what does it mean for us to get to the cloud? 

We started working on Azure and the rest, as you know, is history. But even while I was at Microsoft, we were fully all-in on data first. Perhaps we came to the party a little later, but we got in early enough. I think Azure is doing really well in the market today. It is one of the top two cloud providers in the world, and that’s a testament to Microsoft. Though we had probably the largest and most successful on-premises server business across a variety of products, we made the switch to cloud. We knew that the cloud was here to stay, so we wanted to go to the cloud as fast as possible. The transition is a wonderful story unto itself.

Kima bubble_Icon (1)Kima: Absolutely. As you know my background, I’ve been in the cloud for such a long time on the Amazon side, on the competitor side, but I do respect Microsoft and what they were doing. Now I’m benefiting from working with Snowflake where I can work with any cloud that Snowflake supports. It allows me to have my multi-cloud cake and eat it too.