Microsoft & the Next Level of Transformation with Corey Sanders

Episode Summary

Corey Sanders is the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Solutions who leads strategy and technical sales. Corey has spent the bulk of his 16-year career at Microsoft, beginning as a software developer and serving as a principal program manager lead and head of product for Azure Computer, among other roles. He also served as the Vice President of the Board at the Seattle Community Law Center for eight years. Corey earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Princeton. Join two Coreys as they discuss what Corey’s role is at Microsoft, what it’s like to have a child born during the COVID-19 pandemic, how Teams has helped organizations learn how to work remotely and build entirely new work cultures, how platforms like Teams help people be heard in a way they otherwise might not have been, why low-code is an incredible development and shouldn’t be thought of as something that will replace engineers, how Corey interacts with the Xbox team at Microsoft, how Microsoft is helping customers get to the next level of transformation, and more.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Corey Sanders:
Corey Sanders is the Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Solutions, an organization dedicated to partnering with customers as they transform into successful digital businesses.

He is responsible for sales strategy and corporate technical sales across Solution Areas and Teams that include Azure Applications & Infrastructure, Azure Data & AI, Business Applications, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, and Modern Workplace. His focus also includes selling the full value of Microsoft cross-cloud solutions and advancing the technical depth of the Microsoft Solutions team.

Prior to this role, Corey was Head of Product for Azure Compute and the founder of Microsoft Azure’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) business. During that time, he was responsible for products, strategy and technical vision aligned to core Azure compute services. He also previously led program management for multiple Azure services. Earlier in his career, Corey was a developer in the Windows Serviceability team with ownership across the networking and kernel stack for Windows.
Corey joined Microsoft in 2004 after graduating from Princeton University and resides in New Jersey.

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Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.

Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by Catchpoint. Look, 80 percent of performance and availability issues don’t occur within your application code in your data center itself. It occurs well outside those boundaries, so it’s difficult to understand what’s actually happening. What Catchpoint does is makes it easier for enterprises to detect, identify, and of course, validate how reachable their application is, and of course, how happy their users are. It helps you get visibility into reachability, availability, performance, reliability, and of course absorbency, because we’ll throw that one in, too. And it’s used by a bunch of interesting companies you may have heard of, like, you know, Google, Verizon, Oracle—but don’t hold that against them—and many more. To learn more, visit, and tell them Corey sent you; wait for the wince.

Corey: Normally, I like to snark about the various sponsors that sponsor these episodes, but I'm faced with a bit of a challenge because this episode is sponsored in part by A Cloud Guru. They're the company that's sort of famous for teaching the world to cloud, and it's very, very hard to come up with anything meaningfully insulting about them. So, I'm not really going to try. They've recently improved their platform significantly, and it brings both the benefits of A Cloud Guru that we all know and love as well as the recently acquired Linux Academy together. That means that there's now an effective, hands-on, and comprehensive skills development platform for AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and beyond. Yes, ‘and beyond’ is doing a lot of heavy lifting right there in that sentence. They have a bunch of new courses and labs that are available. For my purposes, they have a terrific learn by doing experience that you absolutely want to take a look at and they also have business offerings as well under ACG for Business. Check them out. Visit to learn more. Tell them Corey sent you and wait for them to instinctively flinch. That's

Quinn: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud, I'm Corey Quinn. I am joined for a third time by Corey Sanders, corporate vice president—which Twitter tells me all three of those words are bad—at Microsoft. Corey, welcome to the show.

Sanders: Thank you. It's great to be here. And it's great to be on with a common-named host.

Quinn: Absolutely. Whatever we say, Corey, it's great: it makes it really easy on the people doing the transcription. Just put, Corey, and that solves the problem neatly. So, this is your third time on the show, second time as the corporate vice president for Microsoft Solutions. Before that, you were deep in the weeds of Azure itself and now have gone into a bit of a broader remit.

Sanders: That's right. That's right, yeah. So, I am responsible for enabling customers, helping them deliver solutions across our Azure solution—so that's certainly the infrastructure side, which is again, as you said, my bread and butter, as it were, and also the data side—and then expanding out to our business application. So, Dynamics and our Power Platform, and security and, and Modern Work. So, that would be Teams and Office 365. And so, running the full range of capabilities for customers.

Quinn: So, it's always fun to compare episodes with the same guest next to each other. It started off as first, “Oh, wow, this Azure thing. What's it about?” Then last time, we had this conversation about Build. Now, of course, world changes, and we're talking about a global pandemic. I'm hoping next time we don't talk about the meteor, but you know, we have these hopes on this. On slightly happier news, you apparently have a new child.

Sanders: I do, yeah. I have a young child here, actually born at the very beginning of the pandemic, so she has really only seen me and my wife without masks on. And so I sometimes wonder what the result of that will be, that we're the only two faces that she's actually seen top to bottom since she's been born. So, it's kind of an interesting psychological experiment, which is typically not a good thing to run on your daughter, but we don't really have a choice, I guess.

Quinn: This is something I hadn't considered yet. I have a kid due myself, in a couple months. So, this is going to be an interesting experiment, myself.

Sanders: We can compare results.

Quinn: Exactly. It feels like something we really should have gotten an ethics sign—off from someone on first.

Sanders: That's right. That's right. [laughs].

Quinn: Let's talk a little bit about what you folks are seeing in the context of COVID, what it's doing to the business. Which again, even saying it like that feels like a very cavalier way of addressing a global crisis, but there are very few companies that are in Microsoft's position, whereas you have cloud offerings, you have communications offerings, you're sort of across the software stack. Of any company, you folks are in the best position from my perspective to get a holistic view of what customers are seeing what customers are doing during these times. What have you noticed?

Sanders: Yeah, absolutely. And to start off, obviously, as you mentioned, just the entire—the impact, the sickness, the challenges, the social implications that we've seen have just been very, very difficult. And so I'm hoping that we can get through this as fast as possible, and continue to make improvements every week. As part of the effort and sort of response, our biggest focus has really been around, how do we help customers in this time? And that runs a pretty wide range of capabilities, solutions, and expectations. 

And so you've mentioned a few. A good example is Teams and enabling customers to be able to work in a remote environment. And what I think's interesting is that I think that the result of this is certainly customers learning, and understanding and better appreciating the needs and the capabilities to be able to work remotely, but also, I think, fundamentally changing the way people work from now on. I think the expectations of being able to work, I think the success that customers have seen, when leveraging Teams to be able to work in this remote way, again, has enabled them to approach their entire work culture in a different way. 

But it doesn't just end with Teams. I think the need for Remote Desktop, and being able to do secure and protected work, but without necessarily having to have everything loaded on a local laptop that may not have the same level of security control that a customer may look for, and then you get into the broader range of security, just that customers needed to reevaluate a lot of their security principles and reassess the way in which they were approaching their security environment, the amount of VPNs [laughs] that ended up failing in the process of this change has been quite numerous. Where customers were pin-pricking everything through a VPN that was outside of their corporate environment, well, suddenly, when everything's outside of your corporate environment, the VPN struggles. And so, we—

Quinn: [unintelligible] for 10 to 100 users, and now we have 10,000 on it, and it turns out that TCP now terminates on the floor, and we have a problem.

Sanders: [laughs]. You got it. Exactly right. I mean, it's just the ability to scale, the ability to handle that. And then when you think of Teams and running something like Teams, all of it through a VPN device, it becomes mind-boggling just how hard and challenging that becomes to a network. And so there's just changes across the board, Corey, just in how people are thinking about it, and responding, and all of it was to try and enable them to be able to work in this new environment.

Quinn: Tell me a little bit about Teams. I've used it a few times myself, and the sharp edges that I've had with it, to be very honest with you, feels like it has more to do with my understanding and my contextualization of how these things work. I'm an old grumpy Unix administrator—because it's not like there's a second kind of Unix administrator—and I come from an IRC world where everything is just a text chat and response. Threading, I find it offensive. I felt that gifs add nothing to the conversation and make things worse. I'm a grumpy old man standing on my porch shaking my fist. 

When did Teams come out of it? It feels like it's this weird hybrid between SharePoint, between Microsoft’s somewhat document-centric approach, and then a chat system bolted on top of that. But again, this is from an outsider who's used it for all of three days in the course of my life. It's very obvious I do not have a good holistic view of this.

Sanders: Yeah, I mean, I think that you've captured it pretty well, which is that it ends up being a single consistent collaboration environment that allows customers to bring together in a single pane of glass, all of the collaborative work experiences that they expect to have. And so the interesting thing that we've seen, especially in this sort of everyone's remote environment, is the ability to both have a meeting, whether it's scheduled or impromptu, to be able to be chatting as part of that conversation, and then being able to sharing, and editing, and modifying docs all together in one experience, it's actually quite powerful from a productivity perspective. And we've had customers even come back and say they've seen their productivity go up in this environment because these are all in a single experience. And certainly with gifs, obviously, that increases productivity. I’m, you know, astounded—

Quinn: Oh, you’re a soft g person on gif.

Sanders: Oh, I know, I know. You know what? It's funny. I should have prepped on this one.

Quinn: What is it with cloud providers and pronouncing things badly? I don't know what it is.

Sanders: I think it's an East Coast thing, actually. I'm going to blame New Jersey as the pronunciation challenge here.

Quinn: Kid, I don't think you get to pull that excuse.

Sanders: [laughs]. My team has yelled at me about this. It's so funny that I just recently had this fight, and I went online and went searching for it, you can find all kinds of articles going both ways, so I'm going to leave it at that. ‘animated pictures.’ how about this? How about I say it that way?

Quinn: We will accept animated pictures.

Sanders: [laughs]. So, the collaboration’s just been pretty amazing. And a great example of this is I've now been in meetings where conversations proceed, people have their videos on, they’re chatting, you can see the emotion from people and so on, and then the splinter conversations spin up in chat. And there are times where I'm like, “Oh my gosh, that's kind of annoying.” But then there are times where you take it in, you're like, “Wow. That is a separate conversation, tied in with the main conversation,” but from people who maybe weren't comfortable raising this because the conversation was ongoing, or people were dominating in the main thread. 

And so in some ways, the part that I love about that is that I feel like it's opening up different avenues of collaborating all at the same time. And sometimes those chats are then brought back into the main conversation. Sometimes they just close there as follow-ups. But either way, the person was heard in a way that I think, would actually have been lost in an in-person meeting, if you can believe it. And so I'm actually pretty excited about the way in which those collaborative experiences can happen. Sharing documents live, just all of those aspects are just huge. 

And now we're starting to see, Corey, people building as a platform on top of it. So, it's no longer even just our solutions. It's no longer just sharing on SharePoint, and Word docs, and Excel. But we're starting to see partners and even customers deploy their own experiences on top of it to enable those collaborative solutions. So, now you've got Azure apps, you've got Power Apps deployed and exposed through Teams as the single pane of glass. It's secure, it's enabled securely on people's phones and laptops and that's now how people get work done all as a single experience. So, I'm pretty bullish on it. I think it's the new way people work, and people who have fully embraced it, I find that they've actually found new ways to be productive.

Quinn: Okay, I'm going to challenge you slightly on that.

Sanders: Do it. Gifs.

Quinn: Exactly. I am not—to be very clear—a team's user myself, other than a couple of strange edge cases. But when I work with Slack a fair bit, everyone talks about the apps that you can build integrations, and then I scratch beneath the surface and they are fundamentally two different types of things. The first is a notification from something else. I think calling that an app is a little bit of a lofty descriptor. But the more advanced version—“Oh, now we're in the future. You can click a button in that notification and make something happen.” And I feel I have now captured the sum totality of the integrations and apps. Teams, are these still early days? Does it go more fully-featured than that? What's the story?

Sanders: Well, so think of it this way. I'll give you one example, perhaps. You're in a meeting and you're tracking action items. So, you're in a meeting, you're chatting, you're tracking action items, and the ability to easily say, “Hey, I want all the people in this meeting to have access to this tracker. We're going to capture action items. We're going to assign it to people in this meeting,” 

So, we already have the scope of who is going to be assigned to what. And we can see it happening live. So, while you're in the meeting, you can see they’ll pop up and say, “Hey, you've been assigned this action item.” And so it becomes, again, a very collaborative, engaged experience. So, that's one example, perhaps where again, these apps can become an integral part of the workforce. 

The other aspect that's been interesting, and I've had a couple customers say this, which is we have some of these Power Apps that have gone out. So, one is a crisis management app, one that we're working on right now is a return back to work app that we're seeing customers deploy, and helps you understand what buildings are closed, or opened and safe, and et cetera. And the feedback that we've heard is, “Look, we've gotten Teams installed on every single one of our customer’s phones, we've gotten Teams installed on every single one of their laptops. We don't want to go install yet another app. We've already done the work, we've secured it, we want this to just be an experience through the Teams app, and expose through it, you can install through it.” 

And then of course it gives you, as you said, notifications through it, chatbots, et cetera, so it's all integrated. And so, I think both of those are kind of the primary value props that you have. One is just, it's a single pane of glass and so you don't need to install yet another thing. You can secure it, you can build the environment through it. And then, two, there are actually apps that are very integrated with the collaboration experience. 

Now they're different. That Return to Work app is not something you'll pull up in a meeting and work together on. It's something that's just a part of your environment. But I think both are pretty relevant in how customers are looking at this new work pane as it were, I don't know if I've convinced you. Have I convinced you? Are you going to start saying, gif?

Quinn: Well, I don't know about—I’d go that far. I mean, I still have principles and standards here, and so I gotta say, there are sponsorship packages available, but I don't know if there is a high enough tier 1 for start changing pronunciations of words on me. I will say that it seems like it ties into something you've mentioned a few times: Power Apps. And Power Apps are interesting to me, mostly because I only discovered them about a week or two ago when a certain competitor of yours launched a no-code/low-code solution. I'm like, wow, this is kind of amazing. 

Nice to see companies getting into this, and everyone else looks at me like I'm a fool. Well, Power Apps have been around for a long time. Oracle's Apex has been around about the same length of time. It turns out that no, no, it's only new and exciting when Amazon releases things. Other than that it's just boring and crappy—which is the narrative, and it turns out that's completely untrue. So, tell me a little bit about Power Apps for those of us who have lived in a world of Infrastructure as a Service for a long time. It feels like it's something from another universe of the Microsoft ecosystem. Tell me more.

Sanders: And explain it so that it's not boring and crappy? Is that sort of the—that's the starting point that I think I've got here.

Quinn: Crappy version? Instead of having you on, I would have invited one of the many glossy brochures that you folks put out on things.

Sanders: [laughs]. Got it. Okay. So, look, I mean, I think the principle of a low-code solution is pretty clear. I think what we've done with Power Apps, the way to think about it is it's sort of the combination of PowerPoint and Excel. Where you've got the PowerPoint experience around building apps and UI, and, like, for anyone who's built a pretty complex application, sometimes the UI can be some of the hardest things to get right, get placed, get organized, and so on. 

So, the ability to have PowerPoint as this experience of controlling your UI. But then the key thing is, is that it's got the Excel-like experience for bringing the low-code part of it. Writing the formulas, writing the ways in which you want the UI to interact with the end-user, and then layer on top of that the full extent of data sources that could be pulled, to be brought into it, whether it be Excel, whether it be SharePoint, but then also, whether it be Salesforce, or Dropbox, or Twitter, or Facebook. All of these data sources can be brought in in a very simple and easy way. And this is really the secret sauce, I think, with Power Apps is that it's not only that easy app building an easy low-code experience to make a pretty powerful application, but you can bring in all these data sources that then allow you to really expand well beyond the power that we see from some of the competitors to bring in a really comprehensive application. 

And so it's a pretty exciting trend that we're seeing. And some of the things that we launched in the response to COVID to help customers get going quickly, Crisis Response app, which is basically we pre-built an app that allows customers to go through how they're going to notify their employees on potential issues, how they're going to communicate out challenges, or risks, or places to avoid from an office perspective, and be able to track their employees, right, in case they needed to respond, or get help. And so all of that was pre-built, and it allowed customers to modify and update in a fairly simple and easy way. I mean, it's just been a huge, huge opportunity for customers to get started quickly and build on top of it.

Corey Quinn: In what you might be forgiven for mistaking for a blast from the past, today I want to talk about New Relic. They seem to be a relatively legacy monitoring company, and I would have agreed with that assessment up until relatively recently. But they did something a little out there: they reworked everything. They went open source, they made it so you can monitor your whole stack in one place and, most notably from my perspective, they simplified their pricing into something that is much more affordable for almost everyone. There's even a free tier with one user and 100 gigs per month, totally free. Check it out at

Quinn: I will admit that I was something of a skeptic of the entire space because I'd never really had it be something I cared about. But I build my sarcastic newsletter every week through a whole bunch of different Lambda functions tied into various API gateways, and I run it through scripts because front end is something I've never understood. I was finally about to pull the trigger and hire someone to build out a front end for all of this for me, and a buddy of mine who's a terrific developer—now, as it turns out, one of my employees—popped up and said, “Hey, what about Retool?” “Well, what is Retool?” And the answer is it well, effectively it's Visual Basic for APIs and integration. 

It speaks to arbitrary APIs, random data sources, but lets you drag and drop an interface into place. Which was a sort of fascinating because it needed a little bit of code, not a tremendous amount, and suddenly it unlocked the ability for me to iterate rapidly without having to spend untold amounts of money on front end folks. And as an added benefit, I did some digging underneath the hood. It turns out it runs on top of Azure. So, yeah, you folks are everywhere at every layer of the stack. And I was very dismissive of the entire space until I started using this to solve a problem. And now it's very hard to get me to shut up about it.

Sanders: I don't believe that about you.

Quinn: Yes, I do have an ongoing love affair with the sound of my own voice; there's a reason why I have a podcast. But it's just such a fascinating approach to me of the idea of it acts as a force multiplier. On some level, the idea of you don't need a developer at all anymore is a bit of a red herring because—

Sanders: I agree with you.

Quinn: —having a developer to work on these things and help get stuff set up. Yeah, but they can drag, drop, get things set up in a few hours, and then go back to the thing that they're normally working on, and that is such an unblocker for business users. And in the context of front end, I am the exact opposite of whatever a developer looks like.

Sanders: Well, I agree on all your points. I mean, I think that to your key point that the statement of, “Hey, you guys with Power Apps, you no longer need developers,” I agree that that's actually an incorrect assessment of the power of the tool. And when you look the combination of Power Apps with some of our Azure application services—let's say API Management or some of our security services, and so on—the combination of bringing together strong developer skills to lay the groundwork, and then the Power Apps experience to be able to extend in easy ways things like those UI experiences, things like those fast and easy tweaks, such that the developer doesn't need to actually do everything. And even if the developer is going to do everything, it's easier to do some of those top-level functions while focusing perhaps on the deeper parts of the platform. 

And this is why the integration with data is so key because you can start seeing a world where the hard development work is around creating the experiences and getting the data shaped up in such a way that then the Power App sitting on top, it's just taking advantage of that corporate data that's been built out with the developer and with the data scientist working hand in hand. So, I think that's really the future where we're seeing this. It's in, like you said, an add-on. It's an extension to the power of developers, not a replacement in any way. And this is why we're even seeing integration with things like GitHub, and so on, where governance and bringing these codebases together, the combination of Power Apps with that underlying code and development work that's being done is becoming the expectation from customers.

Quinn: So, tie this into, I guess, another area of Microsoft that’s a giant mental question mark for me: Dynamics. I keep hearing the term, I keep seeing Microsoft folks getting incredibly excited about it. What is it?

Sanders: Well, so Dynamics or D365, is effectively our business applications platform. So, it offers a set of solutions, whether it be solutions around customer engagement, so things like being able to understand who your customers are and help you categorize, segment, and then deliver marketing content to them. It delivers customer support, so it enables you—one of the things that we've seen pick up a lot of steam during this COVID crisis is a capability called Remote Assist, where it allows you to engage with, let's say, someone working on the factory floor from a remote location and help them respond to some incident or some outage, and in fact, the combination of that with HoloLens has become a really interesting, powerful solution where now you can directly be told through the HoloLens experience, how to go respond to something on the ground. But then it's also finance and operations. So, being able to support areas like commerce, so we've seen an outpouring of eCommerce space solutions as an example, and curbside pickup solutions. So, I think that these are the areas and some of the power that we're seeing with Dynamics and Dynamics 365 specifically, with our cloud-based solutions.

Quinn: I have to ask, you call the D365. And among its other failings, 2020 is, of course, a leap year. Are you planning to shut the whole thing down for a day so you don't have to rechange the name to 366?

Sanders: [laughs]. You know, at this point, I'm going to say I think we'll probably keep it running the full 366, but I would need to check back with that engineering team and just make sure.

Quinn: Exactly. One wouldn't want to over-promise availability.

Sanders: I can’t. Yeah, exactly, exactly. I don't want to. I know on the Azure front, we've done a lot of work around leap day because I remember leading a bunch of that work. But yeah, let me go back and check on the Dynamics front.

Quinn: Other things that are interesting and possibly related to you possibly not. Let's talk about Xbox. Is that something that you deal with at all yourself? Is that viewed as a completely separate division? How do you see it?

Sanders: So, it is definitely a separate division. It is not explicitly in my purview, per se, but obviously, we work closely with them, one because we work with gaming customers out there, and certainly they run quite a bit on Azure. So, we have a bunch of understanding and engagement there. Seeing a crazy—I mean, I think they've seen, like, a 50 percent increase in multiplayer gameplay since the crisis which, I guess for many of us who do play games, it's not surprising necessarily, but that's resulted in, of course, a bunch of growth on the platform and then partnership with some of the other gaming companies out there as we look at continuing to support this growth. It's a pretty exciting field overall. But the actual business, if you ask me about specifics on games, and when they're coming out, and what titles look like, and so on and so forth, those I would probably not be either capable or willing to answer. Let me put it that way.

Quinn: Honestly until they get around to remaking TIE Fighter, the best game ever created, I don't care about games.

Sanders: Oh, we've got so much to talk about now about TIE Fighter. Oh my gosh. So, often, I constantly say to my team, “Mission critical craft under attack,” and they never understand what I'm talking about.

Quinn: Best game ever. All these gaming companies wasting our time rather than remaking TIE fighter. I don't understand it.

Sanders: How far to the Emperor’s circle did you get? Did you get all the way in?

Quinn: All the way.

Sanders: Me too.

Quinn: Some people had friends in the ’90s. I didn't have that problem at all. I had TIE fighter.

Sanders: Well, and here's the key. I used to play with my brother. He used to fly and I used to be watching the monitor to see when red dots were popping up behind him. And so this tag team was good. I considered myself the force and he was the actual pilot. So, that was the way I made myself feel better that I wasn't actually playing.

Quinn: All power to shields.

Sanders: [laughs]. Indeed.

Quinn: Got to play those games with people.

Sanders: Oh, man, it was a fun game. It was much more fun than X-Wing, by the way. That was, uh, yeah.

Quinn: There needs to be at least a spiritual successor if nothing else.

Sanders: I agree with you. I agree with you. Anyway. Okay. Back to other topics at hand.

Quinn: Yes.

Quinn: Talk to me a bit about Windows Virtual Desktops.

Sanders: Yeah. So, this capability—it's funny because it's a recently launched capability on the platform, and as I mentioned earlier, we've seen strong momentum, actually we’ve seen a lot with financial services, a little bit with manufacturing, retail as well. So, a lot of that momentum has been around being able to host full Windows client-based experiences in the cloud, and the key thing has been for a lot of customers, the multi-session support, so you can end up really utilizing the hardware in a much more optimized way than on some of our competitors. And it allows, of course, cost savings around it. And so we've seen a lot of use of this, people actually using it to run some of their M365 basic capabilities, or office experiences, even Teams through their Windows Virtual Desktop experience to enable people to have that single pane of glass, to log into and have a zero-trust environment on their local machine. The other nice thing is we've got great partnerships with both VMware and Citrix. For customers who have those management experiences that they'd like to continue, they can deploy onto a Windows Virtual Desktop and enable VMware and Citrix as part of it.

Quinn: Every time in the past, I've tried to look into the world of getting Windows Virtual Desktops or something like that up and running. It was always A) extraordinarily enterprise-y when all I really needed was a Windows machine to run, I don’t know, the proper version of Excel or it wound up going down this rabbit hole of licensing for Terminal Services and the rest. Is that still the case? Admittedly, it's been 15 years since I played in this space with any serious attention.

Sanders: Yeah, I think you'd find it easier. I will admit, I think it's definitely skewed toward solving enterprise problems, although I guess how we define enterprise runs a full range of spectrum. But we've seen, actually, quite a bit of uptake in small businesses as well leveraging it for a single experience to log in no matter where you are. And so sometimes when you've got small businesses that are on the move, it's a fairly easy thing to get set up, and you can deploy and launch into it. So, I do think it's a lot better, I think—certainly, the licensing story is actually a lot cleaner as well since it's all tied into the Azure consumption motion. 

So, if you can understand how VMs work and are built, then you can understand this as well. So, I do think that's been a much greater improvement, the licensing story is definitely. You don't have to worry about the RDS and the server hosting and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can dig in and just get going. So, yeah, I’d give it a try and let me know. Reach out, tell me if you feel like we still got work to do.

Quinn: Don't offer if you're not serious.

Sanders: Oh, I’ll listen. I'm not necessarily going to commit to solving your—if you give me problems that other people say I will solve them. If it's just your problems, Corey, we'll have to have a conversation.

Quinn: Sounds good. To be clear, at the time of this recording, it's somewhat open-ended as far as how it's ultimately going to shake out, but I do want to talk to you for a minute about JEDI, specifically, the Department of Defense contract that you folks won, which I think was something that not a lot of folks saw coming, and I'll admit—to be very honest with you—when I saw that, it recast how I was considering Azure in a competitive light, in that, okay, there is something here that I am not seeing historically. And again, given that I tend to specialize in born-in-the-cloud, cloud-native companies, my side project Twitter for Pets has almost dozens of customers. Azure was never something that we considered because that was always for big enterprises and not aimed at the technological capabilities of where the world was going. That is provably untrue now that you—given the access that you wound up competing on and winning.

Sanders: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look, I would argue we believed this on our side for a long time. And we've got a good range of large enterprise customers that we've won over the last couple years. But certainly, the announcement with JEDI has been exciting. And I think it's a combination of things. 

I think, certainly the platform and the support on the platform, but I think it's also the deep integration with security, I talked a little bit about it already, just the identity support that we offer that spans the services, the growing networking capabilities and security capabilities that we have built into the platform, and then certainly our hybrid story. I think our hybrid story is really just amazingly strong. And this is something that we just hear from customers all over the place, whether it be manufacturing, whether it be retail, the ability to take this split world where you've got computation that needs to run local, it needs to run right near those end customers, those end experiences, those end actions that are happening, and then being able to use the Cloud for the scale motions, for the broad data analytics, the predictive expectations, and so on. And this seamless capability and platform, taking that hybrid story, being able to run it local, whether it be with Azure Stack Hub, or leveraging something like Azure Arc, to be able to create this experience that spans both with the same—back to my governance, and identity, and security conversation, it creates this really nice fluid opportunity that I think is quite unique in the market. And that's, I think, certainly a big part of the conversation and certainly something we hear from customers no matter what the industry, but particularly in government.

Quinn: It's definitely recast my understanding of the entire cloud landscape. At this point, it's become pretty clear, especially with some of the larger enterprise deals that I have been working on with my existing consulting customers, that Azure is very much in play. Really, I've got to say, it still remains—I know we talked about this every time, but it definitely remains one of the business school case studies of the future there's going to be highlighted. Just a complete cultural and perception turnaround in the past decade. It's really something to see. To be blunt I counted Microsoft is down and out, and on a long decline into irrelevance back into naughts and early 2010s. That feels like an incredibly naïve and out of date perspective now.

Sanders: [laughs]. Yeah, I mean, I should hope so. But yeah, I mean, I think that's right. I mean, look, probably the strongest point that I'd make on that regard is the focus that we've had over the last few years, certainly bringing the platform into a competitive place, and now, I would argue, in many places exceeding our competitors. But I think the key point is, and we've talked about it, and I've weaved in a few points around Dynamics, and around Power Platform and around Teams, and certainly on Azure, it's all about helping customers get to that next level of transformation.

This is something that we are just seeing all over the place, and I gave those examples around Edge and hybrid with, like, a retail store. They need to rethink how they engage with their customers. They need to rethink how they are selling to their customers. And being able to bring together a solution like a new eCommerce platform to sell remotely, combined with something running on the Edge, that's an application to be able to bring insight and knowledge around the customers that are shopping locally, and having that all come together into a single picture. This is just commonplace now for a retailer, it needs to be. But that's a big shift for a lot of customers. 

And so this is where I think when you look at the overall spectrum of engagement that we have with customers, it's really around helping customers get to that next level. How are we enabling and supporting them to grow, build their business, and achieve that next level of opportunity for their end customers? That's really where I think we, with Azure, and the progress and growth that we've made there, with hybrid, as I mentioned, with IoT, with Dynamics, with Teams, it's all around that principle. And I think that that's really resonated with customers and something that I also think is pretty unique.

Quinn: I would wholeheartedly agree. If people want to learn more about what it is you have to say, what you're working on, how you view the world, where can they find you? The easy answer is, but I'm wondering if there's another place?

Sanders: Me particularly, you're saying?

Quinn: Oh, well ideally, yes.

Sanders: [laughs]. Not just Microsoft. Yeah, the best places to find me, I’m relatively active on Twitter, I probably should be more active on Twitter, and I've started to pick up a little bit on LinkedIn as well. So, I think those are probably the best places. I try and go through Twitter comments pretty regularly. It's tough though. It's tough. I've been reading your Twitter pretty religiously, of course. So, those are probably the best places. In fact, it's probably easier to get me on Twitter than it is in my email, just given the scale of email that we do.

Quinn: Oh, yes, I can well imagine. Corey, thank you so much, once again, for taking a third half-hour out of your life to speak with me. As always, it's appreciated. Thank you.

Sanders: You bet. Thank you. It's been fun.

Quinn: And enjoy the rest of your parental leave. When that comes up. I will. I’m looking forward to it.

Quinn: Corey Sanders, corporate vice president at Microsoft, I am Cloud Economist Corey Quinn and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, whereas if you hated it, please leave a five-star review on Apple podcasts anyway, along with a comment correcting other Corey on the proper pronunciation of GifHub.

Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at, or wherever fine snark is sold.

This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.

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